Saturday, April 28, 2007

DC United: Quick Preview

Sorry, but I have a ton of visiting family in town for wedding related things, so I really didn't have time to check out as much as I wanted to concerning this match; I won't even be able to watch it live.

So where are we at? United are coming off of their two week break to take their act on the road and try and correct the course of things. After two weeks of trying to figure out the defensive issues, this is a very pivital match up. April shouldn't be the time to suggest that United's season is make or break right here, but with Red Bull New York collecting 10 points from their first four matches and have yet to allow a goal, if United fail to pick up at least a point tonight...we could very well see a hard season ahead of us.

What do I expect tonight? Honestly, after watching Columbus fight back against the Revolution last week, I am really not expecting much more than a 1-1 or 2-2 draw. I think that United's offense is better than the crew defense. The Crew offense isn't that great a thing...but then again, neither is our defense. One must hope and pray that the defensive work over the last two weeks will get the best of the Crew offense. As Herron is suspended, I think that the United defense will have an easier time than they would have with Herron on the field.

Tonight's match is the start of a quick three match week, where we see United face the Crew, the Revolution and Chivas USA. If United fails to pick up anything less than 5 points (7 really) than I honestly think that the season will be out the window.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pachuca are Champions of CONCACAF

Pachuca outlasted Chivas de Guadalajara last night after 120 minutes of scoreless soccer, to win 7-6 on Penalty kicks and claim the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Pachuca will now represent CONCACAF in the 2007 FIFA World Club Cup which will take place in Japan. This is the second straight time that a Mexican club will take part in the tournament, as Club America played in the December tournament last year, finishing 5th out of 6 clubs.

You almost had to expect that of the two CONCACAF clubs, Pachuca would finish the tournament on top. They made history last year by becoming the first non-CONMEBOL club to win the Copa Sudamericana. Where Club America failed in the FIFA World Club Cup last year, I have a feeling that Pachuca will make a better showing.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

US Open Cup: LA Galaxy to face Red Bull New York

The LA Galaxy knocked off the Columbus Crew 1-0 last night at Crew Stadium. Nate Jaqua had the only goal for LA.

The Galaxy will now host Red Bull New York in the second of the two final play in matches to get into the main tournament, date and time announced today. The other play in match will take place at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado as the Rapids host Real Salt Lake on May 23rd.

This is the first year that the USSF has had a qualifying round for MLS clubs, which I honestly think is a good thing for the tournament. Yes it is an "Open" tournament, but as most MLS clubs pass the USOC off until about the final match, adding the need to qualify might make it more of an interesting tournament.


Manchester United vs AC Milan: Highlights

Here are several highlights from last night's UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg at Old Trafford.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Champions League: Quick One

I followed the Manchester United vs. AC Milan match on-line, so I haven't any player performance comments for now. I am a little surprised at how well United seemed to do in the attack, at least for the first 15 or so minutes. It appeared that Milan was shocked as well.

I DVR'd the match, and I plan on watching it later tonight once I get home. After that I should have more in the way of my opinions.

3-2, it isn't that bad. It does make Milan have to come out and try and score in order to advance, which should give United a chance to get an away goal of their own. They will be without Evra regardless of his fitness as he picked up a Yellow card that will rule him out of the away leg. If Rio, Neville or Vidic don't return bye next week, the back line will look awfully thin.

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Champions League Preview: Manchester United vs. AC Milan

So the UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals kicks off today at Old Trafford. United are at home with a less than first choice line up against a more than rested Italian side that aren't as strong as they used to be.

The biggest problem I see is that the United defense is in such horrible shape and they could get even worse by match time if Evra is ruled out of the match and Fletcher has to fill in for him. If that happens, all four first choice defenders would be in street close for this match, which is never a good sign in a European Semi-Final. I honestly see Evra being the entire lynch pin to how United does today. If he is fit enough to take the field, than I can see United pulling out a 2-0 or a 2-1 victory over AC Milan. The biggest issue is Evra.

With Heinze available to start on the left and O'Shea and Wes brown to fill in the middle, Evra will need fill in for the right side. Fletcher isn't a defender and regardless of how well he has done in the EPL at this position, you never want to have a guy start out of position in a European match. If Evra doesn't play and Fletcher is the right sided defender, than the Carrick and Scholes will have to play alot more defensively, which will cut the offense in half.

