Wednesday, May 31, 2006

DC United to host Celtic July 12th at RFK

The Washington Times is reporting that DC United have confirmed that the will be hosting SPL Champion Celtic at RFK Stadium on July 12th. As that is a Wednesday date, it should be a 7:30pm kick-off. This should be a really good match, now do I wear my DC United jersey or my Manchester United Roy Keane jersey? DC United jersey, as always.

DC United vs. Columbus Crew Preview

DC United vs. Columbus Crew
Wednesday, 5/31/2006 7:30pm
RFK Stadium

DC United host the Columbus Crew in an Eastern Conference showdown tonight at RFK. United, sitting in first place in the East with a 5 point lead over the rapidly sinking Kansas City Wizards, are coming home after a 3-1 road victory over Kansas City. Captain Jamie Moreno, and MLS Player of the Week, scored his 98th and 99th MLS career goals in that victory.

The Crew haven't taken the field in a week and a half, last playing at home against DC United in a 1-1 draw, which was a lack-luster performance by United and the Crew lost their second keeper of the season, Jon Busch to an ACL tear. Their field players have been playing well this season, but their goalkeeper situation is worse than a Greek tragedy. They signed former Maryland keeper, Noah Palmer from RSL, where he was their 3rd string keeper, and he will most likely start tonight against United.

United, if they even hope of keeping pace in the Supporters Shield race with FC Dallas, must win this match. This World Cup stretch will be the deciding factor for this season; those teams that can adapt to the environment and take advantage of those teams that are effected the most, will run away from those clubs that have been sent adrift by the World Cup. FC Dallas is showing that they will be able to run away from the Western Conference due to not being effected by the World Cup. United is beginning to show that they have been able to adapt to a United squad without Ben Olsen, but to truly show this, they must continue to win those matches that they should, tonight's match being one of those.

Hopefully, as this will be United's second match in 4 days and as they have another home match this Saturday against another Eastern Conference foe in the New England Revolution, Peter Nowak will think about giving some of the starters more of a rest tonight, namely Moreno, Gomez and Eskandarian. I still feel that they should start the match, as they are the ones that United rely on to take control of the match and get the offense organized and rolling. He should start them, then sub in Jamil Walker in for Moreno in the 60th~65th minute to get some speed on the runs to compliment Freddy. Then in the 70th or 75th minute, depending on his play, have Lucio or Mediate come on for Alecko to keep the offense rolling. Whomever does not come on for Aleck, should come on for Gomez around the 65th minute as well. I think that this gives us the best substitute options, and still allows us to have our main impact players on for the majority of the match to get the goals.

If United plays as they did last Crew match after they were scored on, at home, United should be able to come away with a 2-0, 3-0 victory. We all know that United seem to not "get up" for these "should win" matches, so the big question will be which United squad shows up for tonight's match. I will be in the stands tonight to see the answer to that question. I still feel that United will send Columbus home without any points.

Match Prediction: DC United 2 - 0 Columbus Crew

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Weekend Recap

So I went away for the weekend, a lot happened.

DC United went to Kansas City and took care of business, winning their 5th match of the season, 3-1. Jamie Moreno picked up his MLS career 98th and 99th goals in the match. For his efforts, Moreno was named MLS player of the Week today. United has a short week as they host the Columbus Crew at RFK this Wednesday night in an Eastern Conference match up. A win puts United level with FC Dallas in points with 21, and will put them ahead in the Supporters Shield race as they have a better goal differential than FC Dallas.

US National Team Send off Season Series.
The US National Squad finished off their World Cup prep with a 2-0 victory over Venezuela and a 1-0 victory over Latvia. Brian McBride cemented his starting forward spot with his play against Latvia, scoring the game winner. Bobby Convey showed how he was such an invaluable part of Reading FC's promotion to the EPL, as he proved how much a threat on the left wing he can be with his passes. Now the US team heads over to Hamburg to get settled for their first match against the Czech Republic. The Czechs played Costa Rica today and won 1-0 with an 82nd minute goal.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

USA Weekend Preview - 5/27/2006

As it is Memorial Day Weekend and I will be out of town from early Friday morning to late Monday evening, I will be missing several matches that would normally have me glued to the front of a TV, with beer in hand.

USA vs. Venezuela 5/26/2006

USA vs. Latvia 5/28/2006
Coming off of the uninspiring show that was the USA match against Morocco on Tuesday, this match should be a complete opposite of performances. We should see a more inspired USA side, one that will attack with more poise and concentration, thanks to Bruce Almighty letting them know that he will not accept another performance as the one we all saw in Nashville.

One of the great things about ESPN showing the World Cup matches is that they have increased their coverage of the USMNT, showing "behind the scenes" looks at the players. Wednesday they showed Bruce laying into the guys about how they played. He told Eddie Johnson that he wasn't aggressive enough, "How many times you get called off-sides Eddie?" "How many fouls you get called for?" Bruce is not the type of coach that will let his team lose two matches in a row, even if they mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. A team that goes into the World Cup losing three straight matches, will have that on their mind, instead of the opponents. He won't let them have that mind set.

I would like to see a midfield that uses Dempsey, Beasely, Donovan, Mastroeni and Olsen, with Johnson and McBride up top. I think that would allow the distribution and coverage needed for the forwards, along with allowing for Mastroeni and Olsen to cover the defensive midfield and track forward for extra support. Having Eddie Lewis, Onyewu and Eddie Pope holding the back line in front of Keller with Olsen and Mastroeni bridging the defense and attack, I think this would be a very strong and sound line up for Bruce to use. Have JOB and Covey come on in the second half to provide some creative differences to the USA attack. Maybe have Wolff replace Johnson in the second half as well.

So this is the line up I would use -


Pope - Onyewu - Lewis

Olsen - Mastroeni

Dempsey - Donovan - Beasely

McBride - Johnson

Look for the USA performances against Venezuela and Latvia to be entirely different affairs. I feel that the US attack will be faster and will strike harder than they did against Morocco. Their defensive play will be sharper and the defenders will cover their areas just as good as they did for 89 minute against Morocco. The USA should be heading over to Germany fresh off of 2 wins and a better understanding of how they should play, rather than how they might play.
No score predictions, just victories.

MLS Weekend Preview - 5/27/2006

As it is Memorial Day Weekend and I will be out of town from early Friday morning to late Monday evening, I will be missing several matches that would normally have me glued to the front of a TV, with beer in hand.

MLS - DC United Preview: Kansas City vs. DC United 5/27/2006
DC United continues its road trip this week as it pulls into Kansas City to face the Wizards in a matchup of Eastern Conference leaders. United leads the Wizards by 2 points, and with a victory will open up a 5 point lead. United are coming off of a dismal 1-1 road draw against a Columbus Crew club that really lived on borrowed time last week. United gave them the first 20 or so minutes of the match and didn't start playing their brand of football until they were down 1-0. Peter Nowak had better have gotten the lazy attitude out of his players, or they will be returning home as second best in the East.

Kansas City are still trying to cope with the MLS playing through the World Cup. With their starting center back and starting forwards getting ready for a trip to the Fatherland, they haven't been quite the same as the Wizards of old, losing their first match without Cup stars match 2-1 to United and lost 2-1 to that club of Gang busters, rEal Salt Lake. As they return home, they will be hoping to figure out how to score more than one goal a game without their World Cup stars.

If United play as they have shown they can play, meaning up to snuff, they should be able to avoid their second loss of the season and return to DC with the 3 points, a 5 point lead in the East and close to 3 points of FC Dallas in the Supporters Shield race. With a healthy Walker coming in off the bench as an offensive spark and fresh/fast legs against a KC depleted defense, we should get the goals. Gomez and Moreno will need to have better distribution in this match, as KC's midfielders are a step better than the Crew has, and if they still take that extra half step as they did last week, KC will clog the midfield and our attack will slog through the middle third of the field.

