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Posted on: April 12, 2013 9:06 pm
 

2013 MLS Power Rankings / Team of the Week 6

Having some more formatting issues so that delayed me a day, but we have a epic, full double entry of Power Rankings and Team of the Week.

Quick tidbit on LA and Seattle and the CONCACAF CL. I watched all four legs and was especially impressed with both LA and Seattle in the second legs this week. Yes both teams were eliminated and the MLS failed make the finals, again, but it's not like the MLS is getting embarassed off the field. MLS is giving teams in the CCL extra time between matches and I think the quality of MLS is clearly improving. And while MLS would love to see that improvement translate to the CCL, MLS is still establishing itself on the international stage and CCL finals and championships will eventually happen.

Onto the rankings...

1. [LW 6] Sporting KC – (3W-1L-2D, 11pts, 2nd East / W vs. DC 1-0) – KC is unbeaten in four and have only lost one game all season. Graham Zusi and Claudio Bieler might get a lot of the credit for their attack, but the key has been the defense.

2. [3] MTL Impact – (4-1-0, 12pts, 1E / IDLE) – Had two weeks to cope with their first loss and easily their worst performance of 2013 against KC. Up next, a potential snowy game vs. Columbus. (MLS announced due to the weather this game will be played Sunday at 12pm.)

3. [4] Columbus CREW – (2-1-2, 8pts, 4E / D vs. PHI 1-1) – Probably don’t like settling for the draw or giving up such a soft opening goal but the Crew were the better side for most of the match.

4. [5] LA Galaxy – (2-0-2, 8pts, 3W / IDLE) – Another off week as MLS gave them extra rest for the CCL match vs. Monterrey. It didn’t help LA, who were eliminated in the semis but the Galaxy must turn their attention to a surging Dallas team.

5. [2] FC Dallas – (4-1-1, 13pts, 1W / D @ TFC 2-2) – What happened in the last 10 minutes in Toronto? They might lead the West right now, but those are two dropped points that might come back to haunt them come postseason time.

6. [1] HOU Dynamo – (3-2-0, 9pts, 3E / L @ POR 0-2) – Yikes that was bad. Ryan Johnson absolutely ran rampant through the backline. Got killed in possession (61-39%) and when they did have the ball they didn’t do much with it.

7. [7] Chivas USA – (3-1-1, 10pts, 2W / IDLE) – An off week was probably the last thing that the Goats wanted but none the less, an extra week to prepare for Colorado can’t hurt.

8. [10] VAN Whitecaps – (2-2-1, 7pts, 5W / D @ SJ 1-1) – So they equalized on the road against a 9-man Quakes team…this will forever be known in San Jose as ShoeGate.

9. [9] SJ Earthquakes – (2-2-2, 8pts, 4W / D vs. VAN 1-1) – How does SJ not know the equipment change rule? Guys, remember in AYSO/Youth/Rec soccer where the ref asks you to tap you shin guards and see the bottom of your cleats? When you change equipment it must be checked by a referee and during play, they’re a little busy so you have to wait until there is a stoppage. Like Vancouver scoring a goal.

10. [8] Real Salt Lake – (2-3-1, 7pts, 6W / L @ COL 0-1) – Another team that has run into the buzzsaw known as Clint Irwin, but Alvaro Saborio especially will be wondering how to score against Irwin who had several chances including a penalty saved by the Rapids keeper.

11. [14] Toronto FC – (1-2-2, 5pts, 6E / D vs. DAL 2-2) – While I do like the comeback, getting outplayed for 70-75 minutes usually means a zero points.

12. [13] PHI Union – (2-2-1, 7pts, 5E / D @ CREW 1-1) – Very solid game at Columbus, though their marking on the equalizer wasn’t great. Jack McInerney is very quietly on an absolute tear of goals and the Union are almost as quietly putting together a good early start to the season.

