Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend Update

I really hate not having the internet at home, as it cuts down on the amount of soccer info I get, especially on the weekends. Despite the lack of web access, I did get to catch several matches this weekend.

DC United picked up another three points with an early goal and some great work from Troy Perkins. I tell you, for my money, Troy is actually playing better this season than he did last season. His command of the 18 yard box and his effectiveness in the air have seen huge improvements over last season. His defensive line in front of him has also gotten alot better. DC United has not allowed a non-PK goal in their last five matches. It is a little sad to see Boswell sitting on the bench, but why mess with something that works?

Considering the depleted offensive unit that Soehn took to Toronto, I fully expected a 0-0 draw. I knew that our defense would be able to weather any type of storm that Toronto attempted to throw at the United goal and considering that Toronto can't score any better than a high school nerd, I figured we wouldn't leave Canada with anything less than a point. However, it was good to see that United has the ability to go against the run of play and steal goals, even when neither Moreno or Emillio are on the field.

DC United travels to Dallas for a match up with the Western Conference leaders Saturday night. Dallas will have had two weeks off, so I expect a very tough match up in Texas.

My other United, Manchester United, took the pitch Sunday in probably one of the worse situations that they could have been in. Having only taken 2 points from a total of 9 possible, United have already put themselves against the wall in the Premier League. Facing off against Tottemham, who were in just as bad a situation in the league, it was a must win for Sir Alex and his boys.

I was shocked at how bad United played. They never looked that threatening. I am trying to figure out what is really going on at Old Trafford? It was good to finally see Hargreaves get on the pitch and he looked good in his defensive midfield role, but despite the goal, United's other midfield signing, Nani, never really looked that interesting. I was disappointed with how Carrick was playing, almost resigning himself to sit back with Owen and just let Tevez, Scholes, Nani and Giggsy try and do the most in offense. I really, really think that United should look to try and bring in another striker. Saha seems to always be injured and Ole isn't that much better in the health department. SAF really only has Tevez and Rooney, who is out for a while with his broken foot. Is the transfer deadline closed? This would be the perfect situation for Rossi to be brought in...oh wait, they sold him. Nevermind.

Over in Deutschland, Bayern Munich rolled on to their third clean sheet victory of the Bundesliga season, dumping Hanover 3-0, to increase their goal differential to +10. Anyone who is set to play in the UEFA Cup should start looking for another way to get some silverware because I really don't see Bayern missing out on any of the three trophy's they are contenting for this season. I really hope that they have a home UEFA Cup match when I am in Munich for Oktoberfest this year, it will be great to see a match in Allianz Areana.

Final note, I am happy to see that Yallop decided that it would be better for Beckham to sit out the trip to Denver considering his ankle and recent playing time. It was also interesting to see that whether or not Beckham plays, it seems that the Galaxy are now bleeding 3-0 losses. Has anyone got a Yallop/Lalas countdown clock going?

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Sit Beckham, Sit. Good Brit.

So let's just list off everything that is surrounding this issue.

Beckham is still recovering from a sprained ankle. He played 60 minutes on August 15th in a win against DC United in the SuperLiga Semi-Finals. He then flew to New York the following day to attend press junkets and media appearances all day on Friday. Saturday night, Becks went the distance on Field Turf in the 5-4 loss to RBNY. The following day, "Golden Balls" jumped on a plane and flew off to London for the Wednesday evening England match at Wembly Stadium against Germany, in which he and his bum ankle went the distance again.

Ok, catch your breath.

So after the 2-1 loss to Germany, Beckham jumped on another plane and flew from London to Los Angeles in order to suit up for the MLS Super Classico, LA Galaxy vs. Chivas USA. In this match he went the whole 90 minutes, got in a fight, and showed some signs that his ankle is still less than perfect. The Galaxy lost 3-0. the Galaxy are claiming that they are worried about Beckham?

The Galaxy have a road match this Sunday in the thin air of Colorado at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, a match that is sold out. Everyone pretty much knows that this bottom of the table match up isn't sold out because the fans want to see the Rapids...they are coming to see Becks. Considering the amount of mileage that Beckham has just put his ankle and considering that the Galaxy's one shot at any type of glory this season is a Wednesday night match against Pachuca in the SuperLiga Final, I say that the Galaxy should disappoint the sold out crowd at DSG Park and sit Beckham.