If Clyde Simms (questionable) can fill the holding defensive midfield role that Olsen ruled before Bruce Almighty took him for the World Cup, our defensive lapses should be less of a concern. If United show up and play as they did against Columbus in the first 20 minutes, they could very well leak goals and return home in 2nd place. I doubt that Nowak will let this happen 2 weeks in a row.
Kansas City 0 - 2 DC United

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Red Bull Attendance

Am I the only one who doesn't think that this might not actually be a typo? 1 person watched the RBNY vs. FC Dallas match tonight? RBNY are that bad? I hope they were a FC Dallas fan, RBNY lost again 2-1.

MLS Tonight

Red Bull New York vs. FC Dallas

RBNY hosts Supporters Shield and Western Conference leading FC Dallas in a mid-week clash at Giants Stadium. RBNY are coming into this match having scored 5 goals against Chivas USA, and only won by one goal, as they allowed 4 goals. After securing their first victory of the MLS season, RBNY look to make it two in a row. Unfortunately for them, they host the best club in MLS right now and will most likely go down in flames against FC Dallas.

FC Dallas obliterated the New England Revolution 4-0 at home this last Saturday, scoring all 4 goals in a 20 minute span. FC Dallas are the club to beat right now, and RBNY will not be that team that beat them. I see FCD picking up another 3 points, extending their Supporters Shield lead over DC United by 6 points, but with 2 games in hand.

An interesting side note to this match is that RBNY cast-away Guevara has served out his 1 match suspension, which happened to be the one match that RBNY actually won. Will Guevara make nice with his teammates, who are 1-0 without his lazy ass? Or will he watch from the stands with his wife again?

USA 0 - 1 Morocco

I didn't get to watch the whole match. I missed Reyna going gimp on us and I missed the goal. I am not too surprised by the scoreline, from what I saw, we were not the same squad that played in the friendlies at the start of the year. I did see some of the shots that we took, Donovan's shot in the second half and Eddie Johnson's header off the Convey corner. Donovan's shot was a strong shot, but his aim failed him. Eddie did exactly what Eddie has been doing ever since he went down with his injury, nothing. He headed over the goal.

Arena played an experimental squad. Yes these are the players who will be in the World Cup (unless Reyna goes out with this injury) so they should still be able to play well together. Hopefully this is a result that embarrasses the USA players and lights a fire under their asses.

No reason to go into panic mode before the World Cup. Panic mode starts if these things happen -

1. We lose the next two matches.
2. Reyna leaves the squad.
3. We fail to score 1 goal in the next two matches.
4. Anyone else goes down.

No panic mode yet. Deep breaths, take deep breaths.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

US National Team Send Off Series

US vs. Morocco
The US National Team plays Morocco tonight in Nashville as the first step in the send off series to Germany for the World Cup. I am not going to be making any predictions for these matches, as Arena has stated that he will most likely be using all of the players in order to get them match time and test out some ideas. These should be interesting matches.

Playing Morocco makes sense as the US team plays Ghana in the first round. Morocco are also one of the better African nations when it comes to world football. Cameroon or Nigeria would have been slightly stronger opponents, but Morocco fill the need for this match on two levels; an opponent and they are from Africa so their style of play will be closer to Ghana than say a Japan would be.

Venezuela is not that bad a choice. They don't suck like a Grenada or Cuba would have, but they are not Columbia or Chile. They should still give the US side a good test, considering their build up.

Latvia is the only questions mark here. I am really not sure what this is going to prove. I wasn't even aware that Latvia had a national side, or even pro players. I am sure that the US could have been able to schedule another non-World Cup opponent for this match. New Zealand comes to mind, as they have some players in the EPL. Austria or Romania maybe, as they might have provided a good test. Anyone thought of playing Mexico? I doubt that they would have really wanted to play each other, as the Mexican players might have not wanted to lose to us before the World Cup.

In reality, what matters most is that the US teams gets as much match time together. If that means playing Latvia, then that is better than only playing 2 matches. I would have liked to seen the US add maybe a 4th match, one in Belgium or Hamburg, against Belgium or Denmark. I think getting a match in against a European side would provide a good test against the US squad, considering they are playing 2 European teams in the first round.

Monday, May 22, 2006

DC United Match Report - 5/22/2006

DC United visited Colubums Crew Stadium last Saturday, and left with a very lazy and uninspiring 1-1 draw. As 1/4 of the season has now passed, United find themselves sitting atop the Eastern Conference with 15 points and having only one loss. While this is a very good position for United to be in, there is still a creeping problem that must be resolved if they are to continue to stay at the top of the table and reclaim the MLS Cup at the end of the season.

The thing that got me was that as United hammered the Crew in the second half, they were unable to get the winning goal, when it looked as if they should. It wasn't really anything that the Crew defense did that was spectactular, it was just that when United had a great opprotunity to finish the match, they miffed their shots or their last touch was either too heavy or too soft. The defense looked rickety once, and it wasn't the Crew goal, it was around the 43rd minute when Crew forward Jason Garey was just about all alone against Perkins, and Troy got his hand on Garey's shot and deflected it away. The Crew goal was Troy's fault. He ran off his line way too fast and should have stayed closer to goal to cut off the angles, and Boswell should have continued his run at Ngwenya.

Once United were down 1-0, they looked like the United of old, they were passing batter and running better off the ball and to no one's suprise, that was when they scored their goal. Their finishing just left them in the cold the rest of the match. Freddy looked pretty good running at the Crew defense, however he was one of the biggest culprits of being heavy footed on his last touches, as he often hit the ball too hard as he tried to get around a defender and ended up giving the ball away.

All in all, United came away with a point, they are still in 1st place in the East and are still 3 points behind FC Dallas in the Supporters Sheild race, with one match in hand. It wasn't a travesty that they failed to take all three points from Columbus, even though they should have. This was just one of those matches that going into it, they should have won. United have been in three of these matches this season, all three away matches. They took care of business against RBNY, dropped all 3 points in Denver and now dropped 2 points in Ohio. As the season moves on, if United continue to drop points in these types of matches simply because their finishing wasn't up to par, they might find themselve getting passed on the left by Chicago or Kansas City.

They need to look ahead now towards their second match in two weeks with the Kansas City Wizards, who themselves lost to that Western Conference powerhouse, rEal Salt lake.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

DC United Notes

Celtic Announcement??

The Washington are reporting that DC United will be announcing in the next week that they have agreed to a friendly match against the SPL Champions, Celtic. This is to take place on July 12th, most likely at RFK Stadium. This will be the first high profile friendly match that United will be taking part in this season, and probably the only one as the same report says that the hoped for match against Liverpool has fizzled.

I am looking forward to this match and definately will be attending. The chance to see United match up against a European club, espcially against the SPL champion, is a very good thing. This will be the second straight season that United has hosted a defending champion in a summer friendly. Here's to hopes that we defeat the Hoops and raise the MLS stock in Europe just that much higher. Hopefully Roy Keane will be back with Celtic and takes part in the match.

DC United/Screaming Eagles viewing party tonight.
I will be watching the United/Crew match tonight at the Pour House with the Screaming Eagles, should be a fun match. Hopefully I won't have to leave at the half like last time. See you all there.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Soccer Digest - 5/19/2006

Red Bull New York fine/suspend Guevara
RBNY fined Amando Guevara $4,000 and suspended him for one match for his actions last weekend against Chicago. Guevara left the field right after being substituted, returning to the locker room to shower and change clothes. Guevara returned from the locker room, but instead of sitting on the bench with his teammates, he sat in the stands with his wife to watch his club lose their 1-0 lead and draw with the Fire 1-1.

