Tuesday, March 31, 2009

MLS Standings Week 2
6 Seattle
6 Chivas USA
4 Chicago
4 Toronto
4 New England
3 Colorado
3 San Jose
2 DC
2 Columbus
1 Los Angeles
1 New York
1 Houston
0 Kansas City
0 Salt Lake
0 Dallas

MLS Schedule Week 3
-Thu Apr 2
Salt Lake v Columbus - 8pm Central on ESPN2
-Sat Apr 4
Toronto v Seattle - 3pm Central on FSC
New England v Dallas - 6:30pm Central on Direct Kick
DC v Houston - 6:30 pm Central on Direct Kick
Los Angeles v Colorado - 9:30pm Central on Direct Kick
-Sun Apr 5
Chicago v New York - 2pm Central on TeleFutura
Kansas City v San Jose - 2pm Central on Direct Kick
Chivas USA v Columbus - 7pm Central on Direct Kick


The Week 2 Attendance looks fairly horrifying.
4 teams had their season home openers, and all had a terrible number:
Columbus - 14,686
DC - 15,895
New York - 12,462
Colorado - 11,885
Just disgusting.
Then we had:
San Jose - 9,177 – if this town is so soccer crazy and just HAD to have the team back then why can’t they sell out a tiny venue that only holds 10,300 – you people suck.
And then there is this nightmare:
Dallas - 6,524 – a brutal crowd for their 2nd home game of the season. What is really wrong in Dallas? Besides the low IQ’s and all.

Average of those 6 games - 11,772

Luckily we get to add in:
Seattle - 28,548 - their 2nd home game ever was another huge success.

And we end with a still sad average of - 14,168


The wildest game action of last weekend was San Jose v Houston which ended 3-2 with all 5 goals being scored in a 14 minute span at the end of the first half! And on top of that all 5 were very nice looking goals!
30th min - Ryan Johnson - SJ
33rd min - Arturo Alvarez - SJ
34th min - Chris Wondolowski - HOU
36th min - Brad Davis - HOU
44th min - Cam Weaver – SJ
See what all you no shows missed out on.

Labels: ,

CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying Standings
After 11 of 19 games played
23 Paraguay
19 Argentina
19 Chile
18 Brazil
- - - - - -
16 Uruguay
- - - - - -
14 Colombia
13 Ecuador
10 Venezuela
9 Bolivia
7 Peru

Matchday 11
-Sat Mar 28
Uruguay 2-0 Paraguay
Argentina 4-0 Venezuela
Colombia 2-0 Bolivia
-Sun Mar 29
Ecuador 1-1 Brazil
Peru 1-3 Chile

Matchday 12
-Tue Mar 31
Venezuela v Colombia
-Wed Apr 1
Bolivia v Argentina
Ecuador v Paraguay
Chile v Uruguay
Brazil v Peru

Top 4 teams qualify, with 5th place team taking on 4th place CONCACAF team for another spot.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bruce Arena is an arrogant bastard. That's what I love about the guy. He instilled a sense of smug confidence in the U.S. side. That mindset allowed them to walk out onto the field in Suwon, South Korea and put up three goals against a Portugal team that many rated as a favorite to win the 2002 World Cup before Pauleta could figure out what time zone he was currently navigating.

And that's what was so disappointing about the U.S. squad's performance on Saturday against El Salvador. The team looked scared. Their touches were nervous. Sacha Kljestan seemed to have one eye on the ball and the other roaming around the stadium to see when the next chicken head might be hurled his way. I think there was a steady trickle of urine running down Brad Guzan's leg throughout the 90 minutes.

Let's see if Bob Bradley can re-instill a bit of chutzpah to his side for Wednesday's tilt against Trinidad & Tobago. The lackluster performance in San Salvador, along with the loss to T & T in October, should provide plenty of motivation.

Labels: ,

This video that The Offside Rules found is so unbelievably awesome that it momentarily made me forget that Dallas drew 6,500 fans for its match on Sunday and that the U.S. team looked more nervous than a pack of 13-year-old boys preparing for their first junior high dance against El Salvador:

Labels: ,

Rumors are circling the internets that the USA will don a new uniform for Wednesday nights game in Nashville. Silver shirts?


Jonathan Bornstein has been added to the USA roster for Wednesday. He is a left fullback, which right now appears to be the weakest spot on the whole team.

Labels: ,

Do you want to know how bad of a start FC Dallas is off too? They got beat 0-2 at home by this Chivas USA line up:

G: Zach Thornton
D: Mariano Trujillo, Carey Talley, Shavar Thomas, Jonathan Bornstein
M: Atiba Harris, Jesse Marsch, Paulo Nagamura, Gerson Mayen (Jorge Flores 82)
F: Justin Braun, Eduardo Lillingston (Bojan Stepanovic 69)

Are you kidding me?

Preki's team is already pulling off some wondrous sights again this season.


El Salvador 2-2 USA

Let me start by saying that the referee, Benito Archundia of Mexico was terrific! Referee's get ridiculed too regularly when they screw up, so it's time we give them praise when they get it right.

My love/hate with Frankie Hejduk has reached yet another new high mark. I thought it peaked at the MLS Cup final last fall, but he again upped the standard against Mexico in February, only to blow that out of the water in San Salvador. The hate comes from stupid crap like giving Cristian Castillo a free header to grab ES's 2nd goal, and being one of the worst crossers of the ball in modern football history. But after giving away the goal in ES Frankie seemed to take the entire team on his back and carry them to a point. His usually crossing was replaced by a perfect floater that was dead-on-the-mark for Jozy Altidore's nice header goal. Then Frankie does the unthinkable and literally shoves Altidore out of the way to head home the tying goal. Fantastic stuff from the dude.

Three Stars of the Game
3. Eliseo Quintanilla
2. Cristian Castillo
1. Frankie Hejduk

Heath Pearce, Sacha Kljestan, DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey were particularly bad for the USA.

My cries to see Run DMB at left back sure took a beating on El Sal's second goal. He really got burned to the endline and let the guy put in an easy cross that Hejduk didn't bother defending.

