Friday, September 29, 2006

Erpen gets longer Holiday

According to Steven Goff at the Washington, MLS will be giving Facundo Erpen a longer MLS sponsored holiday due to his red card in last weeks match against RBNY. Facundo picked up a red card for stomping on RBNY player, John Wolyniec during the second half. There might have been some contact between Erpen and the Ref, but MLS is not saying exactly. Erpen will miss tomorrow nights match in Houston against the Houston Power Supply and the match against the New England Revolution on October 7th at RFK. Erpen was also fined an extra $250 for his time.

As United have decided on catching up to the rest of league in the numbers of Yellow and Red cards, prompting the Garber & Co. To reward several United players with MLS sponsored holiday's, I am going to take a different path than most and say that these MLS sponsored holidays are a good thing for DC United.

Why do you ask?

Several reasons.

First, it gives several guys time off that maybe Peter Nowak would have not given them. After such a long season, and one that has had the last two months compacted with matches, a little rest can go along way, just ask Jaime Moreno. Giving Bobby Boswell, Josh Gros and Christian Gomez MLS sponsored holidays due to yellow card accumulation for the RSL match at RFK, those guys were able to get some time off the field, which hopefully will go along way towards having them fit for the playoffs.

A second reason is the flip side of giving the guys rest, giving other guys a chance to get some time on the field. Guys like Jeff Carroll, Stephen deRoux, Rod Dyachenko all have been able to get more time on the field, which in several cases, has shown that United's bench is in pretty good shape. Having these guys able to come off the bench will be a comforting fall back deep in the playoffs, if one of the starters comes up lame or picks up a season ending injury.

So as Erpen starts his two week MLS sponsored holiday, hopefully he will remain match fit, but get a chance to recharge his legs and be ready to come back for the final regular season match and run right into the playoffs.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I just ordered my tickets, have you?

US Open Cup Champions - Chicago Fire

Well, I was wrong. You can add that to about the 1 million predictions in my life that have gone a different way. Here is one more prediction that I am correct on...I will be wrong again.

The Chicago Fire won the 2006 US Open Cup Championship last night with a 3-1 victory over the defending chumps, the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy quickly fell behind the Fire, 2-0 by the time I even turned the match on, which was in the 25th minute. They pulled one back after the start of the second half, but Fire sub, Thiago scored near the 90 minute mark on one of the prettiest setup plays I have ever seen from an MLS club. The passing and play that setup his goal was so beautiful to see, I rank it second to the play that United had on Head Gear's goal against Real Madrid.

Well, congratulations to the Fire, hopefully, that is the only silverware you get this season. I feel that you all should receive a berth in the CONCACAF Champions Cup for winning the trophy, but for some reason, you don't. Sorry about that.

On a different note, as I was folding my laundry while the FSC folks were showing the trophy ceremony, I was a little miffed at something I heard about the Fire's run in the USOC. They never played away from Toyota Park during the tournament. They hosted every match they were in. I understand trying to have the matches in SSS, but in this type of tournament, I really feel that the USSF needs to give some help to what is the visiting clubs. One way to do that is to have the Semi-Finals and the Finals in neutral venues. Doing so would really require weekend scheduling to allow for the supporters groups to travel for the matches, but I really do not see any reason why the USSF would not migrate to this. Having one club play at home the entire run is really not that fair. Hell, the MLS playoffs don't give that much home field advantage, why should the USOC?

They can still use the SSS, just have the matches at other ones. Last night's match could have been in Columbus. The DC United vs. Chicago Fire matchup in the Semi-Finals could have been played in Columbus or Dallas, with the Houston Dynamo vs. LA Galaxy match taking place in Dallas or Chicago. That way you give neither team the local advantage. As a supporter I would be alittle miffed that my team was not playing at home, but from a competitive standpoint, I think it would be a good idea.

Well, the 2006 USOC is in the books, now we have the end of the MLS season and the playoffs. Let's get it on!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Freddy Adu to Reading?

I saw this at CNN/ -

"Reading is being linked with a sensational £5m move to bring American star Freddy Adu to the Premiership in January. The 17-year-old attacker is one of the hottest prospects in World football and both Chelsea and Manchester United have been strongly linked with the D.C. United star. --"

If this is true, which as it is only listed as a rumor, who friggin knows, it would actually be a good thing in my opinion. Think about for a moment. This is the exact type of club to go to for several reasons.

One reason is that as D pointed out, Reading have proven that they know how to bring along American players, as they have shown with Bobby Convey (who looked awesome against Manchester United last weekend) and Marcus Hahnamann.

A second reason as I have said in the past, Freddy would get buried at a large club like Chelsea, Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and so on. Those clubs have so many superstars that in order to keep them and their multi-million dollar paychecks happy, the players that are lower in the scheme of things fail to get any quality playing time. If signed to one of these clubs, Freddy would either flounder in their reserves or get loaned a mid table club like Reading. I always thought that Reading, Ashton Villa, West Ham, or Fulham would be the best choice for Freddy, if he went to the Premiership. These clubs would be able to give him the proper development as well as a chance to ease him into the league, rather than either use him as a marketing stunt, or banish him to the bench or reserves.

As Freddy is still only 17 and will turn 18 in June, he will still be with DC United for at least 75% of next season. That is unless the next USMNT coach doesn't include him in the Gold Cup and/or the Copa America (if they take part).

In the fantasy world that I live in, here is what I predict for Freddy next season:

- Stays with DC United to start the 2007 MLS season; plays in the CONCACAF Champions Cup matches that DC United have (assuming we get 3 points Saturday against the Houston Power Supply); gets called into every USMNT camp and gets a spot on the 2007 Gold Cup roster.

- Freddy returns to DC United for 3 home matches, around the second one, it is announced that the transfer talks are underway, and in his last match, DC United get about 26,000 people in the seats to say good-bye. He is sold to Chelsea, who has him take part in their summer tour of the USA and plays in the tournament that they are creating with the LA Galaxy.

- He is then loaned out to either a midtable EPL club or a midtable La Liga club, one that will pretty much guarantee him a considerable amount of match time, to increase his skills. He spend the season with them, and returns to Chelsea for the 2008/09 season, a more mature and skillful 19 year old.

I was not that far off.

UEFA Champions League
Manchester United 1 - 0 Benfica

I was close. United went into yesterday's match against Benfica with dreams of getting revenge for knocking them out of Europe last season. Needing a victory to calm some of the critics that are already starting to bash United for a poor transfer job, United did just about what I expected. They were able to get one goal, which was one helluva effort by Saha, and they were surprisingly very effective in snuffing out Benfica's attacks in the second half.

