Friday, March 30, 2007

News & Opinions: 3/30/2007

USA vs. Guatemala
God that sucked to watch. What a chicken shit type of approach the Guatemalan's took to the match. They should have just stayed home if they were going to just play hacking soccer. How bad was the officiating? How many times was Simek kicked at when he was sent to the ground in the first half? Christ, I was glad no one was red carded for retaliation.

The end result should be one for the players and the coaching staff to look to when they get back together for the Gold Cup camp. Use that match as an example of how they should expect teams to play them, and prepare for it and have better game plans to counter it.

Nobody really did that well against Guatemala. Feilhaber and Bradley looked good in the midfield, but Bradley worked much better when he had Donovan in front of him with Cooper and Johnson up front. Johnson needs to go back to KC and get his groove back.

Oh well, Bob might not be at the helm in June, but I think he should be. Who else is head and shoulders better?

DC United get Fred
DC United has finally added Fred to their official line-up and he has a good chance of playing this Tuesday against Chivas in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Hopefully, Fred and Emilio will provide enough support for Gomez and Moreno that they all last the entire MLS season and we get a 5th ring.

Ives seems to think that Fred will be the X-Factor for United this season, go check it out, Ives is picking United for the MLS Cup.

How many more days until United vs. Chivas II?

Cleetus moves back to the Big City!
Red Bull New York traded for Clint Mathis today. Not sure why, considering Bruce Arena once suggested that Cleetus needed mental help. Oh well, I guess once they shipped Guevara out West, they needed someone to fill the role of Village Idiot.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

USA vs. Ecuador Recap

I got the scoreline right, sweet.

Ok, so Hard workin Bob is now 3-0 and has had his teams outscore their opponents 8-2 in that three match run. We all know that Sunil said that the interim lable is at earliest up for review in May, so maybe Bob will be 5-0 by then?

After watching that match, then re-watching it (god I love DVR), I came away with several different positions. Namely our defense needs to work together more often. If Bob or who ever is the USMNT coach is going to plan on using Bocanegra, Gooch, Conrad and Dolo together, I really think that these four need to get several more matches under their belts, together. That means having them all start this Wednesday against Guatemala, any possible match in May (Ireland??), against China and in every Gold Cup match. That way the biggest problem I saw between them and Howard (whom I think should start these matches as well) was a lack of good communication between them all. Sure they all talked to each other, only when they were getting yelled at by Howard after a flubbed coverage or something. These guys need to get better chemistry going, and I think that they only have until the end of the Gold Cup to prove that they can do the job.

Our forwards weren't really anything to write home about. How many chances will Eddie Johnson get to show if he was a fluke with his 9 goals in his first 12 matches? Yes, EJ did have much better runs today in the first half and did try and get involved in the attack, but he didn't do the one thing he is out there to do, score goals or really even take shots. Arena said it the best when he mentioned that forwards who pass the ball in the box aren't forwards. EJ made several nice passes, but that isn't his job: he should be trying to score. I just don't see it in him. Send him back to Kansas City, get him back on course in MLS, then see if he can contribute in the Copa America.

Brian Ching had a quiet first half, but when he was paired with Donovan up front, he had a much better match. I was happy with his second half display, but I want more out of him. Ching is a target forward, so unless he gets the crossing service, I guess we won't see him score as he does in Houston, but I guess he can draw defenders for other guys. I am still not sure with him.

The few minutes I saw Taylor Twellman made me almost wish he didn't make the field today. He dropped too man passes off for guys instead of taking shots, which he shouldn't be doing. Hopefully he gets his act back together in New England and gets some time in the Copa America as well.

I would have to say, Deuce dropped a Deuce today. He wasn't the same explosive, mad/crazy player that he was last year and was in MLS. Is it because he isn't getting enough playing time in Fulham? Is he getting any time at Fulham? He has had only 19 minutes in Fulham's last three matches, so he might be rusty. In any case, I am looking at him to have a much better match this Wednesday against Guatemala.

I really liked how Feilhaber played. He did just as good a job defensively as I have seen Ricardo Clark do in the US jersey. Yes he picked up a yellow card, but I never had the cringe feelings I usually do when I see Pablo "Hulk Smash!!!!" Mastroeni drop a guy from behind or fly into a guy 3 second after the ball leaves his feet. I truly think that the D-Midfield role is going to be a fight between Clark and Feilhaber. He did very well today.