Where was the USA wide play? It looked to me, especially late, that the sidelines and corners were completely unmarked by the ES blockade, yet Hejduk’s late run was one of the few times the USA tried to abuse this area of the field. Especially Beasley.

El Salvador's fake injuries were very embarrassing to the game. And they paid the price too. ES had that game until they started playing "sick day" and lost all of the momentum. It also seemed to piss the USA off and finally awake them from a deep slumber. The Americans poured it on after that and nearly stole all 3 points. It's also sad to read so many excuses from El Salvador that the team suffered from "fitness" issues. Mental fitness maybe.

The USA had not conceded a goal to El Sal since 1997. It should have stayed that way. But both their goals were executed perfectly.

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Hexagon Standings After 2 Matches Played:
3 Costa Rica
3 Mexico
2 El Salvador
2 Trinidad & Tobago
1 Honduras

Matchday 3
-Wed Apr 1
USA v Trinidad & Tobago - 6:30pm Central on ESPN2
Honduras v Mexico
Costa Rica v El Salvador

See all you Twin Citians at the Sweetwater for Wednesday nights game.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Paul Oberjuerge is in San Salvador. He had a lengthy talk with Freddy Adu. The kid's still just 19. Everything is good.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Alexi Lalas has a new gig on the MLS web site. It's called "The Sitter." He really should be doing this bit while seated on the toilet. Then it might be worth watching.


Guess who's played more minutes this qualifying round than any other U.S. player? That's right. Heath Pearce (945 minutes).


Jonathan Wilson of the Guardian writes a fantastic in-depth article about the importance of fullbacks in the modern game. This guy is one of the best football writers working today.

I think USA fans should take this very seriously and notice that of all the positions on the field, this is our teams weakest spot.

On that note, I have to continue my campaign to get DaMarcus Beasley installed at left fullback for the national team. He can defend individually as well as anyone on the team, and no one is going to get past him to the endline. Not to mention the strong attacking option he would make. Hell, I'd switch him and Heath Pearce right now. Pearce can put a nice ball into the box, but doesn't have the speed to quell other teams speedy wingers.

Labels: ,

Marcela Mora y Araujo of the Guardian tells us all about the first competitive match at the wheel of the company truck for Diego Maradona in the Argentina. They host Venezuela on Saturday, and expectations are at an all time high. Especially when you read about a potential 3-4-3 alignment with Messi-Aguero-Tevez up top. Wow.


MLS Week 2 Matches:
-Sat Mar 28
Columbus v Toronto - 3pm Central on Direct Kick
DC v Chicago - 6:30pm Central on Direct Kick
New York v New England - 6:30pm Central on FSC
Colorado v Kansas City - 8:30pm Central on Direct Kick
San Jose v Houston - 9:30pm Central on Direct Kick
Seattle v Salt Lake - 9:30pm Central on Direct Kick
-Sun Mar 29
Dallas v Chivas USA - 2pm Central on TeleFutura


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've never been down with the tradition of covering soccer jerseys with ugly corporate logos. It just seems sad and cheezy that clubs feel the need to use their players as billboards for multi-million-dollar companies.

So I find it quite hilarious these days to see AIG -- the most reviled corporation in the history of modern capitalism -- adorning the jerseys of Manchester United. Now it turns out that the insurance conglomerate still owes the English club some 14 million pounds on the naming rights deal, which runs through next season. Naturally some U.S. politicians aren't too excited about making good on this payment considering that AIG has now been bailed out to the tune of $150 billion (or some such ludicrous number) in taxpayer money. The Guardian ran a story on this today:
Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat representative from Arizona, said of AIG: "Paying excessive bonuses to executives with taxpayer funds was unacceptable and it is equally unacceptable for US taxpayers' money to go to support an English soccer club."
Perhaps AIG's next shirt-sponsor deal will be with an MLS club? Is it any coincidence that Manchester's current slide coincided with the disclosure of AIG's obscene employee bonus payments?


You can watch every Minnesota Thunder game! Free!

USL has announced that they will stream all 2009 First Division games online again this year. But even better than before - It's FREE! Yes, free of charge! How incredibly awesome is that. I think they are really getting this whole internets thing right.

Who's your favorite team?
Austin Aztex
Carolina Railhawks
Charleston Battery
Cleveland City Stars
Miami Blues
Minnesota Thunder
Montreal Impact
Portland Timbers
Puerto Rico Islanders
Rochester Rhinos
Vancouver Whitecaps


Montero = Ruiz

Where will Seattle's Fredy Montero sit in the history books when the season ends?
One person we could compare him to would be Guatemalan forward Carlos Ruiz who joined the Los Angeles Galaxy for the 2002 season.
I think it will be very tough for Montero to beat that season.
El Pescadito had 24 goals in 26 games, plus winning MLS Cup with the games only goal. Will anyone ever top that first season?
You never know. It is exciting to see a guy of Montero's age join the league with such high expectations.


The Claudio Lopez Factor

On the drive down to KC last weekend we were talking about MLS players that could have a break-out season. My pick was Claudio Lopez of the Wizards.
Lopez has the potential to lead his team like Guillermo Barros Schelotto led Columbus last season. With his finely honed qualities on the ball, plus that wily old veteran mentality, I think he can do it.
Hilariously, based on what we saw in Week 1 though, that will not happen. While Lopez was really active and went the full 90 (good signs), we also saw him take many free & corner kicks that simply did not deliver the goods, even once. You could tell the fans in the stands were getting really frustrated by all the missed opportunities.
But for now I am sticking with my pick, and just maybe what we saw late in the game could be foreshadowing.
Here is the scenario that gave me hope, as I saw it unfold:
Fellow Argentine Santiago Hirsig was brought in to the game, and along with Lopez teamed up with Davy Arnaud to cause a ton of havoc just outside the penalty box. All 3 guys were switching positions on the field, moving the ball at brisk pace from sideline to sideline misshaping the TFC defense, which ended with Hirsig setting up Arnaud for his second dive-bomber goal of the game.
Does Lopez have what it takes? Will he raise this team to the top of the pile? Stay tuned.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Clint Dempsey listens to Enya. For real. You can't make this shit up. Lots of other great stuff on the latest Studio 90 from U.S. Soccer.
Luis Arroyave drops something of a bomb today: Cuauhtemoc Blanco says it's his last season with Chicago. Which wouldn't be all that surprising if he simply planned to retire, considering he's 36 years old. But Mr. White is making noises that he might move to a club in Mexico, or even another MLS side. Apparently he's upset that he didn't start in Chicago's opener and that the team didn't bring in more attacking players in the off-season.

