Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Up For The Cup

The US Open Cup
Originally uploaded by mfishkin.
The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is the oldest soccer competition in the country, and one of the oldest in the world. First contested in 1914, the USOC is a single-elimination tournament along the lines of the English FA Cup. The Cup runs concurrently with the MLS and other league seasons, and any team, amateur or professional, can take enter. The competition was named for US soccer pioneer and investor Lamar Hunt in 2002.

While the NASL teams of the 1970’s-80’s never took part in the USOC, MLS teams have participated in the Cup since the league kicked off in 1996. The league has captured all but one Cup title since then, when the 1999 Rochester Rhinos of the USL 1st division upset Colorado 2-0 in the cup final. Since MLS’ inception, Chicago has been the most successful Cup team, with 3 titles (’98, ’00, 03), while DC United (’96), FC Dallas (’97), LA Galaxy (’01), Columbus (’02), and Kansas City (’04), have the others.

This year’s final tournament includes forty-two clubs from MLS, the USL’s 1st and 2nd divisions and its Premier Development League, and the US Amateur Soccer Association. Cup matches are played on Wednesdays, and sixteen clubs are taking in tonight’s second round.

Tonight’s matches (club level, MLS=I):
Wilimington (NC) Hammerheads (III) vs. Roma of Dallas (Amateur)
Western Mass. Pioneers (III) vs. Reggae Boys of Indiana (Amateur)
Virginia Beach Mariners (II) vs. Richmond Kickers Future (IV)
Ocean City (NJ) Barons (IV) vs. Long Island Rough Riders (III)
Des Moines Menace (IV) vs. Charleston Battery (II)
El Paso Patriots (IV) vs. Charlotte Eagles (III)
Minnesota Thunder (II) vs. Chicago Fire Premier (IV)
Seattle Sounders (II) vs. Salinas Valley Samba (Amateur)

Chicago, Dallas, Salt Lake, and Chivas USA enter the cup in the third round on July 13th. The remaining MLS clubs start play in the fourth round on August 3rd. The final will be held on September 28th.

Last Weekend’s Results
Saturday, June 25th
New England 4-2 MetroStars
Kansas City 3-0 Chivas USA
Colorado 1-3 FC Dallas
San Jose 3-0 LA Galaxy

Sunday, June 26th
Chicago 3-1 Salt Lake

Standings (Team, Points, GD)
MLS Eastern Conference
New England 31, +15
Chicago 26, +4
Kansas City 21, +6
MetroStars 20, +5
DC United 19, +3
Columbus 13, -12

MLS Western Conference
FC Dallas 33, +14
LA Galaxy 24, +2
San Jose 21, +6
Colorado 14, -5
Salt Lake 12, -15
Chivas USA 6, -23

This Week’s Matches:
Wednesday, June 29th
Kansas City v Columbus, 8pm
Chicago v DC United, 8:30pm
San Jose v Colorado, 10:30pm

Saturday, July 2nd
Columbus v DC United, 7:30pm, FSC, HDNet
FC Dallas v San Jose, 8:30pm
Chivas USA v Chicago, 10pm

Monday, July 4th
Salt Lake v MetroStars
Colorado v Kansas City, HDNet
LA Galaxy v New England, FSC

Thursday, June 23, 2005

That's A Spicy Meatball

Adu in Action (Action Images)
Originally uploaded by mfishkin.
The US U-20 team crashed out of the FIFA World Youth Championship in the 2nd round after blowing a 1-0 halftime lead to Italy by allowing three second half goals, two off of US defenders. The US, which hadn’t allowed a goal in its three first-round matches, got off on the right foot after D Hunter Freeman scored on a penalty kick in the 44th minute. The US ended the tournament in Holland with a 2-1-1 record, with three goals for and three against.

