Monday, June 30, 2008

Help for a lousy offense

Josh Wolff is back from his stint abroad as he signed a four-year deal with Kansas City on Monday. Wolff gives the Wizards some much-needed help as KC has one of the worst offenses in all of MLS. The Wizards have 11 goals in 13 games this season and the 11th goal wasn't even one they scored themselves.

Wolff isn't the most prolific scorer and his inclusion on the US national team recently has been questioned. But Wolff has three seasons of double-digit goals, including one of 10 goals and 10 assists. If he comes anywhere near 10 goals this year, it'll be a successful return to MLS considering the sad state of KC's offense.

Ronaldinho has joined the Galaxy

For a charity match, looks like. But see how happy he looks to be sporting a Galaxy shirt? Even if it's not the LA Galaxy, it's perhaps a sign of things to come.

Who are ya? Who are ya?

I mean, I always thought that Chris Brown had a longer MLS career than this.


The real world intruded today, so I wasn't able to put up the Canales Corner, Monday edition, until now.

American English is an accent

Jack Bell rails at the preference of some for all things English.

My gripe about American announcers, however, is that too many of them are tied up in the insular soccer structure of the U.S. to have any independent opinions. It was painful to hear John Harkes try to be objective about DC United when commenting on their match versus the LA Galaxy. It was almost a relief when he finally just gave in to talking about his days with a young, pre-injury Ben Olsen and speculating about Moreno's thoughts while on the bench. I certainly didn't expect someone that tied in with the Washington club to give an objective assessment of Gallardo's elbow to Landon Donovan.
Greg Lalas, meanwhile, has his own credibility issues, as not only a former Revs player, but as the brother of the LA Galaxy's GM, Alexi.
At least those with direct ties to the people in the league have an excuse for pulling punches - some announcers are just so neutral about every aspect of a match that it sounds like announcing via the school of court reporting. Who passed to whom and who scored without ever any nuance or insightful observation, or interesting tidbit, or anything.
But far and away the biggest sin for me is that American announcers all too often sound so terrifically bored. That laid-back style is fine for the pace of baseball, but in soccer, players are tearing up and down the field with the ball while an announcing team discusses trivia like they're feeding ducks at the park. It sets my teeth on edge.
Granted, I grew up watching a lot of soccer in Spanish, and the goal calls that annoy some people are a classic essential for me. Different strokes, I realize.

"The Kid" converts

"El Niño" is Fernando Torres' nickname. In this cartoon, the stunned German says, "I thought it would be easy, like taking candy from a kid."

Torres (has to be him, he's the only blondie on the Spanish team) responds, "Idiot! Don't you know the Fury is ageless?" as he carts away the Euro Cup.

Cover Boys

Yesterday, today and always, all with the Reds
MARCA 1-0 Spain-Germany
It's no longer a dream, it's real. . . We're Champions!

Blattering about Plan B

If FIFA isn't looking to the U.S. as its number one Plan B option, they're truly incompetent. No other country has the infrastructure a World Cup demands ready to go. After all, the last time a World Cup needed to be rescheduled in a hurry (2003 WWC in China, because of SARS), that's exactly where FIFA turned.

In the company of greatness

Marc Stein waxes worshipfully about his charity game experience with Steve Nash, Theirry Henry, etc.
I had to laugh at his description of Kalou, because when I met him at the Beverly Hills Hotel for his official intro as a Chelsea player, that's how he seemed to me. Just a shy teenager, albeit one making millions of dollars. Gotta love the enthusiasm of youth, going to play straight off a plane.
Also, don't ever tell Preki, but when Luis and I participated in the Chivas USA media game last year, we had our own "Omigod!" moments (internally, of course) stepping on the field while he played. Luis was his teammate, and I tried to play defense against him. After the game, we both talked about our favorite Preki moments in his playing career and how lucky we were to see him in action up close and to play with him for one game.

Ladies who don't lunch

They play soccer instead, and think it may be the best thing about coming to America.

Though I've moved since then, MacArthur was one of my local parks when I got my first apartment in LA. That dirt field is beat to heck from all the games played there, but it's the center of a little feeling of community.
It's true that the U.S. offers women opportunities in soccer that they simply didn't have elsewhere. When I taught at nearby Belmont high school, a little freshman girl told me that she had to hide her soccer uniform from her mother, who was convinced playing the game would keep her daughter from ever marrying. What's interesting is that the girl had her father as an ally - he'd drop her off at practices and covered for her absences so that her mother wouldn't suspect the ruse.

Achtung Chromoxid

1. New England Revolution - Nicol and Co. rise above the parity of MLS.
2. Columbus Crew - Ekpo adds another weapon to the Crew's arsenal
3. DC United - Unstoppable in June
4. Toronto FC - Still need to show something on the road.
5. New York Red Bulls - Grading on grit instead of style, this team is up there.
6. LA Galaxy - Wilt in the DC heat under a barrage of goals.
7. Chicago Fire - A point could halt the team's summer slide
9. Houston Dynamo - Ching and Co. could still use Jaqua
10. Chivas USA - Savvy Razov will almost always capitalize on gimme chances
11. FC Dallas - Take home the cannon as Cooper keeps scoring
12 - Colorado Rapids - Fernando Clavijo might be hanging on by a thread.
13 - San Jose Earthquakes - They hold on for an important point on the road
14 - Kansas City Wizards - Can't seem to score unless the other team helps out

London Broil Rankings (June 30)

1. New England (9-4-3). Khelli Dube as influential in win as Steve Ralston.
2. Columbus (8-4-2). Effective Ekpo could give Columbus yet another dimension in already strong midfield.
3. DC United (7-7-1). Rout of Galaxy punctuates DC's return.
4. Toronto FC (6-5-3). Getting closer to success on road.
5. LA Galaxy (6-5-3). Thoroughly whipped by resurgent DC.
6. Chicago (6-5-2). This week's essay winner: 333 Minutes of Ineptitude, by Chad Barrett.
7. New York (5-4-5). Osorio getting the most from one of least talented sides in Eastern Conference.
8. Chivas USA (5-6-3). Can't rely on opposing left back's mistakes for offense every week.

9. Houston (4-4-7). At some point, those ties need to turn into wins.
10. Real Salt Lake (5-6-4). What a horrendous way to drop a road point.
11. FC Dallas (4-6-5). Kenny Cooper can't go it alone.
12. Kansas City (4-5-4). Win can't mask team's offensive struggles.
13. Colorado (5-8-1). Can Rapids just put Clavijo out of his misery?
14. San Jose (3-8-3). No quit... and, uh, no offense... in these guys.

Week 14 Spotlight

Top XI

G: Joe Cannon Kevin Hartman
D: Bakary Soumare
D: Ramiro Corrales Claudio Suarez
D: Michael Parkhurst Frankie Hejduk
M: Emmanuel Ekpo
M: Guillermo Barros Schelotto
M: Steve Ralston
M: Marcelo Gallardo
F: Kenny Cooper
F: Brian Ching
F: Luciano Emilio

Coach: Tom Soehn went right after the LA Galaxy's defense and kept the pressure on one of the league's worst defenses and never really let the league's top offense get on track. Sure, most teams don't possess the offensive weapons DC has, but Soehn and DC showed how best to play against the Galaxy.

Steve Nicol: Nicol righted the NE ship and sealed the deal to coach the MLS All-Stars for the second straight year.

Player: Luciano Emilio. A combination of Emilio miscues and Steve Cronin saves kept the DC forward from scoring more than just his two goals. As it stood, though, last year's Most Valuable Player is on a tear right now.

Top save: Joe Cannon had a pair of stellar saves late in San Jose's 0-0 draw at Chicago; he turned away Justin Mapp and Chris Rolfe from close range.

Top goal: Emmanuel Ekpo's run through the heart of Colorado's defense and clinical finish from long range was the best of another batch of so-so goals.
Kenny Cooper pops in the goal with an untouchable header that wins "El Capitan" - he's proving he's not just good with his feet.

Many of San Jose's offensive woes can be traced to Kei Kamara. Saturday against the Fire, Kamara had a clear chance to bag what could have been a match-winner late in the game. Shea Salinas ripped a shot off the post and the rebound fell to Kamara. With Fire 'keeper Jon Busch woefully out of position, Kamara settled and had nearly half of an open goal to shoot at. Instead, Kamara pushed his shot wide. Seriously, are there no better options for San Jose? There has to be at least one capable forward in the USL-1, no?

San Jose's offense is lousy but for my money Kansas City has the worst attack in the league. When you consider their talent level (Claudio Lopez, Carlos Marinelli) and their output (11 goals in 13 games), KC's attack is easily the most inept in all the league. At least San Jose has an excuse; they are an expansion side, and expansion teams have struggled to score goals. What's Kansas City's excuse? The Wizards are a sad sack side that doesn't deserve to go back to the playoffs with their ineptitude up front.

