Friday, June 30, 2006

Nowak to coach MLS All Stars vs. Chelsea in Chicago has announced that Peter Nowak, head coach of the league leading, DC United, will be coaching the MLS All Star Squad as they take on 2 time defending EPL Champion, Chelsea on Saturday August 5th in Chicago. The All Star Match will take place at Toyota Park, the newly opened home of the Chicago Fire.

Peter should select Bobby Boswell, as he scored against them last year when United played Cheslea to a 2-1 loss at Fed Ex Field.

USSF possibly re-examine Copa America invitation.

The is reporting that USSF President, Sunil Gulati has decided to re-examine the option of the US National Team taking part in the 2007 Copa America.

“In a reversal from previous USSF statements, Gulati said he would consider entering the national team in next summer's Copa America, the prestigious South American tournament, even though it is scheduled to begin just a few days after the completion of the U.S. squad's own regional championship, the Gold Cup. The U.S. team has a standing invitation to play in Copa America after winning the 2005 Gold Cup.” - From the

I believe that this is a positive step in the right direction. The very fact that Gulati is going on the record considering the idea of sending a US squad to the 2007 Copa America is a positive thing for US soccer. For almost the last decade, the USSF has always declined any type of invitation that was extended by CONMEBOL based on reasons that are really outside of the USSF realm of power; namely MLS and it season schedule. Finally deciding to look at participating rather than just declining the invitation is a good thing.

Unfortunately this could also be window dressing. All the USSF has to do is make a statement that they are considering participation to only come back later and claim that they do not think that they can schedule it in the US calendar. It has also been suggested that the USSF already declined the 2007 invite and that Costa Rica has been offered their place, which they have accepted. If this is nothing but a rouse, than I would hope that USSF members would be able to explain why the chance to play in a challenging environment was passed on.

In order to make the US squad a better squad, they need to play in better tournaments against better squads in tougher locations. Playing Jamaica in Sal Lake City is test that an all MLS team should pass. Playing Uruguay in Estadio Centenario, Montevideo in a Copa America is something different and definitely a test that the US National Team must undertake and work on passing, in order to become a global power. Playing in a Copa America will make matches overseas easier than always playing at Crew Stadium or Gillette Stadium. When the US National Team begins taking on difficult opponents in challenging environments, the level of quality play will rise.

FIFA World Cup 2006: Quarter Final Predictions

The Quarter Finals start in about 13 minutes, so here are my predictions for the four matches.

Germany vs. Argentina
This should be the final. There really hasn't been two other sides that have played as well as these two have. Germany is looking like the Germany of old, winning matches and stomping on their opponents. Argentina looks just as deadly, with Crespo, Saviola, Riquelme, Tevez and company just oozing talent and quality as they keep their opponents at bay until the string 3 passes together, one of them gets open, and they have a goal.

The biggest question mark in this match will be how the German defense holds up against the Argentine midfield. If they stay composed and disciplined, then I think that the German's can mount a strong offense and crack the Argentine defense for goals. If they cannot handle the Argentine build up and keep their form, then Crespo will break and Riquelme will slot a pass or two through and Germany bows out. The German Defense holds the key for the whole match.

I think that Klingsmann has his guys prepared. I think that they go through to the Semi-Finals.
Prediction: Germany 2 - 1 Argentina

Italy vs. Ukraine
These two sides have been the luckiest in the tournament. Both have looked flat and been bailed out by penalty kicks, in one form or another. I do not see the Ukrainian luck holding against the Italians. Italy will be able to put in another 90 minute effort as they did against the Czech Republic and Ghana and they will move on.
Prediction: Italy 2 - 0 Ukraine

I will preview the England/Portugal and France/Brazil matches tomorrow.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Welcome Home Jimmy Conrad!

DC United vs. Kansas City Wizards
Ok, so I was sorta right in that the return of Jimmy Conrad would have an impact on the match last night between DC United and the Kansas City Wizards. I thought he would return form two matches in the World Cup and be all proud and beaming and return with a fresh load of confidence. Instead he returned and scored an own goal after 5 minutes of MLS work.

Freddy finally broke his goose egg this season as well as assisting on Gomez's match winner in the 50th. Perkins seemed to add some drama to the match with a 70th minute yellow card to set up a Penalty Kick, but even with that goal, united held on for the 3-2 victory and season sweep of the Wizards. Too bad we can't play them all the time.

One thing that surprises me is that in their previous 5 matches, United scores 5 goals and allows 2. They then go back on the road and score 3 (ok, Conrad's really shouldn't be listed) an allow 2 more. Sometimes their scoring ability baffles me. As long as they continue to win these matches, they can continue to baffle me.

Thinking Forward
Frank Dell'Apa has a very insightful and needed article about exactly how the USSF should be thinking when they try and replace Bruce Arena. Before the World Cup, I was very much a supporter of Bruce...and I still am. I think that he has done more for the US National Team than any other person could have. He changed the way that the National team was treated by the USSF and he made changes to the organization of the team, these two imprints alone will continue to have a lasting effect on the US National team for years to come.

Even with the record and almost god-like status that Arena had, before the World Cup, I knew going into the tournament that this should be his swan song. 8 years of coaching an international squad is way too long. He was the right guy in 1998 and still the right guy in 2002. Bruce elevated the US team in the region, to a point where the region and US fans, always expect us to beat the other regions teams. We always expect us to qualify for the World Cup from CONCACAF. He took the large step of establishing the USA as the or co-CONCACAF power. Now that he has done that, he needs to step aside and allow someone else to take the US team from that level, and guide them to the next level, global power. Bruce cannot do that.

I have always been a Bruce Arena fan, from when I was in High School in Virginia watching UVA roll the NCAA every season to leading DC United to the MLS Cup three straight years. I am still puzzled by what I saw in Germany, but considering how good a CONCACAF coach he was and how good a 2002 World Cup result he got, Germany was the only place he would fail, and he would do so in the spot light.

I hope that he bows out gracefully and gets a job overseas. Please do not go to New York.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Revive the US Cup!

Current US coach Bruce Arena made several statements about allowing the US coach more mechanisms to develop the play of the US teams and to have MLS take a larger role in player development. He mentioned playing in the Copa America, which I agree with, we should be playing in that tournament every time the tournament is held. Another type of development mechanism that the US Soccer Federation (USSF) and MLS might try considering is making use of the January to February time frame that MLS and other global soccer leagues are out of season, or on a winter break.

The USSF could revive the US Cup, their tournament that was created to provide the US national team international tournament competition. It was held annually and had three other nations involved. USSF could hold this tournament in late January in Phoenix and Los Angeles, where the weather is still very comfortable. Invite the Soccer Federations of Norway, Sweden, Finland; all nations that has players currently in their off seasons. Germany uses a six week break to allow for rest and for snow, they could invite the German Soccer Federation to send over a team of lesser experienced players, or their U23 squad. Canada’s players have a break during this time as well, considering they all either play in MLS or the USL. The USSF could invite all of these countries and hold a 6 team knock out tournament. The two groups could be split, one group in LA and one group in Phoenix. The finals could be held in LA at the Home Depot Center.

