Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cardiac Arrest: US U-20's 1-2 Austria

My heart is still pounding. I can't believe how disappointed I am. This loss destroys quite a bit of positive momentum surrounding the US U-20 squad.

Here's the only thing I can figure about this game: Austria made a brilliant substitution and Rongen failed the world with his. The US pressed and pressed and should have finished, but the clock ran out and every chance was squandered.

Seitz put in a hero's performance, injured and playing through the rain, but in the end the conditions proved to much even for him and the Austrians slipped through. Adu and Bradley were just as tenacious.

Wallace really did a disservice to the squad, getting himself ejected like that. As a young player I hope he takes this as a grand and costly lesson: it's easy to slip on wet grass and just as easy to fould, but a red card can seal fate. And there is no exaggeration about that. Otherwise, Wallace is one of my favorites and played really well throughout the tournament.

A lot of them did. Altidore, Bradley, Adu, Seitz, Zizzo, Szetela, Rogers, Sturgis, Valentin... The whole damn lot of them made a lot of people proud. Don't hang your heads, boys. This U-20 squad had class and chemistry, flair, finesse, perseverance... It's like the whole team had one pulse. The squad had everything you'd want a champion side to have. They really could have gone on to win the whole thing, I would think.

Good luck and f*ck off, Austria.

Time to walk away, Gringuitos.

Other notes:

- McCarty has a long way to go to become competitive on the world stage. (Ives agrees.)

- Adu stayed surprisingly consistent throughout the tournament.

- McCarty on for Szetela? I sincerely hope Rongen knows something I don't. (Apparently not.) - I'd rank Bradley, Seitz and Adu in first place for positive contributions on the pitch. Rogers, Zizzo, Altidore and Szetela I'd place second, with Wallace and Sturgis third. After this match, though, Wallace should have a lot on his conscience.

- ESPNU need to do something abot their damn scoreboard. That's ridiculous.

- Did a single one of Beltran's crosses come off? I think a few games ago I called him an offensive woe; now I think he's just offensive. I really don't have much respect right now for the way he plays.

- People will make the case that Altidore doesn't have world-class ball skills or an eye for the perfect pass, and justifiably so, but he has stunning composure and a first-class finishing touch, which, considering the qualities and deficits of US soccer today, I would estimate as infinitely more valuable.

- "Every touch he's had on the ball, Adu, has been a quality touch." - ESPNU commentator - I really don't know what to say about the refereeing this tournament. Probably something critical, if I could phrase it.

- Okotie is Austria's lovechild. A real Bavarian Messi, I'd say.

- The conditions today were a keeper's nightmare. The US U-20 program owes Chris Seitz a debt of gratitude.

- Some of these yellows were deserved, but I really wish referees around the world would learn from the refereeing in WC2006, US vs. ITA. Too many yellows will degrade a game completely and foster, rather than curb, animosity between teams. Or how about Portugal vs. Netherlands: too many yellows will remove a team from the tournament by dint of suspending all their key players for the proceeding match.

- I'm still considering whether US soccer has been an overall sucess or failure this summer. To be honest, I'm squarely undecided.


I'll be back later for FC Dallas @ DC United.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Actually Didn't Want to Post Tonight...

... but I'm realizing that in this fickle game we call blogging, one day missed is all it takes to fall greivously behind.

So, without further ado, here's a summary of today's news:

- No Open Cup glory this year, either: the Harrisburg City Islanders defeated DC United reserves 1-0. (Anyone else find the phrase "City Islanders" funny?) Here's D and BDR for good measure.

- Goff says that Namoff still looks injured, but Kpene looks like he might be ready come Saturday.

- @ Chelsea FC: Boulahrouz is gone. Alves might be coming.

- Uruguay's U-20's are just as sore as their senior MNT.

- Another Yank abroad? Dutch side HFC Haarlem is auditioning U-SanFran product Conor William Chinn.

- No, I'm sorry, but Eddie Johnson won't be heading to Derby County in the fall.

- Another gem from MLS Underground: Altidore, not Wolyniec, is drawing interest from Celtic.

- Orgasmical: Leo Messi continues to seduce the world.

- Beckham is coming. He'll be on vacation through the weekend, but after that, he's all ours.

And that about sums it up. I don't know how duNord does it so often.

Good night.