The Western Conference continued to show their combined inferiority to the Eastern Conference. Western clubs combined for an 0-3-4 record this week with five goals scored and 10 goals allowed. Houston and FC Dallas tied 1-1 while the rest of the conference met up with Eastern rivals. Western leaders LA would be tied for fourth with Toronto in the Eastern conference and are the only Western teams among the top seven overall.

New York announcer Shep Messing on Kevin Goldthwaite's pass that led to Chivas USA's lone goal on Saturday: "That is one of the worst plays I've ever seen... Why in the world would you play a square ball during the waning seconds going into the locker room with the lead? That is sheer stupidity."

Brad Guzan didn't whiff on NY's free kick goal. He completely misjudged and missed the ball.

Tony Beltran's own goal in the 89th minute - a spirit-crushing moment for RSL that cost his team the draw.

Ante Jazic gave up a crucial PK - basically ran into an opponent from behind. Clumsy, clumsy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Has a sleeping giant awoken?

Long thought of as underachievers, Spain put the finishing touches on a tremendous showing at Euro 2008. Spain demolished the opposition in the first round and finally put their past to rest against Italy as Spain ousted the Italians via penalties. From there, a 3-0 semifinal win over Russia and Sunday's 1-0 win over Germany were somehwat anticlimactic. The championship was destined for Spain; all they had to do was claim it, which they did.

Given the abundance of Spanish talent available and the elite status of Spain's La Liga, it seems everything has long been in place for Spanish successes at European Championships and World Cups. Now that Spain finally has won a title, for the first time since 1964, has Spain joined the ranks of the upper echelon?

Is Spain a legit world power? Or do they still need to succeed at the World Cup? After all, Spain last reached the final four of a World Cup in 1950.

Spain could certainly pull a France and win two major tournaments in three years time. France beat Brazil to win the 1998 World Cup, then beat Italy to win Euro 2000. Spain will likely be considered one of the teams to beat entering the 2010 World Cup regardless of the draw and now that they shed their underachiever status, perhaps they can play with confidence they've not enjoyed for quite some time, if ever.

Last chance to vote!

Final call for ballot help. I've got to turn my ballot in this week. The tally as it stands.

Matt Reis 9, Jon Busch 8, Kevin Hartman 1

Bakary Soumare 11, Frankie Hejduk 9,Chad Marshall 8, Michael Parkhurst 8, Gonzalo Segares 8, Sean Franklin 5, Jimmy Conrad 3, Facundo Erpen 1, Marco Velez 1, Marvell Wynne 1, Abel Xavier 1.

David Beckham 18, Cuauhtemoc Blanco 16, Shalrie Joseph 12, Robbie Rogers 12, Javier Morales 5, Kyle Beckerman 4, Maurice Edu 4, Dwayne De Rosario 3, Guillermo Barros Schelotto 2, Andre Rocha 2, Marcelo Gallardo 1, Stuart Holden 1, Sacha Kljsetan 1, Justin Mapp 1, Pablo Mastroeni 1, Steve Ralston 1, Pablo Richetti 1, Laurent Robert 1, Clyde Simms 1, Andy Williams 1.

Landon Donovan 18, Kenny Cooper 15, Edson Buddle 2.

Germany/Spain running blog

The final! Will Spain throw off the mantle of underachiever? Will Germany triumph, sending the momentum of its fans gained during the World Cup into a frenzy?
Funny how Foudy talks about how goalkeepers need games to be sharp in reference to Jens Lehmann. Foudy didn't say anything like that when saying she wouldn't want to play in front of Hope Solo after Solo protested getting replaced at the Women's World Cup by Scurry, who had hardly played.
There's a bunch of pregame stuff - including a song by Enrique Iglesias, the anthem of the Cup. Can you hear me? Doesn't seem too connected to soccer.
Here come the teams. Ballack is a starter. So is Cesc.
Spain: Casillas, Marchena, Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Capdevila, Senna, Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas, Silva and Torres.
Germany : Lehmann, Friedrich, Lahm, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Frings, Hitzelsperger, Ballack, Schweinsteiger, Klose and Podolski.
Spain stand stoically as their non-lyric anthem, the Royal March plays. Germany belts their song out, as do plenty of German fans in the stands.
Iker and Ballack shake hands.
2 - Gray says that it's in the German nature to get the job done.
4 - So far, though, it's been almost all Spain possessing early, though they're not really penetrating. And Germany nearly steal one - Klose nabs a bad backpass, but his touch isn't great and he loses the ball.
7 - Gray cracks on Capdevila being far offside, calls it "ridiculous".
8 - Ballack shows he has some moves, beats Puyol, but his cross doesn't find a match.
9 -
Hitzelsperger with a shot, but it doesn't really test Casillas.
12 - Torres is all alone up high. The announcers seem to think Spain going back to their old formation is a good idea. I'm not sure.
13 - Germany corner, Casillas punches it way out. It's served back in but Casillas has it.
15 - Almost an own goal - Iniesta in the box pokes in a cross that deflects off Mertesacker and Lehman has to save the goal-bound ball.
Germany clear the ensuing corner.
17 - FK for Spain, a ways out. Lehmann comes up with it.
18 - Torres in the box, gets dispossessed, goes down, no call.
19 - Gray wants Gullit to explain the Galaxy's loss. Did he see the game?
20 - Torres with some tricky play earns a FK deep on the right. When it's taken, Torres does get a head on it, but can't direct it well and it pops over the goal.
22 - Off the post! Torres nearly had the opening goal on a header where he out-jumped his defender. So close.
25 - Podolski gets a corner kick for Germany. the service is cleared, but it goes right back into the box, where Ballack takes a sideswipe at it, hitting Ramos in the side with the ball. Spain are able to clear, but that was also close for Germany.
28 - The game is back and forth with both teams taking advantage of the extra room on counters.
30 - Torres versus Mertesacker in the box, Torres can't get his shot off, but Mertesacker gives up a corner.
32 - Cesc with a shot - but Lehmann gets down and claims the ball.
33 - GOAL! Torres finally breaks through. Xavi sends in a pass, and Lahmn can't shield effectively as Lehmann comes out for it. Torres just gets there and puts the ball over the diving Lehmann. 1-0 Spain.
Torres celebrates with a classic knee slide.
36 - Ballack is off the field with a cut on his head.
37 - While he's getting stitched, Germany earn a dangerous FK. Ballack's not there to take it, and Schwiengstieger hoofs it way out.
39 - Ballack is sent off again, because his stitches are bleeding. Germany need to use the electrical tape that Justin Braun had on after his injury last night.
40 - Again, Germany earn a dangerous FK while Ballack is off. Germany get to retake the kick. Ballack gets on before the rekick. The FK is cleared for a corner. Casillas punches it out. Germany reclaim and continue the attack - another corner.
42 - Xavi prevents a German shot, and Spain try to clear.
43 - Gray is angry at the ref for not calling advantage and for not carding Ballack for his persistent fouls. Iker comes out to argue with the ref about it. Although he's the captain, the ref cards him for dissent, though Ballack also gets a yellow.
45 - Spain on the counter - Iniesta has the ball in the box, but doesn't pass to Torres in time, though he gets the corner. It's taken short, and Spain work the ball around, but can't get a shot off against the German defense.
Germany definitely look second-best at this point, but have time to show better in the second half and are only a goal down.
50 - Klose down for a bit - ran into a kick. Lahm is out this half, and Gray thinks it's due to injury, though I think Loew might blame Lahmm for the goal against Germany.
53 - "Little Xavi" as Gray likes to call him - cracks a shot that gets deflected for a corner.
Corner leads to a shot by Silva that's deflected wide.
55 - Torres in another footrace into the box, but this time, Lehmann is off his line quicker to smother the shot.
57 - The game is much more open, but this time Spain is conceding possession and striking back via counter.
58 - Frings boots ball away after he fouls, but the ref lets it go.
Hitzelsperger is taken off for Karanyi.
60 - Ballack with a shot as the Spanish defense falters slightly - it's wide, but just barely.
61 - It's enough to revive the German fans, who are loud again.
62 - Ballack with a cross - Casillas outleaps Kuranyi to it. The Germans look dangerous again, attacking with more verve.
63 -
Schweinsteiger with a shot - or a cross? Whatever, he walloped the heck out of the ball, and it ricocheted of Klose and went just wide.
64 - Cesc is getting taken off for Xabi Alonso.
66 - Podolski and Silva face off and Silva does nod his head forward slightly, but the ref missed it - could have been a send-off, but Podolski wasn't hit hard. It was away from the ball.
The FK for Germany is sent poorly by
67 - Cazorla comes in for Silva. Spain have bent, but not broken under the recent German pressure.
68 - Spanish FK - Ramos gets free and sends a header straight to Lehmann. The corner results in a shot that Frings clears off the post. Another corner.
69 - Off the corner, Iniesta with a shot. Lehmann blocks, but can't hang on. It's out for a Spanish throw.
70 - Finally Germany are out of immediate danger - offside is called on Spain, though Gray believes it was passive.
71 - Casillas confronts a dangerous German FK with a solid punch that clears the ball far out.
72 - If I were a ref, I wouldn't give Kuranyi a call just for that pretentious facial hair.
74 - Spain looking for a safety cushion, Germany looking for the equalizer, Gray hoping that a bad call doesn't settle a close game.
75 - Torres fights for a header and gets booked with a yellow. Gray is horrified at the call and points out to Healey how poor it was.
76 - Torres on a break, puts ball past Mertesacker but within reach of Lehmann, who grabs it.
77 - On another counter, Spain manage to earn a corner.
78 - Torres is out for Guiza now. So far, Torres is the hero, but there is time left. Mario Gomez is coming in for the Germans, replacing Klose.
Long pass to Guiza brings Lehmann out of his box - replay shows he handled the ball just slightly after crossing the line, but it goes uncalled.
80 - Spanish counter brakes at the German box, weak shot by Capdevilla stopped by Lehmann.
82 - Senna with a chance to seal it, alone in front of the box, couldn't reach the knock-down header. So, so close.
83 - Metzelder pulls at the face of Guiza, leading to a Spain FK. It's taken square, and the shot rebounds off Metzelder and goes out.
84 - "It only takes a second to score," says Healey, presumably chiding slightly the Spanish fans that are already celebrating.
86 - Spain looks closer to scoring, but they haven't. Corner leads to FK for Spain.
88 - German fans join the noise of Spanish celebration - imploring their team to score.
CRAP! The signals skipped and went black twice just now. I thought they promised that wouldn't happen again.
Kuranyi late on a slide tackle to Senna. Gets yellow for it.
90 - Gray gives credit to Spain for continuing to attack. But Germany finally manage a counter and lob the ball into the box, where their tall forwards have a chance, but Gomez fouls.
90+ Three extra minutes - Germany with another chance, but the cross is overhit.
Screen cuts out again. Dang. Announcers don't mention it, so maybe it's me and my cable service. Picture is back now.
Desperate Germany continue to try to get forward, but Puyol heads the ball away from the larger German players.
Final whistle!
It's over! Spain wins! Spain wins! Torres' goal held up and the Red Fury finally came through. Germany fall just short. Nice. Spain really played the better soccer throughout the whole tourney and deserved to win.
"Que viva Espana," ventures Healey a little tentatively, but I give him props for the effort. Torres claims a Spanish flag from fans and wears it as a cape. The Spanish supporters are going crazy - they may not be able to sing an anthem before the game, but they're singing now.
Aragones is getting air-tossed by his team. Be careful with the old guy - dudes.
Tommy Smythe says "the demons are gone" for Spain. Foudy says Spain is "letting go of some of those jinxes".
"Si, si, si! La Copa esta aqui!" chant Spanish players holding the trophy. Yes, yes, yes, the Cup is here! "Spain reign." says Healey.
That doesn't leave much to say. "We are the Champions" blares over the stadium sound system as the coverage ends of Euro '08.

