Friday, November 11, 2005

Big Weekend

There’s a lot going on in the soccer world the weekend besides the two matches most American fans care about. Ten national squads, including CONCACAF’s Trindad & Tobago, will be facing off in the first legs of their World Cup Qualifying playoffs. The Soca Warriors will be facing Bahrain at home on Saturday, in an attempt to reach their first-ever World Cup Finals. A Trinidad berth would also mark the first time that the US’ home region would have four representatives in the final tournament. Best of luck to them. There are some compelling friendly match-ups outside of the Quallies, though. European powers France and Germany face off in Paris, and England and Argentina continue their storied rivalry in Geneva. Holland takes on Italy in Amsterdam, S. Korea plays Sweden in Seoul, and Mexico takes on Chile in Monterrey.

It’s Crap!
For US fans, however, Saturday offers a chance to see some up-and-coming stars when the Nats visit Glasgow for a match against Scotland (11am ET, FSC). Despite the Yanks’ lofty FIFA ranking, don’t look for the Americans, who have a gaping hole in midfield, to dominate the Scots, who finished third in their WC qualifying group behind Italy and Norway. With injuries to first-team players McBride, Reyna, Donovan, and O’Brien, look for the US to lineup like this:

Keller – Spector, Oneywu, Bocanegra, Berhalter – Beasley, Zavagnin, Olsen, Gaven – Ching, Wolff

I don’t know enough about the Tartans to guess what they’ll bring, but without the regular starters mentioned above, and with Bruce’s record on European soil, it’s hard to be optimistic about a US victory.

The Grand Final
MLS says it’s sold all the seats at Pizza Hut Park for Sunday’s MLS Cup match (3:30pm ET, ABC), but I can’t imagine all attendees will be in their seats at game time, which should mean an ugly picture for the folks watching at home at ABC. The product on the field, however, should be far from ugly. Both the Revs and Galaxy put on good shows, and Sunday should be no different. In my mind, the Gals will have no answer for the Revs’ Shalrie Joseph, who some think was as deserving of the league MVP award than recipient and teammate Taylor Twellman. Joseph and the always-reliable Steve Ralston will run the attack-mided show for the Revs, constantly feeding Twellman, Pat Noonan, and Clint Dempsey good chances. The unsung Revs defense will handle Landon Donovan and Herculez Gomez, and the Revs win their first MLS title, 3-1. Hopefully we won’t see Revs owner Robert Kraft trying to moonwalk with the Silver Rothie after the match.

Don’t forget Don Garberleone’s 2:30 ET chat today on MLSNet. Not sure when to expect the Toronto announcement, but it should come Sunday's match. Enjoy, and here’s the total weekend TV picture (times ET).

Saturday, Nov. 12
11:00am: INTL: Scotland – USA, FSC
3:00pm: WCQ: Uruguay – Australia, GOL
2:00pm: INTL: UAE – Brazil, TELE
4:00pm: INTL: France – Germany, TELE
5:00pm: WCQ: Spain – Slovakia, GOL
5:30pm: WCQ: Trinidad – Bahrain, FSC
7:00pm: GUA: Comunicaciones – Municipal, GOL
9:00pm: COL: America – Junior, GOL

Sunday, Nov. 13
12noon: NCAA: MAAC Final, ESPNU
12noon: NCAA: Big Ten Final, CSTV
1:00pm: BRA, Ponte Preta – Flamengo, GOL
1:00pm: EXH: Mexico XI – Mexico U-17 XI, TELE
2:00pm: ARG: Boca Juniors – Colon, FSC
2:00pm: NCAA: Conference USA Final, CSTV
3:30pm: MLS CUP 2005: New England – Los Angeles, ABC
3:30pm: EXH: Mexico ’94 – Mexico ’98, TELE
3:30pm: PER: Cienciano – Universitario, GOL
5:30pm: COL: Once Caldas – Deportivo Cali, GOL
7:30pm: ELS: LA Firpo – San Salvador, GOL

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