Thursday, June 28, 2007

Famous Jewish Soccer Legends

The word from Grant Wahl in this week's Sports Illustrated that US Gold Cup hero Benny Feilhaber is in fact a member of the tribe (Brazilian - Austrian, no less) got me thinking about other prolific US soccer players among the Chosen. I came up with a pretty strong list...

-Jeff Agoos of the 134 US caps and high profile own-goals against Jamaica (WC '98 Qualifying) and Portugal ('02 World Cup).

-Feilhaber's current US teammate and Chivas USA back Jonathan Bornstein

-Viva magazine pinup and former Cosmos keeper Shep Messing

-Survivor winner and founder of Grassroot Soccer Ethan Zohn

-US Women's team defender Sarah Whalen, who childed me at Nathan Hale's pub in NYC during the '02 World Cup for ordering a Diet Coke (instead of a beer, or a Manischewitz) at 3am, a few hours before reporting to work

-Becks, who is 1/4 Hebrew. We'll take him!

Heading to Montreal tomorrow for the U20s match vs. Korea. Will post photos/stories after the holiday. Enjoy the Copa and the U20 World Cup!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gold Cup > Stanley Cup

Since the lockout of 2004-05, sports pundits have been deriding the NHL and its lack of relevancy in the American sports landscape. Today's news (HT: Jason E.) illustrates that point: 41 percent more television households tuned in to Sunday's Gold Cup Final than the June 6th Anaheim-Ottawa Stanley Cup clincher. The rating reflects the Spanish-language telecast on Univision (goalazo...azo....azo!) and not the English telecast on Fox Soccer Channel, but the message is clear: Soccer= Caliente! Hockey=Mucho Frio!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drinking in the Gold Cup

They just can't beat us. Mexico fell to the US 2-1 yesterday on Benny Feilhaber's bomb of a goal...

...and a reflex save from former Metro Tim Howard. If the Mexies could for once lose with pride, though, it'd be a start. Soon-to-be ex-Mexico coach (perhaps) Hugo Sanchez once again took to the referees for the reasons for the loss, but hey, at least they found the net.

Said Sanchez: "I was surprised the penalty was whistled so quick in a final game. We were hoping the US would score on a brilliant play, plus there was one [penalty] on Omar Bravo. I would prefer that whoever wins is the better team and not the team that wins on a referee's call. Sometimes the best team doesn't win. But the US was maybe more practical and they deserved it."

Give me a break.

Congrats to the Gold Cup Champions, who saved its best outing of the tournament for the final. Did you see Frankie Hejduk hug FIFA boss Sepp Blatter on the podium? Awesome. Congrats for LD for tying Eric "Red Card" Wynalda for the all-time US goal mark. Soon Rob Stone will be introducing his partner as "US Hall Of Famer... Eric Wynalda" Priceless. The Yanks also have their tickets punched for the Confed Cup South Africa 2009, and Bob Bradley is now 10-0-1 as US coach. Great news all around.

Now it's on to Venezuela with a young, young side for Copa America. At this point, getting out of the group (Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia) should be considered a remarkable achievement, but even with three losses, the Copa will be a valuable experience for the whole squad.

Friday, June 22, 2007

USA-MEX: I Love the 00's

After last night's Gold Cup semis, two tense affairs featuring questionable calls that put CONCACAF big boys US and Mexico into the final (Sunday, 2pm et, FSC) , I thought it'd be worthwhile to take a look at the decade where the US absolutely owned the Tricolores. You know the story...since 2000, the Yanks have a 7-2-1 record vs. the Sombreros. In the US, the Yanks have a dominant 6-0-1 record. South of the border, Mexico is 2-0-0 (both in WC quallies), and on that neutral field in Jeonju, the score was dos a cero to the EEUU.