Beckham showed in the 2-0 win over DC United that when he is on, he can change the entire make up of the Galaxy side. If either Frank Yallop or Alexi Lalas are going to retain their jobs this year, they are going to have to win the SuperLiga Championship. They are already out of the USOC and they really haven't a chance in hell in making it to the MLS Cup Playoffs. So, sitting beckham this Sunday to allow both himself and his ankle time to rest in preparation for the SuperLiga Final makes perfect sense. Furthermore, the thin air really can't do that much good for his ankle in the first place. Beckham said that his trip to Denver for the MLS All Star Game had bad effects on his ankle. So why risk the guy in a match that at this point, is really meaningless?

Now all of this logic aside, we all know that "Golden Balls" will be out on the pitch, wearing the Captain's armband and trying to will the Galaxy to their first MLS victory since the 4th of July. Considering the lack of bench players for Yallop, we should all expect to see Beckham go the entire 90 minutes on Sunday, barring injury or a red card. Yallop, Lalas, Garber & Co. and just about anyone who works for SUM/MLS, will pretty much demand that Beckham is on the field for this match. If I were Yallop, I would be doing two things right now, in this order:

- Getting my resume ready for job hunting.
- Telling Beckham that he is staying in LA to get some rest and treatment on his ankle and to be ready for Pachuca on Wednesday night.

Sit Beckham, Sit. Good Brit.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Match Recap: DC United 3 - 1 RBNY

Now that was a pretty good match to watch. We had drama, scoring, a record and a trophy. Not a bad night out at the ol' ball park.

The scoreline says it all. United took it to the Red Bulls, especially their back line and punished them for being inept at defending and punished Waterreus for being unable to hold onto the ball. The first goal really set the tempo, much like the first goal against New England did when Josh ran in and toe poked the ball as Reis bobbled it; Olsen tore into the six yard box and hit the ball as Waterreus failed to hold onto it. The second goal was a great team build up and really sank their entire side. The third goal was a well deserved PK, considering that Angel's PK, IMHO, shouldn't have been allowed as I thought McTavish was fouled.

From the first whistle, United handled this match. Yes there were times where RBNY seemed to be forcing everyone back into the United half of the field, but even when they did that, their midfielders and forwards never really looked like they could figure out how to crack the United defense. Troy had an amazing night in goal. His judgment on the high crosses is getting much better and he is showing that he has shaken off anything that was bothering him at the beginning of the season.

This was a great match to be at. A great performance by the entire club.

Jamie finally got his goal. Three months removed from tying Jason Kreis with 108, Moreno finally hit #109. Considering all of the knocks that he has taken this season, his age and the goal title, if we add the MLS Cup to the list of accolades that the club grabs this season, I wouldn't be shocked if he retires during the off-season. I want whatever he feels is best for himself, the club and his family. Until that time, enjoy the scoring title.

United now have three straight road matches ahead of them. This Saturday in Toronto against the new boys, TFC. Considering that their offense seems to be stuck in customs and their defense isn't really showing up either, I expect to see another three points added to the clubs record against TFC. After a full week off, United then travel to Dallas to take on FC Dallas, which could be an interesting affair. Both clubs are having pretty good runs of play, so this top of the table clash should be a good one. After that, United head out to LA for a match against Chivas USA, the better LA club. This is on a Thursday night start, with a short weekend to return home to face the Revolution. It will be interesting to see who is first in the East when the Revs arrive at RFK.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Luis Bueno: Beg to differ.

I was checking CNN/SI today and came across Luis Bueno’s article on Pachuca. Luis covers Mexican soccer for Sports Illustrated and does a very good job at it. I like that he calls out the Mexican players and Hugo whenever they produces excuses instead of results. IMHO, Luis is one of the better soccer writers on the net.

I disagree with him in his latest article, the end of the article that is.

Luis claims that with the breakdown of the USA vs. Mexico at Azteca Stadium;

“…Mexico supporters are left with essentially the same type of match. After all, Mexico replaced an opponent with no chance of winning in the Azteca with another opponent that has no chance of winning in the Azteca.” - CNN/

While I agree that Panama will be an easy match for Mexico, even if they field a group of younger players as reported; I do not agree that the USMNT would be “an opponent with no chance of winning in the Azteca.” A few years ago, maybe, but not any more. Azteca Stadium is the single greatest case of home field advantage that exists in World Football. If I am not wrong, I can count on one hand the number of time Mexico has lost an international match within the not so friendly confines of Azteca. That said, with the proper preparation, I give the current USMNT a 50/50 shot anytime they ever go there now.