The good thing from last nights match is that the United midfield and defense weathered the storm and the end of the match you could really see a composed and organized effort being put in by Carrick and O'Shea. Their effort in the second half hopefully are signs of a return to the Manchester United that just does not allow goals. The bad thing is that the Manchester United that cannot get quality crosses into the opponents box is still hanging around. Saha's goal was scored against the run of play, and despite having 14 shots (7 on goal), United had more trouble getting the ball in the back on the net.

In hopes of seeing some quality changes with the service, I would like to see SAF use Scholes and Ronaldo as more service guys, Ronaldo running up and down the wings, sending in crosses, instead of trying to score everytime he has the ball. Have Scholes sit back abit, and try and get the ball into Rooney and Saha more. Rooney and Saha need to get better service, and as the USMNT proved in the last World Cup, you need to have two forwards on the field, so they really need to be on the field together. Using the January transfer window to pick up another quality forward wouldn't hurt and would be able to rotate the three of them through the season.

Manchester United have their next two matches against Newcastle and Wigan, matches that should result in nothing less than 6 points in the Premier League. Their next UEFA Champions League match is at Old Trafford against FC Copenhagen, which should also result in nothing less than 3 points for the Red Devils. If the defensive midfield signs that we saw at the end of the Benfica match continue through the next three matches, United should be in ok shape.

US Open Cup Final


Sept. 27; Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. (7 p.m. CT; FSC)

So, here we are at the final of the US Open Cup, or as some others call it, the "Late Summer Cup." We have two MLS clubs; one that is already bound for the playoffs and another that might go from winning the MLS Cup to failing to make the playoffs. This match is one clubs way of salvaging something from a uneven season and another clubs way of starting what could end up a double domestic championship.

This match up is one of those "odd" ones. You have Chicago, who has been knocking people off left and right in the league, including the Galaxy this last weekend. They are playing at home, where they have a combined record of 11-4-3 (excluding their 2-1 loss to Club America). The fire have won 10 out of their last 13 matches, only losing two of those. Needless to say, the Chicago Fire are a tough club to play, especially at home. So why is it I am going to pick the LA Galaxy to win?

The LA Galaxy are the defending Chumps of this tournament. They had a so/so season last year, pulled off the USOC win, and rolled through the West to win the MLS Cup. Assuming they can make up the 6 points separating them from the Colorado Rapids, we just might get a replay of last season. LA rolled through the USOC matches, knocking off Cinderella (FC Roma) and adding the Rapids and the Dynamo to their list of victims. Frankie West Coast has them playing pretty good soccer right now, with Donovan doing what he failed to do in Germany, which is score goals.

As these two clubs just played each other in Chicago on Saturday, it isn't like the two clubs will have any type of line-up secrets. The Galaxy are a very explosive and dangerous club, as any DC United fan can attest to, watching them obliterate United 5-2 at RFK last month. With the only real way to guarantee anything positive from this season boiling down to tonight's match, I have to give the edge to the Galaxy.

Prediction: LA Galaxy 3 - 1 Chicago Fire

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Champions League Previews - 9/26/2006

Match Day 2 of the UEFA Champions League is upon us. Here are some previews and picks.

Manchester United vs. Benfica
Sir Alex wants a win in this match so badly that he is willing to suit up himself...well maybe not that bad. With the ultra sour taste of last season's UEFA Champions League defeat at the hands of Benfica, which proved to dump United out of European competition entirely, SAF is drooling over the chance to return to Portugal and get a result against the Portuguese. Wanting the win and actually getting one might be light years away from each other.

First things first, I am a Manchester United supporter. I spent 9 hours on the Jersey turnpike the last time they were in the USA to watch them lose on penalties to AC Milan at Giants Stadium. On vacation last year, I made my way to Nevada Smiths in NYC to watch the Carling Cup final with some 300 or so other United supporters. While I am not as rapid a supporter as some others, I support the club and if they are on TV here in the States, I am infront of the TV watching them.

That said, I am not too impressed with this line-up. I have been able to watch the last two EPL matches (vs. Arsenal & vs. Reading) as well as the last Champions League match. United do not look like themselves. Their efforts in the last attacking third of the field have been crap. They look more like my hometown club, DC United, than Manchester United. Based on their latest form, I really am not too convinced that a victory can be achieved from this match. The finishing is dreadful and the services sent into the box are downright sad.

I hope I am wrong, but until United begins to display better attacking skills, they might very well suffer a similar result as last season.
Manchester United 1 - 1 Benfica

Arsenal vs. Porto
Arsenal, while they started the EPL season rather badly, have pulled off three straight victories in all competitions, including a 2-1 Champions League victory over Hamburg and a 1-0 victory of Manchester United in the Prem. The return of Captain and the heart and soul of the club, Thierry Henry, things should be looking up for the Gunners, assuming everyone else stays healthy.

Porto started their Champions League campaign with a 0-0 draw with CSKA Moscow, which in a match that it should have easily won, was a wasted opportunity. Having started their domestic season with four straight victories, Arsenal might be in for a sluggfest. I am looking for an upset here.
Arsenal 1 - 2 Porto

Real Madrid vs. Dynamo Kiev
So, with both clubs getting thrashed on Match Day 1, this should be a wide open, all out match. Real were handled by Lyon 2-0, while Kiev took one on the chin and went down for the count in a 4-1 obliteration against Steaua Bucharest. For either club to truly feel that it will make the knockout stage, they will have to get 3 points today.

If the cloud over Real has truly been lifted and they can actually play up to their potential, then the recent history of Dynamo Kiev having poor trips to Spain should continue. If they are still out of sync, which was sited for their loss to Lyon, then a drab and boring match will be in the cards, and both clubs might eliminate each other with a draw.
Real Madrid 2 - 0 Dynamo Kiev

Gomez Player of the Week

DC United Midfielder, Christian Gomez was named Player of the Week. Gomez was instrumental in the scoring of all four United goals in their Eastern Conference clinching, 4-3 victory over the New York Red Bulls last Saturday. The United #10 is a definate contender for MLS MVP honors this season.

Monday, September 25, 2006

News and Notes - 9/25/2006

Tim Howard interviewed has an interview with Tim Howard, Manchester United and USMNT goalkeeper (currently on loan with Everton). Tim is quoted as saying that a possible problem with the development of the US team prior to the World Cup was that their opponents have been pushovers. I love this man. He hit the nail right on the head.

