Tuesday, May 29, 2007

June Will be Jumping

The Gold Cup, Copa America, the U-20 World Cup, MLS, and the US Open Cup will make June a month to remember. Here's a quick & dirty look at what's to come next month:

Sat 2nd: US-China @ San Jose (ESPN2) and Kansas City-RBNY (both 8pm ET)
Sun 3rd: US U-20s vs. Canada in Ottawa
Wed 6th: Gold Cup stars with CRC-CAN and GPE-HAI, Toronto-RBNY (7pm), U20s vs. Canada in Kingston, ONT
Thu 7th: US-Guatemala in the Gold Cup opener at the HDC (9pm ET, FSC)
Sat 9th: US-Trinidad in the Gold Cup (HDC, 5pm ET, FSC)
Sun 10th: DC United-RBNY (TF, 1pm)
Tue 12th: US-El Salvador (Gold Cup in Foxboro, 7pm, FSC) and 1st round of USOC
Sat 16th: Gold Cup Quarters and RBNY-Kansas City (7:30pm, FSNY)
Thu 21st: Gold Cup Semis, Chicago
Sat 23rd: US U20s vs. Chile (2pm), USWNT vs. Brazil (5pm) at Giants Stadium
Sun 24th: Gold Cup Final, Chicago
Tue 26th: Copa America kicks off with VEN-BOL and URU-PER
Thu 28th: US-Argentina in their Copa America openers (8:45pm, GOL)
Sat 30th: US-Korea in U-20 World Cup opener in Montreal, and Columbus-RBNY (7:30, MSG)

It'll be an absolute soccer feast! Enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2007

We've Been Waiting a Dozen Years for This

A makeshift lineup that was missing four starters. Midfielders playing defense. Forwards playing midfield. No matter for the Red Bulls. Two goals in the first three minutes of the match and a superlative defensive effort carried New York to a 3-0 stomping of Chicago last night in a picture-perfect setting at the Meadowlands.

With six (!) clean sheets in eight outings this season, and seven goals scored in its last two matches, New York is getting phenomenal results despite not playing its best soccer. It's easy to argue, though, that this year's squad is the most talented, deepest, and mojo-rich in Metro/RB history.

As the clock ticked down on the victory, and the raucous ESC crowd cranked up another ten-minute rendition of "Wipeout," it occurred to me that for the first time since 1996, New York may be the team to beat. MLS is a league of parity, but with a gaudy 5-1-2 record and a +11 goal differential, the on-field Red Bull resurrection has been a definitive success. Yes, New York has yet to face New England, DC, or an improved Kansas City squad, but it's hard to argue that it may finally, FINALLY, be New York's time.


Add to My Profile | More Videos

As the ESC says, "New York's chillin', Jersey's chillin', what more can we say... TOP BILLING! Have a great holiday weekend, everyone.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 8 vs. Flamers

New York gets its last taste of home cooking for a while in an MLS Primetime matchup vs. the Chicago Fire tonight on ESPN2 (7pm ET). Practice reports point to another Reyna-less outing for the Red Bulls, who hit the road after tonight for three straight, and six of the next seven away from the Swamp. New York is not the only team with impactful injuries, though, as Chicago, losers of three straight, will be missing offensive engine Chris Rolfe with an ankle sprain.

Recent Form:
New York: WWDLW
Chicago: WWLLL

Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect:

The Chicago forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Chad Barrett and Calen Carr vs. Dema Kovalenko, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). Injured Chris Rolfe represents half of Chicago's eight goals, and three of the Fire's eight assists this season. Barrett and Carr have gone the full 90 once each this season, and are pretty green: the pair have played in an average of 38 MLS matches. The experienced New York back line (avg.: 92 appearances) pitched its fifth shutout in seven outings last week, and is clicking on all cylinders, despite missing wing Hunter Freeman. Advantage: New York