My reasoning is because of how we did in 2005 and how we have done against Mexico over the last few years. With the exception of the shotty 10 minutes in which Mexico dropped a deuce on the USA, the World Cup Qualifier in Azteca was a very competitive match. The USA even scored there for the first time in how long? I honestly think that the mystique of the stadium is beginning to wear off. Hell, didn’t Paraguay beat them in Azteca?

Another reason is because outside of Mexico, the USA owns El Tri. We haven’t lost to them since March of 1999 in matches held outside of Mexico City. We’ve played them twice this year, both times we have beaten them 2-0 n Phoenix (in front of a totally pro-Mexico crowd) and 2-1 in the Gold Cup Finals. The Mexican National team doesn’t know how to beat the USA anymore, unless they play in Azteca. Why do you think the match was going to be played there? It was their last gasp for hope that they would be able to defeat the USMNT.

I agree that the Mexico team that plays anyone in Azteca is a different beast than the one that plays anywhere else. I also agree that when the USA has played there, we haven’t done that well. I see a different trend coming up with the USA vs. Mexico rivalry that is closely getting as heated as Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. The USA is getting a swagger that the Mexicans are scared of and their only hope is to bring the USA into Azteca to see if they still got it.

I have been on the fence as to if the third act of USA vs. Mexico should have been played this year. Now, after reading this, I wish that we still had the match and that we stuffed the all too familiar score line right down the collective throats of the entire group of Mexico supporters, including Luis. 2-0.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Match Recap: DC United 0 - 2 LA Galaxy

What a difference a Brit makes.

David Beckham started the SuperLiga Semi-Final match tonight against DC United. He not only started, but he set the tempo for the entire LA Galaxy side and he showed why he isn't washed up. I have never seen the Galaxy play at that tempo and speed before. It was good to see him banging away at guys, making hard challenges and getting into it with everyone on the field. He damn near took Jamie's legs off with his late tackle that drew a Yellow card, but over all, he performed incredibly.

Beckham was the difference.

Without Beckham, I honestly do not see the Galaxy scoring on his free kick (Amazing goal btw) nor do I see anyone in a Galaxy jersey making that pass to Donovan as he ran passed Gros, who decided to try and stop and watch the ball roll under his feet. When he left the game, the Galaxy became an entirely different beast. They didn't bunker, but the really didn't do what they did the first 60 minutes. Without Beckham, I really don't see the Galaxy winning this game.

Then again, I really have a hard time seeing United winning either. We looked tough, we had great movement at times, but our trapping and finishing just wasn't there tonight. Joe Cannon had an amazing second half. He made some saves that were spectacular. I do question why he is trying to look like Dante Hicks from Clerks, but hey, if he plays like that, let him look like Dante.

I saw several passes go right bye guys tonight, simply because we failed to trap the ball. All of them killed offensive movements at the Galaxy goal. It's always the simple things that get you.

Some notes:

- Props to either the Riot Squad or the Galaxians or whomever was chanting, "Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Hey, Hey, Hey, Good Bye!" We do that at RFK when we win, and I believe we did it last week when we won 1-0, so payback is a bitch.

- Vanney trade. I am not that sold on it now. I guess I have to weight the Erpen SNAFUs against the slow white man in the back. Not sure yet, I would rather see Burch ahead of both.

- Referee Alex Prus called a very, very loose match. I honestly think that the Galaxy should have had a PK as United should have as well, maybe two.

- Oh My Gawd, the field at the Home Depot Center looks worse than the field Olimpia hosted United on in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. WTF??? It almost looked like they were trying to make it look like the floor of the old Boston Garden.

- Captain Beckham? That was quick.

Well, the Galaxy have one shot at glory this season, and if Beckham plays like he did tonight, even with Pachuca having their great form of right now, I think they will get the first SuperLiga trophy. Depends on the ankle.

As for DC United... they are off to Columbus for an Eastern Conference showdown with the Crew. Hopefully, we will see the back line that pitched two straight shutouts along with Gomez and Simms in the midfield. United looked better with Simms in instead of Carroll. We have three straight Eastern Conference matches, away to the Crew, home to RBNY and away to Toronto FC. Let's put the Beckham show behind us now and get back to business of collecting three points a match.

