Friday, September 19, 2008


A listless Red Bulls squad took it on the chin last night, 3-1 at league-leading Columbus.  Even playing with playmaker Guillermo Barros Schellotto, the Crew were too quick, too skilled, and too composed for New York.  Other than a beauty of a free kick goal from Angel, the Red Bulls just weren't connecting on offense.  New York is now 1-7-5 on the road this season, and a 4-7-7 in night games (vs. 4-1-1 in day matches).

So where does the loss leave New York?  Frankly, dropping a spot in the standings behind DC wouldn't be so bad.  A 5th place Eastern finish would send the Red Bulls into the Western playoff bracket to face a Houston side that New York has played well against this season (a 3-0 win at home, a tight 0-1 loss in Texas).  Should the Red Bulls finish 4th in the East (catching 3rd place Chicago is unlikely) New York would match up against the Crew in the first round of the MLS playoffs.  After last night, that's not an encouraging scenario.  

Of course, DC's involvement in the Concacaf Champions League may challenge them to keep their place in the MLS standings.  United will play two matches per week for the next five weeks, including trips to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras.  Unless DC plays their subs (as they did in a 2-0 home loss to Saprissa this week) in the CCL, United's playoff drive may suffer significantly.

Following the Yanks

I had the good pleasure of taking in the US' 3-0 spanking of Trinidad at Toyota Park on Septmeber 10th.  The trip was my first to Bridgeview, and I came away very pleased with the TP experience.  The trip on the El/bus combo took a while from the Loop (about an hour).  Bridgeview, though, is collection of low-slung industrial parks.  The stadium is truly in the middle of nowhere.  Once inside, however, TP is a soccer-lover's dream, with great lighting and an intimate atmosphere (though the sparse crowd was disappointing).  The pitch was perfect, especially when one's used to Giants Stadium.  Food was decent, and the crowd was engaged.  Two enthusiastic thumbs up for Toyota Park.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Super Soccer Saturday

Despite the scribblings of MLS Asst. Commissioner Ivan Gadzidis, tonight's scheduled MLS matches are a complete fiasco.

However, it'll be a great night for sports bar viewing if you can convince the local barkeep to keep two sets on soccer. I'll be at FATS in NYC on W. 33rd Street for the US-Cuba and Fire-Red Bulls matches.

Cuba remains a complete mystery for the Yanks, who'll play the match in Havana, then vamoose before Ike hits the island.

The Red Bulls match revolves around a single matchup: the ability for New York M Dane Richards to use and abuse Chicago second-string rookie D Mike Banner. Chicago's D is by far the stingiest in the league, but without Gonzalo Segares (out on national team duty), Richards is the key to getting to Fire goal.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Perfect Storm of MLS Failure

Small rosters. Brutal scheduling. Multiple tournaments. Player injuries. Any other excuses for New England's and Chivas USA's early exit from the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League?

The undermanned Revolution was on the wrong side of a 4-0 pasting by Trinidad's Joe Public last night at Gillette stadium, to drop the two-legged match by a 6-1 aggregate. Playing without Steve Ralston or Taylor Twellman, New England was lethargic, and for good reason. Said head coach Steve Nicol, "The last three months, we've played every four days. That's a lot of traveling. That's why you get what you get tonight -- a team that has no juice. We might manage a training session in the next two weeks."

Since July 8th, New England has played in five Superliga matches , a pair of US Open Cup matches, and the two matches vs. Joe Public, in addition to six MLS matches, for a total of 15 matches over the last seven weeks. Perhaps in the leagues of Europe the constant play is evened out by a deep, deep bench, but MLS' 28-man rosters are much too thin for such overuse.

Chivas USA also crashed out of the competition last night after drawing Panama's Tauro FC 1-1, for a 3-1 aggregate loss.

So now the Revs and Chivas can relax knowing they won't have to contend with the six CCL group-stage matches that DC and Houston will play during the MLS playoff stretch run. Nothing like a trip to El Salvador when the Western Conference title is up for grabs, but that's what the Dynamo will face on October 28th. Perhaps getting blown out at home by a Caribbean side wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Up for the Cup
DC United will play for even more hardware in tonight's US Open Cup final vs. the USL 1st Division's Charleston Battery at RFK (7:30p, FSC). Despite United's 4 MLS Cup championships, DC has hoisted the Dewar Cup only once, in the club's inaugural season of 1996. The Battery completed the Texas two-step by knocking off Houston and Dallas before beating the soon-to-be MLS Seattle Sounders in the Semis. If Charleston can pull the upset, they'll become only the second USL side to win the knockout tournament in the MLS era, since Rochester won the '99 Cup over the Colorado Rapids.