Monday, June 23, 2008


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.

Stepping Up

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.

Europa, Europa

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.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

US Roster for Barbados: Song Remains the Same

US Coach Bob Bradley has taken most of the players from his recent three-match run against world powers to take on lowly Barbados on Sunday at the Home Depot Center (5p ET, ESPN2). The roster...

G: Cervi, Guzan, Howard
D: Bocanegra, Califf, Cherundolo, DeMerit, Hejduk, Oneywu, Pearce
M: Adu, Beasley, Bradley, Edu, Klejstan, Lewis, Mastroeni
F: Ching, Dempsey, Donovan, Johnson

My probables to take on the 121st-ranked Barbadans...

Cherundolo, Oneywu, Bocanegra, Pearce
Beasley, Mastroeni, Bradley, Donovan
Dempsey, Ching

Rico Clark was left off the roster, replaced by Houston teammate Brian Ching, who has to be in better form than Eddie Johnson up top.

While many younger up and comers (Cooper, Altidore, Rogers) were left off the roster, this veteran group will look to take command early and snuff any hint of optimism from Barbados. With a three-goal cushion, look for Adu and Edu to come in during mop-up time.

Let's get this party started!

Monday, June 09, 2008

What a Night

Should the US qualify for its sixth straight World Cup in about eighteen months' time, the team may point to last night's entertaining and at times electrifying scoreless draw at a packed Giants Stadium as the shot of confidence needed to conquer CONCACAF.

Note only did the Yanks battle toe-to-toe with the world top-ranked Argentineans, but strong individual performances from Tim Howard (who stood on his head to keep a clean sheet), Landon Donovan (in his 100th US appearance) and DaMarcus Beasley (his best game since returning from a long injury) should carry the US past through the fall qualifying sequence with ease.

Of concern is the continued funk of striker Eddie Johnson, so hasn't scored for the US in almost a year, as well as the inconsistency of the youthful Maurice Edu, who needs more seasoning, and will get it in time.

The atmosphere in the Giants Stadium US Supporters Section was electric, even in 95 degree heat, as fans of both sides were entertained by the skill of the visitors and the desire of the home team.

Had Onyewu's 46th minute header found the net instead of the crossbar, American soccer fans would be celebrating an historical victory. However, the US squad looks ready to break their goalless streak on Sunday at the HDC versus Barbados.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Red Bulls Preview: Game #10 vs. Goats

Crazy week at work + Thursday night match = cop-out deference to ESPN's all-too short video preview. Enjoy.

Sadly, ESPN has pulled the video...apologies.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Jozy Sold

Ives Galarcep, Michael Lewis, and Stephen Goff are reporting that MLS has sold Red Bulls Striker Jozy Altidore to Villareal, runners-up in the Spanish League this season, for $8MM. Altidore will report after passing a physical and agreeing to terms with the European club.

For the Red Bulls, who were anemic in a 1-0 loss to Houston on Saturday, the departure couldn't have come at a worse time. The club has scored only twice in its last three outings.

For a team with so many needs, the inevitable departure of Altidore only leaves more of a hole in yet another disappointing MLS season.