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DC United Notes: SuperLiga & Barra Brava

Tonight is the second Semi-Final in the inaugural North American SuperLiga tournament, DC United visiting the LA Galaxy. Pachuca advanced to the final last night by defeating the Houston Dynamo 3-2 on penalties after three red cards were handed out. The winner of tonight's match will host the final on August 29th.

Considering that these two clubs faced each other less than a week ago, with United winning 1-0, I have a good feeling about this match tonight. Yes Burch is suspended due to too many yellow cards and yes I know, HE will be playing, but considering everything else surrounding the Galaxy, they should hardly be in any real shape to play United. They are missing three of their main players, just finished a three match in a week road trip and have barely been in LA for 72 hours when the match kicks off. United hasn't played since the 1-0 victory over FC David Beckham and are in line to get Gomez back into the line up.

All in all, I expect a victory over Lalas's "Crown Jewel of MLS."

While everyone is waiting for the 10pm kick off, go check out the Washington Posts coverage of the match tonight & their expose of Barra Brava.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

FIFA Club World Cup Tournament Twist

FIFA announced today that they have add one extra spot in the FIFA Club World Cup, bringing the total number of clubs to 7. The 7th club will be a representative of the host nation and they will face the Oceania champion in the first round. Japan is hosting this years tournament, as they have for the last three years.

FIFA also announced that the total prize purse has been increased by $1 million dollars, with the champion taking home $5 million.

The third announcement is that FIFA will begin to rotate the FIFA Club World Cup tournament, based on a bidding process, starting with the 2009 tournament. Japan will again host the 2008 tournament, with the 2009 bidding starting in November 2007.

I like the idea of adding the 7th club and having them be from the host nation. According to, the Japanese representative will be determined by the J League regular season, which I think means the J League Champion. Considering the level of play in Oceania, this makes sense.

Hopefully Don Garber & Co. are reading this press release and are already starting to get the gears going on a bid for the 2009 tournament. They could easily hold the tournament in LA, Phoenix & San Jose.


What, no Adu?

So no later than maybe 15 seconds after the USMNT roster for the International Friendly against Sweden was announced, all of the internet pundits started demanding to know why Bob left the MLS phenom and new Benfica midfielder Freddy Adu, off the 19 man roster. I on the other hand, would have been a little more shocked at Freddy being included than I am about Donovan being taken away from the LA Galaxy. Freddy needs to not be in this roster, for his own good.

It is pretty simple, and if anyone had read Bradley’s interview with Jack Bell in the NY Times, then you would have had a very good understanding that Adu would not be selected.

“Really what people need to do is to look on the FIFA calendar and if you see a single fixture date you know it is pretty much in and out. The Sweden game pretty much means the guys will play with their clubs on the weekend and then fly in to Sweden, which already should be a huge advantage for European-based players. That gives you a light training Monday and Tuesday then the players all leave.

Whenever you see a double date, there's an opportunity for us to have four-five days of training and make it more like a camp, that's importance of the double-fixture dates. If you look back to when we played Mexico in Phoenix I had said that it wasn't the right time to bring the younger guys in. I wouldn't want to bring a player in, and then a day or two later throw them on the field. We had not had a camp so I could assess some players. I said then that the double date in March would be a good opportunity, and it was.”
– Bob Bradley

So from this viewpoint, considering that Adu hasn’t been in a Bob Bradley camp before, he wouldn’t get the right amount of time to evaluate Adu on his level of play, so it would be a wasted trip for him to go to Sweden. This does fail to show why Bradley did call in Sal Zizzo. The only guess I can venture is because Zizzo plays forward, which is pretty thin of a position to call up. Midfield, which Freddy plays, is stacked with experienced players to call up.

The bigger reason, in my mind of why Adu was not called up to the national team is that because he has only had a week and a half of training time with Benfica. I am assuming that Zizzo has been with Hannover 96 a little more than that. Given that Adu will be fighting for a starting spot with Benfica, having him leave for four days wouldn’t help him with the club. Having Adu stay in Portugal for this match will go along way towards getting him first team action with his club. Considering Bradley’s statements, I would actually expect Adu to be in the camp in September.

Freddy needs to get settled and used to Portugal and Benfica. Once he gets adjusted to his new club and gets first squad time, then it will be a better time for him to start collecting caps.

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USMNT Roster Released vs. Sweden

Bob Bradley announced his 19 man roster for the August 22nd friendly against Sweden today. 16 of the players currently play in Europe, with the remaining three being taken from MLS.