Here's a look at the matches:

Date, Classification, Location, Result, US Goals
6/11/00, US Cup, East Rutherford, 3-0, Hejduk, McBride, Razov
10/25/00, Friendly, Los Angeles, 2-0, Donovan, Wolff
2/21/01, WCQ, Columbus, 2-0, Wolff, Stewart
7/1/01, WCQ, Mexico City, 0-1
6/16/02, World Cup 2002, Jeonju, KOR, 2-0, McBride, Donovan
5/8/03, Friendly, Houston, 0-0
4/28/04, Friendly, Dallas, 1-0, Pope
3/27/05, WCQ, Mexico City, 1-2, Lewis
9/3/05, WCQ, Columbus, 2-0, Ralston, Beasley
2/7/07, Friendly, Glendale, AZ, 2-0, Conrad, Donovan

The US leads the goal parade 15-3 since the turn of the century, with Gringo Horrible Landon Donovan netting three in the series. Wolff and McBride have two, and Hejduk, Razov, Pope, Lewis, Ralston, Beasley, and Conrad have a single tally each.

Mexico has looked awful during the three-week tournament, with a 2-1 win over Cuba, a 2-1 loss to Honduras, a 1-0 win vs. Panama, a 1-0 OT win vs. an 8-man Costa Rica, and last night's 1-0 victory over regional powerhouse Guadeloupe.

While the US has gotten the results, the Yanks have been playing far from attractive football and have suffered from horrendous finishing. The Gold Cup for the Yanks: a 1-0 win vs. Guatemala, a 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago, the 4-0 thrashing of El Salvador, and 2-1 wins over Panama and Canada.

Sunday will won't have the cozy, US-friendly feel of Crew Stadium, but rather the Solider Field will be pulling 80/20 for the Mexicans. Can the domination by the US continue? In order for a real rivalry to exist, Mexico's going to have to win a match (hey, just score) on US soil sometime soon. Would I be shocked if that happened on Sunday? No. Will the either team deliver some attractive, proficient finishing? Perhaps. Let's just hope that the two great sides play a match worthy of a continental final. Enjoy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

ESPN Loves Soccer

Good to know Clint is doing well at the "Golf Cup."

The Kids Are Alright

This morning, Thomas Rongen named the US squad for the upcoming U20 World Cup in Canada. The Gnats kick off the tournament in Montreal on June 30th vs. South Korea. The roster includes some big names, and a few with NY-area roots:

-Freddy Adu

-Jozy Altidore (Newark's finest)

-Michael Bradley, who'll have quite a "how I spent my Summer vacation" story when he gets back to Heerenveen

-Gabriel Ferrari (NYC)

-Dax McCarty (FCD, who didn't take part in U20 qualifying)

-Johann Smith (Bloomfield, CT)

-Danny Szetela (Clifton, NJ)

-Tim Ward (former Metro)

Best of luck to the boys, who play Chile's U20 side next Saturday at Giants Stadium before the US Women face Brazil.

Red Bulls Preview: Match #12 vs. Wizzzz

New York (6-3-2) stumbled through a 1-2 road trip last week in KC, Toronto, and DC, gave up 8 goals in three games, and removed the air of invincibility, even adequacy around the club. The Red Bulls' leaky defense was tattooed by Eddie Johnson and Ben Olsen, allowing both to win Player of the Week honors after each scored hat tricks vs. New York. Coach (pardon, Sporting Director) Bruce Arena admitted after Sunday's 4-2 loss in DC that he had rushed first-team keeper Ronald Waterreus back into the lineup too soon.

Kansas City (6-2-1) hasn't played in two weeks, since the Wizards beat the Red Bulls 3-2 in Arrowhead on Eddie Johnson's three scores. EJ is with the National team, though, which will provides a challenge for KC. The two sides meet Saturday at 7:30 pm ET at Giants Stadium (FSNY, DK).