13. [17] POR Timbers – (1-1-3, 6pts, 7W / W vs. HOU 2-0) – Ryan Johnson’s double was tremendous but Darlington Nagbe was my last player out of my Team of the Week. Hopefully this game kick starts the Portland Timbers who finally put one in the win column.

14. [18] COL Rapids – (1-3-2, 5pts, 8W / W vs. RSL 1-0) – Clint Irwin continues to impress, yet somehow didn’t make MLS’ Top 5 Rookie Power Rankings or even garner an honorable mention, and he bailed out the Rapids again last weekend with a penalty save on Alvoro Saborio to make Atiba Harris’ 5th minute opener stand up.

15. [19] Chicago FIRE – (1-3-1, 4pts, 10E / W vs. NY 3-1) – Maicon Santos where have you been all season?

16. [12] DC United – (1-3-1, 4pts, 9E / L @ KC 0-1) – The offense is just not firing yet and part of the problem might be their lack of possession. They’ve been out possessed four times in five games and are near the bottom of the league in total shots and shots on goal.

17. [15] SEA Sounders – (0-3-1, 1pt, 9W / IDLE) – Games in the CONCACAF CL don’t count in these rankings, but now that Seattle has been eliminated after a hard fought draw against Santos Laguna, maybe now they can focus on the MLS regular season and getting out of the West basement.

18. [16] NE Revolution – (1-2-1, 4pts, 8E / IDLE) – From the bad news department, defender Kevin Alston was diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia and has taken a leave of absence from the Revs. Well wishers can send an e-mail to GetWellKevinAlston@gmail.com or on Twitter using #GetWellKA.

19. [11] NY Red Bulls – (1-3-2, 5pts, 7E / L @ FIRE 1-3) – New York crashed and burned against the Fire in the final 10 minutes and seem all too reliant on Thierry Henry bailing them out off the bench. Defense is exposed way too easily; Jamison Olave might be scoring goals but he’s been a liability on the backline, including both of Maicon Santos’ goals in the closing stages.

 

MLS Team of the Week #6

Coach of the Week – Caleb Porter (POR Timbers) – Yes he got his first win as Timbers coach but he also did it against one of the best teams in the league, proving once again that any road game in the Pacific Northwest will not be enjoyable for MLS.

Captain’s Armband – Ryan Johnson (POR Timbers) – Last week his (distant) cousin Will Johnson grabbed a double, this week Ryan single handedly sealed the Timbers first win of 2013 with an absolutely brilliant run and finish down the left hand side.

GK Clint Irwin (COL Rapids) – I’m going to say it: If the MLS All-Star Game was tomorrow, Clint Irwin should be starting it.

FOR Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC) – Sporting likes to attack and create chances. Beiler just seems to finish all of them and in the clutch as well, he’s been outstanding the last two weeks.

FOR Jack McInerney (PHI Union) – It doesn’t amaze me that McInerney already has three goals this season in just his fourth start (fifth appearance). Dating back to 9/29/2012, McInerney has 7 goals in his last 11 games (9 starts, 2 subs).

MID Dan Paladini (Chicago FIRE) – Anyone in New York who thinks he fouled Luis Robles on the opener is crazy. Paladini gave the Fire a much needed boost right before halftime and his link ups with Santos proved the deciding factor late in the second half.

MID Chris Pontius (DC United) – Eventually Pontius is going to carry DC United on his back offensively. He was everywhere against KC but United just can’t generate any offense.

MID Eddie Gavin (Columbus CREW) – Completely awesome through ball/chip on the equalizing blast by Oduro and played a tremendous game in the midfield.

MID Andrew Jacobson (FC Dallas) – Very opportunistic finish to open the scoring against Toronto. Dallas did give up a 2-0 lead late, but I finally need to recognize Jacobson (and his midfield partner Jackson) on their tremendous efforts so far this season.

DEF Matt Belser (Sporting KC) – Another shutout for KC. Jimmy Neilsen might be getting bored at this point he has so few chances to actually stop a shot thanks to his backline.

DEF Amobi Okugo (PHI Union) – It seems that MLS is just full of young, two-way defenders and Okugo is becoming a force in the Union backline.

