Thursday, October 25, 2007

Match Recap: DC United 0 - 1 Chicao Fire

It's not that horrible, but damn we looked slow and our passing was off and late. I wanted a better result.

So now we have a week to get our heads back into playing mode and to get our focus back.

In my opinion, Fred needs to work on his passing accuracy. Four of five times tonight I saw him make a soft, slow pass behind his target. These weren't passes in the air, they were on the ground. Most of United's passes were to the spot that the target player used to be. Do they not practice leading passes? Do they not expect their teammates to make any type of leading run?

I am upset with the play of United tonight. I expected more, despite any injuries we might have had. Chicago didn't show me anything that suggests that they were the better club, besides one guy hitting a great shot. I demand better play from DC United next Thursday. I do not want to watch the damn Fire celebrate in our house next Thursday. I have seen it before and it makes me want to puke. I for damn sure do not want to see two teams, neither one being United, face off at RFK on November 18th.

Focus and step up like you guys are supposed to do and as I have seen you do.

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Half Time thoughts: DC United vs. Chicago Fire

Here we are at half time, down 1-0 to the Chicago Fire. I have alot of questions from the first half. I want to know why Boswell isn't in the central midfield. I want to know why Kpene is the lone forward, couldn't Fred or Adderly been sent up front with Kpene? I know that Soehn must have tried to get out of Dodge with a 0-0 draw, but seeings how we aren't gonna get that scoreline, what change will he make in the second half?

I can definitely see that Chicago wants it more, at least in my opinion. They are closing in on our guys when they are on the ball. Chicago will not give our guys, Olsen, Fred and Gomez primarily any real time to collect the ball and see the field. We need quicker feet and we need to be doing the same thing to the Fire. If we put more pressure on them when they first get the ball, we will have a chance to get back into the match.

Our passing is horrible. Half the time Fred tries to pass the ball, he does so to an open spot, and because they are closing faster than we are, a Fire player collects the pass. We need to clean this crap up quickly or we will return home down 2 goals.

On a different note, I truly hope that ESPN didn't sprain anything kissing that much of Chicago's ass with their pregame coverage. I haven't seen that much of a biased love fest since the NLCS pregame coverage on the Colorado Rockies a few days ago. I couldn't believe how much Rob Stone was licking Blanco's ass in that pregame crap.

Anyways. We have a hole and we have got to get our asses out of it. I think we can do it, but if we play the same way in the second half as we did the first...we die.

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Blatter... WTF!??

Ok, I do get it. I understand that FIFA really isn't interested in organizing soccer/football matches and that they aren't really interested in helping developing nations enhance their way of life through sport. I get it, I really do.

FIFA is only in it for the money. They want as much money as can possibly be steered their way and they will do anything that will help them get it.

Just look at CONCACAF's President, Jack Warner. The guy sells his free tickets to the 2006 World Cup, when they should have been given away. FIFA gave him a slap on the slap on the wrist, almost saying, "Damn, Jack, we aren't mad you did it... we are mad that you came up with that idea first!"

Warner then tries to get the Scottish FA to pay him personally the money that was for the match fee of a match between Trinidad and Tobago & Scotland. Talk about one shady guy.

Wait! That's not the only thing, there's more!

FIFA instituted a continental rotation policy for the World Cup. They did this so that all of the confederations would have the chance to host at least one World Cup. So far we have had the 2002 World Cup in Asia (Korea & Japan), the 2006 World Cup in Europe (Germany), the 2010 World Cup will be held in Africa (South Africa) & the 2014 looks all but set for South America (Brazil). The only two confederations that haven't hosted a World Cup, in this rotation cycle are OCEANIA & CONCACAF.

So we have two more confederations that should be up for host rights, yet now FIFA Generalissimo Sepp Blatter wants to end the rotation system in favor of letting anyone (minus members of the continent that previously hosted one) to bid for the next World Cup, starting with 2018.