Ives Galarcep seems to think that Guevara has played his last match with RBNY, and that he will either be traded or left to wallow in his self pity. I personally cannot understand why any of the other 11 clubs in MLS would even want to try and trade players for this guy. As Galarcep says, he has given up on his teammates. If my club traded for a guy who bitched and moaned about not being paid enough and still dicks over the club by returning late for preseason training and fails to even truly show up for matches, I would demand the front office re-examine their thoughts. This guy is nothing but a complete train wreck of a soccer player and a spoiled Central American brat. When he ever did play well, (I don't even think he was worthy of the 2004 MVP) he was ok, sorta like a good player on a shitty club, he is gonna stand out.

The best thing to happen for this guy is to have MLS just release him and let him bitch and moan his way back to Honduras, even if it means buying out his contract, which he shouldn't be earning anyways. It would be money well spent by MLS and RBNY.

Henry stays with Arsenal
Thierry Henry announced today that due to how inspiring his Arsenal teammates were in the Champions League final, facing Barcelona with 10 men, he will be signing a new 4 year extention to his contract. This means that Barcelona are going to need to pursue a different big game striker. If I were a Barca supporter, which I am not, a striker I would try and sign would be someone like Adriano from Inter Milan.

Good for Arsenal, they have been able to keep their star player as they open their new 66,000 seat stadium. Bad for the rest of the EPL.

DC United Preview

Week 8

This week DC United travels to Ohio to take on the resurgent Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. The Crew are coming in riding a 2 match win streak, the last one being their first home victory of the season, a 1-0 affair with the Colorado Rapids. They will be looking to continue their good form against the Eastern Conference leaders.

DC United are heading off on their third away match of the season, having won their first and lost their second. Last week they reclaimed first place in the MLS Eastern Conference with a 2-1 victory over Kansas City. United currently have 14 points to the Crew's 10. United will be looking to stretching their lead in the East with this early must win match.

Keys to the Match
1. United must score early. Columbus has won their three matches this season all with 1-0 score lines. Their first and last wins were on goals late in the match, in the 90th minute against LA and in the 74th minute against Colorado. If United can get the early goal as they did against Kansas City, then United will be able to control the match against a Crew side that are still trying to figure out their roles with each other.

2. Limit the mental mistakes. Over the last three matches, United have been victim of their own mental breakdowns. The goal in the FCD match in which the United defense gave O'Brien way too much space in front of the goal allowed him to have a clear view of the target and the time to take his shot. Against Colorado, United failed to control the pace of the match and allowed the rapids to get back into the match with the Erpen "gift" penalty. Even last week against Kansas City, United did not play the controlling style of football that they did earlier in the season. Gomez, Moreno and Adu must step up and keep the possession in order for United to control the match.

3. Start the winning formula. Coach Peter Nowak needs to continue to use the same type of formation and starting line up that has picked up 4 wins in 7 matches. I realize that Olsen is away at National Team duty, so he is obviously not available. However, tinkering with your line up and changing the formation when the earlier formation worked so well, isn't the bright thing to do. This lead to the debacle that was the match in Colorado. Nowak returned United to a more familiar look last week, but the defense still have several issues closing down people and allowing holes to form for the KC offense to take shots at.

If United can keep their heads focused on the match, get an early goal and are playing with the right players on and off the field, then I feel that United will stay undefeated in the Eastern Conference and leave Ohio with the 3 points.

Columbus Crew 1 - 2 DC United

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

CONCACAF Champions League?

DCenters has a link to this on his site, but I figured I would post the main part here and try and figure out what some of this means. Univision released a press release that says that TeleFutura will be showing a bunch of soccer in the US next year, here is their list -

Copa America," the soccer championship of South America, is one of the oldest and most hotly contested tournaments in the world, predating even the World Cup. With live coverage from host country Venezuela, TeleFutura will bring the excitement home to U.S. Hispanic soccer fans. (June 26 - July 15, 2007)

"Copa Oro" TeleFutura covers all the action in this soccer championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, featuring 12 teams including Mexico and the U.S., competing in matches in six U.S. cities. (June 6-24, 2007)

"International Friendlies" will showcase many of the world's top national teams facing off against some of the most popular professional club teams, featuring some of the biggest superstars of soccer. TeleFutura will be the exclusive Spanish-language home to five of the most exciting soccer matches to be played in the largest U.S. Hispanic markets all year.

"Major League Soccer Game of the Week" will showcase 25 of the best U.S. professional soccer matches, plus the MLS All-Star game, MLS Cup Final, and will feature some of Hispanic soccer fans' favorite teams, including Chivas USA (Los Angeles), LA Galaxy, Red Bull New York, Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas, and DC United. (April - November, Sunday 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT)

"CONCACAF Champions League" patterned after the highly successful UEFA Champions League and featuring the top club teams from the Mexican Primera Division and Major League Soccer, the tournament will be televised exclusively on TeleFutura, with 33 live matches including all quarterfinals, semifinals, and the big final game. (July 18 - November 15, 2007, Tuesday and Wednesday nights)

What exactly is the Copa Oro? Is this the CONCACAF Champions Cup renamed and only to be taking place in the US next season, instead of "bag of piss throwing" stadiums in Costa Rica or Mexico?

The CONCACAF Champions that the tournament that Garber & Co. are working on getting setup between MLS and the MPL?

Whatever these are, I like the sound of them and I hope that there will be English broadcasts of these events as well. I wouldn't mind learning Spanish, but I would like to understand what is being said. I also am looking forward to attending more United matches against quality opponents, instead of RBNY and RSL.

Barcelona are Champions of Europe

Barcelona 2 - 1 Arsenal

In what was billed as a dream match-up of two European superpowers, the final in Paris really was a different type of match than hoped for. It was a match were history was set by the first Red Card sending off in a Champions League Final, with Jens Lehman being sent off in the 19th minute. In the end, Barcelona emerged victorious over Arsenal, 2-1.

Arsenal could have just crumbled under the pressure of the Spanish Champions with only 10 men on the field, in reality they did just the opposite. They weathered a storm and earned my respect. Sol Campbell scored on a beautiful header in the 37th minute to take the lead against a very, very poor looking Barcelona. Arsenal's defense took one helluva beating, but Barcalona looked less like the free flowing, inspired Spanish Champions. The two deciders of this match were the Red Card and the important changes that Barcalona made in the second half.

The Referee made a very odd decision when he gave Lehmann the Red Card, considering the magnitude of the match and the call, which he could have allowed for the possesion, which would have lead to a Barcelona goal. Instead he sends Lehmann off and disallowes the goal. In my opinion, he made the wrong call in this type of match.

Overall it was a very good match, Ronaldinho did not look like the guy in all of the ESPN promo's for the match and such. I have seen him play better, as will we all see in Germany this World Cup. Henry looked very dangerous, he just couldn't finish as he normally can. Based on what looked like him being very upset with the way Arsene Wenger handled the second half, Henry should be on his way out, Barcelona the likely place he lands.

UEFA Champions League Final

Arsenal vs. Barcelona

Today we have the official end to the 2005/2006 UEFA season, (even though England is still having promotion matches this weekend), with the Champions League Final in Paris. As it has been reported in just about every media outlet, this is a dream matchup; Spanish Champions, Barcelona being led into Paris by FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho in one corner. In the other corner, English powerhouse, Arsenal, who are being led by Thierry Henry. This is the type of final that UEFA and FIFA for all concerns, have be dreaming about.

Every facet of this match has been written about, dissected and analyzed. I won't bore you with that much crap here. I am just going to tell you who is going to win and what this match will mean for the rest of European Football.