Until the USSF schedules tougher friendly matches against quality sides, the level of play in the USMNT will never increase. We need to be playing the England's, Argentina's, Frances, Nigeria's, Holland's, Ivory Coast's. When we start lining up against those teams, and stop lining up against Panama, Greneda, Canada and Haiti, we will get better and getting out of a group phase in a World Cup will not be such a fantasy.

Marcus Hahnemann interviewed has an interview with Reading and USMNT goalkeeper, Marcus Hahnemann. Marcus seems to feel that an American coach would be a better fit for the USMNT, as we have such a different playing environment compared to the rest of the world. He also feels that the USSF will get the USMNT scheduled for matches starting in January.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

United score and win!!!

Ok, that was one wierd match. A 4-3 scoreline, a stupid, stupid penalty kick called on a non-handball on Erpen. Erpen getting sent off, Donnet getting his first goal, Gomez and Moreno getting goals, and the Atlantic Cup and first place in the Eastern Conference wrapped up.

That was on wierd game. I enjoyed it, and according to FSC, United should also have wrapped up the Supporters Shield, but doesn't mention it.

Oh well, more tomorrow, going to bed now.

News and Notes - 9/23/2006

Just a few notes....

Bayern Win, Move to the Top of the Bundesliga
Bayern won their match against Aachen today, 2-1 in Munich. Mark van Bommel scored the game winner in the 55th minute. Aachen had a tieing goal disallowed late in the match, and Bayern moved into a tie for 1st in the Bundesliga.

FC Dallas partner with Clube Atletico Paranaense
According to, FC Dallas signed a partnership with Brasilian side, Clube Atletico Paranaense. The deal includes a home and away series, starting next season. I wrote about doing something along these lines here, so I think that this is a great step forward for MLS. Getting MLS clubs to work closely with foreign, established clubs will only produce better options on how to play and train. Being able to travel to Brasil for a friendly will be a great experience for the players and the club, as it will lay the ground work for how to properly organize any potential Copa Libertadores trips to Brasil. This is a good thing for MLS.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More incite to the US Coaching Vacancy

Grant Wahl has a pretty good summary of who could and might and might not and has no chance of being the next USNMT Head Coach. Go check it out.

I do find it interesting that Gulati has announced that the new coach will be named in November. If the USSF does wait until the MLS Cup to vote on who gets the job, then we are all looking at possibly 4 more FIFA international dates wasted because USSF is too busy trying to find the right guy. Everyone get ready for the USA to be ranked in the mid 40's by the time they play next, which maybe, might be in January, against that CONCACAF powerhouse of a country, Canada or a Japanese C Squad, again.

I understand trying to find the right guy, but Christ almighty, it should never take this long to line-up interviews and such. This should be Gulati's #1 priority. Has he been taking 2 week vacations inbetween phone calls?

Ok, enough griping. Just get a damn coach already.

Chelski Signing Snoop Dogg?

Did the Chesizzle signizzle the Do-Double Gizzle?

That is Chelski goalkeeper with Snoop Dogg. The picture was shamelessly pilfered from CNN/

Which one looks more stoned?

Why Saturday is my favorite day of the week!

I have a favorite day of the week, and that day is Saturday. More specifically, Fall Saturdays. Because in the Fall, Saturdays are celebrations, ones that allow all of us to soak in some of the greatest things that man has created. I am talking about three things....

1. Soccer
2. College Football
3. Beer

This Saturday is one of those perfect days for me. Living in Virginia, there are rare days like this one for me, so when they come, everything else in life falls by the wayside. Tomorrow I have quite possibly, the perfect day for sports. I have more things to watch tomorrow than I have time to take in, and I love it!

Here is my schedule:

9:30am - 11:30am: GolTV - Bayern Munich vs. Aachen
12:00pm - 2:00pm: FSC - Manchester United vs. Reading
3:30pm - 6:30pm: Fox Sports Net - Arizona State University vs. California
4:00pm - 6:00pm: GolTV - Real Madrid vs. Real Betis
7:30pm - 9:30pm: RFK Stadium - DC United vs. RBNY

My only problem is trying to watch all and not have my girlfriend leave me. That and I have to figure out how to stay sober enough through the day's games to make it to RFK for the DC United match. I think I am up for the challenge, as I prepared last weekend during College Football Separation Saturday.

Cable TV is one of the greatest things that God allowed Man to invent. I get to watch all of these games from the comfort of my living room. Now we just need to invent the dryer that does not eat one of my socks.

DC United Preview - 9/22/2006

DC United vs. Red Bull New York
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
9/23/2006 7:30pm

Christ, this is a long season. This is the 5th and final time United and the Bovine of the Big Apple lock up this season, 4th in the League, and the extra matchup coming in the Quarter Finals of the USOC. United are still leading the Atlantic Cup series, with a win and two draws. They also defeated the Red Bulls 3-1 in the USOC matchup, knocking the Bulls out of the tournament.

Ok, so what the hell. United storms out of the gates, pimp slaps the league, breaks off a 13 match unbeaten streak, gives up 2 late penalties that lead to a loss and the whole ship starts to sink faster than the Titanic. United are assured of finishing no worse than 2nd in the Eastern Conference, and based on their current run of form, that statement is a blessing. Ask any United supporter two months ago if you would be happy with being assured of 2nd place and they would have screamed!

I honestly think that the biggest problem is that United truly does not have deep a roster as some of us thought. We were too dependent on players who in their stages of their careers, should never have been asked to go 90 minutes, every match, the entire season. Moreno, Gomez, and Olsen are the ones that come to mind. Coach Nowak should have approached these guys the way that Baseball managers approach pitchers. Their arms only have so many innings in them for a season. If you can get a guy out of the game in the 6th or 7th inning, it means that you can use him deeper into the season. Nowak should have looked at these guys the same way. A perfect example of this is the second RBNY match. Alecko Eskandarian is 24 years old, there is really no reason he should be pulled from a 4-1 match before a 32 year old is. yet Moreno stayed on the field for a 4-1 drubbing.

I know that a lot of United matches had been 1-0 victories over the beginning part of the season, but when you cannot do anything without 1 or 2 guys, the season will rise and fall based on their form. They need to be stretched out and allowed to rest from time to time. On the flip side of this, you need to get guys onto the field to get them the experience that they can draw from in future matches. Get Mediate on the field for 30 minutes in a match against the Crew. Why only have deRoux come in this late in the season? The biggest why of them all...why trade Santino? We had a bench that was lacking and knew that the problem of injuries and thinness were looming, so why trade a guy who can go out there and be a threat?

Nevermind, just venting a little.

