Saturday, July 21, 2007

DCU vs. RBNY 7/22 -- Watch the referee!

I just spotted this on's pre-game article --

"REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Rob Fereday; JAR (opposite): Adam Wienckowski; 4th: Mark Geiger
MLS Career: 64 games; FC/gm: 30.1; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 6; pens: 18

Games involving Red Bulls: P15 W8 L1 T6; FC/gm: 30.8; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 1; pens: 8

Games involving United: P9 W3 L4 T2; FC/gm: 34.2; Y/gm: 4.4; R: 1; pens: 4"

It would appear that RBNY has performed decidedly well under this referee and DCU decidedly not. We receive more yellows, they receive more penalties... And the game being on their home turf, I fully expect Okulaja to be Bulls-biased. I'll be keeping tabs.

Friday, July 20, 2007

DCU's Lineup v. RBNY 7/22

We're sans Olsen, Moreno, Moose, Namoff, and Kpene. My picks:






You can count on DeRoux and Dyachenko seeing minutes in this one. I'm depressed about that.

Aha, Well Now... News and Notes for 7/20

The MLS has suspended Ben Olsen for the game @ RBNY by virtue of too many yellow cards, even though Benny's only got four. No one knows the real reasons behind Benny's suspension and if Goff knows, he's not telling.

Eddie Johnson still might be headed to the Premier League. Rumors have revived because Darby gaffer Billy Davies has suddenly become outspoken with his praise for the American international. This is good: if John Terry and Javier Mascherano can't pound goals out of this kid, I don't know who can.

MLS wants $7.5mil for Adu. Someone's going to pony that up by August 15th. I'd be willing to bet on it. On the other hand, Adu playing at Benfica would be sick. I hope MLS is flexible.

Rangers are close to signing Steven Naismith. This is great news for insta-hit DaMarcus Beasley. Rangers are composing themselves for a great campaign in the 2k8 Champs League, a frontier that Celtic have been pursuing for the past couple years with moderate success. Something exciting is abrew at the Ibrox this season.


Veron, Anyone?

Why is it the summertime and I'm still waiting for my days to become shorter and simpler? Sigh. Fortunately something woke me up from my stupor.

Awhile ago claimed than an unnamed Argentinean player spoke to an unnamed American player about the possibility of playing in the MLS during the Copa America. Now Sideline Views is claiming that player is none other than Juan Sebastian Veron of ManU and Chelsea fame, who is deciding between current outfit Estudiantes and our beloved DC United. The kicker? Goff is corroborating. There's definitely something abuzz down at RFK.

Until there's a signature on paper and money changes hands, I'm not convinced the Great DP Search of '07 has concluded. And money would seem to be the issue, as it always is: SV said something about $20 million but that's just stupid. Goff said something about $1.5 million, which strikes me as a reasonable amount to bring him here. If DCU could fetch Veron for that kind of money, I'd say we found ourselves a bargain. Apparently we have something close to that figure in the bank already: DCU's ownership is willing to foot up to $1mil, on top of the DP allocation money MLS is already taking care of ($400k). The next move is yours, Veron.


Here's my take. Veron would be an outstanding addition to the team and quite worthy of succeeding Gomez as our midfield playmaker. This goes without saying.

But the catch lies in the backfield. D over at DCenters disfavors a move for Veron because it wouldn't improve our back-four situation any. He's very correct. However, I've been entertaining dark, twisted, unorthodox thoughts recently and in light of these Veron-to-DC rumors, I think these thoughts need be outed:

Let's not use our DP slot on a defender. Let's fix our defensive woes by using homegrown, grassroots, MLS-quality defensive talent.

There are several reasons why this makes sense.

I mean, it's all about the money. Attacking players increase ticket sales and merchandising revenue as well as publicity for the club. Ownership is more willing to drop $2mil on a good attacker than $1mil on an outstanding defender. Current DP trends confirm this: Angel, Schelotto, Becks, and Blanco are as much commercial props as they are offensive assets. I predict this trend will continue well into the future.