1. Barcelona will win today.
Barcelona will win due to the fact that they have a better midfield than Arsenal, simply because they have one player, and his name is Deco. Ronaldinho is a god-like striker, but if you foul him whenever he gets the ball, he won't be able to cause that much trouble, depending on where the foul is. Deco will be the key in running the midfield and making sure that Eto gets fed scoring chances and that when Ronaldinho does get the ball, if Arsenal fouls him, it will be in such dangerous striking positions, that either way, Ronaldinho gets to take a shot on goal.

Arsenal has a very simple setup in their offensive options; send Henry towards the attack. Ljungberg will pose problems, and Reyes might be able to cause some problems. They main key to the Arsenal attack is Henry and Barcelona will smother him and keep him from causing any problems. Arsenal just do not have the midfield to create chances for their other players.

2. Henry will leave Arsenal and sign with Barcelona.
Henry will be doing the same thing to Arsenal that Ballack did to Bayern, he will leave to go to a stronger club so that he can win the Champions League. The only two difference's; Arsenal will be able to sell him for at least 20 million pounds, more likely 25 which gives Arsenal a cash influx to sign new players, unlike Bayern got from Ballack. This sale will free up the services of Eto, which will allow Chelsea to swoop in and buy him from Barcelona. The Champions League Final loss will also allow Ashley Cole the out he has needed to be sold to Chelsea as well. Arsenal will come away from this one match with a rather hefty cash injection from the sale of two players.

3. Barcelona's European victory will only increase the changes at Real Madrid.
Real Madrid will be losing some of their more familiar faces this season, Zidane being the first to go. Roberto Carlos might be gone as Chelsea seem to be linked with him for a transfer, as well as Jonathan Woodgate, who has never been able to prove that he would ever be healthy. Thomas Gravesen seems to be on his way out, in my opinion to Manchester United to try and be a defensive midfielder. Julio Baptista sold also be on his way out as well.

Barcelona being both the Spanish Champions and the Champions of Europe will lite one huge fire under the new incoming President of Real Madrid, which will cause them to try and splash a lot of cash this off season. A game controlling midfielder will be on the list, as well as a truly powerful central defender. In my opinion, Mahamadou Diarra will be a new target for Real as they will look to replace Zidane's creativity and pace. Look for Robinho to play a much larger part in the Real attack next season, only if Adriano isn't sold from Inter to Real or Chelsea.

That is about it. Barcelona will win the Champions League this season and will be adding Henry to their attack.
Champions League Final:
Barcelona 3 - 1 Arsenal

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why in the United States?

I have been wondering for quite a while, mainly after Barcelona announced, with MLS, that they would be playing a 3 match series in the United States over the summer, preparing for their new La Liga season. They will be playing in Los Angeles, Houston and New York. All of the tickets for these matches are being sold through MLS's local clubs in these cities, the LA Galaxy, the Houston Dynamo, and Red Bull New York. They only problem with this situation is that Barcelona will only be playing one MLS club, RBNY. They seem to be playing Chivas (not Chivas USA) in LA and some other Mexican club in Houston. Yet this was a partnership with why the Mexican clubs?

My big question is why European clubs travel to the United States, which has a Premire level football league, yet they still seem to rather play Mexican clubs in the US. If they feel that the Mexican clubs offer better compatition (which they might), why not just go to Mexico City to play PUMAS or Club America?

Here is a list of friendly matches that involve MLS/USL/European Clubs/Mexican Clubs that I could find.

- Barcelona vs. Chivas in LA
- Barcelona vs. Random Mexican Club in Houston
- Barcelona vs. RBNY in NYC
- Bayern Munich vs. RBNY in NYC
- Everton vs. Columbus Crew in Columbus
- Everton vs. Club America in Frisco, TX (Pizza Hut Park)
- Crystal Palace vs. Virginia Beach Mariners in Virginia Beach, VA
- Club America vs. Chivas USA in LA
- Chelsea vs. MLS All Stars in Chicago, Ill.

I have been reading that DC United is about 98% finished scheduling a match against Scottish Champion Celtic for July 12th at RFK Stadium and that the chance to also host Liverpool is at 50-50.

One question I do have is why the foreign clubs are playing these MLS sides? Wouldn't MLS want to have its stronger sides take on forgien clubs? A match between the New England Revolution and Liverpool would probably be a very good match, assuming the Revs were in mid-season form. FC Dallas vs. Roma sounds like an entertaing match as well. Houston vs. Barcelona would be a great game, assuming everyone is healthy. So why Chivas, Columbus and RBNY? RBNY is simply because of Red bull owning the club and most likely it was their name that has brought the other clubs in for the matches.

I have no problem with Club America traveling north to play Chivas USA. It is something that in all honesty, e should have regularly schedule for all the MLS clubs. They should always have 3 matches a season scheduled against Mexican clubs. that is just my opinion, but one that could build on what Garber & Co. are trying to get started with the Mexican 1st Division.

So, if anyone knows of any other friendlys taking place or in the works, let me know and I will update this list as I get any new ones.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Soccer Digest - 5/15/2006

Chelsea sign Ballack to 3 year deal.
Michael Ballack made his expected move to Stamford Bridge today as he was unveiled as Chelsea's new midfielder. He signed a 3 year deal worth a reported to be worth 130,000 pounds a week, which makes him the highest paid player in England. In the press conference, Ballack stated that he chose Chelsea over Manchester United due to Chelsea's recent form and the life London offers over Manchester especially for his family. Ballack will be playing in a crowded midfield with Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Claude Makelele.

DC United move back into first on MLS Power Rankings. has DC United moving back into first place in their MLS Power Rankings, following their 2-1 victory over Kansas City this last weekend. United regained first place in the Eastern Conference, replacing Kansas City with 14 points to their 13. United are still second in the Supporters Sheild standings, 1 point behind FC Dallas with 15, but United have 1 game in hand.

RBNY "Seeing Red" over Guevara sitting in the stands.
Amado Guevara was substituted in the 55th minute of the Red Bull New York match this weekend against the Chicago Fire. Guevara promptly left the pitch, went straight to the locker room, showered, then reappered in the stands and sat in the first row with his wife and watched his team yet again finish a match in a draw, after leading with a 1 goal lead. RBNY coach Mo "I'm on borrowed time" Johnston siad that he will deal with Guevara and it will be a stern response to the disrepect he showed his fellow teammates. RBNY should trade him to LA, it seems he doesn't want to play for New York, and this way Lalas can threaten him if he shows up late again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Lets Embarass ourselves even more!

It was announced yesterday that Red Bull New York, a team that still has yet to win a match in MLS this season, will be hosting a friendly match against a very much depleted, Bayern Munich at Giants Stadium on the 27th of May. Granted Bayern will not have Ballack, (as he is heading to Chelski) Kahn, Ze Roberto or anyone else that play for Bayern but will be taking part in the World Cup, but other than Red Bull owning the club, why are they going to be playing two of the the more powerful European clubs in Europe? They are the only MLS club that will be hosting Barcalona when they do their money tour later this summer. Other than the fact that they are in the largest US media market, Red Bull New York have no business stepping onto the same pitch with these two clubs.

MLS should be sending their best clubs against the best in Europe. They did it last year when DC United played Chelski. Last year when LA was actually able to do something, they had them host Real Madrid. Chicago, a team that has at least won a MLS Cup, played AC Milan last season. Columbus Crew, a club that at least has a US Cup in it's trophy case, will be playing Everton later this summer. DC United seem to be on the verge of scheduling a match against Celtic at RFK.

They sure as hell shouldn't be sending an All Star team against Chelsea. Garber & Co. do not want our US players heading off to Europe, they want them to stay here. The only thing having a group of players gather for an All Star Team does is it showcases the best players for the rest of the world to see, and pick from to buy. If MLS wants to have a mid season event, they should have the defending MLS Cup winner play a visiting club and showcase that. (Only problem would be that this year LA sucks worse than a straw).
Weekend Update

MLS Review
I went 2-4 this weekend, nailing the DC United match as well as the New England match, I even got the scores right. DC United moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference and moved up to second in the Supporters Shield standings, behind FC Dallas, who drew with Houston 1-1. When will Nowak start taking Moreno off at 60 minutes or 65 minutes into the matches? Does he see a different Moreno than the rest of the world, the slow, un-imaginative and listless Moreno that needs to be playing only about an hour to save his fitneww for the entire season?