A Goose in the press box

Saturday night's match at Home Depot Center brought about several former US World Cup veterans. Before the match, I went to grab my seat and sitting a few spots down from me was Jeff Agoos. Had Andrea been at the game, she would have sat right next to the former DC United/MetroStars/Quakes/USMNT defender. At halftime, I went downstairs and ran into Marcelo Balboa. On my way back up to the press box, I shook Carlos Llamosa's hands and said hi to the ex-Chivas USA defender. Then, of course, Preki talked to us after the match.

But as it stood, I spent the most time around Agoos. I'm not sure why Agoos sat in the press box. He was in his suit, took notes in his notebook and was constantly texting or e-mailing from his BlackBerry. He sat there for the duration of the first half but I was surprised that he stayed in the press box for the second half.

Agoos wasn't really animated. For the most part, he watched the match quietly, scribbled notes and punched keys on his phone. But there were a few times he showed some emotion. He slammed his fist after Seth Stammler picked up a yellow card in the second half. Several times, Oscar Echeverry had bad touches and Agoos picked up on them. Towards the end of the match, Echeverry put himself in good position to create some danger inside the penatly area. Had he been able to control a pass, he could have had an open look from about 16 yards out. Instead, the ball leapt off his foot. Agoos tossed his pen in front of him, snapped his head to his right (towards me) and grimaced.

However, Agoos did not react much to the horrid giveaway and subsequent goal at the end of the first half. After Kevin Goldthwaite essentially set up Ante Razov for Chivas' only goal deep in first-half stoppage time, Agoos didn't overreact or anything.

A colleague had some suggestions on what to say to Agoos after the terrible defensive effort.

"Reminds me of your f-ups."

"Happens to the best of us, huh Jeff?"

Needless to say, I didn't take him up on the suggestions.