Michael Bradley had a really good second half as well. He was able to shore up the midfield and provide for Landon the chance to move forward alot more and cause even more havoc with his runs. Bradley is only learning and will be a very good midfielder for the USA. I would like to see him play all 90 minutes on Wednesday night, see how he does.

Ok, now to the Golden Boy. I want to know if getting married is what has given Landon Donovan a new lease on his international career? Maybe because this match wasn't in a tournament that is called the World Cup, but man did he look great today. Yes, his hat trick was impressive, but I liked how he was getting great passes into people in the first half, and then in the second when he was moved up front with Ching, he was making runs that were sick. He had one run where he split the Ecuadorian defenders only to have a great save by their keeper prevent him from having 4 goals today. I want to see more of this Donovan and if he starts playing like the little bitch he was last summer, I want whomever is the USMNT coach to take this match out and show him again how he can truly play. He better play in the Gold Cup.

Overall, I was happy with the match. It showed that even when we have several bad defensive lapses, we are still a better overall side than one of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers. We have alot of work to do ahead of ourselves and I think that the Gold Cup will be a very good situation to get our players better group experiance, which after today's match, I think they need. Use the Copa America to see how Clark, Bornstien, Cooper, Feilhaber, Twellman, Johnson and others can handle the international experiance. Use it to either get them ready for World Cup qualifying or to get them weeded out of the USMNT player pool.


Match Preview: USA vs. Ecuador

USA vs. Ecuador
12:00pm 3/25/2007
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

So the USMNT gets into its third match of 2007, coming off of two consecutive victories over a less that full strength Denmark (3-1) and an all too familiar score line against what was thought to be the strongest line-up possible from Mexico (2-0). Now the USMNT begins a two match stretch against Latin American sides, Ecuador from CONMEBOL today and Guatemala from CONCACAF on Wednesday night. Both matches are to prepare the players and the coaching staff for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the CONMEBOL Copa America this summer.

These two matches provide yet another opportunity for the USMNT player pool to see who will step up and fill the boots of the old guard players who have since retired from international play, namely Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride. Players like Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Kenny Cooper, Jay DeMerit, and Brian Ching will all get the chances to see if their success on the field in club level matches can translate to success in the red, white & blue. With other injuries, namely Ricardo Clark and Pablo Mastroeni, Bradley and Feilhaber should get plenty of time on the pitch in these two matches.

If I were Bob Bradley, I would send out the following line-up against Ecuador:

Beasely -------------------Deuce

I would put Kenny Cooper up front with Landon Donovan, even though I hate seeing Donovan play up front and really don’t think he is that effective as a forward in international play. Regardless of him being listed as a forward, I think he will play the more withdrawn, attacking midfielder position and Cooper would play the target forward role. Deuce and Beasley would run the flanks which should cause some troubles. Bradley and Feilhaber would play the defensive midfield roles and push up when needed for offensive support.

The back line for this match isn’t really one of those “What if’s?” The back four are a proven group of guys and should be able to contain anything Ecuador throws at them.

Tim Howard deserves to get the first start in these two matches, as he did a wonderful job against Mexico last month and deserves the right to get a second tasking match.

Assuming that the defense holds as it has shown it can and the offensive output continues to produce a couple of goals a match, I see the USA winning today 3-1. Tim Howard will need a strong day in goal and our young midfield will need to click, but these two things aren't that odd to think of.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Weekend Update: A lot happening

Well, over the last week, a lot has happened over the world of football. The English FA Cup semi-finals are set; Mr. Fred goes to Washington; MLS gets more jersey sponsors.

FA Cup Semi-Finals
Both Manchester United and Chelsea continued their runs towards each other in the FA Cup, with both clubs winning their Quarter Final replays. Manchester United have the easier route as they will face Watford in the Semi-Finals, with Chelsea facing Blackburn.

I fully expect to see a Chelsea vs. Manchester United FA Cup final at the new Wembly Stadium this season. Unless Blackburn’s defense can hold against the seemingly resurgent Chelsea offense, Chelsea will go through. I can’t see Watford breaking down the United defense, nor do I see them really holding Rooney and Ronaldo from finding the back of the net. The FA should get their dream final, especially one that will highlight the opening of Wembly.