Goalkeepers (2) – Marcus Hahnemann (Reading FC), Tim Howard (Everton FC)

Defenders (6) – Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

Midfielders (6) – DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Bobby Convey (Reading FC), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)

Forwards (5) – Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Kamani Hill (VfL Wolfsburg), Josh Wolff (1860Munich), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)

Most of this roster doesn't surprise me but here are a few that do:

Landon Donovan: The LA Galaxy are putrid right now; so Bob Bradley calls Donovan up for a midweek friendly in Europe? The Galaxy have a Thursday night ESPN2 match against Chivas USA the following day, unless the US Air Force fly him back or the Concord is brought out of moth balls, Landycakes won't be suiting up against the best team in LA. I guess it is Don Garber's fault for the MLS schedule not allowing for FIFA dates, but tell that to the Galaxy fans.

Jonathan Bornstein: Chivas USA are currently third in the West and have a good look at a playoff spot, so they aren't in the same situation as the Galaxy are. However, they are playing in that same ESPN2 Thursday night match up, so I am shocked that he was brought in as well.

Bobby Convey: Convey is returning from injury and didn't even suit up for Reading this last weekend, due to fitness issues. So why even have him make the flight to Sweden from England? Convey might be better off staying in London and training with his club's trainers.

Giving more of the relatively unknown US players who work in Europe a chance with the squad is a good thing. I would have liked to see Heath Pearce brought in from Hansa Rostock, but Bornstein got that roster spot. All in all, it isn't a bad line up.

Here is my starting 11:

Bocanegra ----- Onyewu
Cherundolo -------------------------Bornstein
Bradley ------- Feilhaber
Donovan/Deuce ----------------------- Beasley
Wolff --- Deuce/Donovan
For all the shock I have with Donovan being called up, I understand it. The USMNT plays completely different when Donovan is not on the field. Is he a true #10? No, he isn't. Yet he still brings the creative spark that the team needs. Without him (or in matches that he disappears in) the team is very, very flat and cannot play their way out of a wet paper bag. This is why Bradley brought him in. I am just shocked that MLS didn't bring up a huge stink when LA was notified.
This should be a good match up. Both sides seem to be bringing their best teams available, so the on pitch performance shouldn't disappoint.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

USMNT vs. Brazil

It's official now, and they are bringing their big guns.

Here's to Big Bob's first home loss.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Soccer News & Notes: 8/12/2007

Wayne Rooney Breaks foot, Manchester United held.
Manchester United were held 0-0 today against Reading at Old Trafford. Despite something along the lines of 70% of the possession during the match, United were unable to crack the Reading defense. Considering that Reading were able to hold United 1-1 twice last season, this seems like a fair result. United shouldn't have that much of a problem in the rest of the league.

Then again, with Wayne Rooney breaking his foot during the first half against Reading, the entire outlook for United might have to be re-examined. The addition of Carlos Tevez seems to be an even brighter point in the summer transfer market action now. During the match the announcers were listing off that Saha & Ole were down with injuries, so adding Rooney to that list isn't promising for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Steve McClaren is probably the only person who is going to be in more of a bind than SAF will be, as England really haven't any other options for striker in their upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers. The return of Michael Owen might be able to ease the pain of losing Rooney, but Owen has his own injury demons to deal with.

Bayern Munich start off Klose; 3-0 victory over Rostock
A very much retooled Bayern Munich dropped Hansa Rostock 3-0 in their Bundesliga opener Saturday behind two goals by new striker Miraslav Klose and one goal behind Italian striker Luca Toni. The Bayern defense looked very good in the match.

The inclusion of Ze Roberto, Frank Ribery, Toni and Klose showed to be an excellent grouping. Ribery was excellent in the midfield, especially working with German International Bastian Schweinsteiger. I'm not the only one picking Bayern to win the Bundesliga, the German Cup and the UEFA Cup this season.

USA vs. Mexico off; USA vs. Brazil on.
According to Washington Post uber Soccer Guru, Steve Goff, the September 9th away match in Azteca Stadium for the USA vs. Mexico has been canceled. Due to the cancellation, the USSF has been able to pull of a major coup and schedule a match in Chicago's Soldier Field against Brazil.