So, onto tomorrow nights match.

United are coming off of a 0-1 loss to the Chicago Fire, and the Red Bulls just played at midweek and lost to the Revolution. Bruce Arena is still sorting out the mess he was handed and it doesn't look like he is seeing any type of good shape or form from the big steaming pile of monkey crap he was given in New York. The Bulls shouldn't be a problem.

The problem will most likely be United themselves. Are they up for this? This is a match that United should take all 3 points from, hands down. Will they do as they normally have done in these types of matches...take it lightly and put in a 50% effort and maybe get the win? Or will they come out with all guns blazing and pop a cap in the Bovine's collective ass'?

DC United honors the 1996 MLS Cup Championship team tomorrow night at halftime and they are inducting Marco "El Diablo" Etcheverry into the "Tradition of Excellence." I hope that El Diablo has a meeting with the players before the match, shows them the 3 rings he has and tells them that they are not performing like United players and that they must step it up. Challenge them, or tell them that he will have Hristo Stoichkov come back and break their legs.

I think that United should be able to pull this one out. They have to get things together, as they have a tough road match next week at Houston, then home matches against the Revolution and the season closer against the Chicago Fire, a match that could truly determine the Eastern Conference and the Supporters Shield.

Prediction: DC United 1 - 0 Red Bull New York

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sorry, I went out of town....

I had to go to Toronto for business, add that to not really wanting to write about DC United's 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire, I haven't been updating this site lately.

This weekend brings several matches, including the DC United vs. RBNY home match that I will be attending.

I will write more later.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Manchester United deserved to lose.

Manchester United 0 - 1 Arsenal

Despite going into Old Trafford undermaned, and winless in the league, Arsenal walked out with the 3 points, behind a 1-0 victory over United. That was a victory that they deserved as they played the more passionate and skillful football than United did.

United looked dreadfully flat, they had problems passing and their shots were not strong enough, and when they were strong enough, they were right at Lehmann, who had to make only two really tough saves. Rooney really didn't have it today, especially his passes. He tried to toe poke every pass, and they only really ended up getting swallowed up by the Arsenal midfield. Rooney looked over zealous again.

Some of the other problems with the United players; Fletcher tried to make some passes into the box, but everytime he tried them, he was always too hesitant and late on his passes, which were ineffective. John O'Shea looked bad and almost gave away the winning goal by laying the ball no one and gave it away to Baptista. Reserve goalkeeper, Kuszczak did well for having to start only knowing about 20 minutes before game time, but he gave away a bad penalty, only to come away and save the penalty.

SAF really needs to understand how best to sub in his players, IMHO. He should have started Carrick as the United midfield really had trouble creating chances on goal. As he did not, when he put in Carrick and Ole, he should have taken Fletcher out for Ole and O'Shea out for Carrick. Moved Scholes up to the attack, along with Ole, Saha, and Rooney. Have Ronaldo and Carrick provide the creative passes and movement. This I think would have been a better option for SAF and one that might have lead to the 3 points, at least the draw a a point.

So now Portsmouth are alone in first with 13 points, United and Chelsea sit tied for 2nd, with Everton in 4th with 11 points. United visit Reading next week, so hopefully whatever "funk" United have under their skin, goes away and allows them to return to getting 3 points a match.

Friday, September 15, 2006

DC United to sign striker.

The Washington Post is reporting that DC United set to sign Robert Ssejjemba from the Richmond Kickers for at least the end of this MLS season. Ssejjemba is a member of the Ugandan national team and scored 3 goals against the RSL reserves last week as part of a tryout for United. If he fits in well, it is reported that United will have the option to purchase his full contract in the off-season.

Any help is good help, I think. If he creates chances for the other guys and allows Alecko and Jaime some much needed rest on the bench, sign him up.

Big EPL Weekend

So, the English FA decided it would be good to have the 5th round of the EPL be explosive and have two matches that will surely decide the Championship. Yup, I am talking about Chelsea vs. Liverpool and Manchester United vs. Arsenal. It doesn't get any better than this people.

Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Didn't we just see this a couple of weeks ago? Liverpool dropped Chelsea in the Community Shield 2-1 to open the EPL season, and The Chosen One should still be a little weary about this match. Even though Chelsea has started to look better in the league and are coming off of a 2-0 victory in the Champions league, Liverpool have always seemed to play them tough...but not in the Premiership. Liverpool are coming in off of a 0-0 draw in the Champions League and a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of cross town rival Everton. Look for Chelsea to keep their Premiership form against Liverpool going.
Chelsea 2 - 0 Liverpool

Manchester United vs. Arsenal
Ok, this is gonna sound biased, I am a Manchester United supporter. That said, if you still look at everything, United should still knock off Arsenal. Arsenal haven't won against Manchester United in 9 straight matches, are having a serious scoring problem, and will most likely without two of their main scoring threats, Henry and van Persie. United will be without Ryan Giggs and Park, but as long as the midfield of Scholes, Carrick and Ronaldo, with Rooney and Saha up front, United should still be able to move to 5-0 on the season and 15 points.
Manchester United 2 - 0 Arsenal

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Trecker actually has a point today.

Jaime Trecker, Fox Sports World's senior soccer writer, seems to have actually found a good point in his latest column.

Check it out here.

Yeah, the piece on how the UEFA Champions League is pretty almost better than the World Cup is pretty insiteful, but what I am referring to is the piece on US College and High School soccer. He is spot on with this issue. Did I just write that?

The rules that allow for unlimited and multiple substitution that are in effect in High School and College soccer are "bald" spots on American soccer. The rules themselves are a joke and they fail to do the one thing that we as soccer fans in America need them to do...prepare our younger players for the next level. Trecker is right, until the High School player is made to stay on the field for 90 minutes, we will continue to have problems.

I grew up living in several places, 4 years in Europe (Germany and Belgium) and 2 in China. I played soccer as a kid, stopping after High School. When I played in Europe with American kids and European kids, we American brats noticed and moaned about how we wanted to take a break and such. I don't remember hearing from the European kids about their need for a break.

When I lived in China, I was the only US kid on my High School team my sophomore year. We had Argentinean, German, Bangladesh, Polish, Danish, Australian, Chinese, and Italian players. I was goalkeeper because I had better hands than everyone else. Everyone played for 90 minutes, and we only had 3 subs. When I moved back to the states for my senior year, I was shocked when our coach was subbing in guys left and right. We had a better goalkeeper, so I played defense (poorly, as beer became more of a friend with Marlboro and Camel as sidkicks) so I only had to play 4 or 5 minutes at a time. It wasn't the game I played in China and in Europe.