New York's attackers vs. the Fire's defense:
Juan Pablo Angel and John Wolyniec vs. Gonzalo Segares, Jim Curtin, and C.J. Brown (and Matt Pickens). Watching JPA's field awareness, pinpoint passing, and clinical finishing last week puts hope in all New York fans that he can just stay healthy. An in-form Wolyniec is good for a goal a game. I can't believe that C.J. Brown is only 32 years old. It seems like the former San Francisco Bay Seal should be pushing 40, or 50 by now. Chicago is giving up 1.42 gpg. New York is scoring 1.71. Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Ivan Guerrero, Diego Gutierrez, Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, and Logan Pause vs. Seth Stammler, Clint Mathis, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. Chicago has a good, experienced midfield that could cause trouble for New York. Pause has a game-winning goal, and Mapp can be a dangerous finisher. Still, if the Red Bulls can carry any mojo from its 4-0 pasting of Columbus last week, it could be a tough outing for the Fire. Slight Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Bully for Arena for continuing to push the right buttons with a roster that is battling through injuries. Starting Woly made him look like a genius, and players are clearly fighting hard in practice for playing time. Dave Sarachan is doing a fair-to-middling job, awaiting Cuauhtemoc Blanco's arrival on July 1st. Advantage: New York

The first goal will be crucial. To date this season, New York is 4-0-1 when scoring first, and 0-1-0 when allowing. Chicago is 3-0-0 when scoring first, 0-3-1 when allowing. A grass field has been brought in for a series of international friendlies this week, and the MLS sides will play on the real stuff. Red Bull, in an effort to increase attendance for the national television audience, has offered every season ticket holder four free tickets to tonight's game. Hopefully the NY-area soccer crowd will respond. Weather will be picture perfect. Injury absences will hurt Chicago much more than New York. Advantage: New York

Prediction: Previously in situations like this (national audience, should-win game), the MetroStars would choke. Arena won't let that happen tonight. New York wins, 2-0.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Red Bulls: At the Quarter-Pole

After seven games, the New York Red Bulls have built the foundation for a hugely successful 2007 season. The club has won points in six of its seven matches, averaging two points in the standings each time it takes the field. New signings Juan Pablo Angel, Claudio Reyna, Ronald Wattereus, Clint Mathis, Dave van den Burgh, Hunter Freeman and Dane Richards have jelled well with holdovers Jozy Altidore, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, Todd Dunivant, Dema Kovalenko, Jon Conway, and Seth Stammler to form a club that is air-tight in the back (only four goals allowed) and scores goals in bunches (a 3-0 win vs. Dallas, the 3-3 draw at RSL, a 4-0 win last Saturday vs. Columbus).

To date this season, the team has performed dreadfully on only two occasions; the last ten minutes of the draw at RSL (when two precision-guided scores by Salt Lake deprived NY of two points), and the Reyna-less 0-1 home loss to Colorado.

There's no denying that New York in vulnerable without Reyna in the lineup, but a re-energized Clint Mathis has helped pick up the slack, and the veteran leadership of Kovalenko, JPA, and the Walrus has ensured that the club doesn't stay unfocused for long. Kudos must go out to Bruce Arena, not only for creating a winning atmosphere around the team, but also for working in reserve-team players late in games to provide them with a little seasoning. Already this season, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Joe Vide, Ellie Ikangu, Sal Caccavale, and Jerrod Laventure have seen first-team minutes, with Sinisa and Sal combining on a goal the last time out.

New York will be challenged by five road matches (and six matches against the East) in its next eight, though the Red Bulls are currently unbeaten (1-0-2) on the road. After tomorrow's home match vs. Chicago (7pm et, ESPN2) New York hits the road for three straight, at Kansas City, Toronto, and DC United. After a home match against the Wizards, New York is away for three once again, at Columbus, Houston, and Colorado.