If this is in fact true, and Steve is rarely, rarely wrong, it is interesting. I have just as much mixed feelings about its cancellation as I did when the match itself was announced. The idea of getting our new guys and new look squad an away match in Azteca, in front of 110,000 Mexican fans would be huge in the way of getting them all ready for World Cup Qualifying and for playing in the World Cup. That said, having a third match against Mexico in one calendar year is a little over kill.

Playing against Brazil is another matter. I like this. I wish it could be held in Europe, but getting the Copa America Champions is a great match to line up. I am hoping that the USSF still gets a match scheduled for the Sept. 12 match date as well. Even if the match in the USA, get a match scheduled.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

EPL Previews: Why Chelsea #1?

Ok, so the English Premier League kicks off its 2007-08 season tomorrow, so everyone and their second cousin is running out their predictions for how everyone will finish. I haven't really been thinking that much about it, but as I read more and more people listing Chelsea as their pick to finish on top, I get more and more confused.

Naturally as a Manchester United supporter, I think that they will repeat as champs. They finally did something about some of the dead weight this season by moving Richardson, Smith and that Italian American who I won't name. Further more, United finally did something that it hadn't done in quite a while, it brought in a number of reinforcements. These guys are going to finally allow Sir Alex Ferguson to do what Jose has been doing in London, which is rotate players in and out and not see Giggsy get gassed half way through the season or have a scoring slump when Wayne gets tossed from a match for spewing fourth 100 F-Bombs at a linesman in 30 seconds.

I think that Teves, Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson, mixed in with Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Saha (if he is ever healthy), Park and the rest will be a much stronger side this season. That said, I don't think the new additions to Old Trafford will be the reason that Chelsea do not win the EPL Championship. They won't win because of who they won't have.

Chelsea really haven't set fire to the transfer market as they have in the past, which might actually be a good thing as it means that the Special One's side has mostly a year's worth of chemistry together. However, that chemistry might not hold up if some of those returning players don't even make the starting 11.

First off, look at their Field General, John Terry. Terry's health the last 12 months has been anything other than stellar. He was almost decapitated like a cast member of Highlander in the Carling Cup Final last year; he broke his foot against the LA Galaxy this summer and is now out for a month due to a knee injury. His defensive role can be covered by possibly the best signing Chelsea have done this summer with Israeli international Tal Ben Haim, but his lack of leadership is going to be sorely missed the beginning of the season.

Second, as of right now, the wonder cog of Chelsea's side last season, Arjen Robben seems to be heading to Real Madrid. If that actually does happen, who is going to be the kick start that Chelsea needs, which Robben provided last season? Granted if Chelsea storms every match they play and is up 3-0 by the 20th minute, then they might not need a spark like Robben, but considering my third reason for Chelsea not winning the title, I think that they will need him badly.

Third is because of the African Nations Championship. Chelsea's stand to lose Drogba, Essian, Obi Mikel & Kalou for an entire month. Chelsea will be facing matches against Reading, Tottenham & Liverpool over the same time that they might be without these guys. Drogba and Essian are the two largest losses here. Without these two, who will Jose put into their positions?

Considering the amount of pressure that Jose has been put under to win the UEFA Champions league, added to the midseason absence of his African players, I really cannot see how Chelsea will be able to keep up with Manchester United for the EPL title. United have routinely used the late December/early January time frame to make their run at the title. I see it happening again this season.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Match Recap: DC United 1 - 0 LA Galaxy

Well, he played.

David Beckham did play. Considering the situation he came onto the field in the 71st minute, he didn't do badly. He had a very nicely placed free kick into the penalty box and he sent a great pass into Landon Donovan. It looked like his ankle held up. LA fans, give him four more matches and he should be alright.

Ok, now that he is out of the way, United went out and picked up alot more than just three more points. They were able to build on the Sunday shutout of New England without Gomez. They were able to collect a second straight clean sheet. The back four of Boswell, Namoff, McTavish & Burch looked very well, even when they had defensive breakdowns, they covered for each other. Troy looked amazing in the box, controlling the crosses and displaying pretty good judgment on when to come off his line.

United picked up a narrow, yet not so narrow 1 goal victory over the same club that has destroyed United at RFK in several of the last few matches. They also beat the team that they face next Tuesday in the SuperLiga Semi-Finals.

All of this greatness happened in front of 46,000+ spectators and in alot of rain at times, however, the finishing still needs to be worked on. The score could have very well been 4-0, but the last touch for several players in the black & red failed them. United was very lucky to get the one goal passed Cannon, as he was on fire for most of the evening. I would rather not see United be forced to rely on a 1 goal victory on Tuesday*. Granted that the Galaxy have a match in between tonight's match and Tuesday nights match, we should be the fresher side, I want to see better finishing.