What I am getting at is that until we start using the FIFA rules for all organized competitions in the US, our players will be ill prepared for the big time. High School Football (grid iron) resembles the College game. They have the same basic rules, as does High School basketball. Once the kids get to college, the rules get closer to the NFL and NBA rules, with some exceptions (40 minutes in basketball and the fairest football overtime rules on earth). Why can't College and High School soccer follow suit?

Quote of the Day

'Against Benfica it will be a different bloody result next time - believe me about that,' he said.

- Sir Alex Ferguson, commenting on Manchester United's UEFA Champions League match against Benfica later this month.

Another Bruce Arena Interview

Sheesh, the NY Times sure seems to think the only soccer coverage it needs is interviews with the Bitter One, Bruce Arena.

Jack Bell sat down with Arena to discuss several issues concerning the Red Bulls, MLS and the US National Team. Other than really reprocessing the same questions over and over in the interview, Arena made some more interesting comments.

- "Q. M.L.S. named you to its new technical committee, but you said when you were still the national team coach that you had yet to attend a meeting. Are you still on that committee?

A. Actually, my first meeting will be a conference call today. On the technical side, I think we need to make decisions how to deal with 13 teams {F.C. Toronto will enter M.L.S. next season}, scheduling, rosters, what have you. Certainly to improve rosters and the product in the league is going to mean more dollars and more quality foreign players in the league."

Very interesting that we had been spoon-fed this committee and how they would have ideas and suggestions that would be presented at the 2006 MLS Cup...yet they had their first meeting with Arena on September 12th?

- "Q. Is a part of that where the national team plays games? You once mentioned that we should play in Alaska, and there’s probably a lot of truth to that.

A. The previous administration before 1998 sold out the national team in a bunch of games for the big payday. I think that’s a critical mistake."

I both agree and disagree with him on this. Playing Mexico in the Rose Bowl in the 1990's was a death sentence. Our guys were really still getting their feet wet with the international game and playing in front of 90,000 Mexican fans didn't help. That said, I feel that we have done the exact opposite now and it is hurting our ability to play in hostile environments. Playing Mexico in Crew Stadium in front of 23,000 US fans is easy to do, as we have shown the last two times we have played them in World Cup Qualifiers there.

What we need is a happy medium on this. Play the Qualifiers in Columbus or Foxborough, where the conditions are our advantage, much like Azteca is theirs. Play our friendlies in "not so friendly" conditions. Playing against Columbia in Miami would be a great match for MLS players, it would expose them to having to deal with a non-USA crowd. Playing Mexico in Houston, as we did several years ago, is a great idea, as it is a pro-Mexico crowd and one that is similar to away matches, which we really do not have anymore, unless they are in Qualifying or the World Cup.

- "Q. How does M.L.S. have to get better and has it gotten better since you were at D.C.?

A. This is one man’s opinion: The league hasn’t gotten better since I was at D.C."

I disagree. The rule changes alone from when he left to now have made the league a better league, getting rid of the shoot-outs, the 10 minute overtime, the clock counting down and all that crap. I would also argue that the play on the field is better. Do we have the Valderama's or the Etcheverry's or the Diaz Arce's or the Cienfuegos or the Campos'. In my opinion, if we had players like them, the league would benefit, but we do have great players, and they are not all from accross the border. Yes we have Christian Gomez, Carlos Ruiz, Jaime Moreno, Amado Guevara (despite his issues) and Youri Djorkaeff (who is leaving after this season), but we also have Donovan, Cooper, Adu, Ching, Dempsey, Twellman; all guys who could have gone toe to toe with the players in the beginning of the league.

- "Q. Is part of that being involved in international club competitions?

A. Yes. I think the concept to play some games against the Mexican league is great. We see through the Concacaf Champions Cup that our teams are not as competitive as they need to be. And we have to grow our clubs to where they are capable of competing for those championships."

I agree here, playing against the Mexican clubs, especially if the winner of that tournament gets a spot in the Copa Libertadores, will drastically increase the skill levels of our players.

- "Q. What about the idea of playing in the South American club competitions?

A. It would be nice, but I think with our resources and small rosters, it’s tough to do. Until we can have a club schedule that duplicates the club schedule around the world, it’s difficult because we end up playing most games in our off-season. To play in competitions in South America, we need to travel the right way. And we don’t have the resources to do that. Red Bulls would like to use our resources to travel. You fly to South America economy, you’re a complete idiot. You don’t have a chance of succeeding. Why get in those competitions if you’re not ready to do the things to give yourself a chance to be successful?"

I agree here as well. I am not sure if MLS is prepared to have the Galaxy or Red Bulls or DC United flying back and forth from the USA to Brasil or Chile every season, on chartered jets. I don't think that the clubs are prepared, fiscally, for that type of expenditure yet. I know that United went to Chile last season, and granted I do not know if they had a chartered jet or not, but the Copa Sudamericana is a knock out tournament, which does not guarantee anymore than 1 away match at a time. The Copa Libertadores has a group stage, one that would require at least 3 away matches, south of the border. Is MLS ready for that yet?

- "Q. Any advice for the future national team coach, whomever it may be?

A. No. They {officials at US Soccer} apparently don’t think that my knowledge is worth anything. But I will always be pulling for the national team. I’m its biggest fan. I think the next coach should be an American. No doubt in my mind about it. This notion that you need a foreign coach, I’ll be very honest, our coaching staff prepared our team as well as it can be prepared. There is no foreign coach that could have done it any better. I know Sunil likes those quick-fix fancy type of things, but there’s not a foreign coach that will do any better than an American coach, or what I did."

Ah, The Bitter One has arrived. I understand why he is saying that a foreign coach is not needed, but I do think that a foreign coach would be the only one who would be able to come into the fold and actually challenge the US players. The mainstays of the side would have to prove all over again that they should be starters, (talking to you Landon). With a US coach, especially the ones being mentioned, they strike me as ones who would include guys on past merit, rather than on current performance.

All in all, nothing really new from Bruce. He is looking forward to the foundations of a strong club in New York, which the league truely needs. He does seem to be a little bitter about the USSF and its coaching search, but then again, who can reall blame a guy who is brought into a meeting about his job with a press conference already scheduled before hand about the new search.

I think he will do well with RBNY, but only after his type of system and foundation is in place. While he is still forced to play with someone elses players, he will still have the same problems he inherited.

DC United Recap

Another draw. 1 more point. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It seems to be the same story these days with United. We get a 1-0 lead and give up a goal in the second half and draw 1-1. Do we know how to get 3 points anymore?