DC United/LA Galaxy running blog

Here we go, here we go now. I'm actually semi-awake. I even had a little breakfast (fried egg sandwich, tea).
Predictions, folks? Got a little while to get them in before kickoff to claim bragging rights.
LA: Steve Cronin (GK), Mike Randolph, Ante Jazic, Chris Klein, Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Alvaro Pires, Abel Xavier, David Beckham, Ely Allen, Sean Franklin
"The hottest team in the league" says JP of DC.
Zach Wells, Gonzalo Peralta, Fred, Marcelo Gallardo, Luciano Emilio, Devon McTavish, Clyde Simms, Gonzalo Martinez, Santino Quaranta, Bryan Namoff, Jaime Moreno
Eek - the bumper hadn't turned off Harkes' mic, so as the graphic plays into commercial, we hear him ask, "Good?"
Hopkins interviewed Donovan about scoring so many goals this year - LD seems more concerned about making the playoffs.
It looks hot out in DC.
1 - Beckham tries to cross the ball into the box, and catches Martinez (Harkes calls him Luciano) Emilio) in the tummy. Martinez looks in a lot of pain. And people wonder why defenders don't like to close him down on crosses.
3 - Quarenta with speed down the right, crosses into the box, but no one from DC is there.
5 - Penalty Kick! Jazic barrels into Quarenta from behind and Jair Marrufo points to the spot. Jaime Moreno takes it quickly, slotting it to the right as Cronin dives the other way 1-0. DC.
7 - Couple of half-chances as Buddle and Becks try to hook up - but nothing quite comes off.
9 - LD recieves a deep throw-in from Becks, gets pulled at, but doesn't get the call.
11 - Harkes, trying not to be a homer, says Emilio was offside as Luciano gets behind the defense and gets the pass. he's alone on Cronin, hits the ball low, but Cronin gets down for it. Cro gives up the rebound, though, but the Galaxy defense clear.
12 - CK for DC off another Emilio-led attack. Cleared, but the follow outside shot from Quaranta is wide.
14 - Pires in the box, can't really get a shot off - Pires gets kicked by Simms and goes down, but doesn't get the call. Counter going the other way, Luciano from Fred, this time he beats Cronin with his shot, but this time, the offside is called.
16 - Beckham gets a rough tackle from Moreno and sends a FK ball spinning into the box that everyone misjudges and misses, both on DC and LA.
17 - Wells catches a Becks cross.
19 - LA is conceding possession to DC - trying to avoid the counter, I suppose. But DC United prove they can build play up, working the ball around until Namoff takes a shot. It's wide, rattling the boards beside the net.
21 - Gallardo tries to beat X in the box. Doesn't quite come off.
NO GOAL - LD was just offside on the equalizer.
24 - DC with ball movement that the announcers ooh and ah over, but ultimately Cronin scoops up the soft shot from Simms.
JP, Gallardo did NOT play against Beckham in that infamous 1998 match. Becks was carded off before Gallardo subbed in.
26 - GOAL! Becks LD one-two, LD flicks the ball into the box and Buddle fights for the ball in the box, just getting a shot off as Wells comes in. 1-1.
28 - Burch in for Quaranta as DC has a dangerous FK. Gallardo takes, but Cronin gets there.
31 - Becks sends in anther cross that Wells catches.
Hopkins informs us that Q hurt his hamstring.
32 - LD in the box, tries to head ball over a charging Wells, but Zack is able to get a hand on the ball.
33 - Burch puts too much on his cross overhits Emilio in the box.
35 - Enough about the weather, announcers! We get it. Talk the game.
37 - GOAL! Luciano Emilio off a Burch cross. None of the Galaxy defenders in the box went up for the cross and the far post header beat Cronin. 2-1 DC United.
39 - Marrufo, one of the few fulltime refs in MLS, is letting a lot go this game. Becks gets nailed but no call.
42 - Gallardo elbows LD - LD is furious as he receives a yellow card. His nose is bleeding. Cotton is stuck in his nose. The ref and fourth official missed the elbow, but got Donovan for - I'm not sure - persistent infringement? No, dissent. TV only showed LD's yellow, but actually Jair carded both players.
45 - Gallardo tries to say something to LD, perhaps that the elbow was unintentional, but LD ignores him.
Halftime - Well, everyone expected goals and there are three so far, so at least the scoreless draw people were secretly dreading hasn't happened. The money men, Buddle, Luciano, and Moreno have gotten on the board as well. It will be interesting to see the second half.
48 - Galaxy corner - Becks finds Buddle, but Edson can't get it towards goal - the header pops up.
Hopkins reports that Ruud is frustrated with the officiating - believes Gallardo should have been red-carded for the elbow. If Andy Gray was calling this game, he'd be in a huge snit about that, too, I think.
51 - Dodgy defending around the Galaxy box, but they escape.
52 - Tudela gets a yellow, but the cameras don't show why. JP mentions Gallardo's yellow, seems to think that LD was upset that it took so long for the yellow to come out on Gallardo - no, it's that it wasn't a red card that upset him.
54 - The players are walking at various points now - the heat is definitely worse and wearing players down.
55 - Gallardo wide on a shot.
56 - SAVE! Fred versus Cronin, Cronin saves it. Harkes harshes on Fred's effort, not giving Cro much credit.
58 - Gallardo puts a shot over the top, after Emilio laid the ball back for him.
59 - GOAL! Gallardo in the box and this time he goes side netting. It looks like Emilio got a handball on that, but the refs don't call it. 3-1 .
61 - LD gets bumped in the box by Burch, but tries to shoot anyway and Wells parries. Marrufo doesn't call the PK.
63 - The Galaxy do get a corner, ball gets back out to Becks, Fred misses the clear and the ball hits LD, but bounces to safety for DC.
67 - LA looks exhausted - but the cliche is probably true - "It's not the heat, it's the humidity". It's not very humid at all in LA, and the humidity can really affect those who aren't used to it.
69 - GOAL - Emilio puts away the service from Fred, who took a touch pass from Gallardo.
Harkes is calling for Olsen to come in, waxing nostalgic about the all that Olsen's ankle has gone through.
74 - Harkes gets his wish. Olsen is coming into the game for Moreno. Harkes gets sentimental about the fans cheering for Olsen.
75 - Buddle with a wayward shot from way out.
78 - Buddle with another outside shot.
80 - It's mostly DC, though, as Emilio gets in the box again, Klein chasing, but Cronin saves and Klein clears the rebound.
84 - Cronin makes two saves in a row. He actually has 8 in the game, despite giving up four goals.
87 - The Galaxy try to work the ball up - they're stifled by DC.
88 - Buddle and LD in the box - can't quite hoot up and DC clear.
89 - Dyachenko goes wide and high on the counter.
90 - LD on the break, hits a shot that Wells saves - CK for LA. Header by Gordon is deflected for another corner. Becks sets up for this one. It's cleared for a throw in.
90 + DC counter, Emilio is in free, but Cronin saves it. Harkes makes some weird crack about how Moreno must want to be out there.
Final whistle.
DC an emphatic win at home. It might have been different if the call had been made for the elbow against Gallardo, but the home team took care of business.

All speed, no glory?

Dane Richards played a key role in New York's 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Saturday. He gave Chivas USA fits in the first half with his speed and play along Chivas' left side, as he drew a yellow card and set up the set piece that led to the Red Bulls' only goal.

Just how good is Richards?

Chivas midfielder Jesse Marsch isn't about to pencil Richards in on the league's Best XI anytime soon.

Marsch was asked what makes Richards tough to deal with after the match and said:

Speed. Pure speed. Not to discredit him in any way but he's just a fast guy. That's what he is. It's not like you're dealing with him being creative or him being alert or him being a playmaker. He's just fast. If you're smart and you understand how to play against speed, it's not difficult. How many times did you see Claudio (Suarez) get beat by him? Never because he knows how to play against fast guys.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Preki post-game

Preki following Chivas USA's 1-1 draw with New York. His first remark was regarding the lack of scribes down in the post-match presser as there were four of us there when he started, though more joined in afterward and in the locker room.

Marsch bite

Chivas USA midfielder Jesse Marsch on Saturday's 1-1 draw with New York:

I can only imagine what that game looked like. It must have been painful to watch. It was painful to play in.

Chivas USA/NY running blog

Sorry this is late. I couldn't find the TV channel for this at first.
"Andrea, why aren't you at the game?"
1. Gas is expensive.
2. I have no assignment to cover this match.
So TV running blog it is.
NY - Jon Conway, Kevin Goldthwaite, Hunter Freeman, Carlos Mendes, Seth Stammler, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Dave van den Bergh, John Wolyniec, Dane Richards, Andrew Boyens, Jeff Parke
Chivas USA: Brad Guzan (GK), Claudio Suarez, Jim Curtin, Francisco Mendoza, Ante Razov, Carey Talley, Jonathan Bornstein, Bobby Burling, Jesse Marsch, Sacha Kljestan, Justin Braun

15 - I love the matches in Spanish - the announcers usually sound much more serious about the game. Boyens with a header attempt on the set play - it's wide of goal.
16 - Announcers don't like the midfield of Chivas USA right now. "Poor touches and timing" they complain.
17 - Wow, flashback reference there. Justin Braun hits a pass for Panchito way ahead, and Jesus, the PbP guy, says, "Not even the son of the wind, Carl Lewis, could get to that ball."
18 - Dane Richards goes for a long pass, and has the ball when Bobby Burling falls over, the announcers get excited, but then trip over Ubiparipovich's name. They decide to call him Sinisa insteas.
21 - Burling is down on the ground again.
23 - Richards in the box, beats his defender well, closes in on Guzan, but shoots far post and misses badly! "He beat his defender with a move like Michel Platini, but he shot like Dane Richards, " says the announcer.
26 - FK for NY, courtesy of a foul on Richards.
GOAL! Van Den Burgh! Wow - Guzan is not getting to England with moves like that. Van Den Burgh serves the ball in, a looping ball that Kevin Goldthwaite charges and jumps for, but he misses. Guzan is rooted to his line, then moving toward the crashing players, while the ball drops and then merrily skips into the side netting untouched. 1-0 NY.
29 - Braun is down and the announcers have a conniption fit about the uncalled foul on Andrew Boyens, whose elbow landed on Braun's face.
32 - Panchito racing Dane to a ball, which seems a losing proposition, but Panchito just gets there and puts the ball out for a corner.
33 - Corner is cleared.
34 - Announcers are calling Panchito and Dave "speed demons". It sounds cooler in Spanish - demonios.
35 - SAVE off the line, Hunter Freeman! After the ball was chipped over Conway, coming off his line, Freeman just dinked it back.
36 - Handball! Twice over, it looks like - the last one off a Claudio Suarez scissor kick in the box.
39 - Chivas USA is playing much better than when the game was scoreless.
40 - Parke gets fouled by Razov, as Ante is trying to reach a long pass.
43 - Dane in the box, ball stays there for a while, but once the shot finally comes, it's a soft one and Guzan picks it up easily.
45 - FK for NY, Goldthwaite goes up for it, but heads it wide and crashes heavily.
45 + Chivas USA's energetic rush in reaction to the goal against them appears to be ebbing.
GOAL - The NY defense booboos big time - pass to the center defender just as he moves forward and so the ball goes behind him. Conway doesn't react quickly enough, and Razov pops in to sidefoot the ball past him into the goal. 1-1.
Halftime: It was Goldthwaite who hit the pass as Jeff Parke was moving forward - wow, what a blunder. New York must be disheartened, while Chivas USA is right back in this one.
60 - The wrapping around Justin Braun's head to keep his eyebrow cut from opening up looks like electrical tape.
65 - Not too much going on - back and forth but little in the way of clear chances.
72 - Freeman is fouled by Flores - Stammler takes a shot, but Guzan catches it well.
74 - Etcheverry is getting stick from the announcers for killing NY attacks. They can't stand his lack of understanding and connection with his teammates.
76 - This is a pretty messy sloppy game. Passes are going awry - it's not just the goals that are based on mistakes, it's a theme for this match.
80 - Sassano is coming in for NY's captain, Stammler.
82 - Magee with a pretty horrid cross attempt.
85 - Ck for NY - nothing comes of it. Announcers are having a go at Boyens who is down again, calling him a dirty player who fouls, pulls shirts and fakes injury a lot.
87 - Sassano pulls Panchito's arm on an attack - gives Chivas USA a FK in a good spot. On the FK, Braun doesn't get to the ball (Boyens is holding his shirt).
88 - Hamilton in for Braun.
89 - Ante gets cleated and goes down, but Sassano, I think, says something to him about it and Ante steps on his foot in retaliation. It's not much, but the ref give hims a yellow.
90 + CK for Chivas USA - it's cleared after some trouble.
Dane is down - having collided with Panchito - whose small size seems to be part of the reason the ref shows little pity when Dane stays down after the clash.
One last attack comes to nothing for Chivas USA - the teams split points as the ref blows the final whistle.