On Friday I gave RSL the lable "the 3 point slot machine of MLS." Up until this weekend, I feel that this title was justified. However, due to the events of the last two weeks or so, I have to say that RSL, in beating the LA Galaxy 3-0 at the HDC, did more than just get their first ever club road victory. They passed the title of "the 3 point slot machine of MLS" onto the Defending Chumps. LA seems to be even worse than I thought or Steve Sampson wants to think. They haven't scored a goal in their last three MLS matches, losing 8-0. Evidently the LA fans were chanting that they want Jurgen Klinsman to replace Sampson. First off, Sampson lead the Galaxy to the domestic Double last year, capturing both the US Cup and the MLS Cup. He is also in his second full season and is missing his best player. He should be given a little more time. Second, Klinsman has a job to do for the next month, and unless Germany fails to get out of their group, I still don't think he will be fired from his job running the German National Team.

It seems that New England is starting to play the way everyone expected them to do. Maybe they don't need Clint Dempsy? Twellman seems to have his scoring touch, too bad it is just about too late for an injury to give him a Germany spot, like he should have had.

FA Cup Review
Liverpool won their 7th FA Cup after coming back to draw with West Ham 3-3 and go on to win in penalties, 3-1. Gee...that sounds like what happend in the Champions League Final last year, Gerrard has to inspire a Liverpool squad back into the fight, then lead them to a Cup victory in penalties. This guy is awesome! I do not care for Liverpool, but damn if this guy isn't probably one step above Michale Ballack, who will be announced tomorrow as a new Chelski midfielder.

Other Stuff....
Juventus have won their 2nd straight Serie A Championship today, but if the tea leaves are correct, not only will they have to forfit this Championship, but they might be sent down to Serie B or worse, which might spark a sell-off of their players. Oh well, enjoy the trophy while you have it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Weekend Previews

MLS Preview Week 7

Last week I went 3-2 and this week I am already 1-0. This week is the first of about 10 weeks without those MLS players who have been called up for their National Squads for the 2006 World Cup. I truely feel that this entire seasons final standings are going to damn near be dictated by those call-ups. The teams that have not been affected at all should be able to create the most coheisive chemistry in relation to the other clubs that are missing regular starters. FC Dallas comes to mind as one of those clubs that will benefit from the call-ups. Clubs like the LA Galaxy are on the opposite end of this idea. They have lost their playmaker (Donovan) and when he was marked out of matches, there wasn't a single other player who stepped up, which is a reall, really bad sign for the defending Chumps.

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo
FC Dallas are hosting the Houston Dynamo for the second straight weekend, after losing to them last week 3-4. FC Dallas are coming into this match after a mid-week home 1-0 victory over the MLS defending Chumps LA Galaxy. Carlos Ruiz scored the game winner with an unassisted goal in the 20th minute. Houston has had all week to rest up for this match, but are heading into Pizza Hut Park without MLS leading scorer Brian Ching, who is now training for the World Cup with the US National Team. They will still have Dwayne De Rosario, who, besides Ching, is on the inside track for the MLS MVP. If this match is anything like their first one, this should be game of the week.

FC Dallas 3 - 2 Houston Dynamo

New England Revolution vs. Chivas USA
So the question will be this - Can the Revolution beat anyone that doesn't have the name Galaxy on their jersey's? New England are coming off a 4-0 pasting of the defending Chumps, LA Galaxy, whom their only other victory has come off of as well. Chivas USA play in LA, so the Revs are hoping that their powers against the other LA club carry over to Chivas. This will be the first of about 10 matches without Clint Dempsy, and if everything goes for him as I feel they will in Germany, he might only be back in New England for maybe 3 more matches as he should be snapped up by a Bundesliga or an EPL club. Chivas USA are still trying to prove that they can beat an MLS club that isn't RSL. If Razov is 100% for this match, they might have a chance to do something, but they will still end up on the short end of 3 points.

New England Revolution 3 - 1 Chivas USA

Red Bull New York vs. Chicago Fire
Bunch of Bull are still trying to prove that they can win against an MLS club, which after Saturday, they will still be asking that question. Red Bull New York have really got to do some soul searching right now. The only player on their roster who has shown up mentally for half their matches has been Tony Meola and he has been damn near helpless in most of his matches, thanks to a defense that has more holes than the Titanic did when it sank. Chicago is on the down side of their 10 match marathon road trip as their home stadium is completed. Considering that they haven't been home yet, their record of 1-1-3 isn't that bad and they should be able to pick up a second victory in NYC.

Red Bull New York 1 - 2 Chicago Fire

Columbus Crew vs. Colorado Rapids
Columbus is the latest MLS club to take a spin on the 3-point slot machine that is RSL, winning 1-0 in Utah last weekend. The Crew have lost only once in their last four matches and as they are at home, they should be in good shape to come away with some points from this match, even though they seem to be trying to set a new MLS record for the number of injuries to their players. Colorado are rolling into Columbus fresh off of a 2-1 home victory over previously undefeated DC United. With Jovan Kirovski continuing to score goals, the Rapids should be able to move up the ladder in the West, assuming that they are able to compensate for Mastroeni being away with the US National Team.

Columbus Crew 1 - 1 Colorado Rapids

LA Galaxy vs. rEal Salt lake
Ah, just what the doctor ordered, a visit from the 3 point slot machine of MLS, RSL. LA has been on the losing end of two straight shutouts, losing by 5 goals in those matches. As they are now without Landon Donovan and Chris Albright, they will need every gift that the MLS schedule can provide them, which this visit by RSL is one of those gifts. LA must come away with 3 points from this match, failure to do so will be catostrophic for this club. I said previously that the matches right now don't mean anything in the long run of MLS, well, this match does for LA. If they fail to take maximum points from RSL this entire season, their other matches will become that much more difficult to get results from. As for RSL, all they seem to be doing right now is trying to pad Jason Kreis' MLS goal record and set a new record for consective matches without a victory, because they are probably scared that Red Bull New York will give them a run for their money this year for shittiest club in MLS. God RSL sucks right now.
LA Galaxy 1 - 0 RSL

DC United vs. Kansas City Wizards
DC United return home after getting a hangover from the thin mountain air in Denver and completely screwing up what should have been 3 points in the bag and a nice trip home. Instead Nowak decides to try out a new formation and that formation started a player whose sole job on the side should be to enter in the 60th minute and run the hell out of the tired oppositions defenders. Now that they are at home, United should be able to learn from their mistakes, return to the line-up (minus Ben Olsen, on US National Team duty) and formation that had them undefeated and be able to defeat the Wizards. Kansas City are coming in with a record of 4-1-1 and are first in the Eastern Conference. this will be a different KC team than the one that had been playing for Bob Gansler up to this week, as he has lost his star defender as well as his starting forwards to the World Cup. Gansler isn't a stupid coach, so he will be bringing a decent squad with him into RFK, however as this is the first test of his new look side, he might just build a bunker side and hope to leave with a point.
DC United 2 - 1 Kansas City Wizards

FA Cup Preview
Liverpool vs. West Ham
Liverpool hope to gain one piece of silverware this season as the face West Ham in Cardiff, Wales at the Millenium Stadium. Having won the Champions League last season, truely anything other than that trophy is a let down. They did finish two spots higher in the EPL this season and if they pickup the FA Cup, they will have a major trophy for the second straight season. Will Benitez's men be able to muster up one more spirited peformance after just about the longest season one club could have?