If Carrick and Scholes do not have to provide a greater amount of defensive support for the back four, than I see no reason for Giggs, Ronaldo, Rooney and Smith to be able to create several chances and pick up a few goals. Carrick and Scholes are going to have to play the ball between the defense and the forwards much cleaner than they had been in the last few matches, as the Milan midfield will be a bit more of a annoyance than Watford, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough provided.

Assuming that Evra plays, I see more of a pressure offense from United. If Fletcher has to play instead of Evra, than I expect a more defensive United side, with more people behind the ball.

With Evra: Manchester United 3 - 0 AC Milan
Without Evra: Manchester United 2 - 1 AC Milan

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DC United to go Maroon

In honor of the VA Tech students who lost their lives last week in the on-campus shooting, DC United will be wearing Maroon jerseys with VA Tech logo's for their match this Saturday at the Columbus Crew. Steve Goff first had this on his blog and now DC and other outlets are reporting this.

I really like this idea. The Washington Nationals wore VA Tech hats during one of their games last week, with different players wearing different types of VA Tech baseball hats. The Houston Dynamo wore special jerseys last week for their 1-0 loss to RBNY in honor of the victims.

All of these tributes are real classy ways of showing that we are all thinking about those affected. I saw that the Boston Red Sox had VT on their jerseys over the weekend, which was very classy as well.

Now that United has their jersey picked out for their weekend match, I hope that they have their formation squared away. Goff hinted that they have been toying around with a formation that does have 4 in the back, hopefully if that is what they line-up with on Saturday, it will be a lot more stable and secure than the 3 man line has been for the last three matches.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

After a week of vacation....

So I took a week off for some fun in the sun and some down time.

The USSF announced that the USMNT will travel, yes, travel to face Sweden over in Europe in August 22. The match will take place on Ullevi stadium in Goteborg, Sweden.

August 22 is an official FIFA friendly date, so clubs will have to release any players called up for national team duty 48 hours ahead of the match.

Sweden will be using this as a warm up for their next round of Euro 2008 qualifiers, so we should be expecting a full squad in their line-up. It will be interesting to see if any MLS based US players are called into this match, as it falls right in the middle of the MLS season.

I like this match up. Sweden has always had a respectable side and should present our players with a good outing, much better than China should in June.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Manchester United vs. Watford: FA Cup Semi-Final

Here is a goal highlight compalation from yesterday's FA Cup Semi-Final match up. Manchester United won 4-1 and will now face Chelsea at the new Wembly Stadium on May 19th. I got it circled on my calendar.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

DC United Recap: Change in formation?

So, as I sit here in my wet jeans and my new Screaming Eagles Jersey, I am trying to ponder over the results of the home opener for DC United. United lost 4-2 against the Wizards, a club that United swept with 4 victories last season and DC101 morning radio host Elliot called a “gimme match.” I am definitely one of those people who know that there is no match in MLS that is a gimmie, so going into tonight’s match, I knew that this would be a 90 minute fight.

The Good: Well, it is a long season. Starting 0-2-0 isn’t the end of the world in the scope of MLS. DC United can/should rebound from this. Gomez looked better for the most part and Emilio continued his goal scoring average of 1 a match.

The Bad: Our defense, or our real lack there of. When Erpen, Bozilla and Namoff started leaking goals around the middle of last season all through the end, most people said that it was because they were gassed. Playing 90 minutes a week, sometime 180 (Celtic, MLS Some Star Game, Real Madrid) started to really look like it was taking its toll on their composure and form. Well, looking back on tonight, last week in Denver, the Chivas match and the home match against Olimpia…maybe they just don’t have any composure or form at all?

The Ugly: The formation. In my humble opinion, the 3-5-2 formation needs to be left to the side for now. The reason is that Erpen leaves Boz and Namoff too taxed on cover for his mistakes. Not only that, but the two guys who are supposed to assist these three in defense, Olsen/Simms and Carroll, haven’t really shown that they are going to be able to play defensive roles, as they seem to have more offensive responsibilities this season. With the three current defensive starters, we should be playing a 4-4-2 with John Wilson in the center with Boswell. Yes, the same guy who I wanted to lynch after he gave up two PK’s in Utah last year, right now, I am saying should be a defensive starter. Have Gros, Olsen, Fred and Gomez start in midfield with Emilio and Moreno up front. Use Carroll and Simms as defensive subs and have Casal and Walker be the offensive subs.