Granted even with the draw we did gain 1 point on Chicago in the East and 1 point on FC Dallas in the Supporters Shield race, but 1 point here and there is not going to help us in the playoffs. I know that with the one point, United cannot finish lower than 2nd in the East, but damnit, we had a 13 match unbeaten streak! We ran away from the league and now it looks like the league is going close that gap, and might over take us. WTF!??

D at DCenters feels that the players are tired and have lost focus. I feel he might be correct. It might be a good idea to have Jaime and Christian sit out the next two matches and train a little lightly, just enough to maintain fitness? Does Freddy need a week off as well?

Based on the play of our reserves last week, I say give Gomito and Moreno two matches off, have the reserves get more match experience and gear up for the playoffs. Might not be the greatest of ideas, but as we seem to be hitting the wall earlier in matches than we did earlier in the season, do we really have any other choice?

One note, it seems that Ben Olsen has been gifted a MLS sponsored holiday by picking up his 5th yellow card and now must sit out the Chicago match. Maybe have him go camping, clear his mind. Either that or get him laid.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

DC United Preview - 9/13/2006

DC United vs. New England Revolution
GILLETTE STADIUM, Foxborough, Mass.
7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 13, 2006

DC United travels up to the Razor for their third match of the season against the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the New England Revolution. United won their first encounter 1-0 at RFK and drew with the Revs 1-1 in their last meeting in Foxborough. The Revolution currently sit in 3rd place in the East with 34 points, as United lead the table with 51 points.

DC United are coming off of one of the more inspirational matches of their season. Having four of their starters suspended due to yellow card accumulation, United fielded a side mostly made up of reserve team players. Having to play against one of the three clubs to hand United a defeat this season, the outlook for that match looked pretty dim. Proving damn near everyone wrong, the United line-up, anchored by the reserves cam away with a 1-1 draw and showed signs that they will be able to contribute more to the campaign that some figured. The outlook for the rest of this season has become a whole lot brighter, based on the play of our reseves.

The Revolution are coming into tonight's match winning just two of their last ten matches, a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on 8/27 and a 1-0 victory in their last match over RBNY. With only a 1 point lead over Kansas City for third in the East and a 5 point gap over RBNY, New England needs to start getting more than 1 point from their matches to ensure that they get to the post season. Both of those clubs are idle tonight and they play each other on Saturday, so this would be a great chance to open up a wider gap to lock down the third play-off spot in the East.

Based on the performance on Saturday against RSL and the fact that we have an away match this Sunday at Toyota park against the hottest club in MLS, the Chicago Fire, United Coach Peter Nowak should be looking to maximize the playing time of all United players, and might want to look at using some of those reserves earlier than he usually does in the match. With Alecko missing the trip due to a knee injury, this is a chance for some of the other guys to get more playing time.

As most of the United starters have had a week off from play, I am expecting a good showing from them. Hopefully the combination of Gomez, Adu and Donnet will be able to provide a good creative spark to the club and get the 3 points tonight. I just hope that Jaime doesn't fade away in this match like he did on Saturday.

Prediction: DC United 2 - 0 New England Revolution.

USA falls in FIFA Rankings.

FIFA released the latest World Rankings and the USA fell from #23 to #29. Several other countries moved around, Columbia being the most notable, moving up 9 spots to #20. Brasil is still #1.

As US supporters, should we be worried that in 3 months, the US has dropped from "#5" to #29?


Maybe because of how FIFA actually intends to use these world rankings in the future. FIFA seems to be focused on actually using them as part of the seeding formulas for tournaments, and that should have countries worried. Just as Chelsea have been bitching about not getting a #1 seed in the UEFA Champions League, a strong team like Holland could definitely bitch if they get grouped with the likes of Argentina, Czech Republic and Nigeria in the next World Cup.

So how does this affect the USA? It affects us because we are not playing right now. By not playing, we fail to actually add to the formula for the rankings, and since the results that are being used for the formula are not the best of results, we will continue to slide down the rankings. If we continue to fall down the rankings, two major things will result from this - we will get put in another "Group of Death" in a tournament and other countries will stay away from scheduling matches against us.

Say we drop from #29 to #34 next round of rankings. Who would want to play us? We would not be able to offer anyone of the likes of Columbia, Argentina, England, Germany, France any incentive to play us. If they get a result, they will not get that much of a rankings boost from the victory over us. If they lose to us, then they get a major hit, as a possible Top 10 side loses to a Top 30 side. So that will leave us to playing the CONCACAF minnows, which is the one thing that we really need to stop doing on a regular basis. Sure, maybe we beat Panama 3-0 in Seattle or Columbus. Great, we just beat the #74 team in FIFA. Does that really do anything for our development? On the flip side of the same argument against Top 10 countries playing us, it applies to us playing the Panama's, Costa Rica's (#53), Cuba's (#69) or Jamaica's (#77). If we win, great, we beat a lesser ranked team. If we lose, we slide even further.

So, how to change this? Well, first thing is to start playing matches. Who do we start playing against? The countries ranked around us. The following countries are ranked within 7 spots ahead and below us. If they do not have matches scheduled, USSF should contact them and figure out if we can work out a match.

#22 - Greece
#23 - Ghana
#24 - Croatia
#25 - Romania
#26 - Guinea
#27 - Egypt
#28 - Turkey
#30 - Ecuador
#31 - Tunisia
#32 - Serbia
#33 - Senegal
#34 - Scotland
#35 - Poland
#36 - Israel

Looking at that list, we have some very good possible opponents and ones that fill certain needs that the USSF should be attempting to fill before the next World Cup.

Win in Europe
If we scheduled matches against Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, Scotland, Greece, Romania, Poland; the void that has been victories in Europe can be worked on. I firmly believe that on any given day, a USA squad that is in the correct mindset, can take it to any of those squads and get a victory against them. Getting victories in Europe against sides ranked around us should be a good enough start for the USA to move up in the rankings.

Play in Africa
The 2010 World Cup is scheduled to be hosted in South Africa, and as I believe that the USNMT has only played about a handful of matches in Africa, and not for the last dozen or so years, playing over there might not be the baddest of ideas. Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal and Egypt are on the African continent. Each one would be a good test in a hostile environment. An added bonus would to be able to exact some type of retribution on Ghana for knocking (diving) us out of the World Cup. Defeating any of these sides should be a good start to moving the USA up in the rankings.