DEF Marvell Wynne (COL Rapids) – Hate to go 3-for-3 with the MLS guys, but in the absence of the suspended Drew Moor, Wynne has more than picked up the slack.

SUB FOR Maicon Santos (Chicago FIRE) – Something tells me your going to be seeing a lot more of this guy in the starting lineup with the rest of the Fire offense ice cold.

SUB F/M Soony Saad (Sporting KC) – It is a shame that this youngster can’t get on the field more, but he is dangerous. In just 7 minutes against DC, he provided the game winning assist to Bieler in the 89th minute.

SUB MID Justin Braun (Toronto FC) – A goal and an assist in 17 minutes to spark a comeback for the Reds? Count me in to having someone like that off the bench.

SUB DEF Andrew Jean-Baptiste (POR Timbers) – Forced into action midway through the first half due to injury, the second year man didn’t miss a beat as the Timbers completely shut down Houston.


Posted on: April 6, 2013 1:14 pm
 

2013 MLS Team of the Week #5

It's getting really hard to settle on a starting lineup for this entry every week. Usual 3-4-3 and subs (which by the way is loaded this week) and we had to leave of several midfielders as well. Could have gone with an entire second (or third) string midfield with Graham Zusi, Dax McCarthy, Andrew Jacobson, Tony Cascio, Brad Davis...

Anyway, on to the fifth MLS Team of the Week:

Coach of the Week – Peter Vermes (Sporting KC) – Someone finally figured out how to stop Montreal and Vermes was elected into the US Soccer Hall of Fame alongside former USMNT and NE Rev striker Joe Max Moore.

Captain’s Armband – MID Will Johnson (POR Timbers) – Helped the Timbers overcome a 0-2 deficit early in the second half with a double, the equalizer coming from the spot.

GK Raul Fernandez (FC Dallas) – The Revs didn’t have a lot of attacks against Dallas, but when they did Fernandez came up huge, especially in the second half as Dallas stole three points late.

FOR Mike Magee (LA Galaxy) – For a guy who doesn’t score a lot of goals, he sure scores a lot of goals. Add an MLS Player of the Month trophy to his cabinet as well.

FOR Conor Casey (PHI Union) – The big man scored a goal directly off a long throw in. True story, glad to see him back on the pitch, he’s one of my favorite strikers.

FOR Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC) – If this guy gets going, the rest of MLS is going to be in serious trouble and SKC already seem to be clicking on all cylinders right now.

MID Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC) – I don’t remember Benny having a game like that in New England…but I've probably just blocked his entire Revs career from my mind.

MID Carlos Alvarez (Chivas USA) – His deflected cross/shot turned into the opening own goal and was involved in the build up for the second goal as well. The story for the UConn rookie on SuperDraft day was he was being selected because of his Mexican-American heritage. Nonsense, this kid can play.

MID Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake) – Tremendous finish from a designed play of a corner, youngster is quickly proving he can play week in and week out with the big boys.

DEF George John (FC Dallas) – The organized defense from FC Dallas kept the Revs attack at bay all game.

DEF Jermaine Taylor (HOU Dynamo) – This guy has been playing lights out for both Houston and Jamaica recently.

DEF Matt Belser (Sporting KC) – Sporting KC is on a bit of a shutout streak right now and shutouts are becoming commonplace in Sporting Park.

SUB Thierry Henry (NY Red Bulls) – It should be illegal to have him come off the bench, he could find the back of the next in his sleep. World. Class. Finisher.

SUB Jose Villareal (LA Galaxy) – This kid is going to be scoring goals for a very long time.

SUB Blas Perez (FC Dallas) – Perfectly placed header in the late stages and Dallas steals three points…not that I’m bitter or anything, I’m a huge fan of the Panamanian striker.


Category: Soccer
Posted on: April 6, 2013 1:03 pm
 

2013 MLS Power Ranknigs - Week 5

Three hours away from kickoff of Saturday's MLS games. I've done worse. Here's the Week 5 Power Rankings which do not reflect last nights KC-DC game.