I have one bone to pick and it is with Fred. Fred returned from his red card holiday and played pretty well...but he also on several occasions, stopped runs and started ball watching. He stopped runs right when guys would pass the ball where he would have been had he continued the run. These all became turnovers. I am really trying to figure out why Fred has turned into a ball watcher as of late. If he would cut his site seeing times in half, he would be in so many more positions to create chances. Instead, he effectively turned the ball over by stopping his run and watching the play.

Over all, I was happy with the team composure and the team effort. United kept trying to crack the Galaxy defense and with one strong kick from Emillio, they broke through with the 1 goal that was needed. If United was the type of club that can score in the 12th minute then run the entire match into the ground for about 80 or so minutes like Chelsea can, then 1 goal a game would be fine. We all know that United haven't been able to do that very often, infact counting SuperLiga matches, United has only posted three 1-0 victories this season. They have also lost 1 1-0 lead, so I am still not that convinced that they can do it.

Anyways, United are now in second in the East, with a match in hand over Kansas City. Next up is an away match at LA (SuperLiga) then an away match at Columbus. United finish August at home to RBNY then away at BMO Field to take on Toronto FC. Hopefully the defensive trend of clean sheets carries the club to several more points over these next matches.

* - Edit. I thought that the SuperLiga match was on Tuesday. It is actually on Wednesday.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Quick Match Recap: DC United 3 - 0 New England Revolution

That was awfully odd to type, DC United 3....

Due to family commitments, I only caught the last 10 minutes of the first half and the entire second half. I was a little confused when I saw the score line and I though we were wearing our black jersey's. This was a different game from United, one I would like to see more of.

Thomas Rongen mentioned at halftime that United was winning their challenges on the ball first time, which was a different feel for the club from recent matches. Rongen was correct, United looked much better today than they have looked in a while.

Getting Namoff back into the side is a good sign of things to come, but I am still worried about Moreno. He came right now at half time only to have Jay Heaps of Shit drop him like a sack of potato's. He ended up coming off after about 30 minutes play, but I hope that was more for a precautionary move than due to his leg, or his back.

Troy looked much better in the 18 yard box than I have seen in a few matches. He did have that miscommunication with Benny when Smith went flying, but excluding that, his command of the goal mouth was great. He was strong in the air, I hope he keeps that up.

Marc Burch once again showed that he will be one of the four guys in the backline this season. He not only handled himself well on the left side, but he has the ability to move forward and provide pretty good left footed crosses. With Bursch in the back, I feel a little better about our backline.

Overall, it was a good game and a great outcome. Three points that the club needed and great momentum going into Beckhampalooza that hits RFK on Thursday. If we have the same defensive sharpness that I saw today, coupled with the return of Fred, Moreno, Gomez and Gros into the midfield, I think we should see Landy, Soccer Spice and the rest of the Galaxians from LA going down.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

USMNT Match Options for 2007

As the match schedule for the USMNT begins to fill up for the remainder of 2007, I figured I would toss out a few ideas on who the USSF should be trying to line up for the final few match dates this year. As FIFA has seven match dates scheduled for the remainder of the year, and the USSF has only scheduled five of those dates for matches. The two outstanding match dates are 9/12 & 11/21.

The US will be facing off against Mexico in Mexico City on 9/9 so it makes sense to have a match scheduled for the 9/12 match date. Considering that our side will have been in Mexico, having a home match would be logical for the second date. The following teams currently do not have anything scheduled and any one of them would be a pretty good test, as they are sides that have shots at making it to the 2010 World Cup.

- South Korea
- Angola
- Bolivia
- Cameroon
- Israel
- Nigeria
- Cote D'Ivoire
- Paraguay
- Uruguay
- Brazil

Having anyone of those teams in the states for a match would be rewarding. The only problem would be logistics. As this is during the European club season, I doubt that several of these sides would want to travel across the Atlantic, to only have their players have to fly right back over. Assuming that one of these teams did sign up for the match, it would most likely have to take place on the East coast to cut down on the travel time. Considering that this falls right in the middle of the NFL season, the match would most likely have to be held in an MLS park, so Crew Stadium or Toyota Park would be the most likely of venues.