Uh, Sepp? Excuse me, but don't you have two more stops on your around the world trip of football/soccer? What is that you say, you can't make any money off of the other two regions so you don't want them to host? Is that right?

It has to be, along with the fact that when CONMEBOL essentially cut FIFA off at the knees when they only presented one member nation as the bidder for the 2014 World Cup. FIFA wasn't able to have multiple nations spend heaps of money on them for inspection visits or even really have any type of bidding war go on. FIFA lost money on the 2014 World Cup even before the 2010 cup kicked off. That scared the living hell out of their bank accounts.

Think of it. If CONCACAF were to get the sole right to bid for the 2018 cup, it would really be down to Mexico, Canada and the USA. FIFA rules for how a World Cup is hosted (stadium sizes, number of stadiums per city) and such would pretty much eliminate Canada (sorry neighbor) because the Canadians don't have the right number of stadiums that are large enough for the World Cup, by the rules. Further more, I suspect that the Canadians are smart enough to realize that even if they spent mass amounts of money on build huge stadiums, they would go to waste, just like the ones in Korea have. So Canada would be out.

So that leaves us with Mexico and the USA. Mexico has the stadiums to host, but are those stadiums truly up to the World Cup spec? Besides, Mexico has already hosted two World Cups, and granting Mexico a third before other countries like England or Spain even host their second cup, seem very doubtful. FIFA would get too much flak from the very countries that they have to keep happy.

That leaves the USA. That also leaves us with the problem that FIFA has seen with Brazil, and a bigger problem on top of that. First off, CONCACAF would probably go through the same elimination process as I have and finally just support the USA's bid, which would give FIFA the same problem as Brazil did, no bidding war.

Second, and this is the biggest problem; with the USA hosting, all the money that would be generated for FIFA "friends" would never be seen. "Friends" I say? Which friends? The friends that all get the lucrative stadium construction contracts. They won't get these because the stadiums are already in place, thanks to the NFL. Each NFL owner is going blind trying to build a bigger and more spectacular stadium, to entice another big money making event: The SuperBowl. Because these stadiums are so big and can already meet the FIFA regulations for World Cup stadiums, FIFA wouldn't be able to truly steer any of their friends to any of the construction contracts, which would mean no kick backs for FIFA.

Facing this problem, Blatter and FIFA have now decided that they stand to make more money without the rotation system and have an open bidding system. You have more people bidding, which means more expense paid visits to China, England, Australia, the USA, Italy and so on. FIFA will make record amounts of money through this new, open bidding system.

What we will finally end up with is that we will see the World Cup primarily played in Europe from now on. We might have one in China, one in the USA, and one in Austrailia, but we will get the 2018 World Cup in either England or in Italy. We will get this because as the 2006 World Cup showed, FIFA gets more money when people show up for the tournament. The USA will get another one, simply because the only one the USA ever hosted broke records for the number of fans in the stadiums and that means huge amounts of money for FIFA. The USA will only get one with an open bidding process, because that also makes money for FIFA.

The entire idea of a fair and impartial process being used for the rights to host a World Cup is a joke.

Does the football/soccer even need to get played anymore?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

DC United Season Over: Playoffs begin.

Due to Sara being sick, I wasn't able to make it out to RFK to see United fall to Columbus in the final match of the 2007 regular season. I periodically checked the MLSnet match tracker as Comcast was showing the Caps game instead. Other than the injuries to Emillio and Moreno, this loss really doesn't have me that worried.

I am not that worried about the playoffs, even though we are facing a pretty hot Chicago Fire club that seems to always have United's number in the post season. I am not worried because this group of guys seems to have a different "air" about them than previous United teams. Hell, even the team that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season didn't have the swagger that this group of guys does.

I have faith that Tom Soehn will get his guys rested enough and prepared enough for the Fire this Thursday night. From what Steve Goff is reporting, Emillio and Moreno should have both recovered from their knocks in time for the away match.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

USMNT Schedule for 2008?