This would be a good chance to use an all MLS squad and get them international tournament experience, as well as allow for MLS players to get some training in during the off season. It just might show which US players really want to improve their skills and make the roster for a Gold Cup or Copa America side. The US coach would be able to use different players and give them more shots at making the team.

DC United Preview 6/28/2006

DC United vs. Kansas City Wizards
Wednesday, 6/28/2006 8:30pm EST
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

So this is it, the final meeting between these two clubs the entire season, unless they meet in the playoffs. United have won all the matches thus far this season, outscoring the Wizards 6-2, shutting them out on a rainy and wet Saturday night, winning 1-0. This will be the first match between these two clubs that the US World Cup players should be available, which means the KC defense and forwards should get a boost.

What exactly is a pelvic dysfunction? Jamil Walker seems to have one. I can't figure out what this is? He get kicked in the balls? Whatever it is, he is listed as being out for this match, which is just perfect for a United side that seems to be dropping forwards left and right.

As our player situation seems to be in a "funk" right now, and with Benny hopefully returning for this match, I would not be surprised to see Peter Nowak send out a side that will be heavy on clogging the midfield. Olsen, Simms, Gomez, Gros, Carroll, Adu all playing in the midfield and Moreno up top by himself, with Freddy really listed as a withdrawn forward, but sitting in the midfield. It will be a match were we try and replicate the same "luck" we had on Saturday: strong defense, disciplined midfield and quick strike for a goal on a counter/break-away.

Even though it is true that Kansas City will most likely have their returning forwards back for this match, they will not be getting anyone new inserted in the midfield, which seems to be their weakness right now. Conrad will shore up their back line, but if they cannot build up from the midfield and service their forwards, they will be playing pretty much as well as they did on Saturday.

Prediction: I see United leaving with at least 1 point, as our defense and midfield is much stronger than the KC offense and midfield. If we are lucky, as we were Saturday night, we get another quick strike and hold onto a 1-0 lead. If Conrad is truly as good a defender as people are saying, he should be the biggest factor in this match. I don't really see their offense or midfield cracking our midfield or defense. Perkins has another strong match.

DC United 0 - 0 Kansas City Wizards

WoW! A day without a World Cup Game.

Dunivant traded to RBNY
ESPNsoccernet is reporting that RBNY has aquired Todd Dunivant from the LA Galaxy for a partial alocation.

This might be a step in the right direction for RBNY, as they need defensive help. If he forms a good partnership with Marvell Wynn, the RBNY defense might begin to hold onto leads, if they get them. I do think that they need someone in the middle, assuming that Amado Guevara returns to the team and actually plays rather than sit in the stands with his wife, they might have something going for after the All Star Break. Then again, we are talking about the Red Bulls, and they are terrible.

Reyna Article
Ives Galarcep has a really good article about Claudio Reyna and the impact that he had and will have on the US National team. I think that Claudio was excellent in the Cup. He worked when no one past the defense would against the Czech Republic. He was the transmission of the squad against Italy. He really got screwed on the "flub" that he had against Ghana. I am still a little peeved over the fact that 3 times during that match, Ghana has a guy rolling in pain on the ground, and we kick the ball out of bounds. We have 1 guy get injured in the match (Reyna) and when the guy goes to ground, no one on Ghana's side tells their man to kick the ball out. Anyways...

I think he will be missed. He was a very controlled and structured midfielder for the US, and one that was important to have when we played defensive soccer. Hopefully, as we have seen three examples of how defensive soccer doesn't get the job done in an international tournament, we will follow a more Germany like approach and adopt a more offensive mindset for future squads, at least one with two forwards. If the US Squad does evolve into an offensive squad, then I think the impact of his absense will be lessend, as I do not think that Reyna would have been that great an option for a quick strike offense, Pablo will fill the role Reyna would have been moved into.

Good bye Claudio Reyna. You were Captain America and until someone with the armband steps up and proves that they can lead us like you have, you will still be Captain America.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Job faster than we thought?

Red Bull New York just fired Mo. It says, "assistant Richie Williams will serve as interim head coach until a permanent replacement is found."

Can anyone say Bruce Arena?

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Part 3: MLS Changes that benefit US Soccer and MLS

The US World Cup squad that Bruce Arena took to Germany in 2006 was made up of 23 players. 12 players from European club teams, 11 from MLS club teams. The starting line-ups were European experience heavy, with only four MLS players getting regular starts (Donovan, Mastroeni, Pope, and Dempsey). As MLS moves into its second decade of play, the relationship between MLS and the US Soccer Federation will have to expand and deepen its roots into each other for support. In the next decade, MLS will require a healthy US Soccer program as the US Soccer program will require a healthy MLS. MLS will need to evolve into a more international soccer league, one with its own stadiums, and with more of an internationally aligned schedule

In the 11 years that MLS has been in operation, its success has been in its organization and its ability to produce quality American players and send them overseas to European leagues as well as for the US National team. The league has been able to truly keep costs down, bring in investors and build its own soccer specific stadiums, where they retain the revenue. This has been a great achievement, especially in the country that has 3 other globally oriented sports leagues that dominate fan interests, media coverage and merchandising sales. However, MLS should do more to entice the soccer fans to attend the soccer matches, or watch them on TV.

First is to get the rest of the clubs into soccer specific stadiums. The clubs that already have their own stadiums are free from having to give away parking revenue, concession revenue and pick and choose when they play at home. Once clubs like DC United have their own stadium, they will be able to schedule matches at home whenever they desire, rather than hope that the Washington Nationals MLB club isn’t at home that week. Once the clubs have their own stadiums, then MLS can move into phase two of evolving its game, moving its schedule to a better time of year.

The rest of the world operates on a loosely similar schedule of when they operate their leagues. In most of Europe, the leagues in Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, France, and England just to say a few, all operate from August to May, and they space out the league matches to allow for Cup matches on weekends and for cases of breaks, like in Germany. Other leagues, like in Argentina, they play a two part season, an Opening and a Closing season. They play their opening season in the spring (their fall), break for the summer (their winter) then start up their closing season in the fall (their spring). This type of season structure, either an August to May season or a split season, allows for the summer for either a break for the players, or for internationally scheduled events, such as the World Cup, European Championship, Copa America. Even the northern European nations that are forced to play in the summer for lack options during the winter, they break during the World Cup or the European Championship tournament.

Once MLS gets its clubs into its own stadiums, they should move the MLS schedule to something like an August to May schedule. They could schedule their matches for evening Saturday starts, so they do not compete with the bulk of the College football games on TV or live. They can stay away from Sundays, as the NFL has laid claim to that day for really any sports events in the US. They can also have Cup dates built into the schedule to allow for the US Open Cup tournament to be played on weekends, which would allow for better fan turnouts at the matches. Matches held in Toronto will likely be the exception, as mid-day starts during the winter will be required. Toronto could also see its schedule heavily favor road matches during the January/February period.

Once MLS moves its schedule to a Fall/Winter/Spring line-up, it will allow the US players to fall in line with the rest of the FIFA schedules. If a player ends up moving to England, like Tim Howard did, at the beginning of the EPL season, he won’t have been playing since April, only to have realistically been in season action from April 2003 to May of 2004, really without any type of break. If MLS is on the same schedule, they can adopt the same transfer schedules and allow for international match days to be more accessible for the National team, as players will not be either in or out of season.

