Thursday, August 10, 2006

What a night of football.

2 full matches and a partial one that I missed explode.

DC United vs. Real Madrid
After being told I was an idiot for staying up till 1am to watch a soccer game, I went ahead and got ready for this match. What a match! That was one of the most exciting matches I have seen in quite some time.

Los Galacticos came out ready to play and they showed how much of a gulf there is between the play of MLS clubs and the high power clubs like Real. Their ability to create such quick passes and long field changing passes are head and shoulders above the play in MLS. For most of the second half, I could have sworn that Los Merengues were playing with 12 field players, they always had 2 or 3 guys swarming the ball. Their players also were always, always making advancing runs off the ball, attempting to get an extra inch of space for a pass.

DC United played very, very well last night. That was the best that I had ever seen United play this season. The first half and the start of the second, United looked like it had asked for no quarter and wasn't giving any either. After about the 55th minute, the pressure started to mount for United and Los Galacticos were starting to smell blood. From the 60th minute on, the United defense produced probably the greatest defensive effort I have seen a MLS club ever do.

Some of the highlights for me:

- Cassano's goal. That was absolutely beautiful and something that you hardly ever see in MLS. Troy was in the correct spot for it, but the slight shift Troy did as Cassano started his move towards the far post gave Cassano that extra inch that he needed and he struck. Troy even got a finger on it, but that ball was a rocket and it was in the net.

- Alecko's goal. The United response was one of the best build ups and total plays that I have ever witnessed a United team do. Freddy's run down the right side, his cross into open space, Gros flying in to collect the cross and pass onto Gomez, who tapped it to Jaime who laid it off for Head Gear, who smashed the ball into the far side of the net. That was a build up that players dream of having. It was beautiful.

- Perkins in goal. Troy had just about the game of his life last night. His punch-out of Beckham's cross at the beginning of the match was just the start. Van Nistelrooy's shot right after, Troy didn't skip a beat and came out and snuffed out the shot. The biggest event last night was the Roberto Carlos Free Kick. Carlos launched a rocket at the United goal and Perkins pounced on it, deflecting it off to the left, then two more shots came in off the play, with Boswell deflecting the first shot and Olsen blocking the second, to have Erpen clear it off the line. Troy was on last night.

So, what does this mean?

Not much. DC United just played one of the greatest collection of world football players ever brought together and came away with a 1-1 draw and their heads held high. One of Los Galacticos starting midfielders (pick any of them) makes more money in one season that damn near the entire roster of DC United. Anyone watching the match could see the difference between our style of play and their style of play. Most of the United players were less active off the ball than the Real players. When Alecko got the ball at the top corner of the Real 18 yard box, and should have made a quick move at the goal, he stopped and hesitated. Gomez passed him the ball and he too stopped his movement. Both guys should have kept going, which might have produced another shot on goal.

All in all, it was a great match to watch. DC United represented much better than the LA Galaxy did last season when they faced Los Merengues at the Home Depot Center at the start of their preseason training tour. DC United, as well as the rest of MLS, still have along way to go, but last night they proved that they can play with some of the best the world has.

LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo
Fox Soccer Channel had this match last night as it was the first part of the double header with the Barcalona vs. Club America match in Houston. Live MLS is something I will always turn on to support the league, so I found myself infront of the TV for this one. LA won 1-0 off of a lob from former DC United forward, Santino Quaranta.

The first half was interesting, Houston looked like they were going to get the first goal. Landon really didn't look ready for the match, and I am trying to figure out why he is the Galaxy Captain, was Vagenas the Captain? I guess it pays to be Frankie West Coast's boy, you become team Captain.

It was good to see Tino get on the field and he looked good. He made some good defensive plays along with his looping goal. It is a shame that United didn't keep him, but hopefully the allocation we got for him along with the RBNY allocation yields a good forward.

Barcelona vs. Club America
As this started 30 minutes before the DC match, I watched most of the first half, and then at some throw ins, I switched back to check the score. The first Club America (CA) goal was really nice, and Barca answering right back was great as well. The first 30 minutes were so much better than the slow crap I saw on Sunday night from the Barca/Chivas match.

Why does Max Bretos call them Clooob America? Does Club really translate that long into Spanish? Anyways, the first half hat-trick made me starting to really wonder how well Barca prepared for this trip, if at all. As both of these clubs will possibly be facing each other in the World Club Cup in Japan come December, I was thinking how big would this be for CA to knock off Barca now, even if this was a friendly?

I switched over to the United match and every now and then I would quickly switch back for an update on the scoreline. I was even more shocked when I saw that CA had a 4-1 lead going into the 81st minute. I watched some of the play and it looked like Barca was unable to get anything pass the CA defense and the CA midfield was all over the Barca players. So, with a 4-1 scoreline, and Barca not playing well, I switched back to Comcast and stayed there until the end of the match.

To my surprise, I checked Big Soccer after the United match and I saw people screaming about the greatest comeback ever in 5 minutes. I had to wait until this morning to read about it. CA, even though they most likely had their reserves in, blew one helluva huge lead. Barca in 5 minutes proved why they are the Euro Champs!

So, after all that, my long night of football was over.


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