1. [LW 3] HOU Dynamo – (3W-1L-0D, 9pts, 2nd East / W vs. SJ 2-0) – In my opinion, the most complete team front to back in the East. Most organized, possess the ball well and they finish. And this isn’t anything new, they’ve been doing this for years.

2. [5] FC Dallas – (4-1-0, 12pts, 1W / W @ NE 1-0) – FC Dallas went for the win against New England and it paid off, Blas Perez off the bench this time supplying the winner.

3. [1] MTL Impact – (4-1-0, 12 pts, 1E / L @ KC 0-2) – Can’t win them all although that didn’t look like the same Impact team from the first four weeks.

4. [4] Columbus CREW – (2-1-1, 7pts, 4E / IDLE) – What happens when the Crew have an off week? They pile into a van and go to Medieval Times. Seriously, go find Steve Sirk’s article on TheCrew.com, its fantasic, I’d link it but it won’t work.

5. [2] LA Galaxy – (2-0-2, 8 pts, 3W / D @ TFC 2-2) – Great comeback from LA in Toronto. The question is why were you losing in the first place.

6. [7] Sporting KC – (2-1-2, 8pts, 3E / W vs. MTL 2-0 – The defense has been great, Jimmy Neilsen in goal has been solid. If they start scoring goals…

7. [9] Chivas USA – (3-1-1, 10pts, 2W / W vs. VAN 2-1) – The Goats have to be taken seriously now. They play a fun brand of soccer and they’re enjoying themselves while they do it. Great combination.

8. [10] Real Salt Lake – (2-2-1, 7pts, 4W / W vs. SEA 2-1) – The Western Conf. is all about survival and RSL did just that against Seattle. Very well designed play off the short corner that led to Luis Gil's game winner too.

9. [6] SJ Earthquakes – (2-2-1, 7pts, 5W / L @ HOU 0-2) – When they don’t score goals they look very ordinary and they barely even bothered Tally Hall’s goal in Houston.

10. [8] VAN Whitecaps – (2-2-0, 6pts, 6W / L @ CHV 1-2) – So the own goal of Jun Davidson’s back was unlucky and yes, that was the difference in the game, but Vancouver didn’t play well enough to earn a point in my opinion.

11. [17] NY Red Bulls – (1-2-2, 5pts, 6E / W vs. PHI 2-1) – Thierry Henry makes this team go and you could tell the winner was coming well before Henry slotted it home.

12. [12] DC United – (1-2-1, 4pts, 8E / IDLE) – They’re another team that needs to find some offense and take pressure off their keeper.

13. [11] PHI Union – (2-2-0, 6pts, 5E / L @ NY 1-2) – Looked gassed in the second half but to be fair, subbing on a player like Henry is difficult to deal with normally, let alone a tired backline.

14. [15] Toronto FC – (1-2-1, 4pts, 7E / D vs. LA 2-2) – Shame they didn’t get all three points against LA, they would’ve deserved it.

15. [13] SEA Sounders – (0-3-1, 1pt, 9W / L @ RSL 1-2) – Michael Gspurning can stop ‘em all guys.

16. [14] NE Revolution – (1-2-1, 4pts, 9E / L vs. DAL 0-1) – Haven’t scored in three weeks and Jerry Bengston is being left out to dry as a lone striker. Jay Heaps has an off week to figure out how to get his attack out of this funk.

17. [16] POR Timbers – (0-1-3, 3pts, 7W / D @ COL 2-2) – Sloppy draw, penalties everywhere, Portland needs to stop settling for draws and start getting wins.

18. [18] COL Rapids – (0-3-2, 2pts, 8W / D vs. POR 2-2) – Had a great chance for their first three points of the year but again the defense wasn’t great and gave away a penalty for the equalizer.

19. [19] Chicago FIRE – (0-3-1, 1pt, 10E / IDLE) – A Sunday evening matchup with New York is probably not what the doctor ordered after a week of rest.