Fred joins DC United
DC United has signed Brazilian midfielder Fred from the Australian A-League. With the international transfer letter the only thing holding up Fred from starting for United against Chivas in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup Semi-Final second leg, things are finally falling into place for DC United. All of the off season moves are starting to come into place and based on several reports, the offensive build up of the club is looking miles ahead of last years side. Hell, even without Fred, Emilio himself has raised the attacking bar for United.

Two more MLS Jersey Sponsorships
LA seemed to have been able to screw themselves out of a deal with Citibank and went with Herbalife for their jersey sponsorship. Toronto FC went with BMO Banking to sponsor their jerseys. Am I the only one who thinks LA’s jersey’s look stupid? At least there will be more money going into the clubs and giving other clubs a chance to get a better understanding of the deals.

USMNT Preview
I will have a preview for tomorrow’s USMNT match vs. Ecuador. The US roster looks interesting, I am very eager to see who gets the starting line-ups in this first match.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

DC United vs. Chivas Highlights

Here are some highlights from last night's match.

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More Warner, when will it end?

Am I the only one who is trying to figure out why no one else opposed this?

Isn't there anyone in the USSF or even the MFA that feels that they could do a better job running CONCACAF?

I guess when a gangster runs the region, he can decide if he has opponents.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

1-1: DC United recap

Well, I learned that in a cold, wet, rainy hostile stadium, Budweiser almost tastes good.

Besides that, I watched a very good soccer game between DC United and Chivas, the real Chivas. I saw a pre-season United absorb everything that a midseason Mexican powerhouse could throw at them, and really only give up one mistake the entire match. I also saw two guys show their worth: Bobby Boswell & Emilio.

Tonight's match was what I really expected the first Olimpia match to look like. United looked like they were in pre-season form. Our offense was never really clicking and our runs were rampant and off sequence. Our defense, for the most part was very strong, yet looked erratic at times. Facundo Erpen had at times the match of his life and at other times, a very horrible match. If we get anything out of this match tonight is that for 90 minutes, we showed that we can go blow for blow with the best in CONCACAF and still remain standing.

Emilio had a less than stellar match, then again coming off of his last two, he really didn't have anywhere else to go but down. He had some really nice runs and passes, but he was never really able to get through the final step and get a really good shot on goal....until the 90th minute when he headed in United's goal. This guy is a striker of every facet of the term. He can work the match for 89 minutes, then in that last minute, he strikes. Thank god he is in United black & red.

My Man of The Match was Bobby Boswell. That boy was all over the place in the back line. Everytime Erpen was beat or made a shotty kick, Boswell was there to clean it up. Boswell shut down their central forwards and was huge for our defense. That guy is growing right before our eyes. I expect him to start getting offers from overseas as soon as the 2008 January transfer window.

So we have a 1-1 goal aggregate on our hands. Considering that we scored both goals and the last one came in the 90th minute, I have no problem with 1-1 heading down to Guadalajara. Is it 2-0 like Houston has with Pachuca? No, but then again, we could be down 1-0. Assuming that Troy continues to get his thigh better and can have better ball distribution and we get Fred on the roster and can get him into the squad, we might have a chance heading into the second leg. I really don't think at this point that we will advance...but this is the thing; Chivas really didn't impress me tonight.

For a club that has half of the Mexican National Squad on its starting roster and for such a powerhouse of a club, Chivas really didn't look that special. Yes they have great passing and their attack is very fast, but (maybe it was the rain) their finishing isn't the best thing since sliced bread. Their only goal came from a deflection and it was an own goal at that. Granted now that I have said this, they will execute like the Harlem Globetrotters and we will get a replay of the PUMAs home match two years ago. That said, I really don't see Chivas as having that great an attack.

So where does this all lead? Our attack needs to get much better and get everyone back on the same page that we were on against Olimpia. If that is to happen, we have a fighting chance in the second leg. Our defense, while very good/lucky tonight, needs to step it up an extra notch. If these two things occur, then I will eat my words and we should get a result in Mexico. If they don't...well, we should be ready for the MLS season opener.

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DC United Preview: CONCACAF Champions Cup vs. Chivas

2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup: Semi Finals Leg 1
DC United vs. Chivas de Guadalajara
8:00pm, 3/15/2007
RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

So the Semi Finals are here, with two Mexican clubs (Chivas & Pachuca) taking on two American clubs (DC United & Houston Dynamo). The two Mexican clubs are traveling north of the border for the first legs of the Semi Final series, which now both take place tonight.