Recent Form:
New York: WWLWL
Kansas City: WLDWW

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

The Kansas City forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Scott Sealy and Carlos Marinelli vs. Seth Stammler, Taylor Graham, Carlos Mendes, and Markus Schopp (and Ronald Wattereus). Last Sunday in DC, United consistently beat the Red Bulls' patchwork defense with diagonal runs off the ball. Speedy Scott Sealy (20 MLS goals in 60 appearances) and the technical Marinelli (2 assists in 6 apps.) will make things tough on Graham and Schopp, who aren't known for their speed. The key question: which Walrus will show up in goal for New York? The one that gave up a single goal in his first five starts, or the one that allowed four tallies his last time out? Advantage: Kansas City

New York's attackers vs. the Wizards' defense:
Juan Pablo Angel vs. Jose Burciaga, Nick Garcia, Jimmy Conrad, and Jack Jewsbury (and Kevin Hartman). KC's healthy first-line defense is experienced (avg: 146 MLS caps) and solid (0.75 GAA). Hartman is still in good form. What more can be said about New York's Juan Pablo Angel? Seven goals in his first six MLS matches. Scores off of free kicks, from individual efforts, even cleaning up the garbage in front of the net. Until defenses learn how to slow him down, he'll be the most lethal (sorry, EJ fans) striker in MLS. Advantage: Push

The Midfields:
Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Dave van den Bergh, Clint Mathis and Dane Richards vs. Michael Harrington, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, and Davy Arnaud. To date this season, the Wizards' midfield has accounted for five of KC's 20 goals. Harrington (2g, 3a) is a Rookie of the year candidate, and Arnaud's scoring touch (2g, 3a) seems to have returned. New York hasn't figured out how best to use Clint and Claudio together. New York is 1-3-1, including the USOC loss at LA, when the two start a match together. Of course, New York could be helped if Mathis avoids a red card this time out. The Wizards, of course, won't have EJ to feed tomorrow night. Slight Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena has some problems. His back line is a hospital ward, and he's about to lose promising Jozy Altidore (3g, 3a) to the US U-20 team for a month. With an other three-match road trip looming after tomorrow night, Bruce needs all the points tomorrow, badly. Curt Onalfo will have to replace the man who's scored nearly half of his team's goals, but on the road, the pressure to win is on the other guys. Advantage: Kansas City

As long as Angel continues his goal-a-game pace, New York should be considered the favorite at home. Hopefully the word of the Red Bulls' strong start will attract a decent crowd (10,000+) for New York's only home appearance in a an eight-week stretch. Weather should be good, though thunderstorms may be possible. Advantage: Push

Prediction: The Wizards' Sealy should fly on the turf at Giants Stadium. If Mathis & Reyna click tomorrow, things could fall New York's way. A deep KC squad, powered by Marinelli, accomplishes the mission on the road. A 1-1 draw.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The US escaped a Gold Cup Quarterfinal date with Mexico when the whiny crybabies toppled Panama 1-0 last night in Houston. Instead, the Yanks will tangle with the isthmus' finest in Foxboro (Sat, 4pm ET, FSC), who have looked dangerous during the tournament. The canaleros beat group winner Honduras 3-2 in the Group C opener and drew against an improved Cuban squad before last night's narrow defeat. Panama will be without M Ronaldo Escobar and D Roman Torres (1 assist), who were red-carded vs. Mexico.

The US has had a relatively easy time with Panama of late, despite the last-gasp away draw during the last World Cup qualifying cycle. Here are the most recent results between the clubs:

9/8/04, WCQ @ Panama City: PAN 1-1 US, goal by C. Jones
10/13/04, WCQ @ RFK: US 6-0 PAN, goals by Johnson (3), Donovan (2), OG
6/8/05, WCQ @ Panama City: PAN 0-3 US, goals by Bocanegra, Donovan, McBride
7/24/05, Gold Cup Final @ Giants Stadium: US 0 (3) -0 (1) PAN
10/12/05, WCQ @ Foxboro, US 2-0 PAN, goals by Martino (!), Twellman

US Record over last five matches vs, Panama: 3-0-2
Goals over last five matches: US 12-1 PAN

Panama gave the US a hell of a game in the last Gold Cup Final, but the Yanks fielded a B+ team that day. The lineup was; Keller - Hejduk, Conrad, Onyewu, Vanney - Armas, O’Brien, Donovan, Dempsey (Davis) - Wolff (Quaranta), Beasley (Olsen).

With the right squad from Bob Bradley; (Howard - Simek, Bocanegra, Demerit, Hejduk - Mastro, Donovan, Dempsey, Ralston - Ching, Twellman,) the US should walk, not breeze past Panama into the Semis. The Yanks will benefit from the former Quakes (LD, Ching) and Revs (Ralston, TT, Deuce) on the field together.