In the wake of yesterday’s 1-0 road victory over Switzerland, I figured I would begin to try and come up with what I thought would be the perfect way for the USMNT to prepare for 2010 World Cup qualifying, which starts June 2008. More of the USMNTs schedule will be apparent once the preliminary draw is conducted in Durban, South Africa on November 23rd. However, considering that FIFA only has the preset dates to use for their official matches, their previously released calendar can give us a pretty good idea of their next year.

FIFA has set aside the following dates for match in 2008:

- February 6 (Friendly date)
- March 26 (Friendly date)
- August 20 (Friendly date)
- September 6 through 10 (2 official dates)
- October 11 through 15 (2 official dates)
- November 19 (Friendly date)

That gives us 8 specific FIFA dates to work with. FIFA has the bulk of June set aside for the European Championships, so you have to figure that the beginning of CONCACAF qualifying will take place in that time frame as well. If we assume that CONCACAF will schedule more qualifying matches for the four official dates in September and October, that will leave us with the four friendly dates for potential match ups.

It has been reported that the USMNT will be adding a match to this schedule, outside of the FIFA schedule. The USMNT will host Sweden at the Home Depot Center January 19th, similar to the Denmark match this last January. Considering that both teams will most likely be made up of domestic league players, this won’t exactly be a very good indicator of either squad, but it will give our MLS players a chance to break out of their winter hibernation and get their fitness levels back up to speed.

It is rumored that the February 6 friendly date is pretty much scheduled, as the USMNT will host our “friends” south of the border, Mexico. Considering that the match is set for 3 days after the NFL Super Bowl, I doubt we will see a rematch in Glendale, Arizona. Houston’s Reliant Stadium has been mentioned, although I wouldn’t be shocked if Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is used for this match either. As it is a FIFA date, European based US players should be called in and a shorter travel time to Tampa would be ideal. Playing Mexico isn’t the worst idea as they are the best competition in the region and we most likely won’t be facing them in the first round of World Cup qualifying anyway.

The March 26 date might be a very good opportunity to get some away match experience right before the USMNT has to open up World Cup qualifying in June. The question is, where should we try and get a match? Do we try and head over to Europe, where most of our players will be? Do we try and travel to a place like Columbia or Venezuela, where we will encounter a similar style of football to the ones we will face in World Cup qualifying? Assuming we can get the best of both worlds, I suggest that the USSF try and get a match schedule with Portugal in Lisbon or Porto. Portugal plays a more Latin flair type of game and playing in Europe gives us a chance to not jet lag our Euro based players and a match in a hostile stadium.

With the World Cup qualifying starting sometime in January, I assume that we will see the USMNT have two matches at least scheduled in June, most likely a home match and an away match. Who they will face we find out in just over a month.

The next FIFA friendly date is August 20, which will be the only time that Bob Bradley will be able to get a full squad in for review before what should be four straight matches of World Cup qualifying. As this date also falls during the Beijing Olympics, we can expect that a good number of the younger guys who made impacts yesterday against Switzerland will be either away with the Olympic team, or just returning from China. So well will probably see a squad made up of guys off the radar and guys who are over the age 23 restriction. Given that Bob will only have 48 hours before the match to gather his troops; a match in Europe again would be a good idea. Getting a match scheduled in Kaiserslautern, Germany (similar to the 2006 Poland match) against either a European side or an African side would be best. Playing Germany wouldn’t be that bad either, but the chances of getting that match in Kaiserslautern are remote. In any case, who we play isn’t as important as where this match is. The scheduling puts this match right at the beginning of the European domestic league seasons and during the Olympics. Having our Euro based players traveling shorter distances for this match will help them and help the USSF when they call up their players from the clubs for future matches.

The September & October match dates should be World Cup qualifying dates, so who the USMNT will be playing will be determined this November. That leaves us with the final FIFA friendly date in November.