Though rosters have yet to be announced, the Red Bulls shouldn't be missing too many players for the summer's Gold Cup, Copa America, and U-20 World Cup tournaments. Altidore surely will be on the U-20 squad, and JPA may be called in by Colombia for Copa America, so New York's stingy defense may be even become crucial to the team's success. Without the US Open Cup crowding the schedule, the Red Bulls will be able to focus its energy on winning the club's first Supporters' Shield.

Much has been written about the club's inability to attract fans this year. RB GM Marc de Grandpre recently noted on BigAppleSoccer that the club's focus has been on-field improvement this season rather than marketing. Red Bull should be commended for a fantastic job of making the club better. Hopefully NY-area fans will take notice, and show up to support the team. Starting tomorrow at 7pm, fans can start showing support for what may be the best New York team in league history.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 7 vs. Village People

After a listless "brain-dead" 0-1 home loss to Colorado, the New York Red Bulls must pick up their game tomorrow night vs. Columbus (7:30pm, MSG, DK) in the middle game of a three-game home stand. New York suffered mightily from the absence of field general Claudio Reyna in Sunday's loss vs. the Rapids, and Captain America is listed as questionable with a groin pull versus Columbus.

The New York injury list also includes D Hunter Freeman (out), M Demo Kovalenko and Markus Schopp, and G Ronald Wattereus (questionable), putting pressure on the healthy Red Bulls to deliver a better performance in front of what hopefully will be a larger home crowd than Sunday's sorry sub-8,000 turnout.

Now I wasn't at Sunday's Mother's Day match, and the other husbands and fathers out there can attest to the need to play your "go see a match on a Hallmark holiday" cards handily (though Mrs. Fish has amazingly stepped up to allow me to head to US-Korea in Montreal on 6/30, so I'm doing just fine, thank you). As noted in this space previously, the Red Bull Front Office has decided to focus its marketing on "grassroots," a code word for "on the cheap," so the poor NY attendance should not be a surprise. This team simply is invisible in the media, and with the Mets-Yankees series taking the NY sports world's attention this weekend, don't look for anyone to notice the Red Bulls tomorrow.

MLS is playing up the rivalry betweeen NY's (ex-River Plate) Juan Pablo Angel and Columbus' (ex-Boca Juniors) Guillermo Barros Schelotto, which may get a bit of play in the area's Hispanic press. Will that angle translate into butts in seats? The weather report is for 49 degrees and a 50 percent chance of rain. I'm not optimistic.

Recent Form:
New York: WWWDL
Columbus: DDWLD

Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect:

The Columbus forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Alejandro Moreno, and Eddie Gaven vs. Seth Stammler, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). What an upgrade for Columbus! The signing of Schelotto and the trade for Moreno in the last few weeks will provide a major boost for the Crew's attack, which has managed just four goals in six games (tied for last in MLS). While Tim Regan has been a Metro fan favorite, his inability to mark Nico Hernandez last week led to the game's only goal. The Red Bulls will miss Freeman, but still are tied for the league lead in goals-against. Slight Advantage: New York

New York's attackers vs. the Crew's defense:
Juan Pablo Angel vs. Frankie Hejduk, Marcos Gonzalez, Ezra Hendrickson and Rusty Pierce (and Andy Gruenebaum). The strength of the 1-1-4 Crew is its defense, which like New York has only allowed four goals this season. The Hebrew Hammer in goal is an early season surprise, Heydude continues to be an ageless wonder, and Hendrickson has scored a goal for the Crew. As long as Bruce sticks to his 4-5-1, we won't see JPA and Jozy Altidore on the field at the same time, which could test any defense. Without strong service last week, JPA foundered. Slight Advantage: Columbus

The Midfields:
Ned Grabavoy, Danny O'Rourke, and Stefani Miglioranzi vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Clint Mathis, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. The Crew's midfield is a work in progress, though Grabavoy has accounted for half of Columbus' goal output this season. Not sure if Sigi Schmid wants to play a 3-man midfield against New York's experienced group. The Red Bull game notes has Reyna as a probable starter. How long he plays tomorrow night may be the determining factor. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Sigi Schmid is as-tenured a coach can be in MLS. He's made some significant upgrades this season, and has only lost once in six outings this year. Arena ripped his team last week after an unacceptable performance. He's playing at home, and needs to motivate his team to show up. Advantage: Push

Colombians and Argentinians fans may create an atmosphere in the cavernous Swamp... but the poor weather report may convince fans to watch at home on the tube. New York is vulnerable with all the injuries. Advantage: Push

Prediction: What do you say about a team that can't score, but doesn't concede and goals, either? If Reyna goes 90, New York wins. I don't think he will. Yet another scoreless draw.