Another reason for MLS moving its schedule from April to November is to give its clubs that take part in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the Copa Sudamericana a better chance in the tournaments. The CONCACAF tournament will no longer be held before the MLS season, so the players will not be in pre-season form. The Copa Sudamericana matches will not take place later in the season, when the clubs are beginning to worry about play off position and might take these matches a little lighter than MLS and their fans might want them to. If MLS wants to gain credibility in the international stage, it needs to have teams in the CONCACAF Champions Cup final every year as well as advancing deep into the Copa Sudamericana. If MLS gets clubs deep into both tournaments, wins the Champions Cup, then we might see two MLS clubs invited to the Copa Libertadores. If FIFA continues to host the World Club Championships in Japan every December, MLS clubs, assuming we start winning the CONCACAF Champions Cup, will be in mid season form for that tournament, in stead of three weeks out of the playoffs. The schedule change would benefit the play on the field in these tournaments, which would attract new fans and new players.

One reason that Garber & Co. have voiced why they are against changing the schedule is that they would be in direct competition with the NFL or College Football for broadcasting and attendance during that time. I disagree with that idea. MLS already plays part of its schedule during the beginning of the US football seasons. The only problem right now is that some clubs have to schedule around those who own the stadiums that they play in, like Real Salt Lake does, or Red Bull New York will. DC United right now must schedule around the Nationals. If they continue to play the matches at 7:30pm on Saturday nights, during most of the start of the season, say from August to November, they will not be in competition, when they are playing in their own stadiums. They will also not be competing for fans, as soccer fans in the US are not going to be choosing whether to go to a UCLA game or going to a LA Galaxy game. DC United fans are not that inclined to really have to choose United or Maryland. The MLS fans who attend the matches will still attend the matches if the schedule was moved.

A second reason that Garber & Co. have claimed that the MLS schedule shouldn’t be moved is due to the weather in New York, Toronto, New England, Colorado, and Salt lake during the winter. They claim that the conditions will be too bad for both the players and the fans. Again, I disagree. I disagree because Salt Lake already plays their end of season matches in those conditions, as do RBNY and the Revolution. Further more, the clubs in Europe play in those conditions and at higher latitude than most of the MLS clubs. NFL plays their season through those conditions, in New England, New York, Buffalo, and Green Bay. NFL players, in all honesty, where very little more clothes than soccer players due and do not keep their heart rates up by running all the time. As for the fans, American sports fans have proven that if the match is played, they will attend. Green Bay sell’s out their home games in December. New England and Buffalo do as well. MLS Cup 97, played in Washington, DC in a downpour, had 57,421 fans sit in the rain to watch DC United win their second straight title. Hell, I would rather sit in the stands wearing a parka watching a soccer game than sit in the stands and sweat in the 95% humidity that DC has every summer.

A third reason that Garber & Co. have claimed that changing the season from the April to November schedule to an August to may schedule is that when the schedule change happens, there will a 9 month lull in which the US fan base will be without MLS matches to attend or watch on TV. They feel that gap could kill the league. My response is why not fill the gap with a one time knock out tournament amongst the MLS clubs?

Have something called the MLS Challenge Cup. If MLS has 16 clubs by this change over, seed the teams according to the previous seasons MLS Cup playoffs and then have them play in 4 groups of 4, with home and away matches held in each group. Then have top 2 from each group move on to a knockout format. The winner plays a pre season opening match against the defending MLS Cup Champion, much like the Community Shield in England. This tournament could be run from mid April to Mid may, and give MLS fans something to look forward too.

If MLS moved towards having its own stadiums, ones that they would be in control of scheduling and revenue, it would allow for more independence of the league. The league would then be able to move itself more in line with the rest of the global soccer schedule and in doing so, be in a better position to attract more international players to play here and allow MLS to provide better support for the USSF and international tournaments. This would be a very good way for MLS to rid itself of foreign and domestic critics that ridicule MLS for playing through the World Cup as well as allow the USSF to consider using MLS players in summer tournaments like the Copa America.

DC United News

Perkins pretty good.
With two clean sheets in one week, Troy Perkins is not only making it harder for Nick Rimando to get his starting spot back in the United line-up, but he also picked up MLS Player of the Week. Troy is the first goalkeeper to pick up the award this season.

United still 1st
Also off of two clean sheets in a week, DC United remained at the top of the ESPNsoccernet MLS Power Rankings. Correct me if I am wrong, but haven't they been there since the middle of May?

Random thoughts....
So the MLS'ers should be returning from their German adventure, will Ben Olsen get a start or even some match time this Wednesday night? Will EJ, Conrad and Wolff come to the aid of the Wizards? Why does Bo Oshoniyi always look like he is either gonna cry after a goal, or he just took a whiff of a dirty diaper? Will Landon continue to be hidden playing for LA, which has had even less success than the US did in Germany?

The third part of my series on changes for the US program will be up later today, I swamped at work yesterday.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Was it the Rain?

DC United vs. Kansas City Wizards

Thank god it rained.

Going into last nights match againt the Wizards, I felt that due to United's recent run of play, that a 1-1 draw was about all either team would be able to muster. Our defense (minus the two 88 minute goofs) had been just as rock steady as it had been all season, so only allowing 1 goal to a club that had scored 5 in their last three matches would be probable.

The game kicked off pretty normally, with both sides really not being able to do that much against each other. As the first half moved on, I was beginning to think that 1 goal a piece might be puching it and if anyone scored, I thought it would be on luck. Then the rain came. And the Thunder and Lightning. Everyone scurried up under the second level over hang, except Bara and the Screaming Eagles. After the 40 minutes of the delay, United looked a little different. Their defense looked even stronger than before and we were able to get that one move into their back. That was all that we needed.

The defense got us the 1 point we should have won from a draw. The rain gave us the other 2 points. Troy was my man of the match, he was rock steady in goal. As a former keeper, I was always worried about soggy shots and grip. He looked like he was playing catch with the goalkeeper coaches.

Hopefully the midweek match in Kansas City will be just as good, with us stealing another 3 points from them.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

DC United Preview 6/24/2006

DC United vs. Kansas City Wizards
7:30pm Saturday, 6/24/2006
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

Second match in four days for United, having finally kept a 1-0 lead all the way to the final whistle, knocking off the Chicago Fire 1-0 for their 8th victory of the season. United were able to get a shock goal from Clyde Simms, the first of his United career. United remains undefeated at home this season.

Simm's first goal of his career helped the United offense, as all of a sudden, United seem to be having forward problems. Alecko has a MCL sprain and is listed as Questionable. Jamine Moreno picked up a bruise, (check out QuarterVolley for the definition of a contusion) and is listed as probable, which in my mind should mean he will be out there tonight. Lucio has decided to return home to Argentina and play for Nueva Chicago, (best of luck, listen to Bon Jovi's "Who Said You Can't Go Home" on the flight) and has left a spot open. Santino Quaranta has been moved up to Probable from his hamstring issue, so he might play as well.