Hard to know how seriously to take this. Blanco seems the type to bloviate first and think later.


CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying

Matches & Scores:
-Sat Mar 28 - Matchday 2
El Salvador v USA - 8pm Central on ESPN2
Mexico v Costa Rica - 5pm Central on Telemundo
Trinidad & Tobago v Honduras - 6pm Central on OmniSportTV
-Wed Apr 1 - Matchday 3
USA v Trinidad & Tobago - 6:30pm Central on ESPN2
Costa Rica v El Salvador - 9pm Central
Honduras v Mexico - 8:30pm Central

3 USA +2
3 Costa Rica +2
1 El Salvador 0
1 Trinidad & Tobago 0
0 Honduras -2
0 Mexico -2

Follow Team USA on the official blog.


Official bidders for the 2018 & 2022 World Cups:

Qatar (2022 only)
South Korea (2022 only)
United States

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So today it was announced that something called the World Football Challenge will be coming to a sports stadium near you this summer. Inter Milan, AC Milan, Chelsea and Club America will participate. I'm sure this is exciting news to lots of folks and that the stadiums will be packed with fans pining to see the best footballers in the world. Personally I couldn't give a damn.

Doesn't this just further exacerbate the perception that MLS (and USL, for that matter) is an inferior product unworthy of your support? Is it really that exciting to have the opportunity to watch meaningless matches featuring out-of-shape players? Could you imagine a more insufferable assemblage of Europhile poseurs?

I'd rather support my local club. That's the only way soccer will continue to grow in this country.


Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald looks at the unfriendly crowd El Salvador will have waiting for the USA on Saturday. It will be impossible to prepare for "projectile chicken heads" though. And I don't think he is talking about street vernacular chicken heads either.


I listened to this informal type interview with Kansas City forward Herculez Gomez, and I don't want to sound like a culture snob, cuz I don't think I am, but his favorite movie of all time is Forest Gump.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lies. Damn Lies. And Statistics.
A review of the weekend past

Mike Woitalla of Soccer America seemed to be typing through rose colored glasses today when he wrote about MLS opening weekend attendance figures: "The average attendance of Week 1 games (17,095) was nearly 2,000 higher than last year's first week average."

Going on raw data he is certainly correct. But if you simply take Seattle's first-ever game (32k+) out of the formula, you only get an average of 14,524. Which is about 500 LOWER than last year's first week average. And that's tougher to swallow.

So to find out what went wrong, I think you need to look at each individual game, and two really stand out.

The most obvious drop off is in LA who drew just 18k+, after selling out virtually every home game over the past season and a half with David Beckham at 28k. That number was staggeringly poor. But what do you expect when you promise your fans the world yet don't make the playoffs 2 years in a row. If LA had hit their sellout number then the average would have been 16,189, and a good total for Week 1.

The other culprit is Houston. I expected them to break 20,000. Not so good at just over 16,000.

The flip-side is the relatively good news that two of the home teams (KC & San Jose) have capacity at under 11,000 and were sold out, and Chivas had a higher than normal home crowd for them at 16.5k.

Here are those Week 1 attendance numbers:
-Seattle - Qwest Field - 32,523 v New York
-Kansas City - Community America Ballpark - 10,385 v Toronto
-Chivas USA - Home Depot Center - 16,453 v Colorado
-Houston - Robertson Stadium - 16,053 v Columbus
-Los Angeles - Home Depot Center - 18,013 v DC
-San Jose - Buck Shaw Stadium - 10,335 v New England
-Dallas - Pizza Hut Park - 15,905 v Chicago

Salt Lake did not play due to the imbalanced number of teams in the league this season.

xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

Another cool number from the weekend was that 5 players scored a pair of goals!!!

Davy Arnaud - Kansas City
Landon Donovan - Los Angeles
Amado Guevara - Toronto
Freddy Monterlo - Seattle
Paolo Nagamura - Chivas

xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

Finally, the word is out that Vancouver has already taken orders for 5000 (updated) season tickets! Fantastic. Can't wait to see how it goes in Portland too.


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Borussia Monchengladbach revival did not continue today. Michael Bradley's club fell 1-0 at home to fellow bottom-feeders VfL Bochum.


The top five:

5. New York Red Bulls: After last night's pasting by Seattle I should probably reconsider putting Juan Carlos Osorio's squad this far up the table. Juan Pietravallo and Jorge Rojas looked just as useless as last year, while the backline was keystone-cops comical. But the Red Bulls still have the best forward in the league, a slew of young talent and reinforcements are on their way at the back. Costa Rican Carlos Johnson and Salvadoran Alfredo Pacheco should ensure that the 34 minutes played last night by Andrew Boyens is the only action he sees all year. Last year's surprising run to the MLS Cup should portend better times for New York in 2009.

4. Kansas City Wizards: The Wiz don't have any glaring weaknesses. They should prove a very solid, if unspectacular team. Jimmy Conrad (please check out his new web site) anchors a backline that will likely be among the league's stingiest. The squad now boasts a pair of seasoned Argentines, Santiago Hirsig and Claudio Lopez (the latter at a fraction of the price he was paid last year), in the attack. Rookie playmaker Graham Zusi has also drawn raves during the pre-season, but the dude reminds me of Kyle Martino (not a good thing). In addition, they've added a pair of useful, veteran strikers in Abe Thompson and Josh Wolff since the start of last season.