Category: Soccer
Posted on: March 30, 2013 11:09 am
 

MLS Power Rankings / Team of the Week 4

Okay, so a 44 hour work week has pushed back my usual entries and the USA/MEX recap (I've watched the game twice, once live, once on the DVR, I'm working on it...) but in the mean time, before you watch MLS all day, here's the Week 4 Rankings and TotW.

1. [LW1] MTL Impact – (4W-0L-0D, 12 pts, 1st East / W vs. NY 1-0)

2. [2] LA Galaxy – (2-0-1, 7 pts, 3W / W vs. COL 1-0)

3. [3] HOU Dynamo – (2-1-0, 6 pts, 3E / W vs. VAN 2-1)

4. [6] Columbus CREW – (2-1-1, 7 pts, 2E / W @ DC 2-1)

5. [8] FC Dallas (3-1-0, 9pts, 1W / W vs. RSL 2-0)

6. [9] SJ Earthquakes – (2-1-1, 7pts, 4W / W vs. SEA 1-0)

7. [7] Sporting KC – (1-1-2, 5 pts, 5E / D @ NE 0-0)

8. [4] VAN Whitecaps – (2-1-0, 6 pts, 5W / L @ HOU 1-2)

9. [13] Chivas USA – (2-1-1, 7 pts, 2W / W @ FIRE 4-1)

10. [5] Real Salt Lake – (1-2-1, 4 pts, 6W / L @ DAL)

11. [10] PHI Union – (2-1-0, 6 pts, 4E / Idle)

12. [10] DC United – (1-2-1, 4 pts, 6E / L vs. CREW 1-2)

13. [11] SEA Sounders – (0-2-1, 1 pt, 9W / L @ SJ 0-1)

14. [15] NE Revolution – (1-1-1, 4 pts, 7E / D vs. KC 0-0)

15. [14] Toronto FC – (1-2-0, 3 pts, 8E / Idle)

16. [16] POR Timbers – (0-1-2, 2 pts, 7W / Idle)

17. [17] NY Red Bulls – (0-2-2, 2 pts, 9E / L @ MTL 0-1)

18. [18] COL Rapids – (0-3-1, 1 pt, 8W / L @ LA 0-1)

19. [19] Chicago FIRE – (0-3-1, 1 pt, 10E / L vs. CHV 1-4)


TEAM OF THE WEEK #4

Captain’s Armband – MID Ben Speas (Columbus CREW) – Call me sentimental, but in just his fourth start, Speas scores his first MLS goal, which was dedicated to his former UNC and Crew teammate Kirk Urso, who died last year of a heart defect.

Coach of the Week – Robert Warzycha (Columbus CREW) – I’ve given up trying to figure out the Crew. They’re consistently good yet everyone forgets about them in the preseason and they just ended an 18-game unbeaten streak for DC United at RFK.

GK Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus Crew) – Until yesterday, I didn’t think it was possible to out Bill Hamid, Bill Hamid (while playing against Bill Hamid no less!). But Gruenebaum did just that with several spectacular saves, including a point blank save to deny Dwayne De Rosario an equalizer late in the second half.

Honorable Mentions (GK) – Bill Hamid (DC United), Troy Perkins (MTL Impact), Clint Irwin (COL Rapids)

FOR Juan Agudelo (Chivas USA) – I don’t know if Agudelo can keep this form heading into June, but if he does, he should find himself in the USMNT camp for the June qualifiers.

FOR Macro Di Vaio (MTL Impact) – The Impact don’t need many chances to score goals, especially if Di Vaio is on the end of them.

FOR Chris Wondolowski (SJ Earthquakes) – He scores goals. Impressive goals. That usually win games.

MID Edgar Mejia (Chivas USA) – Two moments of brilliance for the opening goal and an assist on Chivas’ second

MID Patrice Bernier (MTL Impact) – I’m just thinking out loud, but a Bernier/Arnaud center midfield pairing in the MLS All-Star game seems like a pretty good idea right now.