If you can’t beat ‘em…
After being stung by successful European club tours in the US over the past two seasons, MLS and its marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, got into the act by announcing a July “World Series of Football” schedule in New York, Foxboro, DC, and Chicago that will include English Premier League champion Chelsea and Italian Serie A powerhouse AC Milan. This season, however, the Euro clubs will match up against MLS teams Chicago Fire (vs. AC Milan at Soldier Field on July 27th) and DC United (vs. Chelsea at RFK on July 28th). Earlier today it was announced that David Beckham and Michael Owen will return to the US with their Real Madrid squad to play Chivas of Mexico in Chicago on July 16th and the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center on July 18th.

Last/This Week’s Results
Wednesday, June 15th
DC United 4-3 Chicago
Colorado 1-0 LA Galaxy

Saturday, June 18th
US U-20s 1-0 Egypt
Chicago 1-1 Kansas City
MetroStars 3-2 Columbus
DC United 2-0 New England
FC Dallas 1-0 LA Galaxy
San Jose 3-0 Salt Lake
Chivas USA 1-3 Colorado

Tuesday, June 21st
US U-20s 1-3 Italy

Wednesday, June 22nd
Columbus 1-3 New England
FC Dallas 2-1 Chivas USA
Salt Lake 1-1 LA Galaxy

Standings (Team, Points, GD)
MLS Eastern Conference
New England 28, +13
Chicago 23, +2
MetroStars 20, +7
DC United 19, +3
Kansas City 18, +3
Columbus 13, -12

MLS Western Conference
FC Dallas 30, +12
LA Galaxy 24, +5
San Jose 18, +3
Colorado 14, -3
Salt Lake 12, -13
Chivas USA 6, -20

This Weekend’s Matches
Saturday, June 25th
New England v MetroStars, 7:30pm, MSG
Kansas City v Chivas USA, 8pm
Colorado v FC Dallas, 9pm
San Jose v LA Galaxy, 10pm, ESPN2

Sunday, June 26th
Chicago v Salt Lake, 7pm

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Winning Weekend

Peterson Celebrates (ISI)
Originally uploaded by mfishkin.
On Saturday, the US U-20 team beat Egypt 1-0 to finish the first round atop Group D at the World Youth Championship in Holland. The US goal was scored by Indiana’s Jacob Peterson in the 56th minute off an assist from Freddy Adu. The US finished group play against Argentina, Germany, and Egypt without conceding a single goal, and face Italy in a round of 16 match today at 11:30am (Fox Soccer Channel) in Enschede, Holland. Should the US advance, they would face the winner of Morrocco and Japan in the Quarterfinals. The US played the Egypt match without Manchester United D Jonathan Spector, who continues to recover from a leg injury, and MetroStars M Eddie Gaven and Michigan D Marvell Wynne, who sat out to avoid picking their 2nd yellow cards. All three should be in the lineup against Italy.

In MLS play on Saturday, Ante Razov scored his first two goals as a MetroStar to lead the team over Columbus 3-2 at Giants Stadium. Youri Djorkaeff converted a pk in the 2nd half to provide the winning margin. The Metros’ five-match unbeaten streak has lifted the team to sole possession of 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Chicago.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Hopping at the Hut

Pizza Hut Park
Originally uploaded by mfishkin.
Pizza Hut has snapped up the naming rights to the new FC Dallas soccer-specific stadium in Frisco, TX. The 21,000-seat stadium is set to open on August 6th vs. the MetroStars, and will host this year's MLS Cup final on November 13th.

In other soccer news, the wonderful has a stellar interview with new Metros President/GM Alexi Lalas that's not to be missed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Week In Soccer: The Redhead Returns

Alexi Lalas, the first American to play in Italy’s Serie A and the most marketable face of US Soccer in the 1990s was named President/General Manager of the MetroStars on Tuesday, replacing Nick Sakiewicz, who had alienated many fans of the club during his six-year run at the club. Not that Sakiewicz is going for want: he was promoted to head “AEG Soccer NY/NJ,” and presumably will be responsible for running the long, long, loooooooong-delayed Harrison stadium project which (we’re told) is only a week or two from becoming reality. Really. That’s what they said.