Tonight’s match, in my opinion, was worse than last years 5-2 loss to the Galaxy. Neither of United’s goals tonight were that great. Emilio gets a great over the top feed and scores when one-on-one with Hartman (who had a wonderful match btw) and Gomez got a suspect foul called for a free kick and took a great strike. Neither of these stood out as either of Gomez’s goals against Olimpia or Emilio’s goals in the second leg.

Maybe that is the problem. Maybe we are all expecting United to perform as well as they did against opponents who have never faced them before; against clubs that pretty much know everything about us. I don’t know.

Kansas City never looked that dangerous, yet they lit up United for 4 goals. Chivas looked a stronger team, but never really took the defense that well. Again, maybe I am comparing apples to oranges.

I do know that United have two weeks off now and something has got to be done with the defense. As the MLS transfer deadline is tomorrow, I don’t see anything major coming into the club to really make a difference, hence why I am calling for John Wilson. Two weeks and we will see if Coach Soehn can make any adjustments for the current problems. It took United six matches last season to give up 6 goals, this year, we did it in two. Something needs to be re-tooled.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

DC United Preview: Home Opener vs. Wizards

Who: DC United vs. Kansas City Wizards
Where: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:30pm, 2/14/2007

So the regular season is finally upon us. After playing in four CONCACAF Champions Cup matches and going 2-1-1, United kicked off their 2007 MLS season with a thud, losing to the new look Colorado Rapids 2-1 in frigid conditions in Dick Stadium in Colorado. Tomorrow is the beginning of the home schedule for United, kicking it off with an Eastern Conference foe, the Kansas City Wizards.

DC United appears to have a full roster heading into this match up, with Josh Gros claiming the mantle of "Head Gear" due to his concussion that he suffered against Chivas. Gros is expected to start tomorrow on the left, with Olsen on the right.

Kansas City get to start their 2007 campaign on the road, as they were the only club to sit out the opening week. Defender Nick Garcia is suspended for this match and Scott Sealy is probable. Other than those two players, the Wiazards should be at full "strength." I say that because any team that has Eddie Johnson in its starting 11 is effectively playing with 10 men. The Wizards have signed Argentinian Carlos Marinelli as of last Tuesday, but he isn't expected to get any time on the field, as his work permit isn't completed and his match fitness isn't there yet either.

I am excited about tomorrow night's match. Getting the two tastes of United home soccer during the CONCACAF Champions Cup did nothing but get me more and more addicted to soccer, so bring it on!

So how will United do? I am not sure. As the weather is expected to be just as good as the two home CONCACAF matches, I expect to see alot of guys losing their footing and several goals. What I want to see is two things:

- MVP get his game back. With the exception of the first match against Olimpia, Gomez hasn't been as much a force as he was last season. Yes, I am talking about five total games, but considering how huge he was in the first game this season (Olimpia) I reason to demand that MVP get back in the game. Once Christian gets back in the match, we will see a more dynamic attacking United.

- Our defense get its act together. Having the Chivas wingers and forwards run right bye then wasn't that fun to see, neither was having the Rapids wingers become playmakers because we couldn't get any type of control. The back three, along with Carroll and Simms or Olsen, need to ensure that they aren't over extending themselves. Facundo needs to really start to reign in he flailing stabs and Bobby really needs to regain his composure and get back into providing more support for Namoff and Erpen.

Once these two things start to get worked out, we should be seeing a much different DC United out there. Hell, if we only get the offense back on track, we should be able to outscore anyone we play.

My Prediction: DC United 3 - 1 Kansas City Wizards*
* - Anyone named Wizards in DC right now can't win, so Kansas City should continue that trend.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Manchester United vs. Roma Goals: 4/10/2007

Here are all 8 of the goals from yesterday's UEFA Champions League match at Old Trafford.

I am now hoping for a Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich Semi-Final. It is also looking like we should all be ready to see United play Chelsea three times in the month of May.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

DC United Recap: CONCACAF Champions Cup

Well, it was a better match than the last time in Mexico.

So Jamie finally scored and we finally saw Fred. I think we saw alot more in this match. I saw Emilio and Gomez basically get smothered out of the match, something we should be prepared to see over the entire MLS season.

Regardless of the fact that Chivas kept Gomez and Emilio from really getting too involved in the match, I wasn't that upset with the scoreline or the performance of United. 2-1 is a respectable scoreline, one I didn't want to see unless we dropped in the 2, but nothing to really be ashamed about. The performance overall, was a good one. Our ball control, for the most part, was very good. Player support for the guy on the ball needs to improve, and I expect that it will. Passing out of the defense needs to improve as well, which we will have to wait and see how it does.