DC United are sporting just about the same squad that defeated CD Olimpia 7-3 over two legs in the Quarter Finals. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins has recovered from his thigh strain and is expected to start tonight. In my opinion, the biggest key factor is that United have been able to get two more weeks of training under their belts, along with a full friendly against Honduran side Motagua last Friday, in which they were able to continue their offensive output with 4 goals.

Ok, the two Olimpia matches and the Motagua match were just the warm up. Now the big boys have come into town. Regardless of whatever anyone says, Olimpia might have been in mid-season form, but they sucked. Chivas are currently level with Pachuca at the top of the Mexican First Division. Yes they lost to W Connection in their first leg of their Quarter Final series, but they took care of business in the return leg and really should have won by about 5 goals.

Tonight's match and the away leg in Mexico will not be anything like the Olimpia matches. I expect to see a much stronger attacking and defending side taking on DC United. I fully expect Chivas to test our defense and to see how efficient our offense really is. The two home matches two years ago against PUMAS and Catolica are what I expect more than the two Olimpia matches. That said, I also expect to see a much different DC United club than the side that took on PUMAS and Catolica. We have a much stronger attack, composed midfield and a lot more experience in the defense and goal.

I really do not know what to expect in tonight’s match. As it is raining now, I am hoping that the weather conditions cause enough problems for the Chivas defense that Emilio, Moreno and Gomez can sneak in a couple of goals to have some type of aggregate lead going into the altitude in Mexico. Hopefully our defense will be able to either step it up as they did last season, or do just enough to keep the wheels from coming off of the wagon and we get a route handed to us at home.

See you all out there, expect 25,000 people. :)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yanks Abroad Says 13 from Europe

Yanks Abroad is reporting that USMNT Head Coach Bob Bradley will call in 13 European based players for the two USMNT matches that take place next week.

The Yanks Abroad list is:

Kasey Keller - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Tim Howard - Everton FC

Jay DeMerit - Watford
Oguchi Onyewu - Newcastle United
Carlos Bocanegra - Fulham
Heath Pearce - FC Nordsjælland
Jonathan Spector - West Ham United
Steve Cherundolo - Hannover 96
Frankie Simek - Sheffield Wednesday

Michael Bradley - Heerenveen
Clint Dempsey - Fulham
Benny Feilhaber - Hamburg SV
DaMarcus Beasley - Manchester City

That is a pretty interesting list. I like the picks of Bradley and Feilhaber, if there could be any way that Big Bradley could get these two guys in the midfield with Donovan and Deuce and still have a guy like Ricardo Clark in the midfield for defensive work, we might actually be getting a taste of what a creative USMNT looks like. Even with Donovan playing out of position at forward, unless Bradley went with a 3-5-2, I can't see how that would work.

If this is the group of Euro based players getting brought in next week, I would like to see the following guys round out a 22 man roster:

Bobby Boswell
Jimmy Conrad

Ricardo Clark
Landon Donovan
Justin Mapp

Kenny Cooper
Taylor Twellman
Nate Jaqua
Eddie Johnson

I really have no idea why I would pick EJ, but I really can't think of anyone else the USA has that can play forward, so maybe he just fills a roster spot, I don't know.

So who plays in goal? Tim got the call and the clean sheet against Mexico (and a nail in the arm) so does Keller get moved into the backup roll and Timmay get the #1 jersey? I honestly hope that we do see Howard starting in goal for both matches, as I do think that he will be our #1 for the next World Cup cycle and we need to start getting him matches now.

If this is the full roster, I would send out the following starting 11:


Spector - Bocanegra - Onyewu - Pearce


Deuce - Bradley - Beasely

Cooper - Donovan

Yeah, I know that I don't like Donovan up front, but with the need to get Deuce on the field as much as possible and still have Clark and Beasely on the field, the only other way would be to drop Bradley, have Donovan move into the midfield and put Twellman up front with Cooper, which is a line-up I would like to see walk out for the introductions.

In any case, Bob Bradley will announce his roster tomorrow, so we will see who we got.


I love this!!! DC United vs. Chivas

I found this over at Elliot in the Morning.

Now go buy a damn ticket! Support the club!!!