S.Y.N. And the Half-Assed Recap: US U-20's 2-1 Uruguay

I left to see a movie about sixty minutes in, so I don't have much to post here. I'll give it to you, but that was an ugly win so I think the less said, the better.

Who had a good game? Szetela continues to show well, Zizzo continues to impress, and Freddy was more than decent. That said, my bid for Man of the Match goes to Bradley as he (and sometimes he alone) kept the team in it through the finish. It's appropriate that he notched the go-ahead goal. You can tell that he's senior-squad quality.

Other notes:

- Wallace is solid.

- Altidore got cleated.

- The ref is whistle-happy.

- Beltran is having a better game than the one versus Brazil.

- It's amazing to see that the whole team is distracted in Seitz' absence. I'm sorry to say that Perk is giving folks a scare.

- Furthermore, the defense doesn't respect Perk like they do Seitz. There's a lot of miscommunication. I can tell at this point that Perk is a technically solid keeper, but I hope he is more confident than he looks.

- Neither team has had a solid shot on goal by the end of the first half.

- Akpan over Ferrari? Wtf? Did Ferrari do something to piss Rongen off or what? I'm dreaming up theories why Ferrari hasn't seen a single damn minute yet this tournament. The best I can come up with is that Rongen anticipates Altidore growing more fatigued as the tournament progresses and wants Ferrari as fresh as possible so that he can start over Altidore in the latter stages. Otherwise I'm thinking that Ferrari is already established with a European club whereas McCarty and Akpan aren't and Rongen wants the world to give them a look. Otherwise, WHAT THE F*CK GIVES???? (I missed it! Ferrari got some minutes and I missed it! Ives says he was fairly mediocre, though.)

- McCarty for Zizzo? I'm just as baffled. Rongen needs to start defending himself during the post-game interviews because these substitutions are inexcusable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Setiz Out v. Uruguay!

It's just as I feared: Seitz won't be playing against Uruguay. Ives is pegging Perk for the start. I hope the kid has been good in practice, because Seitz has been phenomenal on the pitch. This strikes a bit of fear in my heart.

The only solace I have is that Seitz wasn't kept out of the match by the knock he picked up during the game v. Brazil. Apparently he was injured in practice. Here's to hoping it's mild and he'll recover soon.

And here's to hoping Perk makes a name for himself.

Pour les francophones:

Bien, j'apprecie que tout le monde peut voir mes mots, alors... Je parle un peu (pardon, un peu mal) le francais et si vous voudriez commenter, je l'appreciais bien. Merci.

Sorry to disappoint...

... but I don't think I'll be able to catch the U-20 match v. Uruguay tonight. That's not to say I won't watch the highlights or read the recaps, and I'm even toying with the idea of ignorning the thing completely until I can get my hands on a game torrent, but for tonight at least I'll be attending other matters.

Hope it's a good one anyways.

Update: nevermind, plans changed. I'll be right here singing the US' praises tonight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chris Seitz Interviewed (along with Center Circle & Studio90) tends to deviate sometimes from being the mouthpiece of US Soccer Federation to the lowdown, player-access type website you would expect from a club team. I really like that.

Recently they've come up with an interview with US U-20 and senior MNT hopeful, Chris Seitz. Spectacular kid, one of the gems against Brazil, and one of the few players whom I would personally select as a soccer ambassador from my nation to the footballing world at large.

What I found most interesting:

'CC: How did it feel to be named Man of the Match against South Korea?

CS: “Well, when I’m named Man of the Match that means that the guys in front of me didn’t play their best game. I hope we don’t have to face that situation again, where I have to come up with some saves. But, that did happen and I have to be ready for those kinds of games, too.”'

He speaks the truth.


(And when you're done, there's this gem, culled from the US U-20 blog:

"Sunday, July 8 @ 7:45 p.m. Right as dinner started tonight, Thomas threw a bit of a curve ball at the guys asking them to go around and give one word that describes the team. Twenty-one players and twenty-one different answers, including ‘desire,’ ‘fight,’ ‘family,’ ‘heart,’ ‘friendship,’ ‘confidence’ and…ah, not sure we can repeat one of the answers, but a synonym is courage and it rhymes with ‘halls.’ "

Glad to see they're getting along fine.


Houston Deeper Than United? Think Again.

I feel goaded.

Neal Thurman over at the American Soccer Daily (a reputable read; I enjoy it) have just published an article explaining how Houston's phenomenal depth is one of the keys to its recent success.

