Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Best of Luck to Beasley

US International Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley should become the first American to play in the Champions League semifinals when his Dutch Champion PSV Eindhoven squad takes on AC Milan at the San Siro today at 2:45pm ET. Kelly Whiteside of USA Today has a nice profile of Beasley, who cut his teeth with MLS' Chicago Fire.

Monday, April 25, 2005

This Week In Soccer

Soccer on the big screen
Now in limited release is the story of the US' 1950 World Cup win vs. England in "The Game of Their Lives." Starring Wes Bentley (American Beauty), the film was produced by the team that made other sports underdog stories Hoosiers and Rudy.

The Week in MLS
It was the best of times and worst of times in LA this week.

First comes the best, as 27,000 fans packed the Home Depot Center for the first "Honda Super Clasico" match between the LA Galaxy and stadium expansion rival Chivas USA. On the field, the old boys took care of the Mexican-American newbies, 3-1.

Now the worst: The match was to be televised live at 10pm ET on espn2, but coverage of the 3rd round of the NFL draft delayed the telecast until after 11pm. While the deuce showed the match in its entirety, espn2 teased viewers on the "bottom line" crawl by updating the score while the match was in progress, removing any element of surprise for viewers waiting to watch the game. Combined with the season opener shift to ESPN from ABC after the death of Pope John Paul II, and a recent Friday night espn2 telecast delay by the South Carolina spring football game, one has to wonder how much of a broadcast partner the Disney networks really are.

Last Week's MLS Matches (home team first):
MetroStars 0-1 Chicago
DC United 3-4 New England
FC Dallas 3-0 Salt Lake
Colorado 2-0 Columbus
LA Galaxy 3-1 Chivas
San Jose 3-2 Kansas City

Standings after Week 4 (Club PTS, GD):
MLS East
New England 7, +4
Chicago 7, +1
Columbus 6, -1
Kansas City 4, 0
DC United 4, 0
MetroStars 2, -1

MLS West
FC Dallas 10, +6
LA Galaxy 6, +1
San Jose 5, 0
Colorado 4, 0
Real Salt Lake 4, -4
Chivas USA 1, -6

This Week's MLS Schedule:
Wednesday, April 27th
Chicago v New England, 7pm, FSC

Saturday, April 30th:
Kansas City v DC United, 4pm, ESPN2
New England v Chivas, 7:30pm, FSC
Columbus v Chicago, 7:30pm, HDNet
Colorado v MetroStars, 9pm, MSG
RSL v San Jose, 9:30pm
LA Galaxy v FC Dallas, 10pm

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

This Week In Soccer

Hall of Fame Voting
Three US soccer pioneers were voted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Induction will be held in Oneonta, NY on August 29th.

Defender Marcelo Balboa earned 128 caps and scored 13 goals with the National team between 1988 and 2000. Balboa played in the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups. His seven-year MLS career was almost exclusively spent with the Colorado Rapids. Balboa played in 152 MLS matches, notching 24 goals, including the 2000 Goal of the Year on an incredible bicycle kick vs. Columbus.

John Harkes was the first American to play in England's hallowed Wembley Stadium, with Sheffield Wednesday in 1991. A midfielder, Harkes scored 6 goals in 90 appearances with the National team between 1987 and 2000. Harkes played for the US in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, but was inexplicably cut from the 1998 team weeks before the competition by coach Steve Sampson. Harkes played for DC United during its early dominance of MLS, and helped the team to titles in 1996 and 1997. He also played for New England and Columbus, appearing in 167 league games overall, and scoring 16 goals.

Tab Ramos may have been the most talented player ever to wear the US shirt. His National Team career spanned from 1988 until 2000, including 81 caps and 8 goals. Like Balboa, midfielder Ramos appeared in the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups. On July 4, 1994, the US faced Brazil in the '94 World Cup round of 16 at Stanford Stadium. With the match tied in the first half, Brazilian midfielder Leonardo cracked Ramos with an elbow to the side of the head, forcing him to leave the match (Leonardo received a red card). Without Ramos in the lineup, the US fell to 10-man Brazil, 1-0. Ramos, the first-ever player signed to an MLS contract, spent his career exclusively with the MetroStars, though frequent injuries prevented him from playing more than 25 matches in any one season. Ramos appeared in 112 league matches, scoring 8 goals.

The First MLS Derby
In soccer parlance, a derby is a match between two teams from the same city. This week, the first MLS derby will be held with Chivas USA playing "at" the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, which both teams call home. LA has been bolstered by the arrival of Landon Donovan, who had 2 goals in his team debut two weeks ago. Chivas is struggling out of the gate, with an 0-2-1 record after three matches.

This Week's MLS Schedule:
Friday, April 22nd:
Chicago @ MetroStars, 8pm, ESPN2

Saturday, April 23rd:
New England @ DC United, 7:30pm, FSC & HDNet
Real Salt Lake @ FC Dallas, 8pm
Columbus Crew @ Colorado, 9pm
Chivas USA @ LA Galaxy, 10pm, ESPN2

Last Week's MLS Matches:
DC United 0-1 Columbus (Buddle 26)
Colorado 0-1 Real Salt Lake (Dunseth 81)
Kansas City 2-2 MetroStars (Jewsbury 20, Klein 31; Galvan Rey 43, 60)
San Jose 1-2 Chicago (Moreno 82; own goal 58, Thiago 91+)
FC Dallas 3-1 Chivas USA (O'Brien 40, Ruiz pk 85, Johnson 94+; Martins 44)

Standings after Week 3:
MLS East (Club PTS, GD)
Columbus 6, +1
New England 4, +3
Kansas City 4, +1
DC United 4, +1
Chicago 4, 0
MetroStars 2, 0

MLS West
FC Dallas 7, +3
Real Salt Lake 4, -1
LA Galaxy 3, -1
San Jose 2, -1
Colorado 1, -2
Chivas USA 1, -4

Thursday, April 14, 2005

This Week In Soccer

DC United's run in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup came crashing to an end last night in Mexico after a 5-0 drubbing by MFL Champion UNAM Pumas. DC and Pumas had tied 1-1 in the first leg last week at RFK. Pumas will face Saprissa of Costa Rica for the title, after Saprissa beat Mexico's Monterrey in penalty kicks after 2-2 and 1-1 draws.