Lalas, the former Rutgers All-American and future US Soccer Hall of Famer was serving as the GM of the San Jose Earthquakes, a club owner-operator AEG now seems certain to jettison, perhaps to Club America of Mexico, who may move the Quakes to Houston for 2006.

Lalas took questions from the online community during a web chat on Tuesday afternoon, and while he clearly didn’t have all the answers as of yet, he certainly showed off his trademark sense of humor…

Rob from Hillsdale, N.J.:
Will an announcement about the stadium honestly be made in 1-2 weeks or will it really be 60 - 90 days?

Alexi Lalas:
It sounds like you've been around long enough to recognize that the concept of time with the stadium project is relative.

Nick from Secaucus, N.J.:
What benefits do you feel you have as a former player over a business man in the position of General Manager of an MLS team?
Alexi Lalas:
I'm better looking.

AEG, which currently owns Metro, Chicago Fire, LA Galaxy, DC United, and San Jose, is said to be close to selling four-time champion United as well, to a local DC-area consortium. AEG Pres/CEO Tim Lieweke made a point of noting that the Metros have been a bit ignored by the parent company, and that more effort will be put toward making the team more relevant in both the crowded NY sports scene and the national soccer scene.

On the field
The US U-20 team had the better of play through most of the match, but couldn’t score in a 0-0 draw with Group D powerhouse Germany in a FIFA World Youth Championship match in Enschede, Netherlands yesterday. The US (1-0-1, 4pts, +1GD) which hasn’t conceded a goal in two matches, in currently in 2nd place in the four-team group. The US should qualify for the round of 16 after its Saturday, 7:30am match (FSC) with group bottom dwellers Egypt (0-2-0, 0pts, -4 GD).In the 24-team tournament, the 1st, 2nd, and best four 3rd place teams advance out of group play.

Metros G Zack Wells made 14 saves a scoreless draw with DC United on Sunday in the swamp, marking young Wells’ fourth shutout of the year. The UCLA product was named Player of the Week in MLS for his efforts, which were one save shy of the all-time record for saves in a league match, held by former Metros G Tony Meola.

Last Week’s Results
Saturday, June 11th
US U-20s 1-0 Argentina
Columbus 1-0 Colorado
Kansas City 0-2 New England
LA Galaxy 1-0 Salt Lake

Sunday, June 12th
MetroStars 0-0 DC United
Chicago 2-0 FC Dallas
Chivas USA 1-1 San Jose

Tuesday, June 14th
US U-20s 0-0 Germany

Standings (Team, Points, GD)
FIFA World Youth Championship, Group D
Germany 4, +2
USA 4, +1
Argentina 3, +1
Egypt 0, -4

MLS Eastern Conference
New England 25, +13
Chicago 22, +3
MetroStars 17, +6
Kansas City 17, +3
DC United 13, 0
Columbus 13, -9

MLS Western Conference
FC Dallas 24, +10
LA Galaxy 23, +7
San Jose 15, 0
Salt Lake 11, -10
Colorado 8, -6
Chivas USA 6, -17

This Week’s Matches
Wednesday, June 15th
DC United vs. Chicago, 7:30pm
Colorado vs. LA Galaxy, 9pm

Saturday, June 18th
US U-20s vs. Egypt, 7:30am, FSC
Chicago vs. Kansas City, 4pm, ESPN2
MetroStars vs. Columbus, 7:30pm, MSG
DC United vs. New England, 7:30pm, FSC
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy, 8:30pm
San Jose vs. Salt Lake, 10pm, HDNet
Chivas USA vs. Colorado, 10pm

Monday, June 13, 2005

The US Starts Off with a Bang

Chad Barrett Scores (ISI)
Originally uploaded by mfishkin.
The US U-20 team got off to a flying start at the FIFA World Youth Championship on Saturday in the Netherlands with a shocking 1-0 win vs. defending champion Argentina. Chad Barrett of the Chicago Fire headed in a deflected Marvel Wynne pass just before halftime for the score. The US could have put the game away in the second half, but Freddie Adu hit the post on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute. The US continues group D play vs. Germany on Tuesday at 2:30pm on Fox Soccer Channel.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