Media Relations Campaign: Week 2
Won't you take a minute out of your day and drop a quick email to 1010 WINS Newsradio? Let him know that news and scores of Red Bull matches should be part of every sports report on days when the team plays. Every email counts!

MLS' Big 'To
I experienced a tinge of admiration and one of regret when watching Toronto FC's historic first win last Saturday. To see a crowd holding its breath on every pass and every shot, and erupting on each of its team's goals was just amazing. Congrats to everyone in the TFC organization for allowing the passion of soccer to flow freely around the club. I so badly want the same atmosphere around the Red Bulls. I just fear that the insistence of MLS management to market to primarily to the youth soccer crowd will prevent such an atmosphere from happening in New York. I hope the league office is asking themselves how to bring the TFC experience to every MLS stadium.

TV Party

Here's what to watch this weekend. Enjoy! (all times ET):

Saturday, May 19:
9:25am: GER: Stuttgart-Energie Cottbus, GOL
11:30am: GER: Schalke-Arminia Bielefeld, GOL
2:00pm: ESP: Mallorca-Valencia, GOL
3:30pm: MLS: Toronto-DC United, DK, CSN Mid-Atlantic
4:00pm: ITA: AC Milan-Udinese, GOL
7:30pm: COL: Ind. Santa Fe-Atletico Nacional, GOL
7:30pm: MLS: New York-Columbus, DK, MSG
8:30pm: MLS: Houston-New England, FSC
9:00pm: MLS: Colorado-Kansas City, HDNet

Sunday, May 20:
9:00am: ITA: Cagliari-Roma, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Atalanta-Inter Milan, GOL
11:00am: ESP: Dep. La Coruna-Sevilla, GOL
11:00am: ITA: Lazio-Parma, FSC
1:00pm: ESP:Recreativo-Real Madrid, GOL
3:00pm: ARG: River Plate-Estudiantes, FSC
3:00pm: ESP: Atletico Madrid-Barcelona, GOL
5:00pm: MLS: Chivas USA-LA Galaxy, TF
5:00pm: ELS: Luis Angel-Aguila, GOL
7:00pm: COL: Ind. Medellin-Millonarios, GOL
7:00pm: MEX: Chivas-Club America, UNI
9:00pm: GUA: Municipal-Xelaji, GOL

Friday, May 11, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 6 vs. Rocky Mountain Oysters

After a sterling first month of the season, New York (3-0-2) must play through the club's first bout of adversity as the Red Bulls play its fifth straight Western Conference opponent, the Colorado Rapids (2-2-2), on Mom's Day in the Meadowlands. (3pm ET, TF/MSG)

After not conceding a single goal in its first four league matches, New York allowed three twice last week; first in a 3-3 injury-time collapse at RSL, and then in a 3-1 OT loss at Los Angeles in a US Open Cup quallie. In addition to the sudden downturn in defense, the club must make due on Sunday without D Hunter Freeman and coo-coo-ca-choo GK Ronald Wattereus, who are both nursing left ankle sprains.

The arrival of Juan Pablo Angel to the active list does provide some positive news. He had NY's only goal in LA on Tuesday on a great free kick, and will look for more on Sunday.

Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect:

The Colorado forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Roberto Brown and Nicolas Hernandez vs. Seth Stammler, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Jon Conway). The off-season acquisition of Brown has paid dividens for the Rapids as the canalero has found the net three times in six league matches. The same success has eluded Nico, who's yet to register a shot on goal this year. The Red Bulls will need Stammler to adjust to d-wing from d-mid, though the former Maryland Terp has played his share of pure D in his time in NY. Advantage: Push

New York's attackers vs. the Rapids' defense:
Jozy Altidore vs. Dan Gargan, Pablo Mastroeni, Mike Petke, Greg Vanney. You won't find a more experienced d-line in MLS than Colorado's, but the Rapids are only ranked ninth in the league in goals-against (1.5/game). Jozy didn't register a point at RSL last week, breaking a three-week scoring streak, but with the right service, and perhaps help from Juan Pablo Angel, who isn't on the "probable starters" list, the Red Bulls may fest. Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Terry Cooke, Kyle Beckerman, Jovan Kirovski, and Herculez Gomez vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Clint Mathis, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. Colorado's midfield boasts lots of scoring talent, especially Gomez (2g) and Beckerman (1g, 1a). Still, the Rapids could only manage an own-goal last night at home against a poor RSL squad. New York's midfield helped generate 21 shots on goal in matches at RSL and LA last week. Slight Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
I cheered on Fernando Clavijo as a player in the '94 World Cup. Success on the coaching level has eluded him, though. Arena has a real test ahead of him, helping his squad navigate their first run of bad results and bad luck. He's really good at this sort of thing. Advantage: New York

Colorado is pulling the last of a Thursday-Sunday weekend, so they'll certainly be gassed in the lategoing. The weather will be glorious, and hopefully a large Colombian contingent will be in attendance to support JPA. Advantage: New York

Prediction: While Colorado is leading the weak West at present, home cooking will be good to the Red Bulls. The Angel era starts with a convincing victory. New York wins, 2-0.

Media Relations Campaign
If you're in the New York area, you are probably aware of the poor track record that the area news and sports media has when reporting Red Bulls news. In an email exchange with the Red Bull front office last week, I noted that key outlets:

-WFAN and ESPN Sports Radio
-WCBS and WINS News Radio
-SNY and YES Sports Cable Nets

Completely ignored the team, failing to mention scores on game days, or any news on the club in general. While getting noticed is surely a challenge for any small club, the news of the club's great start and acquisitions should be noted in the logical places. Fan support is crucial, and the recent addition of a Saturday soccer-themed segment on WOR 710 am is proof that the fans can sway programmers.

I'm starting a write-in campaign to the outlets noted above. Our first target is WCBS 880 am News Radio. Please take a minute to write Jared Max, Sports Director at jmax880@aol.com. Let him know that news of Red Bulls matches should be part of every sports report on days when the team plays, and that scores should be mentioned as well. Drop me a comment if you decide to take part. Please do!

TV Party

Here's what to watch this weekend. Enjoy! (all times ET):

Saturday, May 12:
9:25am: GER: Borussia Dortmund-Schalke, GOL
11:30am: GER: Bochum-Stuttgart, GOL
2:00pm: ESP: Real Madrid-Espanyol, GOL
3:30pm: MLS: Toronto-Chicago, FSC
4:00pm: ESP: Sevilla-Recreativo, GOL
6:00pm: GUA: Marquense-Suchitepequez, GOL
7:00pm: WNT: United States-Canada, FSC
7:30pm: MLS: Columbus-Chivas USA, DK/FSNPT/WCSN
8:00pm: MLS: Kansas City-Dallas, DK/FSNSW/Metro Sports
8:00pm: COL: Millonarios-Huila, GOL
9:00pm: MEX: Chivas-Tigres, TF
10:30pm: MLS: Los Angeles-New England, HDNet/FSN West/WSBK