United have a 9 point lead over Kansas City as of right now, but with 2 matches in hand. Assuming that Kansas City make those two matches up with wins, they cut our lead to 3. That simply shows that we must win this match to get the gap set to 12 and truly have a 6 point cushion between each team. With the injury bug seemingly paying a visit to RFK, we need to pick up points off of our Eastern Conference rivals. As well as this being one of a few home games left in the season for United, home points are the easiest to get, so there is no reason that United shouldn't get the 3 points tonight. Those three points tonight will look good when they end up playing 4 of 5 on the road in July.

Kansas City comes into this match with a three match unbeaten run, 1 draw and 2 wins, the last one being a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Fire. Scott Sealy scored two of their goals, so he will be one to watch tonight. Over all, Kansas City seems to be playing pretty good soccer, which should make for a good match.

I honestly think that United will get 1 goal tonight, but Moreno will not last the whole match. United will give up a goal, and the match ends with a 1-1 draw and the two clubs splitting the points.
DC United 1 - 1 Kansas City Wizards

World Cup 2nd Round Predictions - Revised 6/24/2006

Here are my revised predictions for the 2nd Round of the World Cup.

Germany vs. Sweden
I had originally picked the Swede's to knock Germany off in this round. That was before Sweden realyy didn't get its act together and compiled 2 draws in the first round. Germany has shown that Klinsmann's work ethic and attacking style has finally paid off. I got Germany to move onto the Quarter Finals.
Prediction: Germany 2 - 0 Sweden

Argentina vs. Mexico
Mexico doesn't have a clue, or a chance. They lost 2-0 to a Portugal side that would lose to the Argentina juggernaut. Argentina easily, despite what Alexi Lalas (what an asshole) says.
Prediction: Argentina 3 - 1 Mexico

England vs. Ecuador
England gets its act together and Rooney scores his first World Cup Goal. Ecuador's run ends up short.
Prediction: England 2 - 1 Ecuador

Portugal vs. Netherlands
Portugal went 3-0 in the group phase, which for them was an easy group pahse with mexico being their only main concern. They get their first World Cup test of the 2006 tournament and they will fail that test. The Netherlands will come out and grind out a victory, most likely off of a set piece goal.
Prediction: Portugal 1 - 2 Netherlands

Italy vs. Australia
I like the Aussie's, but they go home after this match. The Italians will come out and control the mindifled and get their mirical goal and move onto the Quater Finals.
Prediction: Italy 1 - 0 Australia

Switzerland vs. Ukraine
I have no idea. The Ukraine were dumpded out of their first match, then came back against two lesser sides to qualify for the second round. Switzerland held France to 0 goals and went on to win their group. I see Switzerland moving on.
Prediction: Switzerland 2 - 1 Ukraine

Brazil vs. Ghana
I am now a Ghana supporter. However they will not have Michael Essien in the midfield, but will be with their two goal scorers Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan. If Brazil comes out and moves the ball as they did against Japan...Brazil moves on.
Prediction: Brazil 2 - 1 Ghana

Spain vs. France
Les Blues...they are an enigma. Spain are not. Spain is going to be the power team of the tournament. The French get a quick trip home. At least they did n't have to play the Germans.
Prediction: Spain 3 - 0 France

Friday, June 23, 2006

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Part 2: US National Team Player Pool Development

Bruce Arena has been credited as doing an outstanding job in creating a vast pool of players to draw from for international matches. He began the development of Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Bobby Convey and Oguchi Onyewu just to name a few players who are currently in the center of the US team. What might be required is for that pool to not just be expanded, but give them meaningful international match time in between World Cups. I feel that they can do this by having a different approach to CONCACAF play, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa America.

Let’s be honest here, the only two teams in CONCACAF that should really be giving us any problems are Mexico and Costa Rica. When we play Jamaica, Panama, Guatemala, we really shouldn’t lose, but we always find ways to do that. Playing in Panama against their national team is a test that Germany would find difficult. Even as that might be a difficult task, we have done it and come away with victories.

As we are in this region, we should play the other teams in our region, as we will need to keep up with how they are doing in regards to CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifying. However, I do think that there can and should be a very fine line of playing the lesser regional nations and only playing them. When we use an international match day to play Panama in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium, we really do not gain anything from that match. A match like that would be beneficial for an all MLS squad, or one where we have some of the lesser known and used US internationals from Europe in the squad, like Jonathan Spector, Michael Bradley, Ryan Coiner or Jay DeMerit. Bringing any of these European based US players into these types of matches would allow them to get a taste of the international game, as well as continue to widen the player pool. These types of matches should be scheduled on non-international match days, ones that correspond with open dates in league seasons. If we want DeMerit and Spector to come over for a match, try and schedule it during an FA Cup weekend in England, if their two clubs are already out of the competition.

Matches against CONCACAF teams, (excluding Mexico and Costa Rica) should be considered 2nd option matches, especially on FIFA International match days. We should honestly look at matches against the lesser CONCACAF nations as MLS player development matches, or introductory matches for European based Americans who have not been brought into the player pool or haven’t made many appearances. They will give use the ability to keep tabs on their strength, as well as develop our newer pool players.

As we are a member of CONCACAF, one of our primary objectives every year that a Gold Cup is held is to win it. I am not saying that the US Soccer Federation has sent a team with the idea of placing second or the feeling that getting out of our group is ok. What I am saying is that when the tournament is held before a Confederations Cup, we should send our First Team. When the Gold Cup is held in the off years, like it was in 2005, this would be the best chance of getting the pool players in to mix with some of the other veterans or those players trying to come back from injury.

The US Soccer Federation should start its preparations now for the 2007 tournament, which will be held in the US between June 6th and June 24th. This gives the US just under a year to get new players into the fold and get them ready for this event. Assuming that the US team uses 10 players from MLS, which will be in season during June, and that they US goes to the final, the MLS players would most likely miss about 4 ½ weeks of play for their club teams. As the US automatically qualifies for the Gold Cup, along with Mexico and Canada, they should schedule competitive matches for the build up of the Gold Cup.

Copa America
Every 2 years, CONMEBOL hosts their regional tournament, the Copa America. Every year since 1995, CONMEBOL has invited Mexico and the United States to take part in the tournament. The US accepted and took part in 1995, placing 4th. Mexico has made the finals once and rumor has it, will actually host the tournament in 2009. Ever since the 1995 tournament, the US has declined the invitation, due to the fact that the MLS regular season is in full swing during the tournament’s schedule, which seems to usually take place in July.

I feel that this tournament would be the perfect environment for the US to “cut the teeth” of its younger players, pretty much just like how the CONMEBOL nations use it now. Granted that the 2007 tournament, if held in July, would start about 2 weeks after the Gold Cup, it would be a lot of away time for some players. That is why using two groups of player for these two tournaments would be advisable. Have our first team play in the Gold Cup, and then have a second team, using a line up something like this –


Marcus Hahnemann – Reading, England
Zach Wells – Houston Dynamo, USA


Gregg Berhalter – 1860 Munich, Germany
Frankie Simek – Sheffied Wednesday, England
Jay DeMerit – Watford, England
Todd Dunivant – LA Galaxy, USA
Jimmy Conrad – Kansas City Wizards, USA
Bobby Boswell – DC United, USA
Jonathan Spector – Charlton Athletic, England


Michael Bradley – Heerenveen, the Netherlands
Ryan Caugherty – Bordens BK, Sweden
Kerry Zavagine – Kansas City Wizards, USA
Freddy Adu – DC United, USA
DeMarcus Beasely – PSV Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Justin Mapp – Chicago Fire, USA
Kyle Martino – LA Galaxy, USA


Nate Jaqua – Chicago Fire, USA
Conor Casey – Mainz 05, Germany
Kenny Cooper – FC Dallas, USA
Edson Buddle – Red Bull New York,USA

I think that this would be a good chance to get some of the European players into the US fold, get them used to playing with the MLS guys as well as operate in a tournament structure, where you need to be alert and awake the whole time. In a situation playing against South American teams that will test the players, this is a win-win situation. However, the US Soccer federation should take the approach that this tournament is not one that they must win. Every player who steps on the field should go out there and give 110% and go for victories, but the federation should not rate the success of the US team based on if it wins the tournament or makes the semi-finals. They should understand that the US team they send is for international tournament experience only.