West Ham are trying to finish off their season with an FA Cup victory to complete their 9th place finishing in the EPL. As Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League Qualifying stage, West Ham automatically gain the UEFA Cup entry alloted to the FA Cup winner, which gives them hope for next season. As the Hammers are having injury problems for several key players, Ashton and Etherington, things are not looking good for the Hammers to take the FA Cup.

Liverpool 3 - 1 West Ham

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Toronto FC

MLS announced the name and logo of the 13th MLS club, Toronto FC. They will be playing in , yup, you guessed it, Toronto. Toronto is not in the United States, just in case anyone was wondering. Their home will be the National Soccer Stadium at Exhibition Place, which will also serve as the home of the Canadian Nationl Team.

MLS has Toronto listed right now as being an Eastern Conference club, which makes sense. Scheduling for next season should be interesting, as with 13 clubs, 1 club will be essentially given a bye for that week. That isn't much of a difference from this season as not all the clubs play the same day. I just hope that the 14th club gets started in 2008, because more than 1 season of uneven scheduling might pose some problems at the end of the season.

Expansion is good for the league and once there are enough clubs in the league to pair down the matches to home and away, the individual matches will mean just that extra bit more, especially against Red Bull New York for DC United fans. One question I have concerning Toronto FC is that according to Wikipedia -

In February 2006, MLS decided the MLS Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup winner will represent the United States in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. If the Supporters Shield winner wins the MLS Cup, the team with the second-most points also qualifies.

What happens if Toronto FC wins either of these? Will a Canadian club represent the United States in the CONCACAF Champions Cup? I know that the other 12 MLS clubs are not fielding all US players, but they are US clubs. Toronto FC is a Canadian club, playing in MLS. So, are they ineligible? This needs to be reolved by Garber & Co.

I might actually try and make it up to Toronto for some DC United away matches next season. It should at least be friendlier than Gianst Stadium has been.
Why did Donovan play last night??

So the LA Galaxy went to Dallas last night and after a 20th minute Carlos Ruiz goal, lost 1-0 to FC Dallas. As it was played on May 10th, the same day that the US National Team was to report to Cary, North Carolina to begin training for Germany, it would have been perfectly logical for the MLS players to all be in camp by the time this match kicked off. However, I was wrong the minute I saw Donovan listed in the starting line up for the match.

How stupid was it that Bruce allowed Donovan, possibly the most important field player on the squad, to play one more match this season? What would have happened had he been brought down and sprained his knee as Herculez Gomez did? Much worse, what if he broke his foot, much like Rooney did at the end of the Chelsea match? I question Bruce Arena's logic in allowing Donovan one more MLS match. The match means nothing in the scheme of MLS. The Galaxy are not going to miss the playoffs, regardless of how bad they are, RSL and Chivas USA should still do that for the West.

I understand that the US players based in Germany are reporting after this weekend, but that is due to the season finishing and their matches still mean something for final positioning. Eddie lewis probably won't get to NC until after the 20th due to leeds playing in the Championship Promotion Final against Watford, a match that means something. last nights match at Pizza Hut Park meant nothing to the LA Galaxy season. All that match meant was that it was an unjustified chance for Donovan to get injured and have to miss the World Cup.


Yesterday I posted that Chivas USA were hosting Houston last night. Evidently, that match didn't happen and I honestly have no idea when that match is to be played. However, I got the idea from the scoreboard that had the match starting at 10pm est. Oh well, my bad.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

They finally posted a report finally posted a report for their friendly match last night against the Harrisonburg City Islanders. According to the time stamp, their report was posted at 3:24pm. It is a rather short report, but it still gets the best info to the viewer.

My main questions are these - whay wait until mid-afternoon to post the report; why not have a preview the day before?

Oh well, they play at home this Saturday, hopefully Lucio continues his scoring from last night and Freddy is fresh enough for the 90 minutes.
MLS Mid-Week Preview/Other News

MLS has two mid-week matches this week, sort of California vs. Texas.

Chivas USA vs. Houston
Chivas host the Dynamo at HDC in hopes of proving to the rest of the league that they can beat teams that are not named RSL. Ante Razov currently sits 5th in the MLS scoring chase with 3 goals and 1 assist. Houston are walking into the Home Depot Center with a certain Texas swagger that can only be picked up by beating their West leading in-state rivals, FC Dallas last week 4-3. This is the first of several matches that Houston faces without MLS leading scorer, Brian Ching, as Ching reported to US National Team duty today for the 2006 World Cup. Even without Ching, Houston should retain their swagger and walk on out of LA with 3 more points.
Chivas USA 1 Houston Dynamo 2

FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy
FC Dallas host the 2005 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy, with the Galaxy not playing like defending champions. This match up is one of several under stories; both teams were torched last weekend for 4 goals a piece; LA face their first of many matches without MLS Golden Boy Donovan or Chris Albright; FC Dallas must begin to take advantage of a Western Conference that has weaker teams now due to World Cup call-ups. FC Dallas will keep all 3 points in this match and the Fire Sampson clock will start right after the final whistle at Pizza Hut Park.
FC Dallas 2 LA Galaxy 0

MLS to unveil Toronto Name and Logo is reporting that the new Toronto expansion club ownership will announce the clubs name and logo tomorrow at 11:30am est. Garber & Co. will be on hand for the unveiling in Toronto.

UEFA Cup goes to Sevilla
FC Sevilla trashed EPL side Middlesbrough 4-0 in the UEFA Cup final in Eindhoven. Middlesbrough manager Steve McLaren leaves the club for the England Manager job, which he will take right after England finish the World Cup. Maresca scored 2 goals with Kanoute and Fabiano adding one each. Sevilla finished 5th in La Liga this last season, so they will be entering the UEFA Cup next season as defending Champions.

DC United coverage questions

DC United played the Harrisburg City Islanders last night in a friendly match, winning 2-1. This match was held in Mechanicsburg, Penn. Freddy Adu played 59 minutes and Lucio actually scored a goal in this victory. For those of you who are wondering how I have all of this information, because I didn't attend the match, I picked it up from the DC United thread on, not from I haven't been able to find any mention of this match on or the websites.

Wouldn't it make sense to have something about this match on One would think that the opening page would highlight a friendly match that United take part in, especially a victory. Instead, the main features for the website are as follows -

1. Watch United action on
2. Put United players into the All-Star Game
3. Bid on United items to help a good cause
4. Niko nixes point as United fall to Rapids
5. Access United: Olsen delivers vs. FCD

Besides those, if you check the news section, they have the following top five headlines -

1. Niko nixes tie as D.C. falls to Rapids
2. 'United Drives' collects soccer gear
3. Troubles in Colorado continue for D.C.
4. Super Cup finalists set
5. D.C.'s Olsen soaks in World Cup call

The friendly match against Harrisburg City Islanders wasn't even listed on the schedule, yet the friendly against the Richmond Kickers is on the schedule. They don't even have the friendly against the Charleston Battery on the schedule, but they do have a press release about it hyperlinked.

Why has DC United dropped the ball on providing coverage for a club event? This is a perfect example of the type of "bush league" actions that I still find surprising with MLS as a whole. They don't provide enough coverage of their clubs. Alot of United fans wonder why the DC area sports world doesn't provide enough coverage of United? The reason is probably because the club itself doesn't do enough self promotions to get the regular news any info or interest in providing coverage. It seems that they are fine with the regular coverage of a weekend match preview on Fridays in the Washington Post, the match on the Saturday and a post match review on Sunday. Maybe some mention due to the upcoming World Cup and the fact that United midfielder Ben Olsen in on the US squad, but not much else.

