Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 4 vs. Steers

Due to a scheduling quirk, New York (2-0-1) will complete it's season series with FC Dallas tomorrow night at the Deep Dish, to be seen on the Deuce at 8pm ET. To say that there's a groundswell of optimism around the undefeated #1 team in MLS is a big understatement. The area's media, however, has yet to get on the Red Bull bandwagon. When leaving Saturday's victory over Houston at the Swamp, neither of the two NY-based news nor sports stations mentioned the score during sports updates. Sunday's New York Times ran the AP game recap in its sports section, even though the match was played at home. Methinks that a national prime-time television appearance would get the underpaid wonks in Red Bull Media Relations to push hard on the local media to pay attention.

Now to the game at hand. For the second straight week, New York faces the Western leader, this time the Steers of Frisco (2-1-1). I'm sure that El Pescadito and the boys will be pumped for revenge after their 0-3 loss in NY's bathtub eleven days ago. The Red Bulls will be without Cleetus, who's sitting out his suspension after his undeserved red card on Saturday night. Here's how it plays out, line-by-line.

The Dallas forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Carlos Ruiz and Kenny Cooper vs. Hunter Freeman, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Ronald Waterreus). By holding Dallas off the board for 74 minutes tomorrow, New York will break Dallas' scoreless-streak-to-start-a-season record, held by the '99 edition of the Burn. Dallas finally got goals from folks other than the front line in Sunday's win over Colorado. Playing at home, though, one has to think that the Hoops' talented forward pair will break through. Slight Advantage: Dallas

New York's attackers vs. the Hoops' defense:
Jozy Altidore vs. Alex Yi, Clarence Goodson, Drew Moor, and Chris Gbani (and Shaka Hislop). Dallas' defense has given up 1.75 goals/match to start the season, not really good enough to excel over the course of a full campaign. Look for Jozy the wonder boy to play alone up top, helped by wings van den Burgh and Richards. Should Jersey's finest hit the net on the national stage, the hype machine may come off its moorings. Slight Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Ramon Nunez, Dax McCarty, Aaron Pitchkolan, and Juan Toja vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Seth Stammler, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. The five-man NY midfield will include Reyna, who sat out the teams' match in East Rutherford on the 15th. In that match, New York controlled the pace to set up numerous scoring chances. Dallas' youth won't serve them here, though Nunez and McCarty are the best of the Hoops' bunch. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Steve Morrow should have little to complain about. His club's only loss was in the last of a three-match, eight-day road trip, and was played in a monsoon. Bruce Arena has his team believing in themselves, and New York is sure to be boosted from its introduction to Juan Pablo Angel at practice on Tuesday. Advantage: New York

Another MLS Primetime Thursday, another view of empty seats at a soccer-specific stadium. At least the weather (Clear, 51 degrees) will be perfect this time around. Advantage: Push

Prediction: All I know is, a New York win puts the Red Bulls 10 (10!) points up on DC after four matches. Enough to put a spring in a NY fan's step. You know why, now don't you, D? New York wins, 2-1.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 3 vs. Creamsicles

What a difference a week makes. A 3-0 undressing of FC Dallas, followed by the signing of the proven goal scorer that the team has needed, and everything's coming up roses in Red Bull land. Even the sun came out in New York this morning for the first time in five days. Tomorrow night, the Red Bulls (1-0-1) take on the also-unbeaten defending champs Houston (1-0-1) on what should be a picture-perfect night at the Swamp. Here's what to look for in the MLS Cup Preview? I keed... I keed...