Considering it is the final match date of the year, the opponent or location isn’t that important. Bradley can use this match to give some younger guys a run out or to give some of the MLS players one last match before they all head off for their winter vacations. The most important thing about this date is that the USSF schedule a match. The USSF has already wasted one official FIFA date this year (the failed Catalonia match) and it looks like they are going to miss out on the November 21st match date this year as well. Even though they lost, Mexico proved that you can schedule an international match a week in advance, as they did for their match last night against Guatemala in LA. Having the USMNT return from South Africa and face Jamaica in LA or Washington, D.C. would be better than having the team miss out on an official FIFA date. This is why next year, I hope that the USSF scheduled matches for everyone of the FIFA dates. Getting the squad together as many times in the year as possible will help build the type of chemistry that this team has at times shown it doesn’t have.

All in all, next year’s USMNT schedule will revolve around World Cup qualifying. The friendly match dates before and around the qualifiers will help Bob Bradley and his coaching staff not only get ready for the qualifiers, but will help the players get back into the rhythm of the national team. As CONCACAF qualifying doesn’t really look like it will be that much of a problem, scheduling matches outside of CONCACAF that challenges the players is the next logical step to ensure that they are prepared for their away matches and ultimately, the World Cup.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

DC United win Supporter Shield

DC United has successfully defended the MLS Supporter Shield, being the first MLS club to ever do so. United secured it due to a 2-1 Chivas USA loss today against the Colorado Rapids.

So this means that United have yet again picked up silverware and will be competing in a minimum of four competitions next season: MLS regular season, USOC, CONCACAF Champions Cup & the North American SuperLiga.

Congratulations everyone, now we gotta take care of business to ensure that no one else lifts the MLS Cup in our house.

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Match Recap: DC United 0 - 0 Chicago Fire

I had to wait until today to write this as I didn't want to rant and rave about how pissed I was at how horrible DC United played last night.

In any case, here I go anyhow....

I don't remember seeing United play that badly since last season. With the exception of Troy (who was HUGE in goal last night) the rest of the side really failed to do pretty much anything other than take up space. Yes we shut down Mr. White, but despite Clyde and Brian Carroll marking him very well, Blanco wasn't doing anything that was that dangerous, unless him flopping to the ground is dangerous to the new grass (field looks nice btw).

Our passing was horrible, as it seemed that ever time a United player tried to pass, they thought that United was wearing it's road white jersey's. Chicago was able to pick off so many passes last night that it looked like we were passing to them. Our offense was just as bad, as we couldn't get any type of service in to Emillio. Kpene was just as bad last night as he was in the first half of the Toronto FC match. I saw that he had his hand wrapped in ice after halftime, I hope he is alright.

How can one team allow 11 shots in the first half? Troy should have been exhausted at halftime, yet he came out for the second half and pulled off yet another spectacular performance. The entire club should be buying him dinner next week.

We aren't that bad a club when we are only missing Moreno. We beat New England 3-0 in New England without Jamie and I have seen the rest of the club produce when he was out, but last night it looked like we couldn't make anything happen up top. I am hoping that United takes care of this in the off season and picks up another forward that can actually do something... maybe trade for Kenny Cooper?

Sara mentioned to me as we left last night, "It's better than a loss, yeah?"

I guess so. In the scheme of the Supporters Shield, it is almost like a loss. Chivas USA dropped two points Thursday night and without Razov tonight, they "might" drop two more, but I don't expect them to. That means in order to win the Supporters Shield, United must win next Saturday at home against a Columbus Crew side that has nothing to lose and who just knocked off the Revolution last night. If United plays as they did last night, then Chivas has a very, very good chance of picking up the Supporters Shield.

Hopefully Jamie will return from World Cup Qualifying (Bolivia lost 5-0 btw) and brings that panache back.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dida Banned for 2 CL matches

UEFA banned AC Milan goalkeeper Dida from the next two UEFA Champions League matches for faking injury in Milan's 2-1 loss to Celtic. A Celtic supporter ran onto the field and made minimal contact with Dida as he ran through the goalbox. Dida then chased the supporter for a few steps, he then fell to the ground clutching his face.