Smarter than your average soccer nut

Are you? Haven't done any Major League Soccer trivia for a bit, so here goes. Don't look it up - just try to answer off the top of your head.
1 - Landon Donovan, who leads MLS with 11 goals, has how many game-winning goals?

2 - Which two coaches have the best win percentages in MLS history?
3 - Is this really a picture of Cesar Alvarado? It's from the MLS Fact and Record Book, by the way.

Doing the little things

I have to admit, I've been ambivalent every time I read something about the Homeless World Cup. It felt a little exploitative - "Hey, homeless person, come play soccer instead of dealing with whatever problems led to your situation."
Then I read this article and started thinking about exactly what soccer provides. Soccer teaches the importance of teamwork, has these players learn something new, helps motivate them to combine together to succeed. Basic things like showing up on time, listening to instructions and appreciating others are all essential, but more likely to happen when people feel there's a tangible point and purpose. Everyone likes to be needed, and every player on a soccer team - especially when it's four-a-side, is important
Even the basic physiological benefits of exercise, excitement and yes, even a bit of an ego boost from any clapping fans counts for a lot.
If I could feel that way in my little rec league action, how much more might those feelings mean to someone without a home or support structure?

The long and winding road

As the situation of Todd makes clear, it's not that the sport of soccer has lacked friends in high places (John Skipper of ESPN is supposedly a big fan), it's that these people apparently felt all alone for so long. How many other soccer followers are peeking out of the closet these days and realizing it's safer to come out?

Possible injury absences

Davy Villa people already knew about - but now Michael Ballack may also miss the final.

Seattle sounds good

I like coffee. I like rainy days and green is my favorite color. I even have family living near the city. Why not? It's sounding better and better.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We few, we far too few

I'm sure our readers are aware that journalism is struggling as print media losses pile up. As news departments make cuts, soccer coverage is often one of the first beats to go.
On a personal level, it's weird to turn around in the press box and see the empty chairs of those who used to sit there. I miss the different perspectives of Larry Morgan (who covered soccer back to the LA Aztecs) Miguel Melendez, Jaime Cardenas and Billy Witz. Now the OC Register is axing their Galaxy coverage (Yep, in the middle of the season!), so Damian Calhoun won't be coming out for practices or games any more. I didn't know Paul Oberjuerge as well as Luis, but I read his soccer stuff all the time - he was let go from the Daily News Group.
When Frank Del Apa was out for the U.S. versus Barbados match in LA recently, he wasn't actually covering the game. He'd stopped by on his own, because he loves soccer, but he had to leave the game early to cover the Celtics. They are his new beat, not the Revs or U.S. Soccer.
According to LA Observed, hundreds of jobs are getting cut at the LA Times this week. It's just sad. I guess we'll have to wait and see if the number of soccer reporters continues to dwindle.

It won't happen again, promise

Yeah, right. But it already happened, so the damage has been done.

UEFA apologized for the blackout during Wednesday's semifinal match between Germany and Turkey. A freak storm caused this freak incident which, officials say, won't happen again.

That's of little consolation to viewers around the world. As Andrea mentioned in her latest edition of Canales Corner, it's puzzling to think that there isn't a backup plan in place, in case something like this happens. Of course, everyone inside the stadium - players, coaches, fans - were oblivious to what happened so they can't exactly stop playing. I mean, it's not basketball where you take about a dozen TV time outs each half.

For me, the game was ruined. It's one thing if you miss a minute or two but to miss that much time and TWO GOALS on top of it, that's preposterous. What made it worse was Rece Davis acting like he was doing us a favor by describing the goals and putting emotion behind it. He should have been sympathetic to us at the very least but instead it was pouring rubbing alcohol over an open wound.

Paul Oberjuerge compared the mishap to the infamous "Heidi Game" that changed the way TV broadcasts NFL games, except Paul argues that it's much worse than that. Can't say I disagree.

Unfortunately, the incident may have put a damper on the tournament. Instead of remembering Euro 2008 for the thrilling matches and surprise runs, the blackout could cast a pall over the tournament for some time to come.

Let's hope Spain and Germany put on a show that everyone can watch and overshadows the television disaster.

Bits and pieces

Becks non-bash, for a change.

The Post is less persuaded by Becks.

Basher here, but he's not a convincing one - he's going to see Becks Sunday.

Crazy Americans

Sharapova's not the only one watching from Wimbledon

Canales Corner #9

I'd borrowed a better microphone for some of these vlogs, but wasn't able to for this latest edition, so it's back to the crappy camera mic. Oh well. C'est la vie. On the plus side, I don't have to worry about syncing the audio up.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spain/Russia running blog

