Thursday, March 20, 2008

Can American Teams Go 3-For-3?

All in all, it's been a pretty good week for American soccer. The Fed finally announced the US-England match at Wembley for May 28th, and the Yanks learned they'll be playing Spain in the beautiful, seaside town of Santander on June 4th.

On the field, the news was great as well, as both DC United and Houston advanced to the semifinals of this year's Concacaf Champions Cup. On Tuesday, DC, playing at home for the first time since the Nats vamoosed from RFK, hammered Jamaica's Harbour View FC 5-0 for a 6-1 aggregate series win. There were plenty of heroes to go around, as Devon McTavish and Luciano Emilio each netted two goals. United next takes on Mexican powerhouse and tournament holders Pachuca, who advanced with a 1-0 aggregate win over CD Motagua of Honduras.

Last night at Robertson Stadium, Houston was kick-started by a Dwayne DeRosrio PK early in the second half for a 3-1 win over Guatemala's CSD Municipal. The two-time defending MLS Cup champs await tonight's match between Mexico's Atlante and Costa Rica's Saprissa to learn their semifinal opponent.

Then there's tonight. Qualifying matches for any tournament can be ugly. Elbows are sharp, dives are more frequent, and questionable pks can turn fortunes. To say that the US Under-23 squad has been winning ugly in its Olympic Qualifying quest is a massive, massive understatement. A 1-1 draw with Cuba, followed by 1-0 victories over Panama and Honduras (both on pks) haven't exactly generated confidence that the Gnats can get the job done. Tonight, the mission is clear: beat Canada in Nashville (9p ET, FSC) and head to Beijing. Lose, and stay home. The US squad has been bolstered by the addition of D Jonathan Spector of West Ham, but to date, this all-pro U-23 team has yet to impress.

As Important
Steve Amoia at SoccerLens has done a great job chronicling the ongoing story of the Fugees Family, an incredible Clarkston, GA youth program headed by Jordanian coach Luma Mufleh. The Fugees were profiled in a 2007 article in The New York Times, and since then, life has gotten better... much better. A great quote at the end of the article as well. Check it out.

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