So, with all these high-calibre attacking minds migrating Stateside, it seems obvious to me that the best way to better the league on top of attracting all these world-class stars is to pit our boys against them. Why hire an international to oppose an international? It makes more sense to season our internationally-infantile MLS defenders rather than build on experience these veteran international defenders already have.

The USMNT benefits as well: the migration of international attackers to the MLS will force our best domestic attackers overseas in search of a combination of less competition and higher technical ability.

I mean, at some point the players' union would have something to say about being forced to find work elsewhere and MLS would have to install some protective measures to keep our best and brightest at home, but I still think that the current policy of international strikers, domestic defenders is the best formula for success in the grand scheme of things.

So my advice to DCU is to snap up Veron. Gomez, Juan Toja, Guillermo Schelotto and JPA have proven how a high-calibre, South American offensive mind can positively impact a squad. Part of me even believes that adding Veron to the squad would encourage Gomez to stay at least another season or two. Let's get this guy.

Just do it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

High Marks for Ousted U-20's

Tim Froh, special contributor to Climbing the Ladder, offers reserved praise to the U-20's recently bumped from the World Youth Cup in Canada this month.

I like what he said about Rongen. Froh makes the point that Rongen has faults (namely his mid-game strategizing, or lack thereof) and definitely made mistakes this tournament, but that he is a coach the players genuinely like and who likes them, and that he has a sharp eye for talent. It's not like I don't want him as our U-20 head coach; I just wish the man was smarter about using his bench and more conscious about the status of his starting squad. Otherwise I think the team had a stellar run and really can't be criticised for underperforming.

I also agree that the US U-20's exhibited some of the most outstanding attacking football US soccer has seen in recent times. But I've already said enough about that.



What does it say about the MLS All-Star game if I'd rather beat this horse to death than discuss Nicol's lineup? This year I'm just not that hyped for it. Neither is DCenters, who go the extra mile and present several sound reasons why people just don't care this time around. Good stuff.

US MNT Depth Chart

According to Ives, if the World Cup were next month, here's who we could expect to be starting and who would be waiting in the wings:

US National Team A

  • I don't have any arguments against this starting lineup, really. Mastroeni is the only player I'd quibble about (Bradley over Mastroeni first, then Clark) but if there were an important match coming soon, I'd expect Bob to play something along these lines.
  • Ching is undoubtedly our number one. After his performances at the Gold Cup (and especially the Gold Cup final) Brian Ching has to be considered as our top-choice forward. He wasn't great, but he was better than Twellman and Johnson.
  • Bornstein & Cherundolo? Well, 'Dolo's been our #1 right back for some time and I really don't think Simek or Spector were spectacular enough to warrant a change there. and I'd take Pearce over Bornstein, maybe, but I'm waiting to see how he does against the likes of Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen.
  • Our depth at center back means that our centers are pretty much interchangable; Gooch and 'Negra get the start simply for having more international experience. Although, if Gooch doesn't find a team better than Liege soon, I prophesize DeMerit usurping Gooch's spot very shortly. I would be disappointed about that.

US National Team B

Convey------------------------------Justin Mapp

Ives and I are pretty much on the same page concerning the USMNT First XI, but here's where we split.

  • I'm really not okay with Twellman and Johnson starting up top, not with Justin Mapp on the right flank. Granted, I've not seen how Convey interacts with the rest of this particular squad, but I think that Twellman and Johnson really don't stand a chance without Beasley and Donovan giving them service. I would rather keep experimenting up front than waiting for Twellman to retire and Johnson to pull through. Little-known names which come to mind: Jeremiah White, Kamani Hill, Cam Weaver, Jemal Johnson, Charlie Davies, Chris Rolfe. Considering just how poor Twellman and Johnson did in the GC, we really need to spend some time inspecting these likids and finding the right fit. This should be our top priority right now.
  • While I don't see Cherundolo being replaced any time soon, Hedjuk definitely seems expendable. Get him out of there. His expiration date is the 2009 Confederations Cup maybe; I really don't want to hear of Hedjuk any more after that. If it's going on January 2008 and Simek and Spector are both doing well, I'll start a petition for Hedjuk to retire.