The Houston forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Paul Daiglish and Brian Ching vs. Hunter Freeman, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Ronald Waterreus). New York has started the season with a 180-minute shutout streak, which can't be ignored. The Walrus, when not shivering himself off the field, looks to be in top form. New York's defense better be, because Houston's forwards are strong and talented. World Cup vet Ching is the more experienced of the two, and he has the Dynamo's only goal of the season, last week vs. Chivas. Alejandro Moreno is a strong option off the bench for Houston. Slight Advantage: Houston

New York's attackers vs. the Dynamo's defense:
Jozy Altidore and Clint Mathis vs. Kelly Gray, Wade Barrett, Craig Waibel, and Eddie Robinson (and Pat Onstad). The Jozy and Cleetus show was quite the underwater act last week. Clint looks happy, engaged, and driven, which makes him a threat to pull up and shoot from anywhere near the Houston net. The Dynamo D, however, is not to be discounted, as they've yet to concede a goal this year in matches vs. both LA clubs. Waibel has a hammy tweak and may not start. Advantage: Push

The Midfields:
Rico Clark, Brad Davis, Dwayne DeRosario, and Brian Mullan vs. Dema Kovalenko, Seth Stammler, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. Assuming Captain America will be sitting out another week to rest his knee, the experienced, offensive-minded Houston midfield is easily the better group. As usual, former Metros Clark and Davis will look to do something special on their return to New York. Advantage: Houston

As of 5pm on Friday, BigAppleSoccer is reporting that Reyna will start tomorrow night.

The Coaches:
Houston coach Dom Kinnear has the experienced, successful team he wants on the field right now. Arena the Bruce has to wait for his Angel. Advantage: Houston

Without the Nor'easter levelling the field this week, It's hard to point the intangibles in New York's way. Cleetus is always the X-factor. The crowd should top 15K on a beautiful night for soccer. Advantage: Push

Prediction: If you'd have told me that Houston, with all the club's firepower, would have only scored once in two matches, I'd be shocked. Powered by their midfield, they break out this week. Houston wins, 3-2.

Boob Tubing

Here's the weekend's matches, times ET. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 21
9:25am: GER: Stuttgart-Bayern Munich, GOL
10:00am: EPL: Charlton-Sheffield U., FSC
11:30am: GER: Schalke-Energie Cottbus, GOL
12noon: EPL: Man. United-Middlesbrough, FSC
2:00pm: ESP: Real Sociedad-Atletico Madrid, GOL
2:15pm: EPL: Bolton-Reading, FSC
4:00pm: ITA: AC Milan-Cagliari, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Monterrey-Jaguares, GALA
7:30pm: MLS: New York-Houston, FSC
7:30pm: COL: Independiente Santa Fe-Cucuta, GOL
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas-Veracruz, TF
8:30pm: MLS: Chicago-Kansas City, HDNet
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-Atlas, GALA
10:30pm: MLS: Chivas USA-Salt Lake, FSN West, DK

Sunday, April 22
9:00am: ITA: Lazio-Fiorentina, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Siena-Inter Milan, GOL
11:00am: EPL: Aston Villa-Portsmouth, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Real Zaragoza-Celta Vigo, GOL
1:00pm: ESP: Sevilla-Atletico Bilboa, GOL
1:00pm: ITA: Catania-Ascoli, FSC
1:00pm: MEX: Pumas-San Luis, UNI
3:00pm: MLS: Dallas-Colorado, TF
3:00pm: ESP: Villareal-Barcelona, GOL
5:00pm: ARG: Gimnasia-Estudiantes, FSC
5:00pm: ESP: Real Madrid-Valencia, GOL
5:00pm: MEX: Club America-Atlante, TF
7:00pm: COL: America de Cali-Millonarios, GOL
9:30pm: GUA: Municipal-Comunicaciones, GOL

Thursday, April 19, 2007

de Grandpre: Red Bull Park May Open in 2009

In a six-part audio interview with WCBS Radio's Ray Hoffman, RBNY Managing Director Marc De Grandpre hints for the first time that Red Bull Park, currently under construction in Harrision, NJ, may not open in time for any 2008 matches. He also notes that the Red Bulls are "weeks away" from announcing the home permanent training facility, including six training fields and a 50,000-square foot headquarters building.

Rumors abound that East Hanover, New Jersey, a Morris County community less than 15 miles from the Red Bull Park site, will provide the club with a permanent home. Longtime New York supporters will recall the flirtation the club had with Pequannock, NJ on a training center during former GM Nick Sakiewicz's regime. That proposal was shot down by local residents. Here's hoping that that East Hanover, bisected by busy big-box strip Route 10, will be more welcoming.