Thurman compares today's Houston to the DCU of old, that oft-heralded squad which has established DC United as the gold standard of MLS prestige. This irks me because, while Thurman doesn't attack DCU's performance (quite the contrary; he called us 'hot'), he did imply that today's Houston squad is a better reflection of that awesome depth than today's DC United squad. I call bullsh*t. Yeah, during my last game recap, I ragged on the players a bit, but now I feel the need to defend them.

Time to run my mouth:


Perkins is indispensible. Priceless. He's proven several times this season that last year's form was not an anomaly, and that his title of MLS Goalkeeper of the Season is well deserved. Furthermore, his attitude recovering from several damning performances early on show Perkins to be a truly formidable goalkeeper in his extracurricular qualities as well as technical ability. Simply put, he's an outstanding member of the team, an inspiration as well as an asset. And young still. Onstad may have been this at one point, but not now.

Thurman claims that Houston's second-string keeper, Zach Wells, is "at least a solid MLS veteran back-up... unlikely to be the heir apparent, but is certainly competent." Jay Nolly is at the very least a competent MLS goalkeeper, and (God forbid) if Troy is injured any time soon, I don't see why Nolly isn't as good a backup as Wells, even in spite of the fact that Nolly is an MLS rookie. Especially with Vanney at center back instead of Erpen, I have a least a small bit of confidence that Nolly can keep a net clean or a game close.


McTavish is establishing himself as a stellar young talent, Boswell is a veteran in the making, Vanney is melding surprisingly quickly, and Gros is more than adequate at left back (if by adequate we mean Houston's Waibel). Once Namoff gets healthy, DCU will boast one of the most solid defenses in the league. Utility players such as Gros, Carroll, and Simms can help ensure that the DC defense is well stocked. DCU fans will point out that defensive depth is still one of the most fundamental elements the squad is lacking, but if Boswell & Co. represent a lack in depth, then the league has higher standards than I thought.

UPDATE: Marc Burch is a revelation. I now think DCU has one of the top defenses in the league and have completely made up for our holes on D. We'll miss Gros, but I may have overestimated his impact on defense.


DCU's midfield is roughly comparable to that of Houston, especially considering the roles DeRo and Gomez play. Thurman is impressed by Houston's midfield options and I am impressed with DC's. Thurman admits that DeRo has been off form as yet but will make progress, and I would say the same for Gomez. Thurman admires Houston's wingers in the same fashion as I do DC's. What's the difference? Houston's midfield has cohesiveness and chemistry, whereas DC is still finding theirs -- but considering that Houston's well-oiled midfield was still struggling against United's misfiring mids, I'm content to just wait and see what DC can do when they click.

Try this: when Namoff gets healthy, Gros will proabably move up to his traditional left wing, pushing Olsen back into the holding midfielder role over Brian Carroll with Fred over on the right and Gomez up top. A player as solid as Brian Carroll being ousted from the starting XI -- what do the Dynamo have to say about that? And does Houston have an answer for Clyde Simms, upstart Justin Moose, or US U-20 Brian Arguez? I'm not sure they do.


Addlery is a target man like DCU hasn't seen in years (sorry, Jamil) and he hustled and muscled really well for his first goal of the season versus Colorado. I would say that Addlery has proven he is worthy of a place on a solid MLS squad. But let's keep in mind -- at DC, he's third string (!). With all of his physicality and poaching qualities, we have to remember that Addlery's daunting attacking presence is still only third string. Meanwhile Emilio has found himself one of the top three bids for '07 Golden Boot.

Furthermore, Moreno (you know, the all-time leading scorer for the MLS, just coming back from excellent performances in the Copa America?) will be back next game, and diamond-in-the-rough Guy-Roland Kpene could recover in as soon as two games. That's phenomenal depth for a set of attackers, especially when you consider that Fred is still lauded as the premier candidate for Jaime's role as withdrawn forward.

Thurman mentions that one reason why Houston's squad can be considered so deep and so talented is because none of their core players (read: Rico Clark, Dwayne DeRosario) are currently being scouted for moves overseas. The same can be said for DC United (although I hope that this changes in Arguez' case, at least).