US National Team C

E. Lewis------------------------------------Spector
------------Parkhurst-----C. Gibbs---------------
  • I'm in the dark about how Kenny Cooper is recovering and I'd rather see Bradley try some other options up front anyways (I'm all for giving Josh Wolff another try, despite his criticisms). At this point I wouldn't mind seeing some of our youth players creep into the fold -- Altidore over Cooper or Johann Smith over Ralston. I like Nguyen, Eddie Lewis, Spector, and Guzan where they are.
US National Team D

H. Gomez-----------------------------J. Smith
  • Simek being America's fourth-choice right back is outrageous. That's just stupid. Didn't he show well when Bradley slotted him at left back vs. Ecuador? Simek deserves better.
  • Perkins or Seitz over Cannon, maybe.
  • I like Smith and Altidore and Wolff and Olsen and Edu. Gomez and Barrett concern me, as does Boswell.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Earthquakes Are Back!

As reported by Sports Illustrated. (And Ives.)

This is great news, but as an East Coast boy, I'm not exactly sure what this means for me. San Jose has a great fanbase, though, and I'm sure SJ will be happy to have their team back.

Next expansion I want? Philly. No doubt.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jen Chang on Altidore's performance in the U-20 WC

From his most recent blog post:

"3. Josmer Altidore: He's not 18 yet, but once he turns 18, expect a host of European clubs to come hard after Altidore. Given his youth, finishing ability and impressive physical tools, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of European teams rated Altidore as a better pro prospect than Adu. Altidore's stock rose even more in Canada with some observers pegging him as the best pure center forward prospect in the entire tournament."

Dammit, I agree.

A Broad Yank - news and notes for 7/16

Several, actually. There's quite a bit of news about Americans overseas, or potential migrations thereof.

- Beasley is pleased with himself after just his first match with Rangers, a friendly against German side Gutersloh. His confidence is encouraging, especially when you consider the fact that Beasley could be facing Champions League football later in the coming season.

- Heath Pearce has joined newly promoted Hansa Rostock in the German Bundesliga. Apparently Pearce had other options as well, notably from Watford FC in the English Championship where fellow Yank Jay DeMerit plies his trade. (That would have been cool.) But as it stands, the competiton to become America's premier left fullback just got exciting. In the past Pearce has been outspoken about his aim to become America's top-choice lefty and his subsequent disappointment that Bornstein seemed to be the favorite. Let's see how Bornstein steps up to the challenge.

- American Soccer Daily wants us all foaming at the mouth: apparently Celtic and Siena are the frontrunners to sign young upstart Danny Szetela. Other notables include Everton, 'Boro, and Reading of the EPL and Valencia of La Liga. Simply because I would love to have an American in La Liga (and because no one should be outdone by Canada), I'm rooting for Valencia to win his signature, but from a practical perspective, Siena is probably the place to go. If he moves to Italy he's got a good chance at Serie A minutes (better than Ferrari, anyway), access to some great training facilities, and a great atmosphere to play in. And Celtic? Beasley plays for Rangers, of course; the Glasgow derby would become infinitely more interesting. Spain, though... And for Valencia... What a dream that would be.

- Remember that kid I was telling you about last week? The one you've never heard about, who just might be on his way England? Well, it's not happening: Greg Dalby has been denied a move to Preston North End by the UK Home Office. I say that's bollocks. The UK's stringent work permit laws screw a lot of people, but they seem to like screwing Yanks in particular. (Interesting debate abrew in the comments below!)

- Conor William Chinn won't be headed abroad, either. Apparently HFC Haarlem were in the market for tried and true playing ability and not young talent, although they seemed to think that Chinn had plenty of the latter. NCAA has assured the 19 year-old another three years of college ball, so there's no rush. I'll remember this one.

- And finally: there are rumors circulating about that ex-Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello could be headed Stateside. He's been approached by an unnamed MLS team. (Ives is guessing NYRB because in his estimation, Red Bull are becoming less and less enamored of the team's potential for revenue.) My take? It's an interesting proposition, but I question how dedicated Capello would be once he got here. His interest in the job seems to be driven by curiosity, not conviction. "It would be a new experience that would intrigue me not for the money but to see if anyone could make American soccer take off," says Capello. I guess he's insinuating that Beckham can't do it alone. He's probably right.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chelsea To Play 'Creatively' In The Coming Season

I've just been informed that Mourinho is going to flout the critics this coming season by playing some creative football. The evidence to qualify his words? Check out this truthiness:

Club America 1 - 2 Chelsea - SSN
Uploaded by FootballHeaven

Malouda notches a goal and an assist in his first match wearing blue.