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March FIFA Rankings: USA #30, Argentina #1

FIFA released their March Rankings and Argentina took over the top spot from Italy. Italy's reign lasted 1 month. Brazil fell to third place with fourth through thirteen staying that same.

In CONCACAF, Mexico fell one spot to #21 and the USA feel two spots to #30. The next highest was Costa Rica at #50, up four spots. Panama moved up twenty spots to move into #54, they were the highest movers this month.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CONCACAF Champions Cup Previews

I found three separate CONCACAF Champions Cup previews; CNN/ has a preview that really focuses on the fact that on the club level, MLS is Mexico's bitch; ESPNsoccernet has a more balanced viewpoint (if there can really be a balanced view of this, at least Carlisle didn't bring up the 5-0 ass raping that PUMAS gave United two years ago) and highlights the players to watch; and David Lifton provides an in-depth report from DC United's training sessions in Florida.

So the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup is just about here. Houston hosts the defending Copa Sudamericana champions, Pachuca tomorrow night in what should be a packed house. Houston has some injury issues, as illustrated in the ESPN article but as Pachuca has a tough match at the end of the week against Tigres, there is a chance that Pachuca sits some of their big guns hoping for an even result for the return leg.

Thursday night, DC United hosts Chivas at RFK Stadium in the first leg. I spoke with my ticket rep and he said that about 15,000 tickets have been sold for the match and that they are still taking orders, so every United supporter who goes out for this match up had be ready to yell and scream for our boys. To give you an idea of how many people the Front Office is expecting, they have opened about 20 sections of the 400 level and are preparing to open several 500 level sections. If you haven't picked up your tickets yet, go here right now and get them!

Steve Goff has mentioned that Troy Perkins was looking strong in goal yesterday during training, so unless someone else has a knock that hasn't been reported, United should be able to field a full strength side, which is a very, very good thing.

I hope to post a preview tomorrow for the Houston vs. Pachuca match. That damn thing called work has been keeping me from really posting anything (doing a 50 PC desktop rollout alone sucks) so if I miss that preview, I will definitely have a preview for the DC United vs. Chivas match up.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend of Football

I just finished my weekend of football. In three matches, I was able to see five of the biggest clubs in Europe, if not the world. We had one winner and one really, really great match in Spain.

Super Classico
Barcelona hosted Real Madrid in the second Super Classico of the La Liga season. Both clubs were coming in off of their midweek Champions League matches that saw them both dumped out of Europe, which made this match just that much more important. The club that showed that it had already moved on from their midweek loss would be able to put their domestic league season on track.

This match did not disappoint. A 3-3 affair with Messi picking up a hat trick for Barcelona, saving them from embarrassment in second half stoppage time; it was a great match to watch. Ruud van Nistelrooy picked up a brace for Real in the draw.

This was one of the fastest and most exciting matches I have seen in a long, long time. Both clubs were going full tilt and charging right at each other. It was a great match, if you missed it, you missed out.

Milan Derby
The second Milan derby was held earlier today, with Inter further cementing its hold on a true Sudetto with a 2-1 victory over rivals, AC Milan. This was a much different match from the first Milan Derby, a more controlled and structured match when you compare the two.

Ronaldo played against his former Serie A club and opened up the scoring with a 40th minute strike for Milan, giving the “visitors” a 1-0 lead for most of the match. Cruz and Ibrahimovic picked up the goals for Inter in the second half.

Despite the fact that Inter have been dumped from the UEFA Champions League, you have still got to give them a lot of credit for this season that they are having. They are undefeated in the Serie A in something like 20 matches and had a 17 match win streak. Unless they monumentally slip up, they should have the Scudetto on their jersey’s next season.

Week of Truth
So in one of the worst seasons that Bayern Munich has ever had, current “interim” coach Ottmar Hitzfeld labeled this last week as the “Week of Truth.” They faced off against Hertha Berlin last Saturday and came away with a 3-2 victory. They then followed it up with their midweek UEFA Champions League home match against Real Madrid, which saw Bayern dump Real out of the Champions League. The final test in the week of Truth was their home match against Weder Bremen.

I would say that going 2-1-0 in the three matches is a very good record, considering that Bayern are still alive in the Champions League and are only 6 point sback of first place in the Bundesliga and 3 points back of second. Bayern played well in all three matches, so they have nothing to really be ashamed about. That said, I have two nitpicking points.