The radio interview offers little in terms of other news to MLS fans, though it is entertaining that interviewer Hoffman is under the belief that Chivas USA is owned by the folks who make Chivas Regal. de Grandpre does nothing to correct Hoffman, though, which I found a little odd. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's so ON

DC blogger extraordinaire D from The DCenters has entered into a friendly wager with yours truly for the new season. When NY finishes ahead of DC United at season's end, D will proudly wear a Red Bulls scarf and shirt to a DC United match. A photo will be taken of the happy event, and said photo will be posted on his aforementioned blog. Should be a great time.

Of course, should the opposite occur, I'll appear here in DC colors. The thought is really atrocious, so come on, New York!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Send Us an Angel.... Right Now!

Even the Pet Shop Boys would be impressed by the Red Bulls' signing of Colombian Striker Juan Pablo Angel from Aston Villa today. After rumors of everyone from Figo to Ronaldo to Edmundo to Wanchope joining the Taurine Army, Red Bull supporters have to be pleased with the bilingual Angel, who deftly answered questions from the media today in a cross-continental conference call.

Angel's track record as a proven goal scorer at some of the world's biggest clubs (River Plate, Villa) should put some fear in the eyes of MLS keepers when he arrives after receiving his visa in the next few weeks. Angel is only 31 (a baby compared to his Red Bull brethren Reyna and Wattereus) and will be a superb mentor to young forward Jozy Altidore.

His unassuming and professional manner came through loud and clear on the conference call, and calm demeanor (Angel has never been red-carded) will quickly make fans forget the hot-tempered Amado Guevara.

Angel joins a list of former Colombian nationals to play in New York with varied success (Alex Comas, Adolfo Valencia) but hopefully Angel's signing will generate some interest (and attendance) from the vast NY-area Colombian fan base that traditionally has ignored the Metro/Red Bulls.

Get Wet with the Red Bull Boys
Hopefully the weather gods will shine on Giants Stadium more often this season, but it's hard to argue with the Reyna-less Red Bulls' 3-0 demolition of FC Dallas on Sunday during the biggest rainstorm to hit the Metro area in years. Mathis turned back the clock, and he and Altidore were simply wonderful. As a NY fan since '96, it's really something to see New York at the top of the table.

There's been a considerable amount of derision directed at New York's fans from staying away from Giants Stadium in droves on Sunday, and kudos (I guess) to those who braved the storm to attend. Had I been 15 years younger and single I may have made a go of it, but let's face it: When the starting keeper suffers hypothermia after only 45 minutes of play... that's a problem. In a letter to season ticket holders by RB GM Marc deGrandpre said, "We want to make it clear that there was no point during Sunday's game in which there was any danger to those in attendance or involved with the game." Ok.

Do the two thousand or so fans that attended deserve some special commendation from the team? Yes. Do the other thousands of Red Bull fans who watched the match from home on TV deserve ridicule? Absolutely not. Moving forward, I hope there'll only be clear skies for Red Bull home games. As longtime fan, I know that's just not going to happen. Advanced weather report for August 18th, anyone?

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Right now in New York: 40 degrees, flood warning, wind advisory.

There is no reason that today's Red Bulls game should not be cancelled. As the league is putting its financial concerns above the safety of its players and its fans, I'm hoping that NO ONE turns out for the 3pm start at the Meadowlands. Truly shameful.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game #2 vs. Steers

Another year, another season-opening draw for the Red Bulls, this time in snowy Columbus. If last week's match taught us anything, its that: A) a healthy Reyna will pay huge dividends for the New York in the form of quality scoring chances, B) Dane Richards has an incredibly bright future, and C) The Red Bulls really, really need a forward. Next up: FC Dallas (1-0-1) who'll surely be gassed by their 2-1 win in LA last night and their cross-country trip. The great equalizer will certainly be the storm that will be bearing down on the Meadowlands just in time for the 3pm Sunday kickoff. Here's the breakdown:

The Dallas forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Carlos Ruiz and Kenny Cooper vs. Marvell Wynne, Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Ronald Waterreus). While New York held the "vaunted" Crew attack scoreless on the road, the Red Bulls will have their hands full with Dallas' attacking tandem, which may be the most dangerous in MLS. It's been two games, two goals each for Ruiz and Cooper, who will test Wattereus, big time. Advantage: Dallas

New York's attackers vs. the Hoops' defense:
John Wolyniec and Clint Mathis vs. Alex Yi, Clarence Goodson, Drew Moor, and Chris Gbani (and Shaka Hislop). Dallas' defense was four minutes away from a shutout last night against an offensive-minded Galaxy club that boasted Landon Donovan, Nate Jaqua, and Cobi Jones. Take away a bravura performance by RSL's Jeff Cunningham, and Dallas' 1.5 GAA looks respectable. Despite numerous chances in the first half at Columbus, attacking is clearly the Red Bulls' weakest area. A start by Cletus may provide some spark. Maybe. Advantage: Dallas

The Midfields:
Ramon Nunez, Dax McCarty, Aaron Pitchkolan, and Juan Toja vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. Should Reyna's black and blue knee have healed well, New York should be able to control the midfield. Richards showed tons of grit in his debut MLS outing last week, but needs to make that last pass to generate some scoring chances. Dallas' young midfield (average age: 23) will need to step up to feed their talented forwards. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
Bruce Arena has won in the World Cup. Steve Morrow is a former international... for Northern Ireland. Advantage: New York

The inclement weather may make any cohesive play impossible for either team. Few fans will be rattling around windy & wet Giants Stadium. Dallas' quick turnaround and travel may help the Red Bulls. Advantage: New York

Prediction: This will be an ugly game to play in or to watch. The speed and skill of Ruiz and Cooper will be the difference. Clint Mathis will not score five goals in this one. Promise. Dallas wins, 2-0.

On the Telly

Here's the weekend's matches, times ET. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14
9:25am: GER: Mainz-Schalke, GOL
10:00am: EPL: Man City-Liverpool, FSC
11:30am: GER: Stuttgart-Hannover, GOL
12noon: EPL: Middlesbrough-Aston Villa, FSC
2:00pm: ESP: Racing Santander-Real Madrid, GOL
2:30pm: EPL: Reading-Fulham, FSC
4:00pm: ESP: Real Betis-Real Sociedad, GOL
4:00pm: HOL: PSV-Twente, TM
6:00pm: MLS: Real Salt Lake-Columbus, DK
6:00pm: MEX: San Luis-Queretaro, GALA
6:00pm: URU: Penarol-Cerrito, GOL
7:30pm: MLS: DC United-Kansas City, FSC
7:30pm: MLS: New England-Toronto, DK
8:00pm: MEX: Tigres-Necaxa, GALA
8:00pm: GOL: Millonarios-Atletico Nacional, GOL
8:30pm: MLS: Houston-Chivas USA, HDNet
10:00pm: MEX: Atlas-Chivas, TF
10:00pm: ELS: Aguila-FAS, GOL

Sunday, April 15
9:00am: ITA: Torino-Atalanta, FSC
9:00am: ITA: Messina-AC Milan, GOL
11:00am: ENG: FA Cup Semifinal: Blackburn-Chelsea, FSC
11:00am: GER: Borussia Dortmund-Werder Bremen, GOL
1:00pm: EPL: Everton-Charlton, FSC
1:00pm: ESP: Osasuna-Recreativo, TM
1:00pm: ESP: Atletico Madrid-Levante, GOL
3:00pm: ARG: Boca Juniors-River Plate, FSC
3:00pm: ESP: Valenica-Sevilla, GOL
3:00pm: MLS: New York-Dallas, TF
5:00pm: MEX: Club America-Tecos, TF
5:00pm: ITA: Palermo-Inter Milan, GOL
5:10pm: ITA: Cagliari-Empoli, FSC
7:00pm: COL: Dep. Cali-Ind. Santa Fe, GOL
8:00pm: MLS: Colorado-Chicago, DK
8:00pm: MEX: Toluca-Pachuca, GALA

Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Hates the Red Bulls

Even the most casual MLS fan must realize that the almighty has had a thing about the soccer team from the swamp. A quick traipse through the Metro-Red Bull record book will conjure such golden memories as:

-Caricola's gaffe in the club's first-ever home game
-Rob Johnson's series-ending foul in the '96 playoffs
-MLS #1 draft pick Steve Shak
-Lothar Mattaeus
-Tab Ramos' health
-The '03 USOC final
-All of 1999
-The blind linesman allowing Earnie Stewart to score in the '04 playoffs
-Etc. etc.