In any case, playing any of these sides, in Europe, Africa, or in the USA would be a good option and a great start for the preparations for the 2010 World Cup. Playing away from the USA would be the most ideal of situations, but if we can only get home matches, we should still take the match. Playing quality opponents is a much better option than playing pushovers from our own region.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Champions League Kick-Off

The 2006/07 UEFA Champions League kicks off today with 8 matches. It only seems like yesterday we were watching Barcelona hoisting the trophy in Paris after a 2-1 victory over Arsenal. Today we begin that journey once again.

Here are a few of my picks:

Barcelona vs. Levski Sofia
The defending Champions League winners and defending la Liga Champions open up at home against Bulgarian club Levski Sofia. Barcalona should not have much trouble with this match, as there are no reports of any of the heavy hitters having any injury issues. Ronaldinho, Saviola, Gudjohnsen, Eto’o, Deco, Messi, should all be available, which should mean certain victory for the Catalan club.
Barcelona 3 – 0 Levski Sofia

Chelsea vs. Werder Bremen
This is one of the better match-ups in the group phase this season. Chelsea are still whining about not getting a First Seed for the draw and are still trying to sort out life without Joe Cole and life with everyone else who is new. That said, Chelsea are oozing talent which should still get them through the group phase. Werder Bremen are one of the better Bundesliga clubs, but without the services of their main striker Klose, who seems to be out due to a thigh injury. According to Chelsea midfielder, Michael Ballack, Bremen can score goals, but they also allow a lot of goals as well. I think that the talent of Chelsea overcome the skill of Bremen.
Chelsea 3 – 1 Werder Bremen

Bayern Munich vs. Spartak Moscow
After labeling them as the upset of the group phase, I am beginning to feel that Bayern might be able to pull it together and get out of the group phase to the knock out stages. I wrote about this earlier, as the main weight of their chances fall on the shoulders of Hargreaves, van Bommel and Deisler. Seba is still out with his knee injury, so van Bommel and Hargreasves will have to carry the load in the midfield. Lucas Pudolski seems to be in line for his first start of the season, partnering up front with Roy Makaay, which could be the lethal strikeforce that Felix Magath has been hoping for. Having Santa Cruz and Pizzaro on the bench available, things should look good for Bayern, at least in this match. As this is the Group of Death this season, Bayern had better get the 3 points at home against the Russian side.
Bayern Munich 2 – 0 Spartak Moscow

DC United raises ticket prices.

Steven Goff is reportingat The Washington Post that next season's tickets for DC United home matches will increase by $2. (What are they doing running a paper route now?)

$2 more to see the Black and Red play against the rest of MLS is nothing big. Now if the concessions actually lowered the price for the beer, that would be a better situation.

If increasing the ticket prices by $2 helps out the club, I am all for it. $2 a ticket isn't that much and for those out there who have season ticket plans this season, you can re-up your tickets for next season at 2006 prices, as long as you renew by October 20th.

Goff also reported that United are most likely adding Ugandan forward Robert Ssejjemba from the Richmond Kickers to fin in the roster spot left over from Santino Quaranta's trade to the Galaxy.

Ok, time for some random information.

So taking several days off from work seems to have impacted my posting a little more than I thought it would. Who would have thought that there would actually be stuff waiting for me when I got back? I should figure out a way to get paid doing this so I can quit my day job...cue up the "Don't quit your day job" jokes.

Anyways, so a lot happened last weekend, so here is my random information.

EPL stuff
Manchester United won their fourth straight in the EPL and continue to lead everyone with 12 points. Ryan Giggs scored off of a lucky rebound for the 1-0 win. Michael Carrick faded fast in the second half, but as he gets more time in with the rest of the side, he should be able to create more chances for everyone.

There was a lot of concern as to how Man United would do while Rooney and Scholes were serving their 3 match bannings that resulted from their red cards in the Amsterdam Tournament. As United have a 100% record in the EPL and both of them are coming back into the squad, the rest of the EPL should be have a small sense of anxiety. The lack of off-season moves by United were honestly offset due to the fact that Paul Scholes returned to the line up. As he was lost for most of last season, his return was almost the same as a new signing.

Liverpool were laughed off the pitch with a 3-0 spanking at the hands of cross town rivals Everton. US International, Tim Howard played a great match, finishing with 7 saves to lead the Toffees over the current FA Cup Champions.

Chelsea kept pace with United winning 2-1 over Charlton; Arsenal did not as they settled for a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

DC United
So the DC United Reserves vs. RSL finally came upon us and it was a much better match than pretty much anyone was expecting. Behind a brilliant and beautiful Freddy Adu free kick, United drew with RSL 1-1. The outcome is much more than just the scoreline. It was a situation where a depleted squad came together and used every resource it had to get the result. Guys I have only seen in friendlies and even some I have never heard of, suited up and took it to the would be Kings of MLS. The goal that was let in was a very soft goal that was against the run of play, so there wasn't much to say about it. Our reserves proved that they could step it up and provide a larger amount of support for the club. I was proud of the guys.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Quick Recap - DC United

Freddy's goal was absolutely beautiful!!!!

The group of reserves and starters looked better than I thought that they would. I will take a 1-1 draw with reserves making up the bulk of the squad anyday. Now lets get everyone healthy and knock off the Revolution for 3 more points.

Damn, Freddy's goal was nice.

DC United Preview - 9/9/2006

DC United vs. Real Salt Lake
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
7:30pm 9/9/2006

Sorry, being away from work for about a week has left me a little too busy to do those things that are important in life, like update my blog.

So RSL make their one visit to RFK of the season, and it is at probably the worst time for United. United have several players given a MLS front office mandated holiday (too many yellow cards) which will leave the already injury hit United with less of a bench to work with. Add to that the fact that the only other time these two clubs faced each other, United had to hold on for 4 more minutes to secure yet anther 1-0 victory and head into the All Star break with another win. Instead, we all know what happened with the John Wilson affair and after two Jeff Cunningham PK's United returned home with a 2-1 loss and alot of questions.

There is an old Klingon proverb: "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Those are words that United should live by for this match.

The problem with this match is that I really haven't a clue who is healthy enough for Peter Nowak to start. Hell, Nick Rimando might start in Central Midfield with Peter Nowak along side him. The is listing Jaime Moreno as a probable starter, but the question will be if his tendonitis is better and will allow him to go the full 90 minutes, which in this match, he will most likely be called upon to do so.

RSL has won 5 of their last 7 league matches, including the 2-1 victory over United. They have been uneven though, as they have been shut out in two of those matches, losing 6-0 against RBNY. They have allowed 11 goals in those seven matches, with six coming in that one match. If United are going to get any points from tonight's match, they will need to take advantage of RSL's proness to allowing goals lately.