Claudio Pizzaro is a wasted player now. I have watched him play over the last few Bundesliga matches and he has really lost a step form the guy I watched several years ago. Last week against Berlin and this week against Bremen, he was always crying for the ball when it was never sent anywhere near him and when the ball was near him, he would either stop his runs or he would flail at the ball in some child like action. His killer touch has left him and Bayern should seriously consider trying to get him moved out of the club.

Oliver Kahn is showing his age. He is still a great goalkeeper, but his timing is getting a bit slow for him, as he showed in the collision that gave Bremen their goal. Was it is timing or was it his decision making? Bayern had Van Buyten and Lucio around around Almeida who had the ball, yet Kahn still ran out to try and get the ball, allowing Almeida the chance to chip the ball at the goal. Hopefully the next week he gets some amount of rest and will be able to pull things back together for their match with Frankfurt.

All in all, three very good matches to watch as I spent time on the couch drinking beer. None of the matches gave me the desire to channel surf, which is always a challenge after several beers have been emptied.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

T&T Imploded?

I saw this over at Du Nord, but you can check out their main page for the bulk of the info.

It appears that Trinidad & Tobago have closed up shop for it's National Team program, due to lack of funds. So right now the Soca Warriors won't be playing any matches in the foreseeable future. Aren't they scheduled to take part in the Gold Cup?

Yup, they are and they are grouped with the USA in Group B.

So, assuming that ol' Jackie Warner can't get his own country back into gear with a national team, what does this do to the make up of the Gold Cup? I would assume that CONCACAF would just bring in another Carribean side to take their place, Jamaica or such?

This is a very sad reflection on CONCACAF, one of their members has to shut up shop less than a year after qualifying for the World Cup.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gold Cup Groups Announced

The groups for the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup were announced today:

Group A: Canada, Costa Rica, Guadeloupe and Haiti
Group B: USA, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador
Group C: Mexico, Honduras, Panama and Cuba

The USA will play it’s first two matches at the Home Depot Center then its final match at Gillette Stadium in New England.

If there is anything near a tough group for a Gold Cup, this “might” be something like it. Guatemala will be a known opponent as the USA will play them about 2 months before the Gold Cup in a friendly match in Frisco Texas. El Salvador should not be that difficult of an opponent. T&T should pose some small amount of trouble, but nothing too major.

This isn’t that bad a road for the USA, the only real thing that I don’t like is that they won’t really be playing near me (at least driving distance). Oh well, I hope their matches are on TV at least.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

DC United vs. Olimpia Highlights

These are the highlights from last night's match at RFK. Nevermind Christian Miles....

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

CONCACAF Champions Cup Update

Well, it appears that the SuperLiga is coming early this year.

Houston just won their home leg of their series 2-0 to move on with a 2-1 aggregate goals victory over Puntaneras of Costa Rica. The Houston Dynamo will now take on the defending Copa Sudamericana champions Pachuca.

CONCACAF Champions Cup: Semi Finals

DC United vs. Chivas de Guadalajara
Houston Dynamo vs. Pachuca

This should be a good set of match ups. I guess SUM knew what they were doing when they put these four clubs in different groups for the 2007 SuperLiga.

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CONCACAF Champions Cup: DC United move on!

Well, with all the rain and the baseball field, we had ourselves a little soccer game. Despite being told not to set off any smoke bombs due to CONCACAF regulations, it looked to me like Barra had 2 go off, and I think some firecrackers went on the field in front of me.

Anyways, DC United picked up another very early season, impressive victory tonight over a CD Olimpia (I want to call them the Oompalooma's for some reason) club that is in mid season form. They won tonight 3-2, and earned a 7-3 aggregate goals victory in their Quarter Final series. Up next is CD Chivas de Guadelajara on the 15th at RFK.

First the good:

- Finishing: Once again, DC United were able to put away the ball when given the chance. Yes, one goal was a PK, but both of Emilio's goals were spectacular! Hopefully this goal scoring form carries through for the next two matches, much less the entire season.

- Defensive Composure: With the exception of the second goal, our defense looked very composed and in control. I would have to say that Boswell, Erpen, Namoff and Simms killed off about 10 minutes of the match at the end, simply with their ball control. Erpen still had a few of his "WTF!?!?!" moments, but Boswell showed exactly why he will be a regular part of the USMNT this summer with his ability to cover for his fellow defenders.