Here's a musical interlude as you wait for the game. This was rock and roll in 1984. Yikes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Big Ups All Over the Place

This morning's "big ups" list includes:

-DaMarcus Beasley, whose two tallies last night vs. El Salvador ties him with Cobi Jones for seventh on the US all-time goal scoring list with 15.

-FIFA, which now ranks the US as 16th in the world, up 13 spots from May's global rankings. In case you're wondering, Mexico is 26th.

-Steve Sperl of Milwaukee's amateur Bavarian SC, whose fifth-minute goal carried his club to a 1-0 upset of the USL-2's Cincinnati Kings in Open Cup play.

-Bryon Carmichael of the PDL's Ocean City Barons, whose tally near halftime allowed his team to beat the USL-2's Crystal Palace Baltimore, 1-0, also in the US Open Cup.

-The Guadeloupe side, who advanced to the Gold Cup quarterfinals for the first time when El Salvador lost to the US and Guatemala tied Trinidad last night.

-Bob Bradley, who hasn't lost a match in eight outings as US coach (7-0-1). His club finally looked hungry and dangerous last night, in a match that could have ended 7- or 8-0. The US will play the third place team from Group C (Mexico, Panama, Honduras, or Cuba) in the quarterfinals on Saturday, in Bradley's biggest match to date.

-Landon Donovan, who told the Boston Globe that he'd take part in the Copa America later this month. Earlier this year, LD was wavering on the trip to Venezuela, stating he wanted to help his LA Galaxy team to a decent place in the standings ahead of David Bechkam's arrival. Not music to Frank Yallop's ears, but great news for US fans.

-Taylor Twellman, who scored in front of him hometown fans, and Brian Ching, for the stellar feed that allowed TT to hit the net.

-Adam Spangler for his fantastic interview with the Bergen Record and Soccer By Ives' Ives Galarcep. Just a couple of guys talking about American soccer. A must must read.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Opening Up a Busy, Busy Night

Yes, the US closes out Gold Cup group play in friendly Foxboro tonight vs. El Salvador (FSC, 7pm ET). For pure drama, though, fans should also tune to the opening round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, kicking off in fifteen cities from Danbury, Connecticut to Tukwila, Washington. 30 amateur and lower-level pro clubs will do battle in the nation's knockout tournament that will eventually include eight top MLS sides. Key matchups to follow tonight include:

-PDL stalwarts Michigan Bucks taking on the USL-2's Richmond Kickers in Virginia

-Jersey's own Ocean City Barons (PDL) hosting first-year club Crystal Palace Baltimore (USL-2) a mere steps from the boardwalk

-DuNord favorite Minnesota Thunder (USL-1) welcoming amateur side El Paso Indios USA

-An upstate/downstate New York fight between the Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) and the Rochester Rhinos (USL-1)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Looking Back and Forward

Pressed for time today, but wanted to comment on last night's Gold Cup match. There were a few moments of brilliance from the US in their 1-0 win over the Guats, some beautiful passing combos between Bornstein, Bradley, Feilhaber, Donovan, Twellman, and Dempsey. However, the Nats had a lot of trouble with smart decisions around the goal. The team will have an easy time with T&T, but truly have to improve their finishing if they want to defend their title.

TFC did a good job frustrating New York in the Red Bulls' 2-1 win on Wednesday, and New York will have to pick up its game if it wants to win at DC on Sunday. United is resurgent, and only a composed Clint Mathis and a valiant effort from the hurting back line will deliver a positive result.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 10 @ Hosers

New York (5-2-2) makes its first trip North of the border tonight (7pm ET, MSG) to take on the new and newly resurgent Toronto FC (3-5-1). BMO Field has proven to provide the Canadian Club with a huge boost, as TFC has won three of its last four matches there. The Red Bulls are smarting from their lashing from the Grown-Ass Man on Saturday in KC, and are thin at the back line. New York should take solace, however, that the Wizards, who now are without Eddie Johnson for the next four-six weeks, needed Saturday's match a lot more than the Red Bulls. Throw in Cleetus' second straight red of the season, and New York was lucky to keep the match to a one-goal loss.