As the USA is going to begin losing a lot of the old guard players (Reyna, McBride, Keller, Pope, Lewis, Hejduk, Olsen, Noonan, Ralston, Armas, Wolff, just to name a few), the player pool will be thinned out. Those players that had been the old reliable call ups for qualifying matches will now begin to no longer be available. Using an approach such as one I have suggested as above, that player pool could regain its depth.

Monday - Part 3: MLS involvement in US Soccer future.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Part 1: World Cup Prepartation

The strongest US Men’s National Team in years goes to Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and is eliminated in the first round. They lose 3-0 to the Czech Republic; draw 1-1 with Italy; and lose 2-1 to Ghana. One point from three matches, when 4 would have booked a second round spot. How do we fix what we all saw in Germany?

Part of the road to recovery will be to look back at what has been going on, realizing what the problems are and making steps to move forward from the problems that are identified. This will include looking at the US team’s preparation for the World Cup, their pool building process, and Major League Soccer. In examining these three areas, I hope to offer some ideas and suggestions for better development. Suggestions that can be used by those who in charge could begin to implement this year, in hopes that when the coach of the 2010 USA World Cup team says that this is the strongest National Team ever, he can really say that.

The United States National Team found out that it had qualified for the 2006 World Cup when it defeated CONCACAF rival Mexico on September 3rd, 2005. That was the very last meaningful match that the United States National Team played until it took the field against Poland in the beginning of March of 2006. After that match, the next time the USA actually fielded its first team squad against anyone, was against the Czech Republic.

The USA took a very interesting approach to their build up for the World Cup. They held a training camp for the out of season MLS players in January, and played several matches against teams that either fielded B-Side squads (Norway), or against teams that were under the level that the USA was at (Canada). FIFA did create something of a very stupid situation for international coaches and set aside only one international match date between the World Cup Draw and the start of the World Cup, which was the day that the USA played Poland in Germany. I hope that if given more international days where clubs were required to release players, the USA would have attempted to play its first team against quality opponents.

In May, the USA had a send off series for the USA. They played three matches in three different US cities against nations from three different regions. They lost their first match against the best of the three teams, Morocco. They then defeated Venezuela and Latvia. The USA played three non-World Cup qualified teams and one of those did not even remotely mimic the style of any of their opponents. Was this as good a build up as we could have provided for our players?

While the USA was playing non-World Cup sides in the fan friendly confines of the USA, the other nations that have advanced to the second round of the World Cup were already mostly in Europe playing against nations that had also qualified or those nations that played similar styles to their first round opponents. Mexico played France and the Netherlands in Europe; Italy played the Ukraine and Switzerland; Spain played Croatia and Russia. Mexico, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain have all advanced to the second round. Switzerland, France, and the Ukraine have real chances at advancing from their groups. We played Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia.

What we need to start doing is challenging our players more. Get those who have been called into the 23 man roster into situations that challenge them. Make those situations uncomfortable and maybe even hostile, test them. Sure CONCACAF qualifying in Costa Rica and Mexico City can be hostile (watch out for the flying batteries and bags of urine) but when you get the 23 guys together, you want them to be ready for anything. My suggestion for the 2010 World Cup, assuming that we qualify, would be to not have the USA play their prep matches in the US, or if they do, only one match of four. Here is a hypothetical situation, as an example of how I would have them get ready.

The USA qualifies, and is grouped in Group C which looks like this –
- France
- Ecuador
- Portugal

As the World Cup is being held in South Africa in 2010, this is almost neutral ground for these teams, much like Korea/Japan was in 2002. We hold training camp in Cary, North Carolina again, giving them 10 or so days of fitness work, just like this year. We hold our first prep match in Washington, DC at Fed Ex Field against Columbia. Two days later the US moves its preparations to Europe, where it plays a match against Spain in Madrid (or better yet in Barcelona, so both teams can be booed). They then play a warm up match against Italy in Rome or Milan. After one week in Europe, they move on to South Africa where they play a warm up match with Argentina.

If they were to do a similar type of warm up, the USA players would be playing matches against quality opponents that will be similar in playing styles to their first round opponents as well as giving the guys the chance to really test their teamwork against sides that have qualified or should have qualified for South Africa. It should never matter in these matches if we win. I think that might have been an under laying motive for inviting the three teams that the USA played this time. They should play against quality opponents and ones that give the USA a taste of the style that they will have to deal with in matches that three points is really the only option. Had the USA played Angola in a meaningful match before the 2006 World Cup, I think that they would been able to had a better handle on Ghana.

If the US Soccer federation took a similar type of pre-World Cup preparation approach to the 2010 World Cup, I think it would prepare the US players better for the tournament.

Part 2: Preparing the Player Pool. Thats tomorrow.

World Cup Spilled.

The USA lost today 2-1 against a Ghana team that was very good, but really wasn't anything special. The USA finished with 1 point, and a 0-2-1 record. They were blown away by the Czech Republic, drew against the Italians and lost to Ghana. With the exception of the first match, I really cannot bitch too much about how the USA did. We played the best match I have ever seen them play against Italy. I failed to recognize the team that played the Czechs. The team that played against Ghana was good, but I was puzzled why Bruce sent a defense team out against a side that we had to score on.

We all probably watched the last match for Reyna, McBride, Keller, and Pope in a USA uniform. I don't see Reyna going across the pond much more for the USA, the same for Brian. Keller might stay in goal, but look for Howard to be getting the starting shirt in the next couple of matches.

Dempsey should be on his way to a European club, most likely in England, maybe Germany. Gooch should be signing with Middlesbourgh any day now. Jimmy Conrad might get some looks from some Euro squad as well. All of these moves would be good for the US national team. Lets hope that MLS doesn't screw them and not sell their contracts, in the case of Deuce and Conrad.

All in all, I enjoyed the USA's run in Germany. I loved hearing three stadiums belt out the Star Spangled Banner louder than ever before. I have loved reading the fans blogs and their on the ground stories over in Germany. Makes me want 2010 to be right around the corner.

As for the US Soccer Federation, I hope they can learn from this and adapt the program to allow the US to do even better and when the World Cup is played on European soil again, we will only once have to hear the announcers mention that the USA hasn't ever won a match in a World Cup played in Europe.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

USA vs Ghana Preview

USA vs. Ghana
10:00am EST ESPN

The USA plays Ghana in a must win match for advancement to the second round and a likely match up with defending World Cup Champion Brasil. In order for either team to advance, they must win. The USA advances with a win and an Italian victory over the Czech Republic. Ghana advances to the second round with a victory over the USA.