Sunday, May 13 (Happy Mother's Day!):
9:00am: ITA: Inter Milan-Lazio, GOL
10:00am: EPL: Man. United-West Ham, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Getafe-Atletico Madrid, GOL
12:30pm: EPL: Blackburn-Reading, FSC
2:30pm: EPL: Chelsea-Everton, FSC
3:00pm: ESP: Valencia-Real Zaragoza, GOL
3:00pm: MLS: New York-Colorado, TF/MSG/Altitude
4:30pm: ITA: Catania-AC Milan, FSC
5:00pm: URU: Danubio-Penarol, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: America-Atlas, UNI
7:00pm: HON: Marathon-Real Espana, GOL

Friday, May 04, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 5 @ Kreis' Kowboys

The Red Bulls will have had 9 days to rest up after their win at Dallas before hitting the spray-painted turf at Rice-Eccles on Saturday night to take on Real Salt Lake (0-2-2). Between a team management shuffle, a stadium funding fiasco, and underperformance on the field, you'd think I was talking about the 90's-era MetroStars, rather than the Utahns. RSL, however, is "starting fresh" this week, with a newbie coach whose spotless record can provide only optimism along the Wasatch Front. Only because it can't get any worse.

New York (3-0-1) spent another week at the top of everyone's "Power Rankings" list, and as we all know, there's only one way to travel from there. NY has had trouble with RSL over the Utah club's existence, with draws in three straight matches before an emphatic six-nil win at the Swamp last August 26th.

Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect on Saturday (9pm ET, HDNet):

The RSL forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Jeff Cunningham vs. Hunter Freeman, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Ronald Waterreus). Every minute that New York's Dutch Master keeps RSL off the board extends the Red Bulls' MLS clean-sheet record, and considering that Salt Lake hasn't scored a league goal since the 51st minute on April 7th, I'd look for that trend to continue. Advantage: New York

New York's attackers vs. the Salt Lake defense:
Jozy Altidore vs. Jack Stewart, Eddie Pope, Daniel Torres, Willis Forko (and Chris Seitz). Jozy has a three-match point streak going, and RSL's defense is giving up two goals per game. This could get ugly. Seitz, taking over from an awful Nick Rimando is net, has tons of upside potential. Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Chris Klein, Mehdi Ballouchy, Kenny Cutler, Carey Talley, and Freddy Adu vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Clint Mathis, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. Here's where things get interesting. RSL's midfield is clearly its strongest line, though they'll lack the on-field leadership that Jason Kreis provided. The speedy Richards and towering VDB should be able to control the wings, and Captain America should be able to manage Sir Freddy with aplomb. Slight Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena has been nothing but modest about New York's start, which has been nothing short of sensational. Kreis will get a pass from the hometown crowd in his first-ever head coaching opportunity. Advantage: New York

The RSL crowd is knowledgeable and supportive, and see a new start with Kreis at the helm. The weather report calls for a High of 56 and 30% chance of showers. Advantage: RSL

Prediction: Beginner's luck may help Kreis, but New York has the talent and team cohesion to take the game to RSL from the opening whistle. The only drama will be whether the Red Bulls can serve up another shutout. I say they can. New York wins, 2-0.

Television Man

Here's what on your tube this weekend. Enjoy! (all times ET):

Saturday, May 5 (Happy Cinco de Mayo!):
9:25am: GER: Schalke-Nuremberg, GOL
10:00am: EPL: West Ham-Bolton, FSC
11:30am: GER: Stuttgart-Mainz, GOL
12 noon: EPL: Aston Villa-Sheffield United, FSC
1:00pm: MLS: Kansas City-Columbus, ONN, Metro Sports, DK
2:00pm: ESP: Real Sociedad-Barcelona, GOL
2:15pm: EPL: Everton-Portsmouth, FSC
4:00pm: ESP: Deportivo La Coruna-Valencia, GOL
7:25pm: MEX: San Luis-Santos, GALA
7:30pm: COL: Bucaramanga-Atl. Nacional, GOL
9:00pm: MLS: Salt Lake-New York, HDNet
9:30pm: MLS: Colorado-Houston, FSC
9:30pm: HON: Marathon-Olimpia, GOL
9:30pm: MEX: Atlas-Monarcas, GALA