The United supporters who posted the press release about the Harrisburg City Islanders match on Big Soccer must have received it from somewhere. I am sure it is on the website, buried someplace that your average soccer fan or sports commentator could never find. That is the problem. The way to get more fans out to United events and/or matches is to get them quick and easy info that gives them a reason to go to the event. Who is running the marketing group over at United?

Hell, if they need people to provide more coverage for them, they should just ask any of the following -
- The DCenters
- Myself
- Quarter Volley
- A Little Less Conversation

It seems that even with the four of us having our lives and days jobs, we have been able to provide some pretty good coverage for the club. Just a thought....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Old Trafford Changes

In the wake of the Ruud van Nistelrooy debacle that is coming over the horizon, I feel that there needs to be some real clean up done in the Manchester United dressing room this summer during the transfer window. There are players that United are holding onto that in reality, just can't make the grade anymore and should be sent packing. Here are some of my targets to get the boot along with van Nistelrooy -

Paul Scholes - He hasn't been the Ginger Prince for some time now. Even before his vision problem knocked him out of action until maybe next season, he was not playing up to what the team needed. Sure he would score a goal here and there. Goals are good, but that is not what United need from their midfielders now. They need servicemen, play makers, field generals. Rooney, Saha and Ronaldo all serve the goal scoring role for the team. They need a Zizu or a Deco or a Riquelme or a Ballack. Someone who starts the attack, controls the attack and someone the entire attack flows through. Scholes is not that type of mid-fielder, never really has and sure as hell will not be when he maybe returns.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – Yes, the hero of the Treble needs to be let go. Don’t get me wrong, he will be mentioned in the hallowed halls of Old Trafford until life ends, but he is no longer able to provide that type of presence to the club. Besides that, he hasn’t been able to remain healthy for what, 3 years now? He is more the bionic man than Lee Majors was in the 1970’s TV show! It seems that part of the club are trying to hold onto anything that makes them look better in the eyes of the supporters, in order to attempt at making nice for Glazer buying the club and raising the ticket prices. Ole has got to be a shadow of the man he was when he put the Treble winner in against Bayern in the 1999 Champions League final. He has had something like 2 knee reconstructions and several other leg injuries in the last three years. How can I guy in his early 30’s with that medical history, ever be considered for a new contract when they refused to fully offer one to Ryan Giggs?

Quinton Fortune – Honestly, in the three years I have been able to watch regular United football on the TV, I have never seen this guy play more than once or twice. I saw them live at Giants Stadium against AC Milan in the summer of 2004. United brought over a younger squad, attempting to allow those who played in Euro 2004 some amount of rest in the off season. I still do not remember seeing Fortune in that squad that they brought over. Did they sign him solely to be a member of the Carling Cup and FA Cup early season matches alone? I think I remember reading that he will be let go at the end of this season, but I figured I would put him on this list anyways.

Now that I have picked out four current reds to send packing away from Old Trafford, I suppose I should recommend a couple players to be brought into the Theatre of Dreams in hopes of bolstering the squad. Some you have seen named here already.

Juan Roman Riquelme – I remember when Boca Juniors sold this midfield maestro to Barcelona. They were touting him as possibly the next Maradona or something. The very next season he was loaned out to Villarreal if I am not mistaken, which is where he is currently, running their offense and supplying a former United striker, Diego Forlan, with passes and crosses and goal scoring chances. He might be able to provide that midfield presence that United so desperately needs. He would be able to control the midfield and route the attack through him. Not sure how much he would have cost if Villarreal made the Champions League Final, which they had a very good chance of doing against an over achieving Arsenal squad. Rumor has it that United have already offered $8 million for him.

Mahamadou Diarra – The only problem with this guy is that Lyon are so insistent that he not leave their squad, that they are slapping a ₤24.5 million price tag on him in hopes of scaring off any possible swoops for him. It is unclear at this time if the sale would go through or not, but from what I have read, this is a guy who could revive the engine room of the mighty Man United attack.

That is it. I suggest that the United brain trust start to re-examine what the squad needs rather than which players they want to keep. Hopefully they will start bring in players for roles that need to be built up and strengthened, instead of resigning players who either can’t play or do not add anything to the needs of the club.
News Digest 5/9/2006

Howard on Loan to Everton is reporting that Tim Howard, US goalkeeper for Manchester United, has been signed to a 12 month loan spell at Everton. As Howard hasn't been doing much more than training and warming spots on the United bench this season, this is a great opprotunity for T Ho, as it should guarantee first team play.

Leeds reaches Championship Final

Leeds won their home and away semi-final series against Preston North End 3-1 on agrigate, setting up a meeting with the winner of the other semi-final between Watford and Crystal Palace. Leeds faces either Watford or Crystal Palace on May 21 at Cardiff, Wales. US National Team member Eddie Lewis plays for Leeds and will not join the US team for World Cup preparations until after the final in Cardiff.

Cory Gibbs might join Charlton

US defender Cory Gibbs has been signed to a preliminary contract with London EPL side, Charlton. The deals becomes valid once he gets approved for a British work permit, which has always been the bane for US players. Assuming he gets some games in during teh World Cup, he should be able to acquire the proper permit.

De Rosario wins MLS Player of the Week; Ching named MLS player of the Month for April

Dwayne De Rosario was named MLS Player of the Week for Week 6. De Rosario scored two goals leading Houtson to their first Lone Star Derby victory over FC Dallas. Dynamo teammate Brian Ching, who leads MLS in scoring with 7 goals was named MLS Players of the Month for April. Ching was named to his first US World Cup squad one week ago.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Weekend Review

So DC United of old made the trip out to Colorado to play the Crapids. They ended up losing 2-1 and are still 2nd in the East.

The Revolution scored 4 goals on the Galaxy (who looked like a high school team) and seem to have their swagger back, winning 4-0. The Wizards and Chicago drew at Arrowhead Stadium 1-1. Houston outlasted West leaders FC Dallas in a shoot out winning 4-3, with Dwayne De Rosario scoring 2 goals and Brian Ching adding his 7th goal of the season. RSL just don't seem to know how to win this season, losing 1-0 to the Crew.

I went 3-2 last week, hopefully I will do better this weekend.

Manchester United, minus a reportedly very disgruntled Ruud, took care of business and locked up 2nd place in the league with a 4-0 victory over Charlton. Liverpool finished their season with a club record 11 straight victories, but stayed in 3rd place and will now have to play in the Champions League Qualifiers. Joining them in the Qualifiers is this years Champions League finalists, Arsenal. Arsenal closed out the 2005/06 season as well as Highbury with a 4-2 defeat over Wigan, with Henry scoring a hat trick to seal the match. The win moved Arsenal into 4th place in the EPL, as Totteham fell 2-1 to West Ham and moved back to 5th place and the UEFA Cup slot.

Bayern Munich won their 20th Bundesliga Championship before their Saturday match against kaiserslautern was even finish. They drew 1-1 in their match. Bayern are the only German club to successfully defend domestic Double, defending their German Cup and their Bundesliga Crown.

Friday, May 05, 2006

MLS Preview - Week 6

This is the final week for the 11 US players who have been called up for the US National Team for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It will be interesting to see if those players play with the same tempo and style that got them the callups, as one of the players has already been replaced due to injury. With a five matches scheduled, it should be an interesting week.