So, can the USA advance to the second round? I feel that they can.

First, it takes a victory over Ghana, the very team that downed the Czech Republic 2-0, a team that butchered the USA 3-0. I feel that the USA can get a victory over Ghana, as long as they play with the same motivation, heart, and energy as they did against the Italians. Assuming that the USA takes the field with those qualities and keeps their cool as well, the USA side that just about everyone who follows the Yanks expected will finally show up and get the result.

I would personally like to see something along the lines of a 4-1-3-2 formation, like this one –


Cherundolo – Onyewu – Conrad – Bocanegra


Dempsey – Donovan – Convey

Johnson – McBride

This is a formation that will allow for a strong back line that will provide cover against the Ghana attack, while it allows for Reyna to try and control the midfield with Donovan, with Dempsey, Johnson and McBride attacking the Ghana goal. Convey will be running up the Left side, sometimes covered with Bocanegra, sending in balls towards Johnson and McBride. Donovan will be the floater. He will be the one bridging Reyna and the attack, along with the defense.

Now assuming we get a quick goal or two, barring any injuries or more freakish red cards, I recommend the use of DeMarcus Beasley as the first substitute, as he can either replace McBride, Convey or Dempsey and put more speed on the attack and the defense. Look for him to come on either at the start of the second half or the 60th minute mark. Assuming that he is fit for play, John O’Brien would be my next sub, have him replace McBride and begin to flood the midfield and saturate it with USA players, thus creating a quagmire for any attacking chances that the Ghanaians’ try to mount. Lastly, the final piece for the clogged midfield strategy would be to put Ben Olsen on for Convey. Olsen is the type of player that can murder a clock, just as how Cobi Jones was used in 2002. Olsen sees the field in the early second half if we have a 2 goal lead. He comes on late if we are holding a 1 goal lead.

The flip side of this match will be the side that Ghana fields. As they will be without their two starting forwards, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essian will be the primary focus on the Ghana attack, and the primary focus of the USA defense. Pimpong might get the start, but look for Ghana to use its speedy midfielders as its main source of offense in this match. As long as Onyewu and Conrad control the central defense and Keller stays sharp in goal, the USA should be ok. The speed of the Ghana midfield will test the USA players, especially when the midfielders must track back to help on defense.

So the USA defeats Ghana, gets 4 points. They still need Italy to defeat the Czech Republic. That can happen too.

Right now the Czech Republic are a wounded animal. Their gigantic forward, Koller has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Koller was named to the side, but he has not trained with the team since before the USA match. Milan Baros seems to regaining his fitness and might start up front. Koller’s injury would most likely move Lokvenc in as a starting forward, but he has picked up his second yellow card and will be suspended for this match. Jiri Stajner, might be used up front for the Czechs. Central defender Tomas Ujfalusi has been suspended for this match as well, as he picked up a red card against Ghana.

All of this seems to be presenting a good situation for the Italians. Italy are currently at the top of the group with 4 points. 1 more point and they advance to the second round. However, who they face in the second round will be a very large motivational tool for their match with the Czechs. Italy would much prefer to not have to face Brasil in the second round. As the final Group F matches happen after the final Group E matches, the winner of Group F will still yet to be determined, and everyone will still assume that it is Brasil. If Italy wins their match with the Czechs, they win the group and avoid Brasil in the second round. This will be enough for the Italians to go out and play for the victory instead of a draw.

Over all, these two matches should be very open affairs at least for the first 45 minutes. All three sides really need a win. The USA must have 3 points and help to advance. The Czechs and Ghana really need 3 points to assure advancing. Italy needs 3 points to avoid Brasil in the second round.

My predictions:
USA 2 – 0 Ghana
Italy 2 – 1 Czech Republic

Group finish:
1st – Italy
2nd – USA

DC United Preview 6/21/2006

DC United vs. Chicago Fire
7:30pm Wednesday 6/21/2006
RFK Stadium

DC United 7-1-5
Chicago Fire 2-4-5

DC United return home from a 2 week road trip to LA and to New England, collecting on 2 points from a possible 6 due to allowing 1 late goal in each match, both coming within the last 5 minutes, to drop the points. Gomez and Moreno provided the 1-0 leads in the matches, only to watch the United defense fall apart and allow the goals. United will be looking to change course with their next two matches being at home against the Fire and the Wizards.

Chicago started the MLS season with a 9 match road series and have collected 1 point from their last 4 matches, allowing 10 goals and scoring 7 in that stretch. This is the first trip to RFK for Chicago this season.

As this is the first meeting since the 4-0 demolition that Chicago dished out onto United during last seasons playoffs, ending United's season, there will definitely be a sense of tension in this match. United should want to exact some sense of payback for that home defeat last year. What United needs to do is focus on taking care of business, get a result, pick up the 3 points, instead of trying to murder the Fire. United had a 10 point lead in the East over Kansas City, a lead that has been whittled down to 6 points. United will have to step back up and hope to take advantage of this 2 match homestand, because after this series, the only play at home one more time between Saturday and August 18th. 6 points at home will go along way if they continue to drop 2 points on the road at every stop.

If United show up tonight and put on even half the performance that they did last time they played a Wednesday night match, the 5-1 drubbing of Columbus, then I feel confident that the Fire go home without any points. If United continue to play as they have the last two matches and walk through the second half, we drop 2 more points.

Hopefully this is a good game, I won't get to watch it as it is not televised and I cannot go to RFK tonight. Enjoy the match regardless.

Prediction: DC United 2 - 0 Chicago Fire

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

World Cup Thoughts

With all 32 teams having 1 match left, here is where we stand -

Qualified for 2nd Round:
- Germany
- Eduador
- England
- Argentina
- The Netherlands
- Portugal
- Brazil
- Spain

Eliminated from the World Cup
- Poland
- Costa Rica
- Paraguay
- Ivory Coast
- Serbia & Montenegro
- Iran
- Togo

There have yet to be any really big surprises in this tournament so far. Sure the USA failing to play against the Czech Republic; France having trouble finding the back of the net both qualify as surprises, but nothing on par with something like Angola knocking off both Mexico and Portugal to advance to the 2nd Round or Tunisia getting a 1-0 victory over Spain. The tournament has pretty much played out as people have expected.

New Predictions
Group A: 1st-Germany, 2nd- Ecudaor
Group B: 1st-England, 2nd-Sweden
Group C: 1st-Argentina, 2nd-The Netherlands
Group D: 1st-Portugal, 2nd-Mexico
Group E: 1st-Italy, 2nd-USA
Group F: 1st-Brazil, 2nd-Australia
Group G: 1st-South Korea, 2nd-France
Group H: 1st-Spain, 2nd-Ukraine

Monday, June 19, 2006

Weekend recap 6/19/2006

So what is the problem with DC United? We can score in the first half, but when we get a lead we sorta fall flat? Are the last 5 minutes of a match away from RFK kryptonite for United? I didn't get to see this match, but from what I read in the Washington Post and from, they played pretty much the same way that they did against the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy btw, are back on track, losing to Red Bull New York, the MLS draw machine, 2-1.