The only GM that the Chicago Fire has ever known, Peter Wilt, was unceremoniously dumped by owner/operator AEG in favor of current Metros VP Marketing John Guppy. Wilt, who was known as the most fan-friendly GM in the league, had led the team to the MLS Cup title in its very first season (1998), and US Open Cup titles in 1998, 2000, and 2003. He oversaw the Fire's move to Naperville, IL for two seasons while Solider Field underwent renovation, and negotiated the building of the Fire's own stadium, now under construction in Bridgeview, IL, 12 miles south of Chicago.

In Europe, Chelsea, Liverpool, and DaMarcus Beasley's PSV Eindhoven squad advanced to the Champions League semifinals. The two English squads will play each other, and PSV awaits a UEFA ruling on the AC Milan-Inter Milan series after AC keeper Dida was hit by a flare thrown from the stands in the teams' second-leg match. The match was abandoned with AC Milan holding a 3-0 aggregate lead.

This Week's MLS Schedule
Friday, April 15th:
DC United @ Columbus, 8pm, ESPN2

Saturday, April 16th:
Colorado @ Real Salt Lake (Home Opener), 3pm ESPN2
Kansas City @ MetroStars, 7:30pm MSG
San Jose @ Chicago, 8:30pm, FSC
FC Dallas @ Chivas, 10pm, HDNet

Standings after Week 2
MLS East (Club, PTS, GD)
New England 4, +3
DC United 4, +2
Kansas City 3, +1
Columbus 3, +0
Metros 1, +0
Chicago 1, -1

MLS West
FC Dallas 4, +1
LA Galaxy 3, -1
San Jose 2, 0
Colorado 1, -1
Chivas USA 1, -2
Real Salt Lake 1, -2

Friday, April 08, 2005

What It's All About

Frank Dell'Apa has a great profile in today's Boston Globe about Revolution rookie D Michael Parkhurst who, as a 12-yr old youth player, attended New England's first-ever game at old Foxboro Stadium. Now he wears the jersey. A great read about the present and future of MLS.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

That's One Way to Get Some Press

The MetroStars rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this morning.

Not that it'll have any impact on their stadium project. The Star-Ledger is reporting that the NJSEA director that's trying to complete the Harrison, NJ stadium deal would benefit financially from the residences that are to be built adjacent to the stadium, a clear conflict of interest. Isn't NJ politics fun? It really is a soap opera at this point, folks.

This Week in Soccer

Tonight, DC United continues it's quest for the 2005 CONCACAF Championship Cup as the defending MLS Champions open a semifinal home-and-home series vs. Mexican Champion UNAM Pumas at RFK Stadium at 7:30pm (Fox Soccer Channel).

The European Champions league is in its quarterfinal phase. Yesterday, Liverpool took a 2-1, 1st leg win vs. Juventus, and DaMarcus Beasley and PSV Eindhoven drew at Lyon, 1-1. Today, Chelsea hosts Bayern Munich (2:30pm, ESPN2), and Milan and Inter play the first of two derby legs.

This Week's MLS Schedule
Saturday, April 9th:
Chivas USA @ San Jose, 4pm ESPN2
Columbus @ New England, 7:30pm FSC
Chicago @ DC United, 7:30pm HDNet
FC Dallas @ Colorado, 9pm
Real Salt Lake @ LA Galaxy, 10pm

Standings after Week 1
MLS East (Club, PTS, GD)
Columbus 3, +3
DC United 3, +2
Kansas City 3, +1
New England 1, +0
Metros 1, +0
Chicago 0, -1

MLS West
FC Dallas 3, +1
San Jose 1, +0
Real Salt Lake 1, +0
Colorado 1, -1
Chivas USA 0, -2
LA Galaxy 0, -3

A Must Read on the World Economy

Last Sunday's NY Times Magazine included a vital essay, "It's a Flat World, After All," by Thomas L. Friedman. In the piece, Friedman argues that as fewer American students enter science and engineering programs, and quality education becomes accessible in China and India, low cost, high tech jobs will shift to the other side of the world, undermining the US' global economic leadership.

As he says, "So parents, throw away the Game Boy, turn off the television and get your kids to work. There is no sugar-coating this: in a flat world, every individual is going to have to run a little faster if he or she wants to advance his or her standard of living. When I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ''Tom, finish your dinner -- people in China are starving.'' But after sailing to the edges of the flat world for a year, I am now telling my own daughters, ''Girls, finish your homework -- people in China and India are starving for your jobs.''

Monday, April 04, 2005

Blown Away

Over the weekend, three rainstorms converged over the New York area to create a swirling mess of wind and rain. I had the fortune to be spending Saturday night at Giants Stadium for the MetroStars - Real Salt Lake MLS Season Opener. Outside the stadium, light stanchions shook in the rain. Small children were blown away from their parents. Parking attendants were surly.

Inside the stadium, goal kicks traveled 20 feet before getting cut down by the wind. Longballs blew far in front of intended players. Corner kicks went nowhere near the goals. The match finished in a scoreless draw, which was a fair result for both teams.

The Metro (0-0-1, 1pt, 4th place) takes a week off before facing Kansas City (1-0-0, 3pts, 1st place) at the Swamp on April 16th.