US digs Panama, 3-0, to approach WC Qualification

First-half goals from Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, and Brian McBride and another stellar goalkeeping performance from Kasey Keller made the US a near-certainty for next summer’s World Cup in a 3-0 thumping of Panama last night in the Central American capital. Combined with Mexico’s 2-0 home win vs. Trinidad and Costa Rica’s 3-2 win over Guatemala in San Jose, the US (4-1-0) sits comfortably in 2nd place in the CONCACAF Standings after five of ten qualifying matches. Both Bocanegra and Donovan scored on headers in the first 25 minutes of the match, making the Panamanian crowd a non-factor. McBride scored his 28th goal for the US close to halftime. The only down note for the team was a yellow card picked by defender Eddie Pope, which will suspend him for the next qualification game, vs. Trindad on August 17th in Hartford. If results stay true to form, the US could clinch their fifth consecutive World Cup berth with a win on September 3rd in Columbus vs. Mexico.

In other World Cup news, five nations joined host Germany as qualified teams for next summer: Argentina, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.

Wednesday, June 8th
Mexico 2-0 Trinidad
Panama 0-3 US
Costa Rica 3-2 Guatemala

Standings (Team, Points, GD)
CONCACAF (Top 3 qualify, 4th place plays off vs. Asian 5th place)
1. Mexico 13, +6
2. US 12, +8
3. Costa Rica 7, -2
4. Guatemala 4, -1
Trinidad 4, -5
Panama 2, -6

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Week in Soccer: Donovan Does the Double

Landon Donovan scored in the 6th and 63rd minutes, and Kasey Keller made some incredible saves as the US deflated Costa Rica 3-0 in front of more than 40,000 fans in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Brian McBride scored the other US goal in a match that saw the nats dominate possession against the Ticos, save for a 15 minute-stretch in the second half when Keller made six terrific saves that kept Costa Rica from tying the match. His most acrobatic came in the 60th minutes, when Keller reached backward with his left hand to make a fingertip save on a shot from Costa Rica’s Jafet Soto.

The win, combined with Mexico’s 2-0 win at Guatemala and Trinidad’s 2-0 defeat of Panama left the US solidly in 2nd place in the six-team World Cup 2006 CONCACAF qualifying final group. Tonight, the US visits Panama, Mexico hosts Trinidad, and Costa Rica takes on Guatemala as the round reaches its midpoint. Wins by Mexico and the US will all but assure the two rivals a ticket to next summer’s World Cup in Germany. Soccernet’s Mark Connolly has a great piece on what the US must do to prevail.

Around the World
In other World Cup Qualifying news, Japan become the first team, other than host Germany, to qualify for next year’s tournament after a 2-0 win over North Korea this morning. 24 matches will be held today around the world, and five other nations have an opportunity punch their World Cup tickets: Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea, Brazil, and Argentina.

U-20’s Get their Game On
The U-20 National Team has left for Holland for the biennial U-20 World Youth Championship. On the squad are Metros Eddie Gaven and Tim Ward, as well as DC’s Freddy Adu. The 24-nation tourney kicks off on Friday, and the US has been placed in a tough Group D with powers Argentina, Germany, and Egypt. The “gnats” start off vs. Argentina on Saturday at 11:30am on Fox Soccer Channel.

Metro News
The Metros continued their strong road play with a 2-2 draw at LA Galaxy on Saturday. Abbe Ibrahim and Sergio Galvan Rey scored for Metro, who one-third into the MLS season sit in 4th place. The team made a controversial trade yesterday, sending super-sub and fan favorite John Wolyniec to Columbus in exchange for 31-year old former national team forward Ante Razov. Razov played for Metro coach Bob Bradley when the two were in Chicago. When with the Fire, Razov was known as a Metro-killer, scoring 12 goals in 18 matches vs. the Metro.

