It was hard to imagine the US "B" team equaling the full team's first-leg effort in yesterday's 1-0 win at Barbados, but the young Yanks (with goal-scorer Lewis and DeMarcus Beasley thrown in) did enough to propel the US to Concacaf's WC 2010 Semifinal Qualifying Round.
With US U-20 stars Freddy Adu (assist on the Lewis goal), Michael Bradley, and Danny Szetela running the midfield, the Yanks didn't play the most sterling ball ever, but with an 8-0 cushion after leg one in LA, the young stars just had to manage the match. Mission accomplished.
Next up, the four-team semifinal round. Here's the Group One schedule as follows (top two clubs advance):
Wed August 20th at GUATEMALA
Sat. September 6th at CUBA
Wed. September 10th vs. TRINDAD at Toyota Park, Chicago
Sat. October 11th vs. CUBA at RFK, Washington
Wed. October 15th at TRINIDAD
Wed. November 19th vs. GUATEMALA at DSG Park, Denver
While the US will be favorites to advance, don't discount Carlos Ruiz and his Guatemala side. The L.A. Galaxy striker ran roughshod over St. Lucia in a 9-1 aggregate series. The Cuba matches will of course have their own political intrigue, and Trinidad answered the bell just in time in their second leg vs. Bermuda to advance.
The US is thankful the draw didn't place the Yanks into Group Two, where Honduras, Canada, and Jamaica all take on Mexico. All four clubs have the skills to take part in next year's hexagonal; only two will get the opportunity.
Not a bad week for the Red Bulls: a draw away to league-leading New England, and a 1-0 home win versus an FC Dallas side hoping to impress their new boss. D Kevin Goldthwaite was the hero on Saturday, heading in a Sinisa Ubiparipovic corner in the first half for the only goal. This week New York plays two Chivases: the Mexican version on Wednesday night in Phoenix, and the American version Saturday night at the HDC. Given the depleted nature of the Red Bulls lineup (No Angel, no Reyna, who is contemplating retirement), the midweek match could get ugly fast.
New York's decent record (5-4-4) is good enough for eighth place on the league table. However, the Red Bulls would miss the playoffs if the season ended today due to MLS' mandate that at least three clubs from each conference qualify for postseason play. New York is currently in sixth place in the MLS East.
Finally Making Progress
Let's hear it for Real Salt Lake. Not only is the Wasatch club months away from christening (mormoning?) its own soccer-specifc stadium, but RSL is 3-0-2 in their last five matches, with only two goals conceded over that span. Team Xango is in second place in the MLS West, two points behind FC Hollywood.
Look for Germany to advance over Turkey, the cardiac kids of this year's Euro Championships, on Wednesday in the semis. Spain will best Russia on Wednesday, leaving an intriguing matchup in the Final.