DC United has a mid-week match at home Wednesday night against the Chicago Fire, a club that is having some issues scoring themselves. As the Fire are the last place club in the East, I feel that this will be the perfect opportunity for Nowak's boys to get things back in order and pick up the three points. However, as they are the last place club in the East, this will be a fight, as United seem to not show up for the easy matches.

US National Team/World Cup
That match against Italy was one helluva match. We looked good, Italy looked flatter than I have ever seen them, and the ref was out of his mind with the damn cards. That boy better be on a flight back to South America right now, if he isn't on the ground there already. He ruined that match.

The draw was really a victory for the US program. It showed that when we have a tough challenge, being down to 9 men, we can still play the game. It makes up for the Czech match. Had they played against the Czechs with the energy and passion that they had against Italy, we would have at least come away with a draw against the Czechs as well.

The Ghana match will be one fight as well. I cannot wait for that match up.

The French were robbed of a goal and a win yesterday. They too played flat against the South Koreans and drew with them, but they had a goal stolen from them, as the replays showed the keeper swatting at the ball in the goal.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


That was a good match spoiled by a stupid ref.

I was suprised by the lineup at first, thinking that Johnson should have started over Pablo. I was wrong. The US played well, even if we got an own goal. 9 vs. 10 against the Italians is a mountain and the mountain didn't win.

I am happy with the point, we were the better side in the match, and should have had 2 goals. I will take the point. Go out and beat Ghana on Thursday and have Italy beat the Czechs. Then we get Brazil.

Friday, June 16, 2006

DC United Preview 6-16-2006

DC United vs. New England Revolution
Gillette Stadium

So was last week a disappointment? Was is a let down? Did United really lose the match against the Galaxy?

I 100% have to say yes. However, what ever doesn't kill you should make you stronger. I thought United played just about as dismal as a group of 11 players could do...until I watched the USA/Czech match the next day. The United side that went out against the defending chumps looked as if they were told to run at half speed. Don't really try and accelerate tonight boys, things will just happen for you. So we got a point from a road match, that is good enough.

Wrong. American sports fans have this understanding that you must win every home match, but if you get a draw in your matches on the road, you are still doing well. Why do they have this mentality? Because of playoff systems. Playoff systems reward clubs for not giving it their all, every time they step on the pitch. They tell players, "it's ok, do well at home and just don't lose away from home, you will still get to play post-season soccer." This type of mentality makes me seriously want to vomit.

If we as Americans want to truly be regarded as global soccer powers; respected enough in the media that when we get drawn against European teams in the World Cup, the media says that putting us in the group makes it difficult for the Euro sides to advance; we have got to get all of our players, especially our club football players, to want to win every time they put on their uniform. Don't just go out there and run through the motions, go out there and win every ball you try for. Go out there and take the shot, instead of passing it back. Scream at the guy holding the ball, "Give me the damn ball!" If you get the ball 30 yards out from goal, take a look at the goal and crack a good shot, without sending it into the 9th row.

So that brings us to the United match this weekend. DC United are leading the league in offense, points, and have the goalkeeper with the best GAA in Troy Perkins. There is no reason that when a DC United team this season, unless mauled by injuries, loses to the LA Galaxy. The Revolution are in just as bad a situation as the Galaxy are in. They have been struggling to get points on the scoreboard, with the exception of their goal splash that they dropped on the Fire last week to salvage a draw. Interestingly enough, the fact that the Revolution scored 3 goals should server as a warning to DC, they will hurt you if you play like you did in LA.

I have said this week in and week out, United must go out there and draw blood. If United are to win the Supporters Shield and go on to win the MLS Cup, they must take three points from every match that they start. If they don't they will get the mentality that allows a 4-0 ass kicking that they received at home last year in the play-offs against the Fire. a team that only shows up part of the time will do so when they least expect it. If they routinely go out during the regular season and try to win every match 3-0, then when the matches count, (MLS Cup, US Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions Cup/League) they will continue that mental state and will win.

United do not have any real bad injuries for this match, Jamil Walker being listed as questionable is the only one that stands out for me. There is no reason that Aleco and Jamie shouldn't be able to cause havoc for the back line of the Revolution. Gomez, Gros and Adu should be able to get them service as well as provide more offense than the new England defense can handle. Twellman, without service, shouldn't be a problem for Carroll and Simms. Perkins has been outstanding in goal, with some exceptions. He had one misstep, on the Jones goal, but other than that, he was strong, especially in the air. he must repeat that type of performance this Saturday, minus the misstep.

All in all, if the DC United side that has won 7 matches this season shows up, they win 3-0 with goals from Aleco, Adu and Gros. If they fail to show up, which seems to be a running pattern now, then they drop 2 points with a 1-1 draw.
Predictions: DC United 3 - 0 New England or DC United 1 - 1 New England

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

First Round Thoughts - World Cup 2006

So, how about them Czechs? The Czechs were cashed on Monday!

Ok, enough about that match.

As the first set of 1st Round Matches are finishing up, here are my impressions of the tournament and the teams as of now.

  • Klinsmann's guys can score. They will score goals in this tournament. However, they will give them up as well. They play a distraught Poland later today, which will either be a German blow out as Poland pushes everyone forward for goals, or a German 2-1 victory.
  • England played ugly and still got 3 points. Imagine how they do if their midfield actually wins more than 5 balls all match? If they actually have a fit Owen and Rooney...well, they might, might live up to their hype.
  • Argentina have shown up this tournament, unlike 2002. Crespo/Saviola/Riquelme will have everyone they face on their heels.
  • The Czechs are for real. They certainly didn't play like they were a bunch of aging old vets. Nedved certainly didn't look like a guy about to retire. Arsenal have a gold mine on their hands if Roskiky can replicate his first match performance for the Gunners.
  • The Soccerooos have heart and that won them their match with Japan. They had better score earlier against Croatia though.
  • Two of the best matches I have seen involved African sides. Ivory Coast were impressive against Argentina. Ghana played inspiring football against Italy.
  • There is still sportsmanship in football. I cannot stand either Iran or Mexico, but when the Iranian's presented Sanchez with flowers for the loss of his father, they gained some respect from me. When Sanchez went out their and put on a display like he did, just after burying his father, I came away with more respect for him as well.
  • Who will be the Paper Tiger of the tournament? Ukraine or USA?
  • Will Spain finally get their monkey off their backs?
  • Whats with the French?

Well, Germany vs. Poland kick off the second set of 1st round matches at 3pm today. Lets see if anything major changes in this set of matches.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Soccer Digest 6/13/2006

Roy Keane retires due to health reasons.
For anyone who missed it yesterday, Celtic midfielder Roy Keane retired due to health reasons. It is a sad day in world football when Keane-O retires from the game. His last match was his testimonial at Old Trafford, between Celtic and Manchester United.

I wish Roy the best in retirement.

DC United remain top of the Power Rankings.
Despite a laugher of a match at the Home Depot Center, DC United remained at the Top of the MLS Power Rankings. Hopefully they will remain their next week, but after a victory instead of a howler.

Not much else....will Saturday be a nightmare?

Not using a Czech reference.

Czech Republic 3 - 0 United States

Czech-Mate. Reality Czech. Czech Your Head.