3. Real Salt Lake: Jason Kreiss has done a marvelous job building this squad into one of the toughest in the league. The back four of Jamison Olave, Ian Joy, Chris Wingert and Nat Borchers should only improve after a year of playing together. Kyle Beckermann is a midfield thug who's also capable of delivering the exquisite pass. Javier Morales should have been an MVP finalist for his wizardry in guiding the attack. And Yura Movsisyan proved at the end of last season that he can be a goal-scoring demon in MLS. They're just another quality forward short (Robbie Findley's too inconsistent) of having all the pieces in place.

2. Columbus Crew: It was a fantastic 2008 campaign for Columbus. They lost just seven times the entire season, winning the Supporters Shield running away. Then Sigi Schmid's crew capped it off with a playoff run in which they seldom looked threatened. And they did it while playing consistently entertaining, attacking soccer. Guillermo Barros Schelloto was (of course) the man who pulled the strings in the midfield. But Robbie Rogers enjoyed a breakout year that should have European teams banging on his door, while Chad Marshall became the dominant centerback that many observers had long predicted. Frankie Hejduk's now such an iconic Columbus figure that he should consider running for mayor when he finally hangs up the boots. Only two departures in the offseason, but they could prove significant: midfield worker bee Brad Evans and Schmid.

1. Chicago Fire: Now is the time for the Fire. They've got the best defense in the league with the likes of Jon Busch, Wilman Conde, Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares. (Even the guys likely headed for the bench could make up a better back line than many MLS squads field: C.J. Brown, Dasan Robinson, Tim Ward and Brandon Prideaux.) The attack is a nice combo platter of veteran guile (Brian McBride and Cuahtemoc Blanco) and young-ish talent (Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko). In just his second year as a head coach, Denis Hamlett should be hoisting the MLS Cup come November.
So a bunch of us are headed down to Kansas City tomorrow for the MLS opener against Toronto. It's a tradition Brucio started. This will be my third K.C. opener. It's always a swell trip. After a long brutal winter any chance to watch soccer in the outdoors (without monsoon conditions) is appreciated -- even if it necessitates a six-hour drive. But I noticed this tidbit at the Wiz's Hillcrest Road blog this morning and it about floored me:
If you don't have your tickets yet and are wanting to go, you better get them shortly. They're nearly gone.
Are you freakin' kidding me? They play in a stadium that barely holds 10,000 people and they haven't managed to sell out the home opener? That's just ginormously embarassing.

Labels: ,

22 players will train with the USA starting on Mar 22 in preparation for the next 2 World Cup qualifiers.

The team travels to play El Salvador on Sat Mar 28 in San Salvador, and comes back home against Trinidad & Tobago on Wed Apr 1 in Nashville.

Here is the initial roster:

Brad Guzan - Aston Villa
Tim Howard - Everton
Marcus Hahnemann - Reading
Carlos Bocanegra - Stade Rennes
Danny Califf - Midtjylland
Jay DeMerit - Watford
Frankie Hejduk - Columbus Crew
Oguchi Onyewu - Standard de Liege
Heath Pearce - Hansa Rostock
Jonathan Spector - West Ham United
Freddy Adu - Monaco
DaMarcus Beasley - Glasgow Rangers
Michael Bradley - Borussia Monchengladbach
Maurice Edu - Glasgow Rangers
Sacha Kljestan - Chivas USA
Pablo Mastroeni - Colorado Rapids
Jose Francisco Torres - Pachuca
Jozy Altidore - Xerez
Brian Ching - Houston Dynamo
Clint Dempsey - Fulham
Landon Donovan - Los Angeles Galaxy
Eddie Johnson - Cardiff City

NOTE: There are only 5 MLS players on this roster.
NOTE: Only 18 players will be on the game day rosters.

Once the team hits training camp you can follow them on the official USA Mens National Team blog.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The next five:

10. Colorado Rapids:
Fernando Clavijo's long, boring reign of reliable mediocrity is finally over. You always knew the Rapids would find a way into the playoffs under Clavijo -- and you always knew they wouldn't last very long. Luckily for new coach Gary Smith, Clavijo didn't leave the cupboard completely bare. Conor Casey has the potential to be an absolute beast in this league if he can stay healthy. Despite missing the first third of the season to injury last year, he found the net 11 times (and he's still only 27 years old). Matt Pickens should be a significant improvement at 'keeper, while having Cory Gibbs for an entire season at central defense should add composure in the back. Young-ish midfielders Colin Clark and Nick LaBrocca seem to get better with each season. This looks like a reasonably strong squad, but if Casey breaks down again (a distinct possibility given his track record) where will the goals come from?

9. Seattle Sounders: Sigi Schmid's expansion side should be in the mix for a playoff spot. Colombian youngster Fredy Montero turned heads by scoring nine goals in the pre-season. We'll see how he fares after a couple months of getting beat on by the likes of Shavar Thomas and Craig Waibel. The midfield is expected to revolve around Freddie Ljungberg, but given his recent spate of injury woes and poor play he looks like an extremely expensive gamble. Kasey Keller still has the chops to be the best goalkeeper in the league, but he might lose what little hair he has left trying to clean up the messes left by what looks to be a very shaky defense. The key to whether Seattle is battling for a playoff spot or propping up the bottom of the table will be Colombian defender Jhon Hurtado. If he can keep the backline from going to shambles in front of Keller, the Sounders should prove a formidable foe.

8. San Jose Earthquakes: Frank Yallop's squad put together a dull, respectable inaugural campaign, even making a late charge at a playoff berth. The defense, anchored by Joe Cannon, was solid from day one. The attack, however, was utterly anemic. Darren Huckerby's mid-season arrival provided some much needed juice to the roster. Now with Bobby Convey arriving to take over the central playmaker role, San Jose should have one of the best midfields in the league. If they can find a reliable goal scorer in either Pablo Campos, Ryan Johnson or Cam Weaver, the Earthquakes should make the playoffs in the weak western conference.

7. Houston Dynamo: They inexplicably gave up Dwayne De Rosario, arguably the best player in MLS over the last six seasons, for an unproven defender. They lost their thuggish, but effective central defender Eddie Robinson to a season-ending injury. They got humiliated by Atlante in the CONCACAF Champions League. And their already weak corps of forwards will be minus Kei Kamara for the first two matches after the genius apparently threatened a referee. Suffice it to say, the off-season was not kind to the perennial league heavyweights. The midfield should still be formidable with the likes of Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden and Brad Davis. But the defense suddenly looks spotty, with Julius James likely to be counted on for serious minutes. Houston looks to be an injury or two away from outright disaster.