MID Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas) – His usual dangerous self on the left hand side, it’s almost easy to forget that Brek Shea used to roam that side of the field for FC Dallas.

DEF Joaquin Velazquez (Chivas USA) – Velazquez had the eventual game winner as Chivas put a second half hurting on the Chicago Fire but he wouldn’t have even been playing if his red card from last week wasn’t (properly) overturned by MLS.

DEF Aurelien Collin (Sporting KC) –I have to give credit for that 0-0 draw in New England, and with the windy day at New England, Collin’s overall defensive efforts, especially in the air were a reason why Sporting KC left Gillette Stadium with a solid road point.

DEF Kevin Alston (NE Revolution) – On the other side, Alston took a beating for 90 minutes (5 fouls suffered for a defender is ridiculously high) trying to mark CJ Sapong and get upfield in the Revs attack. Helped the Revs get a point in lousy home conditions for their home opener.


Posted on: March 23, 2013 2:54 pm
 

USA Survives Snow, Costa Rica w/ Player Ratings

When the USA announced their first home game for The Hex would be played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colorado, they were looking for a game at altitude (and cold to throw off Costa Rica) to prepare for Mexico’s Estado Azteca and they were looking for a great home field
advantage. They got all that and whole lot more.

While some might have predicted snow in late March in the Rocky Mountains and perhaps that might not be the best place to play a soccer game, I humbly disagree. It’s a brilliant place to play a game, weather and all and the USMNT made the most of playing on their home turf, where they’ve been dominant in home qualifiers for well over a decade.

However, early in the second half with Costa Rica pressuring, the FIFA/CONCACAF match commissioner appeared to stop the game as the snow built on the field. However, the final decision fell to match referee Joel Aguilar of El Salvador who listened to the players (at least, were
assuming that’s what happened), had the grounds crew shovel off the lines again, and continued play. There was significant debate about whether the game would be abandoned and restarted, or delayed and restarted later. With the weather probably not improving in the Denver area over the next few days, stopping the game after 55 minutes seemed the better option to trying again on Saturday or Sunday with both teams having games on Tuesday.

The USA, with a first half goal from new captain Clint Dempsey, was able to weather not only the storm but consistent pressure from Costa Rica. However as the field conditions deteriorated, so did the hopes of a Costa Rican comeback and the USMNT, complete with their makeshift backline, off the field drama and possible broken locker room rose above it all and got what they desperately needed: three points.

Now it’s on to Mexico to face the suddenly struggling El Tri, who dropped two points at Honduras after a Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez brace had them in front, 2-0. Now the USA sits second in the table with a 1 win, 1 loss record and three points, just one point behind Honduras and one
point ahead of Mexico. A win at Estadio Azteca would not only be historic, but it would put the USA significantly ahead of their rivals in The Hex standings.

Onto the match ratings…

Men/Women of the Match – The Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Grounds Crew (10) – Words cannot describe the effort that these people put out to make this game actually possible. From continually shoveling off boundary and penalty box lines to plowing of the field at halftime, the grounds crew survived the elements along with the players. There are even pictures of a [USMNT signed snow shovel ](hopefully a game used snow shovel) that should be prominently displayed underneath DSG Park.

GK Brad Guzan (7) – Wasn’t needed often to actually stop shots,  but with the poor conditions he was required to come of his line and claim a number of crosses and back passes which he did beyond well in the blizzard. Came off his line and missed a corner once in the six and was saved by a correct offside flag in his first USA game in almost four years.

LB DaMarcus Beasley (9) – For a player that hasn’t played for the USMNT since in almost four years, at a position he only rarely features at, Beasley was outstanding. He defended well, was able to join in the attack and linked up well with the midfield.

CB Clarence Goodson (7) – Added a lot of stability in the backline and kept the defense organized. He was able to add the veteran presence that was sorely lacking in center defense against Honduras.