Honestly, I see a draw from this match, and at worse, United's second straight home loss. With the drastic loss of starters for tonight's match, I am truly puzzled as how United will do. As Kinney mentioned on DCenters, this is the type of match that you hope for someone to step up and take hold of the game. Gomez was that guy last week. Will it be Jaime? Will it be Freddy?

Prediction: DC United 1 - 1 Real Salt Lake : DC United 1 - 2 Real Salt Lake

Thursday, September 07, 2006

John Wilson Done; United Injuries Increasing

The is reporting that John Wilson is out for the rest of the season due to knee surgery. He joins Dominate Mediate in the recovery room, as Mediate broke his foot against the LA Galaxy two weeks ago. Club Captain Jaime Moreno missed last nights match against the Chicago Fire due to knee tendinitis and might sit out this Saturday's match against RSL.

Talk about bad timing with the injuries, yeah?

So much for the Treble

At least I got the number of goals right.

DC United were dumped out of the USOC with a 3-0 defeat to the Chicago Fire in the Semi-Finals last night. Fielding a largely First Team side, United were under pressure for most of the mast, having 1 shot on goal in the first half and then allowing three goals in the second half. Chicago moves on to play the defending USOC Chumps, the LA Galaxy, who knocked off the Houston Dynamo 3-1 at HDC.

Ok, so we won't get three trophy's this season. Fine. We made it to the Semi-Finals of the USOC tournament this season, which is a plus considering United's usual ability to blow it in the first match that they face a MLS club. This means that we just have to focus on the league, which there is still rewards to be had.

I am not going to cry over this. We have the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup to win, so lets get through the weekend of MLS sponsored holiday's and pick up 4 more wins to capture the Supporters Shield and secure CONCACAF play for next season.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

DC United Preview - USOC 9/6/2006

DC United vs. Chicago Fire
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. (7:30 p.m. CT)

So after a week away on vacation, time to get back in the saddle….

The Semi-Finals are upon us. DC United make the first of two trips in 11 days to Toyota park for a USOC clash with fellow MLS Eastern Conference foe, the Chicago Fire. This is the first time that these two clubs have faced each other in this tournament. DC United won the USOC in 1996, their inaugural season; while the Chicago Fire have lifted the USOC three times.

DC United has looked pretty good in their previous two USOC matches, getting passed the Columbus Crew 2-1 in OT behind some 32 shots on goal to follow that up with a 3-1 victory of Red Bull New York at RFK two weeks ago. Their run of play in MLS hasn’t been as stellar, winning only 1 out of their last 6 matches. They reversed the sloppy play last Sunday at the Home Depot Center with a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA behind 2 Christian “MLS MVP???” Gomez. Due to most of the starting line-up picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season, thus requiring a mandatory suspension, this Saturday’s league match against visiting Real Salt Lake should be contested by United’s reserves. This gives no excuse for the normal starting line-up to be fielded tonight against the Fire, as those players who are suspended will get a week off to prepare for the Revolution.

The Chicago Fire are steam rolling into tonight’s match, having won 5 of their last 6 MLS league matches. They advanced through the USOC by knocking off the Kansas City Wizards 2-0 and a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution. Knocking off the league leaders at home to advance to the USOC final would be a huge feather in the Fire’s cap.

So, United are facing the hottest club in MLS and have a situation where they will have to play without most of their starters this coming Saturday due to suspensions. I say run this line-up against the Fire:


Namoff – Boswell – Erpen

Carroll – Olsen

Gros – Gomez – Donnet

Eskandarian – Walker

Nick should still get the call in these matches, as Troy still needs the rest from the season matches. Rimando performed admirably against the Crew in the 4th round and despite some very sketchy plays against the Red Bulls, Nick reminded us of the goalkeeper we knew we had. He should start in goal. The back three should remain the same, with David Stokes coming in for Facundo around the 60th~70th minute mark.

The midfield should be pretty much what we have been playing all season long with Carroll and Olsen anchoring the defensive midfield slots. Clyde Simms should come on for Carroll in the second half, but even if Benny starts to get a little gassed, Peter Nowak needs to find a way to keep in him the field. Olsen in the backbone of this team and when he is not on the field, the team loses its composure and form.

Josh Gros is a no brainer. If Christian Gomez is a serious candidate for MLS MVP, Gros would still trump him for team MVP. That guy has been an energy bomb on the right side of the field. As he gets a MLS sponsored holiday on Saturday, I say have him run his lights out.

The next two are question marks. Gomez single handedly won the match on Sunday against Chivas, but had to leave the match due to cramping in his left leg and because of this, might be left out of the match to give him a full 10 days rest for the Revolution match, as he too has been given a MLS sponsored holiday against RSL. The is reporting that Gomez is healthy for this match. If he does not play, expect Rod Dyachenko to start in his place. The other midfield maestro for United, Freddy Adu, seems to be still suffering from a knee injury and might still need the time off, especially if Peter Nowak will need him to run out on Saturday with the reserves against RSL. This brings in United new boy, Matias Donnet. He is a midfielder who plays on the wings, so he and Gros can switch sides with ease, as gros has done with Freddy just about every match. The biggest question mark with Matias is what his fitness situation is. If he can give United a good 55 or 60 minutes, he would be able to provide Peter Nowak with the ability to both fill in the hole left by Freddy and increase Donnet’s match fitness level, in time to maybe run him out longer against RSL.

The forwards selection is yet another story. You can add Alecko to that list of guys who MLS felt needed a sponsored holiday and will be suspended for this Saturday’s RSL match, so there is no reason for Esky to not go the full 90 minutes and strike a few shots on goal tonight. I feel that Jamil Walker needs to start tonight for two reasons. The first reason is that in USOC matches, he has been a different player. He has 3 goals in the tournament and is United’s leading scorer. This is reason enough for him to be included in the starting 11. The second reason is that club Captain Jaime Moreno was subbed out in the 55th minute against Chivas due to injury. He has been left off the roster for this match.

So, all said an done, I think that if United sends out their near-starting line-up, and plays with the same type of passion and composure that they have had in the two previous USOC matches, they pull off the victory and will likely be heading off the HDC for a rematch with the LA Galaxy in the USOC Final on the 27th. If United fail to remain solid on defense and fail to be creative in the midfield, then the USOC ride will get derailed in Chicago. I feel that Peter Nowak won’t let that happen and they come away with the victory.

Prediction: DC United 2 – 1 Chicago Fire
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