6. Toronto F.C.: They will be the most entertaining club in MLS. With Amado Guevara and Dwayne DeRosario roaming around the midfield together, Toronto should drive defenses batty. Even Chad Barrett should be able to net double-digit goals with the chances that are likely to appear before his stone boots. The problem, of course, is still the defense. Adrian Serioux will likely help, but the arrival of two Gambian teenagers (what's up with MLS's mad crush on Gambians?) provides little reassurance. And somehow Jim Brennan is still getting paid to play soccer. On a completely arbitrary note: Richfield, Minnesota's very own Abdus Ibrahim is now known as Fuad Ibrahim.

The top five tomorrow.


Mamadou "Futty" Danso is training with the Minnesota Thunder. The Gambian defender previously got a long look from D.C. United, but wasn't signed. BQ has the scoop at Inside Minnesota Soccer.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MLS predictions are a perilous business. Just take a look around at the various prognosticators beating down this path and you'll see some wildly divergent views on what's going to take place over the next seven months. Even the redoubtable Brucio -- as cultured an MLS mind as you ever will find -- picked Columbus to finish dead last in the east last season.

But that's part of what makes our humble little league glorious to follow. Anything can happen. Toronto might learn how to play defense. Sigi Schmid might finally give birth. Seattle might defy recent history by failing to lay a stinking turd in the middle of the pitch during its inaugural campaign. Grandpa Doe might score 20 goals. Heck, Los Angeles might even make the playoffs (yeah, not likely).

It may not be the finest futbol in the world, but it's certainly not boring or predictable. So without further ado, from worst to first, my undoubtedly dunderheaded MLS predictions:

15. Los Angeles Galaxy: No club has proven as remarkably inept as the league's highest profile squad. Full credit goes to ass clown extraordinaire Alexi Lalas. He might have departed, but his legacy lives on. With two of the highest paid players in the league -- Landon Donovan and Beckman -- the Galaxy apparently have no money left under the league's salary cap to fill out a reasonably competent roster. At least I assume that's their excuse, because Bruce Arena has added almost nothing to a team that finished tied for the worst record in the league with the expansion side San Jose Earthquakes. Rookies Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza, along with senior citizen Tony Sanneh, will be counted on to bolster a defense that gave up a remarkable 62 goals last year (11 more than the next leakiest defense). The new man between the pipes is Donovan Rickets. Which reminds me of The Onion's headline after Obama's election: "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." Good luck Mr. Rickets!

14. D.C. United: 2008 was a real bummer for the league's most successful franchise. Every single player they brought in to the side was a monumental bust. Marcelo Gallardo was a desperation buy after Juan Sebastian Veron left Dave Kasper standing at the altar holding a No. 10 jersey. The Argentine showed flashes of mesmerizing skill, but was hobbled by injuries and generally seemed indifferent to the team's plight. The Brothers Gonzalo -- Martinez and Peralta -- were exciting to watch, but excitement is not really an attractive quality in defenders. After dumping all that money on foreign players, the team's best acquisition turned out to be a lowly USL2 player: Pittsburgh Riverhounds defender Greg Janicki. All those 2008 busts seem to have left Kasper gun-shy. D.C. has been uncharacteristically quiet this offseason. They've added a couple of unproven defenders (Anthony Peters, Dejan Jakovic) and rescued playmaker Christian Gomez from the Colorado bench. But D.C.'s attack looks rather old and slow, while its defense seems likely to remain porous. The D.C. faithful will be calling for Tom Soehn's head by July.

13. Chivas USA: Preki deserved serious consideration for coach of the year in 2008 considering what he accomplished with a weak roster that was decimated by injuries. Unfortunately the team's cursed luck looks to be continuing into this season. Claudio Saurez, the seemingly ageless central defender who's been the backbone of the team over the last two seasons, retired in a huff. Francisco Mendoza returned to the Chivas mothership. Sacha Kljestan appears to be European-bound before the season's over. And the team heads into its first match with no less than seven injuries afflicting potential starters. Throw in a new 'keeper in Dan Kennedy and the Goats look to be a mess.

12. New England Revolution: No coach has mined the MLS draft more effectively than Steve Nicol. In 2002 he tapped Shalrie Joseph in the second round, and the Grenadan's developed into the league's best defensive midfielder. Two years later Nicol plucked another rough-hewn diamond out of the draft with Clint Dempsey. Then in 2005 the Revs coach landed Michael Parkhurst, arguably the best defender in the league over the last four years. But only one of those players remains (Joseph) -- and Nicol's draft-day magic seems to have faded in recent years. (Wells Thompson?) Gabriel Badilla and Amaechi Igwe will try to fill Parkhurst's central defense role, while young Gambians Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi will provide some flair on the flanks. But last season's late swan dive -- winless in their final six regular season games; first round playoff exit -- seems like an ominous sign for 2009.

11. F.C. Dallas: Every year I think Dallas is going to be the surprise squad of the campaign -- and every year they end up playing thoroughly mediocre soccer and exiting the playoffs early. This year they won't have to worry about the playoffs. Similar to most other teams destined for the bottom of the table, the chief problem is defense. Duilio Davino may have proven a monumental bust in anchoring the back line, but that doesn't mean the team should throw up their hands in despair and hand the keys to Aaron Pitchkolan. The Dallas midfield -- which seems to turn over every off-season -- should prove a more interesting experiment. The marquee signing is playmaker David Ferreira, a veteran of the Colombian national team and Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense. He'll be joined by promising youngster Andre Rocha and savvy veteran Dave van den Bergh. Up top Dallas boasts two of the most prolific goal scorers in MLS history -- Jeff Cunningham (104 goals) and Kenny Cooper (33 goals).