Those were some of the headlines I saw over yesterday and this morning after the USA were clinically defeated at the hands of the Czech Republic. 3-0. Talks of how the Czechs looked like a pro team playing a rec league team. I really do not know what made me want to throw up more yesterday, the USA performance, or the coverage afterwards.

The US National Team that played yesterday was not the team I know. I have seen them play more games than I can remember. That was not them. It looked like them. Their jersey's had their names on them. That was not them. They played last night as if it were a warm up, at best. The game yesterday made me think of a bad movie that has a pro team throw a match, they come out and look bad, like "8 Men Out." That was not a Bruce Arena squad that I have ever seen.

If I was to pick out the bad performances, I would get carpal tunnel in my wrists, it would take that long to type it. Keller was helpless in the three goals. He wasn't out of position at all, he was beaten by three great shots. That was about the only player that had no faults yesterday. There were some players that had good moments, but no one was above being called out for looking pathetic, tired, passionless, and dull.

This is not to take away anything from the Czech Republic. They looked great. Their counter attacks were lethal, their midfield was dominating and their defense was a damn brickwall. They reminded me of the Germany squads of the late 80's and early 90's. If there was one sense of a bright spot for the US was that as well as the Czech's were playing, the US only lost 3-0. That match should have been 5-0.

The match yesterday was a perfect storm for the US. They played below par and their opponent played well above par.

Now, for the Italian match. The US must get 3 points, which I don't see them doing. I never did, even when I dreamt a couple of posts ago, reality never allowed me to see the US getting 3 points from the Italians. The best we can hope for is 1 point, or to just score a goal. If I was running things, which I am not, I would send out the following line-up:

Pope - Onyewu - Lewis
Dempsey - O'Brien - Convey
McBride - Johnson
I do not think Beasely should be allowed to start, regardless if he kisses Bruce's ass all week. Mastroeni should be used as a defensive sub, maybe to replace Eddie Lewis. This formation should be able to get some good runs up the sides and crosses in. Dempsey, IMHO, should have been subbed on yesterday, as I think he would have been able to provide that offensive, energentic spark that none of the field players had.
These suggestions might work, assuming that one thing actually happens on Saturday, the US National Team plays like the US National Team. I am still trying to figure out who the hell was out on the field yesterday.

Monday, June 12, 2006

DC United Recap

LA Galaxy 1 - 1 DC United


DC United, leading MLS with 24 points, 4-0-1 in their last 5 matches, goes out flat against the toilet turd club of the league. The only time United showed any signs of the club that won 5-1 against Columbus, was the first 12 minutes of the second half. Gomez's goal was nothing but a fluke, it will be nominated for Goal of the Week, but nothing to cite as a run of good play.

United lost that match last night. They didn't even deserve the one point that they got for the draw.

When will MLS clubs begin to treat every match as if they get relegated if the don't get 3 points? Maybe if MLS ever had a relegation system, which will never happen, so I don't see that eye of the tiger getting instilled in them.

Friday, June 09, 2006

DC United Preview 6/9/2006

LA Galaxy vs. DC United
Home Depot Center, Carson, California
8pm EST Sunday, 6/11/2006

DC United take their act back on the road after a busy week that saw them take 9 points off of Kansas City, Columbus and New England, scoring 9 goals and allowing only 2. They moved 10 points ahead of Kansas City in the Eastern Conference and 3 points ahead of FC Dallas in the Supporters Shield standings. This will be their only trip to LA to face the Galaxy this season, having to face Chivas at HDC in September.

The Galaxy, the defending MLS Cup chumps, are currently attempting to break the MLS record for consecutive loses in a season, currently holding at 7 after a 2-1 "home" loss to Chivas USA last night. New coach Frank Yallop changed up the Galaxy system, but they still had trouble with finishing last night. LA are currently last in MLS with 7 points.

This is one of those matches that United have classically screwed up. The United players have got to shake their habit of not getting ready for every match. Once MLS clubs begin to truly take every game as if they were playing Brazil or Chelsea, they will be better prepared and perform better on the field. Clubs in South America and Europe have this mentality that if they lose more than 3 matches a season, then they will not have any type of a successful season. MLS clubs need that mind set. They must go out for blood every week. United must do that, especially against the poorer clubs in the league, LA being the worst right now.

Even with that said, I feel that United will leave LA with the 3 points. They are coming off of a full weeks rest, and they are beaming with confidence. They are playing a squad that is having problems finishing or even creating chances on goal. They are playing a club that just played a match last night and will be on 2 days rest. They are playing a club that is trying to learn a new system from their new coach, a system that they will still be sorting out at kick-off.

As long as United maintains its defensive composure and continues to play its ball control attacking format, nothing I have seen from the Galaxy this season, including the match last night that I stayed up to watch, makes me think that Yallops boys will be able to get any points Sunday. Nowak has got to get his guys on track.

Prediction: LA Galaxy 0 - 3 DC United

FIFA 2006 World Cup Preview and Predictions #5

The 2006 World Cup starts today in Munich, Germany. This week I have been giving my preview to the tournament and my predictions for the group phases and for the rest of the tournament. Here are my knockout phase predictions.

2nd Round
Germany vs. Sweden
The Swedes will be the first true test for the German machine, and they will not pass that test.
Prediction: Sweden

England vs. Poland
England wins this one with a goals from Lampard and Owen. Rooney starts his first match of the tournament.
Prediction: England

Argentina vs. Mexico
Mexico face an inspired Agrentina squad and fall due to a Crespo goal.
Prediction: Argentina

Portugal vs. Holland
The Dutch drop a very early goal and go on for a 2-0 victory.
Prediction: Holland

Czech Republic vs. Australia
The Czech Defense, if fit, stone wall the Aussie's.
Prediction: Czech Republic

Brazil vs. Italy
Soccer Poets come away with a victory in this match worthy of a Final.
Prediction: Brazil

France vs. Ukraine
Zidane shows us all why he will be missed. The World Cup is cut short for the Ukraine.
Prediction: France

Spain vs. South Korea
The South Koreans out run the Spainish and get a late goal to return to the Quarter Finals.
Prediction: South Korea

Quarter Finals
Sweden vs. Argentina
Argentina book their ticket to the Semi Finals in a very even matchup.
Prediction: Argentina

England vs. Holland
England beat the Dutch with a Wayne Rooney goal.
Prediction: England

Czech Republic vs. France
Henry and Zidane get the best of Cech and Nedved.
Prediction: France

Brazil vs. South Korea
Brazil sends the Koreans home, after proving that they are the class of Asia.
Prediction: Brazil

Semi Finals
Argentina vs. France
Zizu manipulates an impressive performance for the French and gets them into their second Final in 3 Cups.
Prediction: France

England vs. Brazil
England gets a goal, but the Soccer Poets get a late goal to book yet another final.
Prediction: Brazil

Third Place
England vs. Argentina
Can anyone say the Falklands? Argentina start quickly, but Rooney, Gerrard and Owen get goals and win 3-1.
Prediction: England

France vs. Brazil
Haven't we been here before? Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ronaldo and Kaka all play like Supermen. Henry, Zidane and Saha get a late goal and win their second World Cup.
Prediction: France

2006 FIFA World Cup Champion: France

Now I could be wrong....
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