As it stands right now, the US does not officially have a match scheduled for the 11/17 match date, but as well have read in several different locations, the Yanks will be making a trip down to South Africa to take on the 2010 World Cup hosts. Following that logic, as the team will already be overseas and will most likely have to fly through Europe to either drop off the European based players or to return to the States, why not try and schedule something in Europe for the 11/21 match date? After a quick scan of the FIFA schedules, I found that these teams do not have matches scheduled for the 21st:

- Belgium
- Portugal
- Czech Republic
- France
- Germany
- Croatia
- Italy
- Hungry
- Spain

Playing anyone of these teams in Europe would be a great match up. Germany, France, Italy, Spain & Portugal are most likely going to get matches scheduled soon, so I figure that our best bets might be to try and schedule matches with Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia & Hungry. Hell, getting a match in Europe, especially after having to deal with the long flight from South Africa would be a good enough test on its own.

I am hopeful that we will see the USSF schedule the two remaining FIFA dates and follow the trend of always scheduling USMNT matches on FIFA dates. I am tired of seeing FIFA match dates go bye without a USMNT match scheduled. If it only meant playing against Canada (which would be one helluva good match now) or playing in Panama, these dates need to be taken advantage of and used.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Match Recap: DC United 0 - 1 Houston Dynamo

That was pretty bad. DC United looked listless out on the field. It almost looked like there were 20 guys out there in Orange and about 7 guys in black. The guys in black looked like they didn't know how to pass with each other. It was a bad match.

It was good to see Jamie return to the field and once he did, United looked like a different team. The injection of Moreno gave United a controlling presence and a creative player that brought a new life into the side. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.

Bobby Boswell has now muffed two sitters in two straight games. Bobby, if you aren't going to hit the open shots, don't go forward. Send somebody else.

Now we all have to hope for a draw or an America win to ensure that we advance to the Semi Finals. In all honesty, I hope United doesn't advance. The club has more problems on its plate in the league right now. The club that performed admirably in the CONCACAF Champions Cup and through the month of May and June has disappeared. I really don't know what they are now.

One idea is that they are lacking the one thing that they had differently last year, which was a larger amount of discipline. Peter Nowak had these guys set in a much tighter structure; maybe it wouldn't hurt to start using some of that right now.

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USA vs. Mexico: Round III

Here is the funny thing, USMNT matches are usually never a surprise once they are actually announced by the USSF. We mostly hear rumors at first of the USA playing matches in Tampa or in LA or some place. We had two recent rumors that the USA is scheduling a trip down to South Africa to face the 2010 World Cup hosts in November and the September 9th match in Mexico City against our southern rivals, Mexico.

Well, the Mexico trip just became a reality as the USSF announced the match today. Add this to the confirmed/rumored scheduled and we now have five away matches scheduled for the rest of 2008, which is a drastic change from last year and the beginning of this year. Unfortunately, this match doesn't really get me that excited as the other ones do and this actually bothers me.

Yes, playing a match against Mexico in any situation is a good match for the USMNT. Mexico is not only the other top side in CONCACAF, and as they finished third in the Copa America, one could argue that they are honestly the third best side in the Western hemisphere. Playing against Mexico in Mexico City, Azteca no less, is a golden opportunity for the USMNT, if for nothing else than the chance to get the younger guys used to having bags of urine and batteries tossed at them before they have to go there for World Cup qualifying.

So why am I not as excited as I should be, or others are?

I guess it is because this is the third act of the same dance that we have had this year with Mexico. Yes, I understand that the venue change makes it an entirely different ballgame, but I think that we might have short sighted ourselves by getting another Mexico friendly in the same calendar year. Couldn't we have called up Peru and seen if they wanted a visitor on the 9th? How about another match in Europe?

Don't get me wrong, I am happy that this match has been scheduled. In fact, if the USSF worked it out that every year (minus World Cup Qualifying years) USA and Mexico have a home/away series of friendlies, I wouldn't be upset. I just think that as we have already danced twice this year, there has got to be other dance partners out there that we haven't seen before? Maybe try and see if Iraq wants to meet up in Rome or something. We are probably going to play them in the Confederations Cup in 2009 anyways.

In any case, I am happy to see that the USSF has scheduled another match for the USMNT and that this new match will be outside of the USA. Matches like these should be scheduled. Playing away from home gives guys a different feeling and prepares them better for the World Cup qualifying.

Now I gotta figure out how to get my company to pay for me to go to Mexico....

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