Last Week’s Results
Wednesday, June 1st
Chivas USA 1-1 Kansas City

Saturday, June 4th
US 3-0 Costa Rica
Guatemala 0-2 Mexico
Trinidad 2-0 Panama

Chicago 5-2 Chivas USA
New England 1-1 Kansas City
Salt Lake 0-2 FC Dallas
LA Galaxy 2-2 MetroStars
San Jose 0-0 DC United

Standings (Team, Points, GD)
CONCACAF (Top 3 qualify, 4th place plays off vs. Asian 5th place)
Mexico 10, +4
US 9, +5
Guatemala 4, 0
Trinidad 4, -3
Costa Rica 4, -3
Panama 2, -3

MLS Eastern Conference
New England 22, +11
Chicago 19, +1
Kansas City 17, +5
MetroStars 16, +6
DC United 12, 0
Columbus 10, -10

MLS Western Conference
FC Dallas 24, +12
LA Galaxy 20, +6
San Jose 14, 0
Salt Lake 11, -9
Colorado 8, -5
Chivas USA 5, -17

This Week’s Matches
Wednesday, June 8th
Mexico vs. Trinidad, 8pm, Univision
Costa Rica vs. Guatemala, 9pm
Panama vs. US, 9:30pm, tape-delayed on ESPN2 at 1am

Saturday, June 11th
US U-20s vs. Argentina, 11:30am, FSC
Columbus vs. Colorado, 4pm, ESPN2
Kansas City vs. New England, 8pm HDNet
LA Galaxy vs. Salt Lake, 10pm, FSC

Sunday, June 12th
MetroStars vs. DC United, 6pm
Chicago vs. FC Dallas, 7pm
Chivas USA vs. San Jose, 8pm

Tuesday, June 14th
US U-20s vs. Germany, 2:30pm, FSC

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Week In Soccer: Veni, Vidi, Vici

A second-string squad of the English National Team had a good week in the former colonies, beating the US 2-1 at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, and defeating Colombia 3-2 at Giants Stadium yesterday. The Brits’ second match was played with regular starters David Beckham and Michael Owen, and the latter pumped in all three goals for England in front of a raucous 50,000+ at the swamp. Those with fortitude stayed for yesterday’s MLS nightcap where MetroStars captain Amado Guevara bent a Beckham-like ball into the upper ninety in the waning moments of injury time to beat Chicago 2-1.

US Team News
Late additions to the US squad for this Saturday’s quallie vs. Costa Rica in Salt Lake City include defenders Oguchi Onewyu (Standard Liege, Belgium) and Frankie Hejduk (Columbus), midfielders DaMarcus Beasley (PSV, Holland) and all-time US MNT caps leader Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy), and forward Pat Noonan (New England). My lineup for Saturday: Keller – Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Gibbs, Hejduk – Beasley, Ralston, Zavagnin, Dempsey – Donovan, Johnson. After the Costa Rica match, the US heads to the Canal Zone to visit Panama on the 8th.

Last and this Week’s MLS Results
Saturday, May 28th
New England 0-0 Colorado
DC United 0-2 FC Dallas
Columbus 0-3 MetroStars
Kansas City 1-0 San Jose
Salt Lake 0-3 Chicago
Chivas USA 0-2 LA Galaxy

Tuesday, May 31st
MetroStars 2-1 Chicago

MLS Standings as of June 1st (Team, Points, GD)
Eastern Conference
New England 21, +11
Chicago 16, -2
MetroStars 15, +6
Kansas City 15, +5
DC United 11, 0
Columbus 10, -10

Western Conference
FC Dallas 21, +10
LA Galaxy 19, +6
San Jose 13, 0
Salt Lake 11, -7
Colorado 8, -5
Chivas USA 4, -14

This Week’s MLS Matches
Wednesday, June 1st
Chivas USA vs. Kansas City, 10:30pm

Saturday, June 4th
Chicago vs. Chivas USA, 4pm, ESPN2
(US vs. Costa Rica, WCQ at Salt Lake City, 7:30pm ESPN2)
New England vs. Kansas City, 7:30pm
Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas, 10pm
LA Galaxy vs. MetroStars, 10pm, MSG
San Jose vs. DC United, 10:30pm, FSC, HDNet