CB Omar Gonzalez (6) – With passing kind of a hit or miss thing on the ground, Gonzalez was called on to own the air and he did for a young player in such awful conditions.

RB Geoff Cameron (5) – Not a great day for Cameron, especially late in the game giving away some silly fouls. I think the conditions affected him the most on the defense but the US didn’t really have anywhere else to turn to so Cameron featured on the right, where he plays regularly for Stoke City.

CM Michael Bradley (6.5) – A quiet day for the big midfielder as his offense was pretty much negated from the start off the game. He hung back and let his holding midfield partner move up forward in the attack.

CM Jermaine Jones (5.5) – Had a sloppy second half and was rightly subbed off in the late stages. Received a yellow card mid way through the half and could have gotten worse from his forearm to a Costa Rican player, deep in his own corner.

LM Herculez Gomez (6) – Odd to see Herc lined up on the left hand side, not that the formation really meant anything after kickoff. Not a whole lot to say on the attack, but he provided excellent cover for Beaseley on the left more than once despite his more natural forward position.

AM Clint Dempsey (8) – Besides the goal, which was brilliant, Dempsey was consistently able to drive the attack forward, getting the ball to Jozy up front or on the flanks to his various midfield partners. Put the team on his back for 90 minutes once again.

RM Graham Zusi (5) – Consistently got into space and even more consistently put crosses out of bounds. Just like Cameron on the right, Zusi seemed to be the most affected by the conditions and never really found a rhythm to the game and was subbed off after 75 minutes.

ST Jozy Altidore (7.5) – I’ve been waiting for Jozy to have a game like this. He played as a lone striker as a legit target man and was able to hold the ball to help build up the attack at times. His shot from distance deflected straight to a wide open Dempsey for the winner. For the longest time Jozy has only affected games when he scores (which has been rare of late) but yesterday he was everywhere in the attacking third and if conditions were better, I'd bet he would have scored.

HC Jurgen Klinsmann (7) – It was a solid lineup from Klinsmann that preformed well despite mainly surviving the entire second half and generating little possession. I would have preferred some of the substitutions earlier, especially Zusi and Jones coming off, who both clearly spent most of the second half struggling. But it was his performance during the week leading up to the game that deserves praise as the veteran leaders
in the locker room (Dempsey, Bradley, Gomez) rallied behind their coach and went out and got three points.

SUB Eddie Johnson (6) – Got about 15 minutes to affect the game and his pace on the wing immediately caused problems for Costa Rica but ultimately the conditions stifled any chance of EJ changing the outcome.

SUB Maurice Edu (6) – Was able to provide some much needed fresh legs for the final stages as well as another big body in the back, but that was all he had time for.

SUB Kyle Beckerman (NA) – A stoppage time cameo for the RSL midfielder.



Category: Soccer
Posted on: March 22, 2013 9:29 pm
 

USA - Costa Rica Lineups and Preview

Okay, here we go, lineups for tonight's game in Denver:

USA Lineup (4-2-3-1) – GK: Guzan; Cameron, Gonzalez, Goodson, Beasley; Jones, Bradley; Zusi, Dempsey [C], Gomez; Altidore

Not surprising to see DaMarcus Beasley getting the rare start at left back with the USA thin on defensive options. Geoff Cameron will slide over to right back, where he normally plays for Stoke City and Gonzalez and Goodson will lineup in the center in front of Guzan. All in all, it could be worse for the USA defensively. I like the idea of Zusi, Dempsey and Gomez playmaking in front of the holding midfielders Bradley and Jones. I’ve never liked Jozy Altidore playing as a lone striker, but ideally the formation will have Gomez and Dempsey alternating playing as the second striker and outside midfielder hitting in crosses with Zusi primarily playing on the left side.

I expect to see a lot of Dempsey, Gomez and Zusi bringing the ball and leading the counter attack. In the build-up plays, I’d like to see Cameron coming up from the right flank for two reasons: I don’t want Beasley over exerting his position on the backline and because I expect the right flank to be open as Dempsey moves around the field. All I want from Guzan and the backline is organization. Costa Rica’s attack is not to be taken lightly and many of the MLS guys know why.