Back tomorrow with slots six through ten in the table


Bruce’s 2009 MLS Preseason Predictions

In past years people have asked me to contribute preseason predictions, at which I have failed so miserably that I picked Columbus to finish at the bottom of the East last season. So I thought, Why not go for again? I am that big of a fool. But at least this year I will try a new route. I simply want to list what I think each team needs to do to win it all! From there I will deduce which teams have the best chance to: 1. Win the Cup, 2. Make the playoffs, 3. Fight for their life, or 4. Fall flat on their face.

Chicago Fire:
They need those 4 or 5 still fairly young and supposedly talented players to all have strong seasons. I am talking about Chris Rolfe, Justin Mapp, Calen Carr, Dasan Robinson and Bakary Soumare. The rest will take care of itself. It could be magical.

Chivas USA:
One word will do it all - Health. OK, they need some real goalkeeping too. But without Galindo, Eskandarian and Razov staying on the field for the majority of the season they won't get it done. The Union Ultras deserve some help from their team on the field.

Colorado Rapids:
They, surprisingly, have a lot of talent on paper. The D is a question, but they could actually make some waves this season. I know what you’re thinking. But I’m serious. The spine of a team is the key most of the time, and this squad has Pickens, Gibbs, Mastroeni & Casey up the middle. You have to admit that they have potential.

Columbus Crew:
Complacency is their only enemy. And they lost their very successful/inspirational coach. But this team has everything it takes to repeat. No doubt about it. And it would be really nice to see them fill those stands for every game. Maximum Nordecke.

FC Dallas:
The team has all these young guys who look to have talent, but who will lead them. (It's sure not the front office. Oof.) Are any of them really ready to breakout? FCD is gonna need that to happen, and probably from more than one of em.

DC United:
They need to improve from last season on their goalkeeping, the defensive line, midfield play, consistent goal scoring, and depth off the bench. Otherwise they are good to go. So who will replace Tommy Soehn?

Houston Dynamo:
They can deny it all they want, but they were over confident last season in the semifinals at home against New York. They Madoff-ed themselves. And they have not found the forward they still need so badly. To me they also got taken to the cleaners by TFC in the DeRo deal. I am not counting them out, but they need help in all areas of the field, either from midseason signings or current guys stepping up, to return to total glory.

Kansas City Wizards:
They have a lot of veterans and a decent attack, but they were terrible on the road last year. So that’s it - win on the road, have good success. (And let’s hope they break ground on a permanent home field.)

Los Angeles Galaxy:
They have more than enough offense to go around, now they have to find a way to stop getting scored on constantly. I know for a fact that a forward line of me and my Mom could get at least one past last years defenders. And then there is the lunacy of the way the whole organization is run. Can they build a buffer for the players?

New England Revolution:
For the 3rd year in a row they lose a key component and don't go get a replacement. (Dempsey after ‘06, Noonan after ‘07 & Parkhurst after ‘08). I don't know how they are going to make this thing work. As much as I love Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston, they are both a year older and more injured than ever. Frankly, they need a miracle.

New York Red Bulls:
To me they are the greatest mystery team this year. Last year they brought in all those supposed great players in midseason and they all flopped. Yet they somehow made it to the final. Amazing feat! I doubt they can do it again, but who knows. Osorio just seems to find a way to make it right. Defense is definitely their black hole.

Real Salt Lake:
They still didn't go out and find that goal scoring machine to take them over the top. They need a version of 2002 & 2003 Carlos Ruiz. They would be unstoppable then.

San Jose Earthquakes:
They were pretty decent last year for an expansion team, but I don't see where they got any better for this season. Who is going to score all the goals? Huckleberry can't do it all. And their 2nd best player Ronnie O’B was run out of town. (How big of a jag-off must a talented player be to keep getting the boot from every team?)

Seattle Sounders FC:
With so many things going right off the field I see that other prognosticators around the country forgot to actually look at the roster. Not strong at all. They definitely need much better defenders if they want to do some damage.

Toronto FC:
No excuses now. Well, except for that still-lousy defense. Are you kidding me? They are on season 3 and still not fixed their biggest problem from season 1. Yes, the attack is better than ever, but go ask LA how that worked out for them in ‘08.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In Conclusion-

Frolicking with the Angels (2):

Standing at the Pearly Gates (3):
New York
Salt Lake

Navigating Purgatory (5):
Kansas City
New England

Dancing with Lucifer’s Minions (5):
Los Angeles
San Jose

Labels: , ,

CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals

1st Leg Matches & Scores:
-Tue Mar 17
Puerto Rico Islanders 2-0 Cruz Azul
-Wed Mar 18
Santos Laguna v Atlante - 9pm Central on FSC

2nd Leg Matches & Scores (1st Leg scores included):
-Tue Apr 7
Cruz Azul v Puerto Rico Islanders (0-2)
-Wed Apr 8
Atlante v Santos Laguna (-)


The Seattle Sounders are pulling out all the stops for tomorrow night's MLS opener. They even planned to have doves circle the grounds of the sold-out (yet half-empty? huh?) Qwest Field. That is until the doves were slaughtered by marauding hawks. Oops.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MLS Opening Weekend

Matches & Scores:
-Thu Mar 19
Seattle v New York - 8pm Central time on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
-Sat Mar 21
Houston v Columbus - 7pm Central time on FSC & FSE
Dallas v Chicago - 7:30pm Central time on Direct Kick
Kansas City v Toronto - 7:30pm Central time on Direct Kick
Chivas USA v Colorado - 9:30pm Central time on FSC & FSE
San Jose v New England - 9:30pm Central time on Direct Kick
-Sun Mar 22
Los Angeles v DC - 2pm Central time on Telefutura

Not playing: Salt Lake


Monday, March 16, 2009

All you haters can bite this!

Michael Bradley scored 2 more goals for his club Borussia Monchengladbach as they won at Cologne 2-4 on Saturday night. He has lead the team off the bottom of the table for the first time all season and nearly out of the relegation zone by scoring 4 goals in the past 7 games.

Labels: , ,

CONCACAF U20 World Cup Qualifying Update

Costa Rica beat the USA 3-0 on Sunday to win the Championship!