Rece Davis - says something about the Rolling Stones "with all due respect" one side will leave with satisfaction today. Dude, the Rolling Stones sang, "I can't get no satisfaction" not, "no one can ever get any satisfaction". If anything, the character in the song believes satisfaction is possible, and that's why he's frustrated. Anyway. Tommy Smythe said something, too. Wasn't listening, but he looked excited about it.
Pedro Gomez cracks about Davis' salary while informing us that each Russian player gets over 1 million Euros if they win here.
Spain are wearing their "unlucky" yellow uniform. Hmmm. They might be saving the red for the final. Former MLS player Donadoni has been fired as coach of Italy. Smythe calls his sack "unfortunate".
Davis is raising his voice a lot - but yet he doesn't sound excited. He sounds like a teacher trying to drown out students who are talking in class by talking louder then they are. That never works by the way.
A tango with the Spanish? No that's Argentina - the promo tease should be a paso doble with the Spaniards. That's like trying to order tacos in a Spanish restaurant.
The Spanish national anthem has no lyrics, so the players just stand there. Under Franco, some lyrics supporting him were written, but the song officially has no words, and so after his tenure, only the instrumental version is played.
Russian anthem, meanwhile, has changed lyrics more than once, including to remove references to Stalin.
The captains of the respective teams read an anti-racism message to the crowd.
Russia: Akinfeyev, Anyukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Zyryanov, Semak, Semshov, Saenko, Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko.
Spain: Casillas, Ramos, Puyol, Marchena, Capdevila, Senna, Iniesta, Xavi, Silva, Villa and Torres.
Of course, Spain beat Russia handily in group play, but Arshavin didn't play due to suspension. Yes, he makes that big a difference.
3- FK earned by Villa, but it's way far out. Russia gets the ball back almost immediately.
5 - Torres earns a corner, but as he slides over the line, he lifts a whole section of the new=laid grass. Corner is cleared. Then Spain serves it into the box again and Ramos nearly, nearly reaches it on a header.
7 - Villa and Torres exchange passes in the box, Torres looses an awkward shot that Akinfeyev parries out. Spain have come out looking hungry.
8 - Aragones looks unhappy. Apparently, he really doesn't like the color yellow. He's off to coach in Turkey after this tournament.
10 - Russia's held off the early Spanish surge, and now look to strike, but Casillas is all over the low cross.
12 -
Akinfeyev stops a long-range Spain shot as the Red Fury try to counter.
13 - Spain give up a corner.
It's taken short and the the cross falls to Ramos, who shows total trust in Casillas as he chests the ball to him to catch.
15 - Torres in the box, reaching for the ball, the referee whistles for a foul against Torres. Gray gets upset about the call - which the replay shows did look like a foul on the defender.
16 - Perhaps as retaliation, Puyol tackles Arshavin hard going the other way, but the ref whistles this one. Tasty FK for Russia
17 - It's put over the bar by Pavlyuchenko.
18 - Aragones is off the bench, doing the "settle down" hand motions to his team, who might be frustrated.
19 - Torres in the box, trying to control the ball - now, if he'd planned the move to carry the ball on his back that would have been truly brilliant, but he didn't and he gets tangled up and loses track of the ball. Russia clears.
21 - Gray: That final ball is just missing for Spain at the moment.
Very true.
22 - But now Russia have a chance via FK, as the rain really dumps down. I'm ambivalent about the rain - sometimes it's part of a glorious, anything can happen game, other times, it just really changes the outcome too much. Soccer turns from a game of skill into mucking about in slop.
23 - Russia getting chances now - a corner, becomes a throw-in, but the ball is finally out over the endline. Goal kick for Iker.
24 - Spain with a deep throw-in, but as Ramos tries to hit the volley, the ball slips and weakens the shot.
Akinfeyev catches.
27 - Semak fouls Marchena who tries to take a quick FK. Problem is, Semak is still holding the ball, which leads to shoving and a lecture from the ref for both of them, but no cards.
28 - Gray thinks Arshavin needs to get more involved - perhaps move up to forward.
29 - Silva is chopped down, but the FK is pretty far out for Spain. Villa gets it to
Akinfeyev, who didn't have to move that much to stop it.
31 - Pavlyuchenko from distance takes a crack at goal - just wide. That's what Russia can do, no matter how good Spain look otherwise.
34 - Villa is down and looking very sober - might be a serious injury. Yep, he's off. Cesc Fabregas comes in.
35 - Pavlyuchenko in the box! Chests the ball down and nearly gets his shot off, but the ball is touched out.
36 - Pavlyuchenko now with a low header, it's wide, but Spain has lost all momentum. Rae mentions the MLS Texas derby - is it really a proper derby when the teams don't actually play in the same city? Can't he just say "state bragging rights" or "rivalry match"?
38 - As the match wears on Russia's youth and fitness should wear on the Spaniards. If Spain doesn't score soon, I'd say they are in serious trouble.
39 - Fabregas cuts in a sharp cross, but no one from Spain realy made the run and
Akinfeyev catches.
40 - Gray thinks Spain suffers from overpassingitis. Yet at the same time, he says, they "lack the final pass"
41 - Both teams pressing as final five minutes of the half start to tick down. Casillas is out of his box to boot ball away.
42 - Arshavin is getting more involved on the right.
43 - Iniesta battles to cross, finally gets it off -
Akinfeyev catches. The flow of the Spanish attack is getting blunted by the physical defense of Russia.
44 - Torres gets bearhugged - earning Spain a FK. It's a ways out, though. Xavi send is too high for a header and
Akinfeyev catches.
45 - Puyol and Arshavin knock heads. I think Puyol's curly hair might give him a bit more protection. Both look ok, though. No blood like in last match.
Halftime: Spain looked better, or more stylish, going forward, but Russia had as many clear chances ( there weren't many for either side ) and nearly made them pay off.
I'm not sure it's a good omen for Russia that their big fan, Maria Sharapova, was upset today at Wimbledon. Perhaps not, as another Russian beat her. Speaking of, what happened to Spanish female tennis players? Is there anyone contending the way Aranxta once did?
47 - Adrian Healey is talking about Aragones "wise old man". Looks like the coach's rehabilitation after racist remarks about Thierry Henry is complete.
50 - Spain again the more probing team, but nothing yet. -
WAIT! Iniesta in the box, turns slightly shoots for the far post, Xavi pounces on it and redirects it into goal before
Akinfeyev can react. 1-0 Spain
52 - Russia immediately turn up the heat, but the cross in is cleared and Spain counter. Torres in the box takes a shot form a tough angle - over the bar! Could have really drowned Russia hopes here.
55 - Spain again in the box via a quick counter - can't get a shot off.
56 - Interesting that the teams have switched roles - Spain is countering quickly, while Russia is now forced to build up play. Spain is actually pretty effective on the counter.
Bilyaletdinov comes in for Russia, Semchov specifically.
57 - Torres just barely offside. Saenko is off, Sychev on.
60 - Bilyatdinov tackles enthusiastically, but a bit late and gets a yellow.
61 - Spain opt for possession on the FK and work the ball around well, nearly resulting in a shot, but do get a throw.
62 - Torres with a shot. He's been unlucky there a bit, but he keeps trying on difficult angles.
63 - Torres again in the box - can't decide how to hit a ball and then the cross basically bounces off him badly.
64 - ooh, now the missed chance could prove costly. FK for Russia in very tasty spot and with a good angle.
65 - Zhirkov sends it into the wall, though.
68 - Spain on a great counter - Torres gets the ball in the box nearly in stride, but the defense closes him down. Zhirkov a mostly clean tackle that leaves Torres appealing in vain for a PK.
69 - Torres is taken out and Daniel Guiza comes in for Spain.
70 - Cesc with a knuckling shot earns a CK -
Akinfeyev was forced to palm it wide..
71 - Off the corner, ball pops to Xavi, who cracks a shot on goal, but
Akinfeyev blocks it back into play.
73 - GOAL! Guiza in as Spain execute well on the counter as Russia scrambled to set their line. Cesc dinked a pass behind as both Silva and Guiza broke through the line, the pass flew past Silva, but Guiza corralled it and sent it past
Akinfeyev. 2-0.
75 - Russia try to come right back but Casillas wants to keep the shutout and takes care of the low ball.
80 - Spain haven't lost concentration or focus. They're harrasing Russia's wingers, cutting off crosses and keeping canny possession of the ball to limit Russia's hopes for a miracle.
81 - Can we hassle Hiddink for putting Arshavin on the right, where he saw little action and never affected the game? Hummm?
82 - GOAL! Silva off a great cross by Cesc! 3-0 Spain. Emphatic win for the Spanish.
85 - Well, well, the two finalists are the ones I called.
87 - "Spain have forgotten how to lose," Healy says. What a nice thing to forget.
88 - Ok, this one always surprises me, but I guess it's like how the England fans sing the heck out of "You'll Never Walk Alone" an American Broadway tune. The Spanish fans are raising thier voices in a loud chorus of "Cielito Lindo" which is a Mexican folk tune.
90 - Spain still pinging the ball around handily - while their fans are singing in the rain, which is staying mainly on the Spanish plain (since we're talking about Broadway).
90+ Sychev wide on a consolation attempt.
Final whistle - Spain's soldiers won the battle well, but the war is decided on Sunday - and the Germans are planning a blitzkrieg against the stylish possession game of the Spaniards. The final paso of the dance will go down then. So much for yellow - er, mustard - being unlucky.

Question for Dallas fans

SoccerAmerica has a look at some overseas players who are apparently interested in a return to MLS, and one name that caught my eye a bit was that of Cory Gibbs. Now, I've seen Gibbs play great with the U.S. national team and think he's a talented player, if rather prone to injury. However, I also got the impression that he didn't put the same effort into his tenure at Dallas. Perhaps it was a case of MLS making a higher-skilled player look bad, but at times, Gibbs just seemed disinterested to me.

Obviously, I'm not watching Dallas exclusively, or even all that closely, so I'm asking Dallas fans - miss Gibbs much? Would you welcome him back with open arms if his allocation fell to you? Or maybe this is more of a general MLS question - fans of any team, who of the Americans on the list Soccer America has would merit an allocation from a team? A DP slot? Any American not on the list that should be trying to get more playing time in MLS?

Don't all fall over yourselves picking McBride all at once.

Speaking of the charity game

Angel didn't play - he just made an appearance. Also, not to tell my ESPN editor what to title his own posts, but it looks like according to Theirry Henry, it should be called, "Jason Kidd can ball?" Yeah, and where's blogMaverick covering the things that really matter?

Red Bulls Gore the Goats

Man, New York is king of the 1-0 win lately, no? Here's the view from the other side, as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Liga takes first leg

Liga de Quito beat Fluminense 4-2 in Ecuador in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final. The club now just needs to draw or even lose by one to win their first-ever Copa title.

The final took a bit of a hiatus because of World Cup qualifying but the final is now taking center stage in South America.

Here are the highlights:


Pretend you're a forward, and get the ball in the box. A defender is closing in as you turn and touch the ball towards goal. He sticks out a leg to poke away the ball, but misses. His leg is now stuck directly in your path to the ball and the goal.

Do you

A: Move forward, initiating contact with the leg, falling over it in an attempt to draw a penalty kick?

B: Try to jump the leg and catch up to the ball in an attempt to score?

Explain your choice. Also, would any outside factors influence your decision, or would you make the same choice every time, in every situation?

Turfed Out

Sometimes the topic for an article comes up unexpectedly. Went to interview Buddle after the Columbus game, because Ruud Gullit mentioned in his presser that Buddle has changed and become a "real professional." Gullit talked about how Edson came early and stayed late. So Scott French and I brought it up when we talked to Edson in the locker room. He seemed surprised by Ruud's statement

"Who said that, Ruud? He just met me for the first time this year. I’m always here. I’m in no rush. I enjoy being here. I feel like 2001 is around the corner, when I first came into the league. I embrace this."