- Reserve time: Devon McTavish went the whole 90 minutes; Jamil Walker went 45; Clyde Simms went all 90 minutes; Moreno only had to play 45 as did Benny. Granted Benny was carrying a Yellow Card, so his 45 was to be expected. McTavish looked very good out there and the ability to get him a full 90 minutes now should go along way this MLS season. Jamil showed that he needs alot more work. I counted at least twice when he should have put the ball in the back of the net, only to take too much time and waste a great chance.

Ok, here's the bad:

- Jamil's finishing: Jamil again, needs alot of work. See above for the rest on him.

- Perkin's injury: DC has his injury listed as a quadriceps strain, and I have no idea on how this will affect him beyond tonight. Even though Nolly was able to get some playing time, I have top put this in the bad as our #1 keeper is now on the trainer's table.

- Cards: As it stands now, Olsen, Moreno and Namoff are all carrying Yellow Cards. I believe that they are still in play, so if any of these three get another Yellow, they have to sit out the away leg, but I might be wrong. Of the three, I would have to say the most devastating loss would be Namoff. Jamie, maybe, could have Rod fill in for him up front if needed (and based on how our attack worked tonight without Jaime, maybe goes along way). Benny can alway have McTavish fill his shoes at least for a spell. United should be able to register the young kid from Fulham, so he might be able to take a spot or so. Namoff would be bad as we really don't have another option in defense. We have guys who can plug holes in other positions, but our defense is the thinest line right now.

All in all, I liked what I saw. We kept attacking and when we weren't attacking, we were trying to remain in control of the ball. Considering the playing conditions and again the fact that United have only been at it for a month, tonight was a great night as a United supporter. I can't wait for the 15th now!

BTW - 8,181 attendance for a night like tonight isn't that bad.

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Pachuca and Chivas advance to CONCACAF Semi Finals.

Both of Mexico’s two clubs that are participating in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup advanced to the Semi-Finals last night. Pachuca advanced with a 3-0 aggregate score line over Marquense, winning the first leg 2-0 at home and winning last nights match in Guatemala 1-0. They will now face either Costa Rica’s Puntarenas or Houston Dynamo of MLS. Puntarenas has a 1-0 lead over Houston as they both meet tonight in College Station, Texas.

Chivas came back from a 2-1 aggregate scoreline to with a 3-0 home victory over W Connection last night in Guadalajara, advancing with a 4-2 goals aggregate. In a very, very, very empty Estadio Jalisco, Chivas dominated pretty much every aspect of their match. Chivas lost the first leg in Trinidad 2-1 two weeks ago. Chivas will now take on either CD Olimpia of Honduras or DC United from MLS. DC United hosts CD Olimpia tonight at RFK Stadium (which should look something similar to Estadio Jalisco in terms of attendance) with DC United having a 4-1 aggregate lead.

I watched the second half of the Pachuca match and can say that I wasn’t too thrilled with either club. Pachuca, being up 3-0 was pretty much just going through the motions. Marquense tried to mount some offense, but they really never threatened. There was a nice run of play near the end with a near header, but that was about it.

Between watching Pachuca and Chivas, I watched Maryland take on Duke (Maryland beat the Dukies again) and switched back over to FSC to watch Chivas. Estadio Jalisco holds what, about 50,000 or more seats? I would maybe guess that they had 7,000 for their match last night. I guess playing against a club from Trinidad doesn’t get the regular fans out to the stadium. Their supporters group were out and loud behind the goal though, so they brought it well.

Over all, the CONCACAF Champions Cup is playing out exactly to the “script.” Mexico has their two clubs in the Semi-Finals and now awaits to see who they face. DC United and Houston Dynamo host CD Olimpia and Puntarenas tonight to see who moves on. I feel very confident that with a first leg cushion of a 4-1 aggregate, DC United will be facing Chivas in the Semi-Finals. Houston is the gray area here. If they can get their offense going, they have a good chance at a 2-0 victory. Their defense showed pretty well for horrible playing conditions and hopefully will step it up again tonight. It all depends on their offense and their fitness.

On a side note: Mexico once again proved that unless they are playing the USA, they can win a match north of the border, beating Copa America host Venezuela 3-1 in San Diego.

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