The top 2 teams from each group advanced to the semifinals and qualified for the U20 World Cup.

The USA advanced by winning their group, while Mexico was the first team eliminated. Honduras has also advanced from Group A, with the Group B teams advancing being Costa Rica and the host country Trinidad & Tobago.

Matches & Scores:
-Fri Mar 6
Honduras 2-2 El Salvador
Jamaica 0-3 USA
-Sat Mar 7
Mexico 0-1 Costa Rica
Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 Canada
-Sun Mar 8
El Salvador 1-2 Jamaica
USA 0-0 Honduras
-Mon Mar 9
Canada 2-0 Mexico
Trinidad & Tobago 0-0 Costa Rica
-Tue Mar 10
Jamaica 0-4 Honduras
USA 2-0 El Salvador
-Wed Mar 11
Costa Rica 2-1 Canada
Trinidad & Tobago 2-2 Mexico
-Fri Mar 13
Semifinal 1 - USA 0-0 Trinidad & Tobago - USA advances 4-3 on PK's
Semifinal 2 - Costa Rica 0-0 Honduras - CR advances 4-2 on PK's
-Sun Mar 15
Final - Costa Rica 3-0 USA
3rd Place - Trinidad & Tobago 1-2 Honduras

Initial Group Stage Points (3 Rounds)
Group A
5 Honduras - ADVANCED
3 Jamaica - ELIMINATED
1 El Salvador - ELIMINATED
Group B
7 Costa Rica - ADVANCED
5 Trinidad & Tobago - ADVANCED

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oguchi Onyewu and Standard Liege are now at the top of the Belgian Jupiler League table. With today's 2-0 victory over Racing Genk, they moved one point clear of Anderlecht. Gooch went 90 as usual.


We are not amused Bucky Country. The Bunky County legal team will be issuing a cease-and-desist letter immediately. It's sad when charlatans such as these attempt to exploit the sweat equity of hard-working Americans.


Friday, March 13, 2009

U.S. wins 4-3 on penalty kicks. Brian Perk saves the final two T&T penalties for the victory. On to the U-20 CONCACAF finals where the yanks will take on Costa Rica.


The U.S. U-20 men are tied 0-0 with T&T after 120 minutes. Heading to PKs.


Here are two pay raises that MLS players got that made me ask "What is going on around here?!?!":

-Justin Mapp - 171K to 255K - Chicago - Already overpaid, so this is just throwing money away.

-Chad Barrett - 61K to 203K - TFC - May have been slightly underpaid, but this is just more proof that Mo Johnston is a little nuts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Since day 1 of the Jose Mourinho regime at my favorite club team, Internazionale of Milan Italy, I have been skeptical.

Sure I know of his outstanding resume, but Inter is a different kind of place. Something in the makeup of the club will not let it be a big giant superstar like their neighbor AC Milan, who is beloved world wide. Generally speaking, most people in Italy despise Inter no matter how much they succeed, while the rest of the world doesn't really seem to care either way.

Yeah I know Inter has won 3 consecutive Serie A titles, but those have all been tainted by the Calciopoli scandal that swept aside the rivals. So the amassed Scudetto's don't really bring fans like me the joy that comes with winning it all.

And let's not go on too long without thinking of the team's yearly Champions League failure. Ugh. Which bring us to the real reason why Mourinho was hired, and how he will be completely judged in his time at Inter. [This paragraph has been updated since the original posting]

Today Inter goes to Old Trafford stadium in Manchester England to take on the Red Devils, with the aggregate score tied at zeros. No one is giving the blue & black a chance to go through. I know I am not confident.

If Mourinho fails to take the club past the defending champs (and leading favorites to win it again), and in to the Quarterfinals, then I think he is done as the coach. And in the amazing case where he takes it to the promised land I somehow think he is gone too. The smell of mercenary is in the air.

So this is really the whole pie. Right here.

Jeffrey Marcus of the New York Times takes us directly to the man himself to try and demystify him a bit, or mystify him more, I'm not sure which, on the morning of this big game.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

As long as Demko is greeting you from somewhere other than home, then I feel I must follow his lead and greet you from my penthouse suite overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River just east of downtown City Of Lakes, Minnesota.

Today's topic is Deutsch Geisteskrankheit - or - German Insanity.

The Bundesliga standings after 23 of 34 games played:
46 Hertha Berlin
42 Bayern Munich (goal difference +18 - WOW!)
42 Hoffenheim (goal difference +18 - WOW!)
42 Wolfsburg (goal difference +18 - WOW!)
42 Hamburg (goal difference 0)

What does Herr Honigstein of the Guardian have to say about it all?

I also got an email this morning from my chief administrator who issued an Air Pollution Health Alert. Again.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 09, 2009

Greetings from Upper Sandusky, Ohio. It's just north of Dos a Cero, Ohio. If I'd planned better I could have made a return trip to the official hotel of Bunky County. Oh well. the Comfort Inn will have to do. I'm heading to Maryland to see my parents for a few days. It was a highly irrational decision made at 6 a.m. this morning when I apparently was losing my mind.
Ronnie! Ronnie! Ronnie! Ronnie! The Real Ronaldo brings down the house with his first goal for Corinthians!


Hey Fulham!
Yeah you!
Real nice defensive effort there fellas.
Could you have tried a little less to keep the ball out of your own net?
I doubt it.
You made Man U's stale offense look magnificent.
I did enjoy the creamy hashbrowns at The Local though.
So I guess I should say thanks for getting me out of bed for that.

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 08, 2009



Brutal line for D.C. United at the Carolina Challenge Cup: 3 projected starters go down with injuries (Fred, Crayton, Quaranta), 2 new central defenders draw red cards (Jakovic, Peters), and RSL delivers a 3-0 drubbing.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Eddie Johnson revival tour continues. He came off the bench in the 36th minute and scored the final goal in Cardiff City's 3-0 drubbing of Doncaster Rovers.


What is coffee without a donut? From today's Pioneer Press:


Shame, shame on the person(s) who stole 15 boxes of donuts (270) from the front door of Christ Lutheran Church in North St. Paul on Feb. 1.