Sunday, May 6:
9:00am: ITA: Lazio-Livorno, FSC
9:00am: ITA: AC Milan-Fiorentina, GOL
11:00am: EPL: Arsenal-Chelsea, FSC
11:00am: GER: Hertha Berlin-Werder Bremen, GOL
1:00pm: ESP: Espanyol-Atl. Madrid, GOL
1:00pm: ITA: Cagliari-Chievo, FSC
3:00pm: MLS: DC United-Chivas USA, TF
3:00pm: ESP: Real Madrid-Sevilla, GOL
5:00pm: ARG: River Plate-Independiente, FSC
5:00pm: MLS: New England-Chicago, TV38, DK, CSN Chicago @ 8pm SDD
5:00pm: URU: Penarol-Tacuarembo, GOL
7:00pm: COL: Ind. Sante Fe-Millonarios, GOL

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thought Starters

There's so much good soccer news and commentary on the web these days that it's difficult to separate the truly thought provoking from the run-of-the-mill stuff. Here are a few prized pieces of editorial that will leave you have some deep thoughts:

The terrific Kevin McGeehan (formerly of the superb Round Not Oval) at the US Players site has been spoiled by the "authentic" soccer atmosphere of RFK as he describes his experience at a recent match at Crew Stadium. Methinks that most MLS matches smell closer to CMB than DC, a result of MLS' decision to target the low-hanging youth soccer crowd first and foremost.

Yanks Abroad's Kenya Brown surmises that the way that American soccer can improve from here is with a permanent training center on the European continent. After all, the US currently dominates CONCACAF. and only by playing the top Euro nations on a regular basis, will the US reach the next level. The big question is, will they play us?

Sports Illustrated adds to its soccer-writing stable with a weekly column by Ryan Hunt. Definitely worth a bookmark. While not newsy, Hunt's piece does a good job summarizing the weeks that were in MLS.

Viva original content! MLS has started its own web video show "Extra Time" found on the site's Video/Audio page. Shep and JP chime in this week. Don't expect too much criticism of the league, but "ET" should make fans eventually forget MLS Wrap. It's no MSG Soccer Report, though. We miss you, Ethan Zohn!

Lastly, (somewhat) breaking news... Jason Kries retires to take the reins as RSL coach! Wow! Not that the Wasatch club can do any worse... but goodness! Not even a testimonial for the league's all-time leading scorer? Maybe this summer.

Red Bulls-Fake Salt Lake preview to come tomorrow, along with your weekend TV listings.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Looking Down from the Pinnacle of MLS

New York fans couldn't have asked for a better April 2007. Not only are the Red Bulls sitting on top of the MLS table... not only has New York yet to suffer a single goal against, setting a league record... not only will the team improve when DP Juan Pablo Angel get his visa... not only has 17-year old Jozy Altidore out Adu'd Freddy Adu by actually realizing his promise... but the hated scum of RFK have laid a big goose egg this month, going zero for three against the vaunted competition of Colorado, Kansas (We beat TFC twice) City, and Columbus. The future for the Red Bulls is so bright, one must put on those shades. Even the reserve squad has started the season undefeated.

Is it early to be this excited? Surely, but give those long-suffering Metro/RB fans a break. They've had so little to crow about for so so long, that if the wheels start to come off, a few weeks of pride will have been well worth it.

The Taurine Machine heads West this week with a league match at the cellar-dwelling sons of Utaw, and a US Open Cup quallie at the Tool Box vs. the Gals (previews to come later this week).

Gnats Go Boom
Let's hear it for the US U-17s, who started World Cup Qualifying with a bang in Kingston yesterday with a 3-0 spanking both Trinidad AND Tobago. Portland, Oregon's Alex Nimo banged in two goals in the victory. Our boys take on Canada tomorrow in the quest to reach this year's signature event, to be held in South Korea from August 18-September 9th.