So the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup is no more for DC United. They went 2-1-1 in the tournament and made the semi-finals. The biggest thing about their performances in each match is that they never looked like they were overmatched. Not playing on a pitch that looked like it had clumps of grass every meter; not in two very cold down pour's and not at altitude against one of the best clubs in the Western Hemisphere. If the performance over the last four matches is any indication of how DC United will do in the MLS season, things are definitely looking up for sure.

Benny was definitely my man of the match. Jamie put in his best performance of the tournament as well. Troy... I have to say, as a former goalkeeper, letting a ball go straight through your hands and into the net is devastating. I was impressed with how he recovered himself to come up with three huge saves in the last 15 minutes of the match. He should have another strong season in the nets.

Well, Chivas now have their chance to match what Club America did last season and try and go to the FIFA Club World Cup. I have to say it, I wasn't impressed with Chivas after the first match and I still haven't changed my opinion about them. Chivas, at best, looked like a good MLS club. Yes, some of their passing was crisper than 85% of MLS clubs, but I never really saw them outclassing DC United. I probably saw four separate times where Chivas was starting to show the "class" that they were supposed to have. You exclude those times and it looked like a good MLS match.

So now United travel up to Denver to visit DSG Park and take on the Colorado Rapids. Assuming that United play this Saturday as they did today, I have no problem predicting a 3-0 victory for United.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Only 1 Candidate?

Could the UN send some elections observers? WTF?????

Sepp Blatter is the only one who was nominated for the FIFA presedency. Talk about knowing how to control some currupt mutherfuckers.


Chicago Fire sign's the Devil

Yup, Blanco to the Chicago Fire has been announced. He will be in the Windy City tomorrow to sign his contract. The contract is rumored to be around $2 million a year.

I hope this turns into butts in the seats, as the Fire need the help and Blanco might not last that long. I can't wait for Bobby Boswell to introduce himself to Blanco's shins.

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Reyna and I agree.

ESPNsoccernet interviewed Red Bull New York Captain Claudio Reyna about the upcoming MLS season. Reyna was also asked about the USMNT and how the two summer tournaments might affect the player pool and how he fits into the whole USMNT outlook. This question was one that stood out for me the most:

ESPNsoccernet: This summer the U.S. might send a second-tier team to Copa America. Would you support having starters play in that competition over a group of untested players?

CR: The rationale behind that is simple. Guys have commitments with their MLS teams. It's not easy and people do not realize how tough it is for Bob [Bradley], and Bruce [Arena] went through something similar. They have to make the teams happy, whether or not it's in MLS or in Europe. The coaches and management do not want their players reporting to preseason camps all worn out. It's a good thing having the guys with lesser experience play at Copa America, because they will get better games. Anyone who stands out during the competition can obviously help the team. We can also go after the Gold Cup sending a message to teams in our region. The Gold Cup is much more important because those are the teams we will qualify against. Copa is obviously a great experience and it's a win-win situation, because at the end of both competitions, the U.S. will have discovered new talent for the future. -

I agree with Claudio in that for the future of the USMNT, getting the younger, less experienced guys into the matches in the Copa America will provide a better experience than sending them to the Gold Cup. Getting some of the younger guys who’s only USMNT experience is playing against Guatemala at Pizza Hut Park in Texas will be a huge eye opener. Once guys like DeMerit or Feilhaber or Cooper or Mapp step on the field in Venezuela to face Argentina, they will enter an entirely different world, one that is even different from the Bundesliga or the EPL. Getting these guys that taste now, will help them face the crowds in Panama or Mexico City come World Cup qualifying time.

I also like how Claudio feels that we need to send a message to the rest of the teams in our region by going after the Gold Cup. As we will be facing the same sides in the Gold Cup that we will be qualifying against for South Africa, putting in a solid, commanding performance and result in the Gold Cup will set the tempo for the Qualifying that starts in 2008. Add to that the result of the Guatemala match and we need to show that teams can’t keep us from the 3points by bunkering and playing chicken shit soccer.

I am excited to see Reyna in MLS. Yes he plays for the club that I hate the most, but I am excited to see him play. I hope he does well, but I wouldn’t shed one tear if the Red Bulls fail again this season.

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