Those donuts were delivered for the coffee hour between services, and what is coffee without a donut?

Remember, "God is watching you." I hope that if you sold the donuts, you may have given some of the money to a church offering somewhere.

Oh, I forgot, you probably don't go to church — but maybe you should so that you won't be stealing anything anymore, especially donuts.

Leila Vruno, Maplewood

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 06, 2009

Two more late goals from Anderlecht-linked Dilly Duka (love that name) and 17-year-old centerback Gale Agbossoumonde and the U-20 men cruise past Jamaica 3-0.

Labels: ,

And another one bites the dust? Portland's MLS bid looks to be in serious trouble. Merritt Paulson has pissed off his two primary supporters in seeking public funds for a stadium with some childish shenanigans.

Labels: ,

As Brucio mentioned the U-20 World Cup qualifiers aren't being televised. You can, however, keep tabs on the games via U.S. Soccer's MatchTracker. It's a poor, sorry substitute for being able to watch the matches, but whatever. The U.S. are off to a nifty start, with F.C. Dallas rookie Peri Marosevic scoring in just the 8th minute against Jamaica in their opening match.


Gooch and Standard Liege are top of the table after a 1-0 victory over RAEC Bergen Mons today. Of course that will probably change tomorrow when Anderlecht hosts Zulte-Waregem.


The spectacular turd that Montreal laid last night -- giving up four second half goals, including two in stoppage time, to lose 5-4 on aggregate to Santos Laguna -- kind of puts a damper on the USL jubilation. But it's still been one helluva run for a league generally viewed as MLS's physically challenged kid sister. While the Houston Dynamo, D.C. United and their ilk continue to get humiliated by Mexican opposition year after year after miserable year, the USL squads served notice that they're not to be taken lightly (even with the woeful likes of Adam Braz suiting up). Luis Bueno crunches the rather remarkable CONCACAF Champions League numbers over at SI:

• Overall, only two leagues had a combined winning percentage of more than .500 -- the Mexican league (.634) and the USL (.600).

• Only the Mexican league (17) and the USL (10) combined for double-digit victories.

• MLS clubs combined for an overall record of 2-10-6, which amounts to a .222 winning percentage.

• With twice as many teams in the tournament, MLS had one-fifth the amount of wins as the USL.

Labels: , ,

Hurray Seamonster

Labels: ,

Today kicks off the CONCACAF U20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament. It is being hosted by Trinidad & Tobago.

Embarrassingly none of these games are on television here in the USA. With all the TV options that we have today, US Soccer should be ashamed of themselves for not demanding CONCACAF find a way to get these games broadcast. I know it's the regions tournament to market and not our federation, but I still hold them responsible for this failure. It should not happen.

Two groups will play a round robin with the top 2 teams in each going on to the Semifinals. Those 4 teams all qualify for the World Cup.

There are the groups:
El Salvador
Costa Rica
Trinidad & Tobago

Here is the match schedule:
-Fri Mar 6
Honduras v El Salvador
Jamaica v USA - 5pm Central
-Sat Mar 7
Mexico v Costa Rica
Trinidad v Canada
-Sun Mar 8
El Salvador v Jamaica
USA v Honduras - 5pm Central
-Mon Mar 9
Canada v Mexico
Trinidad v Costa Rica
-Tue Mar 10
Jamaica v Honduras
USA v El Salvador - 6pm Central
-Wed Mar 11
Costa Rica v Canada
Trinidad v Mexico
-Fri Mar 13
Semifinal 1 - A1 v B2
Semifinal 2 - B1 v A2
-Sun Mar 15

The USA Roster:
Sean Johnson - U Central Florida
Josh Lambo - FC Dallas
Brian Perk - UCLA
Gale Agbossoumonde - no club
Kyle Davies - Southampton
Jorge Flores - Chivas USA
Aaron Maund - Notre Dame
Amobi Okugo - San Juan Lightning
Anthony Wallace - FC Dallas
Sheanon Williams - no club
Bryan Arguez - Hertha Berlin
Danny Cruz - Houston Dynamo
Dilly Duka - Rutgers U
Jared Jeffrey - Club Brugge
Brian Ownby - U Virginia
Brek Shea - FC Dallas
Sam Garza - U Denver
Peri Marosevic - FC Dallas
Billy Schuler - U North Carolina
Tony Taylor - Jacksonville U


Thursday, March 05, 2009

So Bayern Munich officially does not want Landon Donovan. No wonder they are in 5th place in the Bundesliga, and already knocked out of the German Cup. Ask LD about his time in Munich on his own website.

Labels: ,

What kind of player do you get for $30,000? Alfredo Pacheco apparently.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Huray Puerto Rico Islanders. It wasn't always pretty, but they earned a ticket to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League with a gritty performance. MLS should be embarrassed.
Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero is checking in from Argentina for the New York Times "Goal" blog. It's pretty banal stuff for the most part. Being a professional athlete isn't all jacuzzis and supermodels and yadda yadda yadda. But Cepero does deliver this nugget:

I just finished “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking up a copy. Life-altering.

I'm sure his teammates are just thrilled about this development.
Attendance #'s for MLS teams in their first ever home game:

Colorado Rapids - 21711
Columbus Crew - 25266
Dallas Burn - 27779
DC United - 35032
Kansas City Wiz - 21141
Lost Angeles Galaxy - 69255
Metrostars - 46826
New England Revolution - 32864
San Jose Clash - 31,683
Tampa Bay Mutiny - 26,473

Chicago Fire - 36,444
Miami Fusion - 20,450

Chivas USA - 18,493
Real Salt Lake - 25,287

Houston Dynamo - 25,462

Toronto FC - 20,148

San Jose Earthquakes - 20,038

Seattle Sounders
Playing at Qwest Field
67,000 is maximum capacity
32,400 is how many tickets they have sold for their home opener - which is 48% of stadium capacity
The game has been declared a sell out!
27,700 will be the capacity for games the rest of the first season - which is 41% of stadium capacity

And don't even get me started on them playing on fake turf - no matter how good Sigi says it is, it's still fake turf

Labels: , ,