We asked about his good run, and what he was doing differently to perform well.

"It feels good. I just want to maintain. I know it’s a long season and anything can happen. I want to treat myself well and keep playing. I am healthy. There’s always something, but nothing major that will keep me out.
I try not to change up anything. I just want to continue to do the same things and hopefully, the way the ball is rolling, it’s going my way. I just keep doing the things that prepare me for the game. I think if I do those things, it will add up to bigger things."

That was a bit vague, so Nick Green then asked if Edson could explain what he'd been doing wrong before this recent run of form. Buddle didn't hesitate.

"I was playing on turf, that’s what I was doing wrong. Last year and a half, I was playing on turf."

He went on a little diatribe against synthetic fields, which dovetailed nicely with Canada's national team objecting to playing at BMO field - voila - a rather timely topical piece.

Of dives and men

From an email:
You failed to mention that Beckham dove on his penalty kick ;)

C'mon, you know the truth...

Truth? This reader probably can't handle the truth that the Beckham PK was about as legitimate as Robbie Rogers going down so quickly in the box from a Klein bump. Both players were fouled, in my opinion, both lightly. Both made a meal of it.

But isn't that part of the game - to call the ref's attention and try to ensure a call? If Paulo Ferreira had gone down after the push by Ballack during the Portugal/Germany match, would the goal scored by Ballack have been called back for the foul? It was a definite push, but the ref missed it. He might not have if Ferreira had made the foul more obvious.

If there is no competitive advantage for playing through a foul, a player actually does his team a disservice by trying to do so instead of making sure the contact is seen. It's contingent on the ref to make calls accurately and consistently.

I reserve the term "diving" for non-contact flopping, complete pretending that a player was hit. I despise that. However, I take the exaggeration of actual fouls as something of a necessary evil, considering the game's structure. I'm also loath to judge how much a player is actually embellishing, because a kick on a knee or stepping on a player's foot may not look like much, but completely ruins a scoring chance and can, depending on the bone or nerve hit, hurt like hell. A stubbed toe can actually hurt more than a fractured wrist (I say this from experience, as I didn't realize for days my wrist was injured, but I know the moment I stub a toe).

I've gone over this with others before - and at least some of it seems cultural, as in some countries, playing through fouls is considered a badge of honor, while in others, provoking contact and calling attention to it is considered an art form. It's part of the game, however, just like coaches and fans will always defend their own - "Our star gets hacked mercilessly" while always looking skeptically at any player on another squad who goes down. That's soccer.

Germany/Turkey 2nd half running blog

Yeah, I know, where was I first half? Duty and the paying job called. Now I'm back - just in time to catch Reece Davis making a horrid "Thanksgiving in Turkey" pun. Eeach. Foudy does a better job breaking down Turkey's goal. Tommy Smythe is enthusiastic about Germany working itself back into the game, even if he's not completely coherent.
Foudy makes a comparison with Turkey/Russia "nothing to lose", plus, she knocks Spain's psyche a little.
Davis swings in an "Achtung, Baby" in the bump to commercial. Why? It just seemed really pointless.
46 - Rolfes and Akman knocked heads in the first half, Turkey's medics just staples Akman back into the game. Germany may not have had the same equipment or they tried to use stitches, because fixing Rolfes took much longer.
48 - Turkey has shown verve and surprising skill, given their absences. It's taken Germany by surprise.
49 - Lahm whistled for a foul. Turkey FK. Lehman catches.
50 - Turkey in the box!, but the final pass is missing.
51 - Lahm on the edge of the box - gets taken down. Gray thinks it's a PK, but the ref waves play on. Wow. No replay yet. Boos rain down.
53 - Ooooh, that did look like a foul on the replay. Sheesh. Turkey had a big escape there.
55 - What Turkey has lost here, though it was the ref's fault is the good will of the crowd. Germany fans were mostly silent, now they're horribly indignant and booing every Turkish touch. That might rattle the young team.
56 - For that matter, Germany are showing better resolve and possession. Hitzberger and others are teeing up on Turkey's backup keep, Rustu.
57 - Now Ballack goes down - Gray doesn't think it's a foul, but it was definitely from behind and he caught the right leg. Ballack doesn't do much with the FK.
Screen goes black. Great. They're showing the fan zone, of all things.
Rae finally admits technical problems. Gray is asked if he's been to a fan zone. He hasn't I have, during the world cup. There's a lot of beer and good-natured cheering. It's hard to see, there's nowhere to sit, and lots of carnival-type food is sold. In Germany, that means sausage on a stick.
Well, there's apparently a power outage. Joy.
Smythe, Foudy and Davis are desperately discussing the game even as it continues. Lame. This is horrible People are getting fired, right now. As they should.
Or maybe not - as it turns out lighting hit the TV tower - the signal went out worldwide, turns out.
66 - Well, no goals scored during the interim, at least.
67 - Turkey still battling, moving forward, but that final pass still isn't happening.
68 - Germany more organized than earlier, but concede a corner just now. It bounces high, gets headed about, until Sabri serves it back into the box - dangerous-looking, but no red shirts are there to make something of it.
69 - Kazim Richards gets his shirt tugged by Lahm and goes down in the box in hopes of something - hey, if the ref isn't calling a PK for Lahm at the other end, K-R isn't getting this one.
73 - Boral with a shot - Lehman catches. Going right back the other end, Hitzberger fires wide.
75 - Rae promos the MLS match tomorrow - the Texas Tussle between Houston and Dallas. Ok, Rae doesn't really say Texas Tussle. That was me.
77 - Great - the screen is blank again. Damn.
Davis wants us to sympathize with German fans who can't watch the worldwide feed. I'm not generous enough to feel their pain in addition to mine. I need chocolate to soothe my nerves.
Shit on a stick and crapola - Klose just scored, apparently. I'm cursed. This game has three goals and I've missed all of them. Damn the lightning. Foudy and the desk seem to think the game is over and Turkey can't come back. Oh, well, I guess I can't see anything to disagree with them about that. I mean, it's not like I can watch the game.
See this is where technology sucks - I mean, if Rae and Gray were at the Euros, they could call the game, radio style, but they're apparently in a studio watching the feed. Or not watching the feed, as the case is right now. Foudy got ready (for the third time, to do her call of the Turkey goal - the insight of "ballwatching") Klose's goal was apparently a header. The announcers are talking about it. We still see nothing. Now they're talking German politics. What the heck does Davis know about that? I don't trust what he says. They're showing the Klose goal - Rustu was caught out of position. As they roll the video, Turkey scores, apparently again. The cameras catch a bit of celebration.
Now they show the video. Sabri gets in behind Lahm, serves in a great ball to Semih, who pokes it in past a frozen-to-his-line-then-leaning-in-too-late Lehman. 2 -2 all square.
90 - Hells bells! I finally see a goal, and it's from my favorite German player, little Lahm, who has actually had a horrid game mostly. He gets a pass from Hitzberger as German players crash the goal and he roofs the ball emphatically. Dang that was a strong finish - his first international goal since the beauty that he struck versus Costa Rica in the 2006 World Cup. 3-2 Germany. (Hey, this match is like a Galaxy game, but with Lahm finishing better than Beckham.)

The greatest game of this tournament and we've missed about half an hour of it - Brutally cruel.
Full time, it looks like.
Germany move on, but Turkey goes home with their heads held very high. Amazing. Smythe gives Lahm a lot of credit for his strike. Foudy gives props to Turkey. Davis says something about Germany being soccer-mad, well, duh, all of Europe is. Davies says it like it's unusual or something.
Foudy, previewing Russia/Spain - wants Lucky Guus to be "damn good Guus". Hey, they say it's better to be lucky than good. I'm just saying. No real prediction, though, from the desk and finally, coverage ends.

Bri disappointed

I'm not sure that Bri is referring to beating out Hope Solo for a spot on the team - it seems like she is arguing that she is a better choice than Barnhart. Who knows - but Bri is not going gently into that national team goodnight.

Open scores

The U.S. Open Cup bid farewell to seven USL clubs and one USASA side and will welcome eight MLS teams now after a full slate of games on Tuesday. The remaining games will pit MLS teams against USL sides; Cleveland, Richmond and Baltimore are all USL-2 sides while the rest hail from the USL first division.

Here are the scores from Tuesday followed by the next round's matchups.