I'll chalk this up to his skill as an individual, but what really stood out to me, watching those goals, was some excellent team chemistry. And that's why the rest of the Premiership still regards Chelsea as the team to beat in spite of their pointed lack of summer spending. For a player such as Malouda to come into a team and gel so quickly is nothing short of transfer genius from Jose Mourinho. I'll say this: when world-class stars convene on a pitch, it is not always an attractive thing; what makes or breaks the team is how they cooperate. And it would appear that Chelsea FC is cooperating supremely well.

(And let me just say, it really does me some good to see Chelsea celebrating as a team, as a whole team, Malouda included. CFC is a real, total, complete goddam team and I love it. Well, that, and it's just damn funny to see John Terry try something remotely like samba.)

Mourinho's promised that he wants to play some creative (read: attractive) football in the coming season. And, get this, he's issued it as a warning to Michael Ballack. Apparently the style of football Mourinho wants to play, and specifically the formation he wants to play it with, doesn't suit Ballack's imposing physicality and technical prowess.


But really, with world-class wingers like Florent Malouda and Joe Cole and Solomon Kalou, playing a style of play which favors the wings makes plenty of sense.

Can't wait to see it once the season starts.

A Record-Setting Loss: DCU 3-3 FC Dallas

This was a loss in all but points. I know what the scoreline reads, but any time a team concedes three goals over the course of forty minutes, it's a loss. (And record setting? This was the biggest comeback in FC Dallas history.)

After singing his praises, Perkins let us down. His form not only regressed from last week, but it regressed over the course of those ninety minutes. He gifted FC Dallas their first and third goals. The second goal I can forgive (more the defense's responsibility, really), but misjudging those kinds of crosses is a flaw you resolve while you're still in puberty. Those kinds of mistakes are popular in high school leagues and amateur matches. Really, really, really should have had better judgement, our Troy.

Soehn is disappointed with the defense as a whole. (Shoutout to Dave Lifton over at Screaming Eagles for his podcasts, BTW. Absolute gems, those podcasts.)

Soehn said, "We're actually an experienced team. We shouldn't play like that. We played like young kids... Organizationally we weren't good enough." I agree. Boswell and Vanney played a respectable game versus Houston, but there are still some communication problems which need immediate attention.

"We let in three goals," said Tommy. "Any time you let in three goals, there's work to do."

BDR is furious with Bobby Boswell in particular. I would tend to agree. (Oops, pardon: BDR is furious with the coaching staff that Boswell wasn't traded. I feel that the choice of whether to trade Erpen or Boswell was a crapshoot; it's almost impossible to have any foresight with those two. Let's hope Boswell rewards us for his benefit of the doubt.)

Lastly, about DCU's loss:

OMG, was our offense a relief. Our starters, I mean. And really only during the first half.

But honestly, Jaime seemed to bring our offense back from the brink, Emilio was red hot, and Fred (Fred! Not Gomez!) was connecting with Jaime using some kind of telepathic tandem that thrilled me. Olsen got involved, too; and any time Olsen becomes a productive member of DCU's offense is an indication that our offense is capable of doing well.

I'd say that the biggest tragedy of this game, even bigger than the scoreline, is Jaime's injury. He's really an invaluable part of the squad. Let's he gets well, and soon.

Other notes:

- Soehn, you've got a real decision on your hands, don't you? DP slot = improvement at left back, improvement at center back, a holding midfielder with attacking qualities, Jaime's successor, or Gomito's successor? Take your pick; you'll be needing to address them all very soon.

So I lied.

Something personal came up. If I seem a tad careless, it's because I am. My mind is elsewhere right now.

DCU 3-3 FC Dallas. An American's View, Goff, PPP, and DCenters with recap material.