I'm only inclined to consider Houston as a deeper squad than United if you consider the two teams' form from the beginning of the season. Houston has been more consistent -- probably the most consistent team in the league today. But instead of drawing a comparison to yon Eagles of olde, I'd rather draw a comparison to Nowak's DC last season. Time will tell which comparison is more accurate.

DCU has shown improvement from the start of the season, and where DCU's improvement is concerned, I'm positive that in the near future DCU can mold itself into the league's premier club again, ahead of Angel's Red Bulls, Schelotto's Crew, or Beckham's Galaxy. Despite what people (myself included) will claim to the contrary, Tommy Soehn has assembled a tidy little army for himself. Once they find each other on the field, I'm sure we'll find them in the headlines.

And we haven't even used our DP slot yet.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Get ESPN to Cover the U-20 Game vs. Uruguay!

I'm calling all you reticent readers to action:

Even if you can't write well or just can't express yourself with the written word, I'd like you to do a bit of writing for me.

In 500 words or less, tell ESPN they should replace a re-run of the Home Run Derby with the upcoming U-20 game against Uruguay. The game's this Wednesday at 7:45 PM Eastern. You know ESPN is capable of making these kinds of last minute decisions, and the last one was a good one, so please -- make yourself heard!

And if you yourself have a blog of your own, post a little bit of encouragement for others to send in to ESPN. I honestly believe that if ESPN receives any more than two dozen personally written comments about the issue, they'll listen. And I'm not alone.

I for one would rather see the match on my television than on my computer screen. Just a preference though.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Winning Streak Fizzles: Houston 1-0 DC United

Recaps from: An American's View, Goff, PPP, DCenters, Edgell Supporters, and Fullback.

My recap is a bit more critical than DCU deserves, perhaps, but these are pertinent points so I'll make em.

In brief: United needed to create more chances in the box, find each other better on the ground, and talk to each other better on defense. These things are nothing unusual, but it's disappointing that we're still dealing with these kinds of problems well into the middle of the season.

Who had a good game? Carroll did well to slow DeRosario and showed himself to be a really intelligent defensive mid. He deserves DCU's MoM tonight, if anyone does. (BDR disagrees.)

I'm really concerned about how McTavish will fit in on the wing now that Boswell is back. McTavish is a good right back, but Boswell doesn't seem to realize that when McTavish is heading forward (like all good wing backs should) he should be pinching over for cover. Vanney does this for Gros. I'm praying that either McTavish learns the right back spot pretty well or Boswell starts showing the potential to become a great center back, because otherwise I'm inclined to put McTavish back in the middle. Yikes.

Am I the only one that thinks Gomez has lost chemistry with the rest of the offense? There are times now when he passes but no one's there to receive, or he makes a pass that kills the momentum, or chips for a run when no one's running. It makes me think that he's a bit lost. Maybe when Jaime gets back Gomez'll look like the reigning MLS MVP, but right now it looks like our young guns are going in a different direction than he is. I'm looking at Gomez' current form and the fact that we're still waiting to use our DP slot and I'm really starting to wonder where Gomez will be by the start of next season.

You know what? Let me go a little bit deeper: I really think Olsen, Gros, and Gomez are still working off the Jaime/Esky system of attack even though Fred, Emilio, and Addlery are working with a completely different dynamic. Where the hell did our chemistry go? We never built momentum and I never got the feeling that we'd capitalize if we did. We seemed almost senseless out there and we're hardly connecting up front at all, as far as I'm concerned. I guess I'll chalk it up to the heat: we had similar problems in Kansas City, but with better results.

For all our problems on offense, it seemed like Houston had the same issues. The game was won on a lucky redirection from Ching, off a shot that Carroll could have closed down or Perkins could have saved. The best they got was lucky. Gomez punished the post and Emilio should have punished the net early on rather than making Onstad look like a hero. Houston really didn't have anything we didn't have; tit for tat. Don't think our performance deserved more than a point though. None seems about right.


Other notes:

- I wonder how much DCU will improve once Jaime gets back.

- I don't miss Erpen any more, and I wouldn't trade him back for Vanney.

- Let me give credit where credit is due: Olsen and Boswell deserve a lot of applause for joining back up with DC so soon after the Copa. First-class dedication. We really appreciate it, boys.

- A few days ago I read that Osorio (the one who just got hired for Chicago) was briefly considered for DCU's head coaching position before Soehn got the job. If this season finishes the way it started, that little tidbit is going to haunt me for a very long time.