Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Arena Football, Game One

Ok, so Bruce Arena will watch tonight’s Red Bulls-Crew match on a very expensive flat-screen TV somewhere in NYC or Virginia. Still, it’s not wrong to say that the Arena era begins this evening in Cow-town. Here’s a brief preview.

The Columbus forwards vs. The Red Bulls’ back line:
Kei Kamara, Jacob Thomas, and Eddie Gaven vs. Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Marvell Wynne and Seth Stammler (and Jon Conway). Kamara, the Crew’s scoring leader with three goals, has had a strong rookie season. Thomas is spending his first season in MLS after eight years in the lower German leagues. Gaven (I’d imagine) wants to play well vs. his former club. The NY defense posted a shutout last time out against a poor Colorado team. Look for Conway to have another good performance. Advantage: New York

New York’s attackers vs. The Crew’s defense:
Jean Philippe Peguero and Edson Buddle vs. Ritchie Kotschau, Chad Marshall, and Chris Leitch (and Noah Palmer). After a torrid start to his Red Bull tenure, JPP is suddenly immune to goal scoring, having failed to hit the net in his last six matches. Buddle continues to be a mild disappointment. For the Crew, Kotschau is in his 43rd season in the league, Marshall’s a real USMNT prospect down the road, and Leitch will do his pit bull routine all night. Palmer has had a solid 1.22 GAA. Advantage: Push

The Midfielders:
New York’s Danny O’Rourke, Chris Henderson, Amado Guevara, and Mike Magee vs. Columbus’ Ezra Hendrickson, Leonard Bisaku, Jose Retiz, and Tim Ward. I have never heard of Bisaku or Retiz, but they did turn out a positive effort against DC over the weekend. As for the Red Bull boys, Magee has come on over the last few weeks, and while Youri is still AWOL, Amado gets to run the show like the old days. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Sigi Schmid vs. Richie Williams. It’s got to be a little strange for ABMOD tonight, but he certainly wants to build a little momentum ahead of the future Arena era. Sigi is building for the future, and should have his young charges ready to go. Experience points push the ad into his column. Advantage: Columbus

The Red Bulls will all be putting their best foot forward for their future coach, watching from 800 miles away. For the first time in months, they won’t be wondering if their head coach will be sticking around. He will be. He’ll just be demoted. Advantage: New York.

The Prediction:
Optimism reigns! New York wins 2-0.

That’s Amore!

First Italy wins the World Cup, then the Red Bulls hire an Italian coach. In between, the Italian karma was working big time in Santa Barbara, CA, last Wednesday, when amateur Dallas side Roma FC took the biggest scalp in US Open Cup history, knocking off Chivas USA of MLS in pks after a scoreless draw. While Roma (the club) is overjoyed, Chivas coach Bob Bradley has got to have big-time egg on his face. While the USOC suffers from a lack of attention among US soccer fans, the loss is a huge smack in the face of MLS… which is what makes the Cup such a great tournament. Roma is back in LA to face the Galaxy in the fourth round on August 1st.

USOC Third Round Results on July 12th:
Michigan Bucks (IV) 1:4 Columbus Crew (I)
Wilmington Hammerheads (III) 2:1 Atlanta Silverbacks (II)
Chivas USA (I) 0:0 (4-2 pks) Dallas Roma FC (Amateur)
Carolina Dynamo (IV) 3:2 Seattle Sounders (II)
Kansas City Wizards (I) 2:1 Des Moines Menace (IV)
Rochester Rhinos (II) 5:1 New Hampshire Phantoms (III)
Real Salt Lake (I) 2:1 Virginia Beach Mariners (II)
Charleston Battery (I) 3:1 Portland Timbers (I)

USOC Fourth Round Matches on August 1st-2nd:
DC United – Columbus
LA Galaxy-Roma FC (Amateur)
Wilmington Hammerheads (III)-New York
Rochester Rhinos (II)-New England
Houston-Carolina Dynamo (IV)… Go, um, Dynamo!
Chicago-Kansas City
Real Salt Lake-Colorado
Portland (II)-FC Dallas

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