Harrisburg (USL-2) 2-2 (aet) CP Baltimore (USL-2); CP Baltimore advance on penalties, 3-1
Western Mass (USL-2) 1 : 2 Richmond (USL-2)
Rochester (USL-1) 3 : 0 Pittsburgh (USL-2)
Charleston (USL-1) 2 : 1 Charlotte (USL-2)
Carolina (USL-1) 1 : 0 Real Maryland (USL-2)
Minnesota (USL-1) 0 : 2 (aet) Cleveland (USL-2)
Miami (USL-1) 1 : 0 Atlanta (USL-1)
Seattle (USL-1) 6 : 0 Hollywood United (USASA)

Carolina Railhawks vs Kansas City Wizards
Richmond Kickers vs New England Revolution
Cleveland City Stars vs Chicago Fire
Rochester Rhinos vs DC United
Miami FC vs FC Dallas
Charleston Battery vs Houston Dynamo
Crystal Palace Baltimore vs New York Red Bulls
Seattle Sounders vs Chivas USA

Leftover LD

On the Columbus game:
It seemed like little bounces didn’t go our way and we didn’t make plays. We were in a great position at 2-0 to close up shop. Then they got the first goal. We stopped playing and we paid for it. Then we did good to get back in it and we let it get away again.

On why the Galaxy give up goals:
Usually when that happens, the tendency is to say that the back four or the goalkeeping isn’t well, but the issue is that they’re able to get from their defensive end into the attack in about two or three passes, easily. That makes a big difference, when you have guys running at you – three, four guys running at the back four, that makes it difficult. That said, we should have done a little better, clearing some balls out and doing better there tonight. But it’s not always just that the back four is struggling.

In the first half, we actually did a fairly good job of being hard to play against – we really limited their chances. In the second half, the game opened up a lot and we weren’t as compact and therefore they had more space to play. They’re a good team. If you give them space, they’ll make things happen.
They’ve got a lot of solid, hardworking players. Like most MLS teams, they have a few guys who can hurt you. In between Schellotto, Rogers, Alejandro, they make it difficult. And they’re good on set pieces. That’s usually a good recipe, obviously.

On Ale:
He played well. Probably should have scored at least once. He’s always a handful.

On the penalty call on Beckham:
I couldn’t see it from where I was. It’s hard to tell. On their penalty, I wasn’t sure that [Rogers] really got fouled. On ours, I wasn’t sure that David really was fouled. But whatever. That’s the ref’s decision to make.

On whether Beckham was fit, as he seemed uninvolved at times:
I think he’s fit. There’s points in a game where you want dangerous players to even cheat a little bit, because you want them to get the ball. Other teams do it. Schelotto doesn’t defend. Alejandro doesn’t do anything. He sits around and waits for ball in good spots, so it kind of happens. I don’t know.

Why do the Galaxy blow leads?
One is, we’re young. There’s no denying that. We have a young goalie, a young leftback and a young centerback. That’s part of it. We work on things in training. You’re got to turn on the part of your brain that senses danger, you’ve got to put out fires. You’ve got to learn how to win. Some of these games, we’ve been giving away points. It’s funny, we could be eight points clear. We clean that up, we could be very good. But we’ve still got a ways to go.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More ballot help!

Alright, here's the updated voting as it stands. I want our readers to fill out my All-Star ballot. We got eight responses last week and thus far have enough for a team. However, with the deadline a week or so away there is still time to get in more ballots.

As venerable readers Ed The Red pointed out, it may have been best to hold out. Some players, such as Ed's boy Luciano Emilio, have turned up the heat in recent weeks and have at least put themselves in the discussion.

Anyway, vote if you would and help me figure out my ballot.

Matt Reis 5, Jon Busch 3

Bakary Soumare 5, Chad Marshall 4, Michael Parkhurst 4, Gonzalo Segares 4, Frankie Hejduk 3, Jimmy Conrad 1, Facundo Erpen 1, Sean Franklin 1, Marco Velez 1

David Beckham 8, Cuauhtemoc Blanco 7, Shalrie Joseph 6, Robbie Rogers 4, Javier Morales 3, Andre Rocha 2, Maurice Edu 2, Kyle Beckerman 1, Marcelo Gallardo 1, Stuart Holden 1, Justin Mapp 1, Steve Ralston 1, Pablo Richetti 1, Laurent Robert 1, Clyde Simms 1

Landon Donovan 8, Kenny Cooper 7, Edson Buddle 1

Reactions to roster

From the LA Times Olympic blog.

From Grahame

From the NY Times

From Beau

Local angles:

St. Louis

Gaining acceptance

Turkey's World Cup semifinal run in 2002 may have been written off as a bit lucky but the Turks are back in the final four of a major tournament. And if Germany eases up on Turkey for even one minute as Croatia did, it could cost them a spot in the final.

Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports takes a look at Turkey's run.

Central America or the Caribbean?

In seeing many predictions around the web as to which teams will make up the final six, I've come across some similarities. The three teams most expect to see through to next year's Hexagonal are the US, Mexico and Costa Rica. Canada also is getting a lot of love but is, along with teams from the other two groups, part of a seemingly interchangable group.

It's nearly split between Trinidad and Guatemala while Honduras and Jamaica are also getting picked out of Group B. Haiti seems to be a shaker as well with few if any think Suriname will get through.

It seems, though, that beyond the top three, Central America and the Caribbean will fight for spots head-to-head. With apologies to La Habana, Cuba's already been given up for dead, thus leaving Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago to fight for one spot. Honduras and Jamaica might have to worry about more than just Mexico as Canada is seemingly strong but they will have to face off against each other as well, while El Salvador and Haiti could determine the second spot in Group C.

It leads me to wonder which is the better region of CONCACAF, Central America or the Caribbean? Central America boasts Costa Rica which has reached the last two World Cups and Guatemala and Honduras can each be strong. However, both Guatemala and Honduras can be prone to horrendous letdowns as well.

Trinidad reached the World Cup last time around and reached the Hex in 2001 before collapsing, but Trinidad beat Honduras in Honduras late in the Hex, a result that helped the US and Mexico. Jamaica doesn't seem as strong as it did in the late 1990s but a trip to The Office could be tricky while Haiti, well, it's not exactly a vacation destination.

So which region is better - Central America or the Caribbean? Would the US and Mexico be better off having teams like Trinidad and Jamaica in the Hex or would Guatemala and Honduras be preferable? Or will Canada make this discussion moot?

Monday, June 23, 2008


Technical difficulties - hopefully, this vlog works out. OK - I got some advice via email and I think the volume problem is better now (Thanks, more technically proficient readers!). By the way, people can view earlier Canales Corner editions (sleeves!) if so inclined.

Going abroad

Europe becomes a developmental option for young players, but not in the sport one might assume.

Dropping names

Greg Lalas gets the scoop on agents planting stories to drum up interest - via the Galaxy's situation - from his brother.

Midseason form

Russia has been nearly unstoppable in Euro 2008. Since losing to Spain 4-1 in the opener, Guus Hiddink's team has ripped off three consecutive wins, each more convincing than the last.

Some have said that the Russians' season has helped the national team as the Russian Premier League season runs from spring to fall, much like MLS.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I'm some sort of soccer encyclopedia. I don't know a whole lot about Russian football. So I investigated the league a little and realized one thing that MLS suits should pay attention to.

Russia - get this! - is taking a break during the European Championship! Wow! An actual break! Thus, Russian fans don't have to choose between watching Zenit St. Petersburg-CSKA Moscow or watching the Russian national team play meaningful competition.

That's amazing!

Well, actually, it's not. It's what leagues are supposed to do.

Can't get past blahs

Maybe it's the summer heat. It's 93 degrees here in Riverside, which is actually 12 degrees cooler than it was on Sunday. But I'm taking yet another break from writing because nothing's coming out.

Actually, I switched up my topic. I was going to write about Euro 2008 as a whole and Germany is the only team that hasn't surpassed expectations by reaching the semifinals but I wasn't feeling it. Instead, I'm focusing on Spain.

Anyway, instead of throwing my now-useless column in cybertrash, I figured I'd put it up here so you can see it before I aborted it.

Every four years, the European Championship captures the world’s attention even though only 16 nations participate. Outside of Argentina and Brazil, the best nations in the world regularly put on a show during Europe’s quadrennial regional tournament.

This time around, though, the only shows the powers-that-be are how spectacularly they have collectively crashed out of the tournament. Disorder certainly reigns in the Old World.

Of the four semifinalists only Germany can claim that their run thus far has not been a fluke. Russia, Turkey and Spain are trying to shed their previous failures in this tournament and pull off a shock similar to what Greece did four years ago in capturing Euro 2004.

So I got there and asked myself "now what?" And I couldn't respond to myself so I said #@!& it. Actually, I said the seven dirty words. It was impressive. Should have been there.

Scurry Era may be over

At least on the national team level - with the Women's Professional League starting up next year, I don't expect Bri to retire from the sport itself, but she could say goodbye to the WNT.