I honestly think that both Milan & Dida dodged a huge bullet. UEFA could have easily used Dida as a way to make an example for those who fake injury or flop when there is minimal or no contact from anyone on the field. Doing so is stupid and cheap. Players who do that are scum and should not be playing professional soccer.

Rivaldo did something very similar in the first game of the 2002 World Cup when Hakan Unsal kicked the ball towards Rivaldo who was standing over the corner spot. The ball hit Rivaldo in the shin, yet he clutched his face, fell to the ground and rolled around like a sniper hit him in between the eyes from the lights. Unsal was sent off and Brazil won the match 2-1. Rivaldo said he did it to gain an advantage over Turkey.

This type of behavior is the exact crap that needs to be weeded out of global football. Dida should have seen a four match ban, which would rule him out of teh rest of the group stage matches. Rivaldo should have been banned by FIFA from the rest of the 2002 World Cup. If these types of acts aren't dealt with harshly, then they will continue to be done and used to cheat the other clubs/teams.

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Oktoberfest Picts.

If anyone was interested, you can check out some of the pictures of my trip to Munich for the 2007 Oktoberfest here.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

USMNT Roster for Switzerland

USMNT coach Bob Bradley announced his 21 man roster today for the 10/17 matchup against Switzerland in Basel.

Goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann (Reading, England), Tally Hall (Esbjerg, Norway), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham, England), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover, Germany), Dan Califf (Aalborg, Denmark), Jay Demerit (Watford, England), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege, Belgium), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock, Germany), Steve Purdy (1860 Munich, Germany)

Midfielders: Freddy Adu (Benfica, Portugal), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Michael Bradley (Heerenveen, Netherlands), Maurice Edu (Toronto), Benny Feilhaber (Derby, England), Eddie Lewis (Derby, England), Danny Szetela (Racing Santander, Spain)

Forwards: Clint Dempsey (Fulham, England), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV, Germany), Sal Zizzo (Hannover, Germany).

Overall, I am impressed with this roster. Think about it for a moment: the USMNT is currently in a five game funk where they haven't won, this after a ten game win streak for the year. The press is hyping the fact that Bradley has led the US to this "decade-worst five-game losing streak " and he still brings in a group of guys that is collectively long on experience on the senior level. Yes, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Gooch, Lewis, Beasely & Deuce are on the roster (Deuce doesn't have that much experience over two years), but the rest have either only just cracked the seniors team (Bradley, DeMerit & Feilhaber) or like Hahnemann, hasn't really been a stalwart on the roster before this year.

Bradley looks to be a guy who isn't reading the press or worrying about what place the USMNT gets ranked every month by FIFA. He is a guy who is still looking towards the future. By bringing in guys like Edu, Szetela, Seitz, Zizzo, & Adu (guys who look to be the future of the squad along with Bradley & Feilhaber), Bradley is continuing with the program he started with the Copa America roster; getting the new, younger guys into the mix. By getting them into these camps and matches, Bradley is setting up for the 2008 Olympic Qualifier squad and for the 2010 World Cup Qualifier squad.

I am also happy to see that Bradley resisted bringing in several guys from MLS squads that are in the playoffs or in the playoff hunt. He could have easily have brought in Donovan, Twellman, Johnson, Mastroeni, Conrad and others, but he didn't. This gives both their clubs and the newer guys chances for the future. Their clubs still have chances to get into the playoffs or get ready for them. It also, as stated above, gives the new guys shots at playing time.

I honestly do not expect the USMNT to win this match against Switzerland. Given the situation, Switzerland should be fielding it's A Team, as they need to use every available match for training for the 2008 European Championships. The US doesn't need to win this game, despite what the media is saying. Bradley did his primary job for 2007: win the Gold Cup and get into the Confederations Cup. He now is charged with getting the newer players more international match experience and that is exactly what he is doing.


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