Recent Form:
Toronto: WWLDW
New York: DLWWL

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

The Toronto forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Danny Dichio and Jeff Cunningham vs. Seth Stammler, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, and Tim Regan (and Jon Conway). Dan D. Dick has been an unparalleled success story for TFC. The Englishman not only scored the club's first-ever goal, but has tallies in each of his last two outings. How he'll mesh with MLS clubhouse pariah and prolific scorer Jeff Cunningham (93 goals in 248 MLS matches) remains to be seen. New York's "tough against everyone but RSL and Eddie Johnson" defense will be without starters Todd Dunivant, Hunter Freeman, and Ron Wattereus. A very beatable Tim Regan and super sub Seth Stammler will take the wings. Advantage: Toronto

New York's attackers vs. the TFC defense:
Juan Pablo Angel and John Wolyniec vs. Marvell Wynne, Andrew Boyens, Jim Brennan, and Chris Pozniak (and Srdjan Djekanovic). Since TFC learned how to win, the team's defense has given up 1.2 goals/match, which is not too shabby. TFC hasn't allowed more than two goals its last five outings, pitching one shutout in that span. The club will be without starting keeper Greg Sutton, though, who's with the Canadian National Team at the Gold Cup. New York's JPA continues to amaze, notching an incredible goal in KC off of terrific service from Wolyniec. Angel has noted that artificial turf bugs him, so he may be a bit unhappy at BMO. Jozy's a great option off the bench. Slight Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Ronnie O'Brien, Maurice Edu, Carl Robinson, and Andy Welsh vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. In nine matches, TFC has only two goals from its midfield. O'Brien, when healthy, is a game-changer, and #1 draft pick Edu is having a strong rookie season. Without Mathis, who's sitting out his red card suspension, Kovalenko should fill in admirably has the offensive engine. Dane Richards should expect a battle with Marvell Wynne. Hopefully the turf won't push Reyna back to the trainers' table. Advantage: Push

The Coaches:
You know that "trader" Mo Johnston has been waiting for this one since he was named TFC coach. The Scotsman has been pushing all the right buttons since the club started its dreadful, goalless four-game introduction to MLS. Bruce Arena is so desperate for defensive help that he's spoken with gimpy, old Tony Sanneh about joining the squad. Eesh! Advantage: Toronto

The ascendancy of TFC has been the non-Beckham story of the MLS season. Great, large, passionate crowds greet TFC each time they take the field. After tonight Toronto has a single home game before July 29th, so the club knows it needs to take advantage of home cooking (flapjacks with lots of maple syrup). New York is a bit of a MASH unit right now, will be missing Mathis, and has a big rivalry match at DC on Sunday. Not a pretty picture. Weather will be perfect. Advantage: Toronto

Prediction: I'd like to think that Arena will pull the right levers to get his squad up for tonight, but I'm just not sure. Cunningham, who loves to play New York, hits the net, as does Angel, who keeps up his goal-a-game pace. A 1-1 draw.

Gold Cup Kicks Off
Tonight in Miami, our great bi-annual (depending on the year) continental championship gets underway, with the Yanks and El Tri the prohibitive favorites to meet in the final in Chicago on June 24th. The defending champion US takes the field tomorrow in LA against Guatemala (9pm ET, FSC) , and also plays Trinidad and El Salvador in the opening round. Here are my fearless predictions for how it'll play out:

Costa Rica over Guatemala
USA over Honduras
Mexico over El Salvador
Panama over Canada

USA over Costa Rica
Mexico over Panama

Final: Dos a Cero, baby, to the USA!

Enjoy the football feast this week!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Week 9 vs. Wizzz

Due to a very unfortunate Blogger software hiccup, my opus of a game preview was erased before it hit the web. Without the energy or time to re-write it, I'll say Angel, Mathis, Arnaud, and EJ hit the net in a very entertaining 2-2 draw tomorrow night (8pm ET, MSG, DK). Enjoy.