One Metro-Red Bull constant is the tendency for home matches to coincide with bad weather. Now no MLS team (save DC perhaps) is immune to cold, rain, or snow having a negative impact on attendance. As we know, season ticket holders are in the minority at MLS stadiums. However, as most (and now all) NY home matches are televised, even in good weather the Giants Stadium experience offers little incentive for fans to show up and cheer the team on.

This Sunday's Red Bull home opener (3pm ET on MSG and Telefutura) vs. FC Dallas will be played in a cold, windy rainstorm that will keep most sensible people indoors, much less soccer fans. As with the 2005 home opener vs. RSL (a scoreless draw played in 40+mph winds that made passing impossible) and the 2nd home match in 2006 vs. DC (a 4-1 loss played in a cold, stinging rain), there may be as few as 5,000 actual human beings rattling around the Swamp for the national television audience.

Certainly, the Metros have endured many man-made mistakes in their time, but one has to wonder if the league office would be better served by postponing all NY home games until after May 1, if only to escape the wrath of the almighty. Off the field, anyway. Good luck, Claudio.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 1 @ Village People

After yet another off-season of change, the Red Bulls will kick off the 2007 season tomorrow at the Erector Set in mid-Ohio in the least-compelling match of opening weekend. The forecast is for snow and cold, so perhaps we'll get to see the yellow ball, if not too many yellow-clad Crew fans. Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect in moo-ville tomorrow night:

The Columbus forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Jason Garey and Andy Herron vs. Marvell Wynne, Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes, Todd Dunivant (and Ronald Waterreus). Garey and the newly-arrived Herron (14 goals combined in '06) are dangerous, but the back four for NY should be able to withstand their pressure. Look for Herron to challenge Mendes and Stammler with slashing runs up the middle. Wynne may be asked to push forward often, which may leave spots on the left wing for Columbus to attack. Advantage: New York

New York's attackers vs. the Crew's defense:
John Wolyniec and Jozy Altidore vs. Marcos Gonzalez, Ezra Hendrickson, Rusty Pierce (and Andy Gruenebaum). Columbus' 2006 keeper injury woes were legend, and Gruenebaum had a 1.00 GAA in two starts last season. Hendrickson and Pierce are MLS greybeards, with 364 league appearances between them. The Woly and Jozy experiment commeces. Jozy got bigger in the offseason, and Woly (presumably) got grayer. Will these two mesh well enough to hit the net often? That's the big question.
Slight Advantage: Columbus

The Midfields:
Frankie Hejduk, Eddie Gaven, Ned Grabavoy, and Danny O'Rourke vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Dave van den Bergh and Clint Mathis. Loads of familiar faces on both sides of the ball here. Unless the injury bug bites him in his first MLS start, Reyna should be able to control possession for NY. Gaven and O'Rourke will still want to prove that NY made mistakes by sending them away. My suspicion is that VDB will be the difference maker here. Anything that Clint provides is a bonus. Advantage: New York

The Coaches:
The Sigi vs. Bruce matchup provides a battle of the bellies par excellence. Seriously, these two are among the most experienced coaches in MLS. One of them (though he's done everything to suppress expectations) has pressure on him to perform. The other... coaches in Columbus. Advantage: Columbus

Reyna! Mathis! Wynne! Altidore! New York offers the past and future stars of the National Team. Columbus has Hejduk, whose mojo will be disrupted big time by the freezing temps. If attendance tops 10K in the horrible conditions, I'll fall over. Advantage: New York

Prediction: The two clubs will kick the ball around for 90 minutes in more of an attempt to keep warm that play attractive soccer. A classic, late Woly goal provides the difference. NY 1-0.