New England vs. LA Galaxy
New England hosts the 2005 MLS Cup Champions, in their final match up of the regular season. New England visited the HDC on the opening week and left with a 1-0 win and all 3 points. As this is their second home match, the Revs are still searching for their first home win, losing 2-1 last week against the Fire. The Galaxy are coming into this match off of a 3-2 victory over the horrifying rEal Salt Lake. LA didn't look good in that match and with both Landon Donovan and Chris Albright heading to Germany, they should be hoping and praying that they get the points tomorrow.
New England 2 - LA Galaxy 1

Kansas City vs. Chicago
Kansas City current sits atop the Eastern conference and the Supporters Sheild standings with 12 points, having taken full points off of the Columbus Crew last week, winning 1-0. They are hosting the Fire, who are in the middle of their 10 match road trip waiting for their new Stadium to be completed. KC are playing pretty weel, but this should be the first step in their downward spiral. Chicago are good enough to either split the points or even take a late winner against the Wizards, much like FC Dallas did a few weeks ago. The main reason this is the beginning of the end for KC is that they will be losing their three main players, their main defender in Jimmy Conrad and their starting forward, Wolff and Johnson. How they will compensate for the loss in their defense and attack, no one really is sure right now.
Kansas City 1 - Chicago 1

Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas
The Lone Star Classico is on...while it really live up to its name? With these two squads, it should. Both clubs are playing pretty well. FC Dallas survived the DC assault last week at RFK and escaped with 1 point when they really should have left without any, keeping them in first place in the Western conference. Their defense is working very well, and Sala is coming off of he best MLS performance in goal, which if he can keep his form up, he should be able to get FC Dallas several points this season by himself. Houston are sitting 2 points behind FC Dallas in the West and with a victory, they will leap frog FC Dallas for first. A loss moves them 5 points back. As this is Brian Ching's last match before heading to work for Bruce Almighty, our Lord and Savior, he will want to ensure that he adds to his MLS leading goal tally, which is currently at 6 goals. FC Dallas' defense and Sala should be the decider in this one.
Houston Dynamo 1 - FC Dallas 2

Columbus Crew vs. rEal Salt Lake
Columbus hosts rEal Salt Lake as both teams are trying to figure out exactly what to do in the league. Columbus can't seem to win any match that isn't held at the HDC (1-0 victory over LA) and RSL can't seem to win any match that is held with them playing in it. Not much can be said about this one, Columbus is already going to be without Frankie Hejuk, as it was revealed that he has a torn ACL and was dropped from the US National Team. RSL play their last match with Eddie Pope on their backline, as he reports for National Team duty later next week.
Columbus 1 - RSL 0

Colorado vs. DC United
Colorado hosts United in the altitude of Mile High Stadium, coming off another defeat at the hands (head??) of Brian Ching and the Houston Dynamo. The Rapids should be happy that Ching wasn't loaned out to United for this match (seeing how he has torched them for 5 goals this season already), but they should still be weary of facing the strongest club in MLS as of right now. United are undefeated in the first five matches of the season, out scoring their opponents 11 to 4 and have the strongest midfield and defense in the league. Colorado will have trouble getting anything started on the attack, but the thin air of Denver should be able to cause its own fair share of problems for the United attack. If Peter Nowak cycles his forwards well enough to get fresh legs on when they are needed, United should have no trouble leaving Denver with maximum points.
Colorado 0 - DC United 1

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The sign that Soccer becomes a real Sport in the USA.

With Bruce Almighty, our Lord and savior having a prime-time spot on SportCenter, some have been saying that Soccer is emerging as a major sport in the USA. Stadiums are being built, highlights are actually being shown on sports broadcasts other than Fox Sports Report. One of the MLS clubs are actually making money and the World Cup should provide a small boost in the fan base in the US. Even with these events, there will be one way all true US soccer fans can tell Soccer has made it to the big time. It will be whenever a player is interviewed on a main stream talk show, be it sports show or not, that player does not get up and teach the interviewer how to juggle a damn ball like a friggin show animal.

Case in point, Freddy Adu makes the rounds in New York a couple of years ago for interviews. He goes on Letterman and Dave has him up there bouncing a ball on his head, catching it on the back of his neck and doing other random juggling things. Landon Donovan last week went on The best Damn Sports Show, Period! and after about only 3 real questions, they get him up and have him start juggling the ball. Is that the only thing TV producers think soccer players can do? Juggle?

When Jerome Betis went on the Tonight Show, did Jay Leno have The Bus show his strength in running through the band? When Michael Jordan goes on Oprah, does he show off his dunking skills? When Letterman has Derek Jetter on, does Dave have him show how he swings? Has there ever been a major interview with Tiger Woods where he re-does the whole bounce the ball on my pitching wedge then launch it into tomorrow bit? No, on all counts.

When a soccer player is brought onto a talk show, the producers obviously assume one of the two following things -
1. That the audience has no absolute interest in hearing about the sport, so just have the player get up and do something visual so that they can go "Oooh," then have the next guess come on, just as Fox did and had Drew Carey immediately take a seat and take over the interview.
2. That they themselves care not two shits about soccer at all, but thought that it would be cool to have a soccer player on due to something that either is about to happen, (insert World Cup), or just happened, (insert World Cup). The only problem is that they do not do enough research to fill the allotted amount of time for that guest, so they just have them juggle. Simple, make the soccer player juggle, and then send them on their way.

When this type of crap ends, I will feel that soccer is nolonger a niche sport in the US.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

World Cup Impact on MLS??

As the US squad for Germany has been announced, 11 MLS players will be gone from their clubs for most of May and most of June. Realisticly, this covers 6 weeks of matches, so an average of 18 points per team. Based soley on the USA players, not including players being called up from MLS for T&T or Mexico or Costa Rica, I have a feeling that the World Cup callups will have a major impact on the way the league shakes out all the way to August and September.

You will have guys like Donovan coming back to find that his team will most likely have dropped more points than they had before he left and the coaching staff will put some extra pressure for him to bring them out of the hole that they are in. Donovan has shown in their first five matches that if he does not perform well, that team does nothing. Kansas City will most likely will take the most damage in the standings from the callups. As it is, they will be losing their main defender, starting forwards, and possibly Kerry Zavagnin if John O'Brien ends up not being fit. New England has only lost one player, but as with the Galaxy's situation, that one player could be a major factor. Dempsey has been the only guy showing any creativity for the Revs this season. Twellman not leaving has been a blessing for Steve Nicol as he is only losing one of his main offensive threats. Even with Twellman staying on this side of the Atlantic, I feel that New England will struggle through the matches that occur during the Cup.

DC United actually looks like they will be sitting in the best position. Ben Olsen is one of the major parts of the team, but I feel that Peter Nowak will be able to retain most of the composure and strength in the midfield that he had with Benny in the starting 11. I have a feeling that United will retake 1st in the East and keep that spot through the World Cup and then have to get into a 2 horse race for 1st with New England. Red Bull New York were spared the callups, but I am not certain if that is a blessing or not. They look pretty bad now, maybe having several players leave for a while might cause a shake up in the club. They might be able to benefit from the other clubs loses, so that might actually help them win a match. If one of the three keepers goes down and Bruce calls up Meola, you can write off RBNY as they will be losing the only player that has actually done well in any of their matches.

FC Dallas looks as if it will retain its top spot in the West and actually run away with it as they didn't lose a single player to the US squad. With Ching, Donovan and Pope all leaving their clubs in the West, FC Dallas should be able to march forward, padding their lead in the West. Speaking of RSL, talk about kicking a club when they are down. Eddie Pope has been their only bright spot on defense and that is not saying alot. Remove their best defensive player and their coach should start prepping his resume right now, because I don't see them winning any matches during this stretch.

Houston might also be in the "We are gutted losing 1 man" group, as Ching has been their offense this season. His 6 goals have carried them in their wins and when he was on the field against teams that shut him down, the team has been shut down. DeRosario should still be able to create some things, but with the Ching target up front, I see things getting harder for the Dynamo. Chivas USA will not even notice that John O'Brien is in Germany, that is if he stays with the squad, as he really hasn't played for them yet in the league anyway. As Chivas will be losing Suárez, their shakey defense might be an issue.

This year, MLS's season will have a very deep impact made on it by their decision not to halt play for the 1st round. I am predicting that the Supporters Sheild winner will be one of the teams that has the lightest impact on it from the World Cup.
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