The Tube

Six MLS matches highlight the weekend's viewing opportunities, all times ET. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7
9:25am: GER: Hamburg-Stuttgart, GOL
10:00am: EPL: Reading-Liverpool, FSC
11:30am: ITA: Reggina-Inter Milan, GOL
12noon: EPL: Portsmouth-Man. United, FSC
2:00pm: ESP: Real Zaragoza-Barcelona, GOL
2:15pm: EPL: Wigan-Bolton, FSC
3:30pm: MLS: Colorado-DC United, ABC
4:00pm: ESP: Atletico Bilbao-Valencia, GOL
5:00pm: ITA: Catania-Roma, FSC
6:00pm: MLS: Real Salt Lake-FC Dallas, DK, FSSW
6:00pm: ITA: AC Milan-Empoli, GOL
6:00pm: MEX: Monterrey-Atlans, GALA
7:00pm: MLS: Columbus-New York, HDNet, MSG2
8:00pm: COL: Millonarios-Tolima, GOL
8:00pm: MEX: Chivas Guad.-Tigres, TF
8:30pm: MLS: Chicago-New England, DK, CSNC, TV38
10:00pm: MEX: Necaxa-San Luis, GALA
10:30pm: MLS: Chivas USA-Toronto FC, FSC

Sunday, April 8
9:00am: ITA: Lazio-Messina, FSC
11:00am: ESP: Sevilla, Racing Santander, GOL
1:00pm: GER: Werder Bremen-Nuremburg, GOL
1:00pm: MEX: Pumas-Club America, UNI
3:00pm: ESP: Villareal-Atletico Madrid, GOL
5:00pm: ARG: Velez Sarsfield-Boca Juniors, FSC
5:00pm: URU: Nacional-Rocha, GOL
7:00pm: MLS: Houston-LA Galaxy, TF
7:00pm: COL: Quindio-Atletico Nacional, GOL
7:00pm: JAM: Portmore United-Boys Town, FSC

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

MLS Preview: 20 Words or Less

It's hard to believe that the long, dreary MLS offseason is about to come to a close. I'm so glad that the league is kicking off with a full slate of matches, compared to years' past when a only a pair of teams played on opening weekend. In an effort to provide a short and sweet taste of what's to come in 2007, here's 20 words or less on each MLS club, listed by the fictional single table that so many crow about...

Top of the Heap
Houston Dynamo: The returning champs are the class of the league. They play attractive ball, and will repeat in '07.

DC United: Emilio, Gomez, and the newly-acquired Fred lift the four-time champs to the MLS Cup once again.

Superliga '08
LA Galaxy: Beckham notwithstanding, a re-energized Donovan and newly acquired Jaqua will make LA tough to beat. Cannon+LA=weird.

Chivas USA: El Lobo will lift the goats higher this season. Sophomores Klejstan and Bornstein will power Chivas to a playoff series win.

Tough to Face

Chicago: The Devil will make the difference this summer. Mapp and an experienced defense will make Bridgeview a tough place to win.

FC Dallas: The offensive firepower of Ruiz, Cooper, and Mina will provide the scoring, but the midfield is a question mark.

New England Revolution A bit of a step back without Dempsey. Who knows whether Shalrie Joseph will produce? The core is still strong.

A Year Away
New York Red Bulls: The club has improved, but the big question is offense. Look for van Den Burgh to step up. Playoffs again for NY.


Kansas City Wizards: We're still waiting for the new ownership to do something to improve the franchise, which lost Josh Wolff. Boring.

Colorado Rapids: New unis and new digs does not a compelling club make. Nico Hernandez is a good player on a poor team.

Columbus Crew: HeyDude and the young'uns on a club that's years away from making serious noise. We miss you, Eddie G!

Relegation (just kidding)
Real Salt Lake: Adu will bring pop, but RSL won't get the production from Hall-of-famers Pope and Kreis to win often.

Toronto FC: Fan support will carry the northern newbies to a last place finish in season one. Esky will be a sparkplug at BMO.

Everyone's in first place for a few more days! Enjoy opening weekend, everyone!