Options for the USA on the bench will include the versatile Eddie Johnson, who could feature up front as a striker or as a winger. Kyle Beckerman is the extra holding midfielder, Matt Belser and Justin Morrow the extra defenders. Playmaking wingers Sasha Kljestan and Brek Shea are available as well as the striker Boyd. Brad Davis is not in uniform as the “24th player.”

Costa Rica Lineup

Navas, Gamboa, Gonzalez [C], Umana, Bolanos, Oviedo, B Ruiz, Saborio, Barrantes, A Rodriguez, Miller

The player to remember in this lineup is Alvaro Saborio, Real Salt Lake striker and one of the best goal scorers in CONCACAF. He’s known for playing well against the USA and he’s in good form in the MLS. And since he plays in nearby Salt Lake, don’t expect him to be affected by the elements.

Weather Watch

Shocking, but it’s snowing at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colorado so I’m sure that’s going to make this match extra entertaining. Hopefully we won’t see a lot of cold related injuries in this game. I hope the local Dick’s has some extra thermal wear and orange soccer balls…otherwise that would just be embarrassing.

Also, the match referee's will have to sign off on the pitch. There is accumulation on the field and it's up to the refs to determine if the game can be played.

Honduras 2 – 2 Mexico

What it means for USA: Well it means that Mexico now has two draws in their first two games after a late Honduras rally nullified Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s early double. So if the USA beats Costa Rica tonight, they’ll be on three points, one ahead of Mexico heading into Azteca. With all the controversy surrounding the USA leading up to this game, it should be mentioned alongside of Mexico’s early struggles and Honduras’ leap to the top of the CONCACAF table.



Category: Soccer
Posted on: March 22, 2013 6:47 pm
 

MLS Power Rankings / Team of the Week 3

So, after a busy few days absorbing tons of USMNT coverage for their WCQ against Costa Rica tonight, I’m finally ready to post my usual MLS entries in one super entry today before I post a lineup/preview of USAvCRC later. Since there wasn’t a whole lot of winning going on during Rivalry Week, there really wasn’t a whole lot of change in the power rankings except there is a new consensus number one team north of the border…

1. [LW3] – MTL Impact

2. [1] – LA Galaxy

3. [2] – HOU Dynamo

4. [4] – VAN Whitecaps

5. [5] – Real Salt Lake

6. [6] – Columbus CREW

7. [7] – Sporting KC

8. [11] – FC Dallas

9. [9] – SJ Earthquakes

10. [10] – DC United

11. [8] – SEA Sounders

12. [14] – PHI Union

13. [15] – Chivas USA

14. [12] – Toronto FC

15. [13] – NE Revolution

16. [16] – POR Timbers

17. [17] – NY Red Bulls

18. [18] – COL Rapids

19. [19] – Chicago FIRE

 

As for the third Team of the Week…

Coach of the Week – Jose Luis “Chelis” Sanchez Sola (Chivas USA) – Anytime you survive down 1-0 with 10 men (especially on a red card that was later rescinded) and pull out a draw against your rivals, that’s coach of the week material. I love inventing rules for this segment. Not only did his halftime adjustment’s keep Chivas in the game, it gave them the opportunity to snatch a late winner.

Captain’s Armband – GK Bill Hamid (DC United) – With respect to Sean Johnson of the Chicago Fire, Bill Hamid should be the USA’s next young gun keeper. He’s been on fire the first three weeks of the season. Even EA Sports and FIFA 13 have noticed because he made the video game’s Ultimate Team of the Week.

FOR Marco Di Vaio (MTL Impact)

FOR Jack McInerney (PHI Union)

FOR Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas)

MID David Ferriera (FC Dallas)

MID Eddie Johnson (SEA Sounders) – He plays mid for the USA, ok?

MID Davy Arnaud (MTL Impact)

MID Eric Avila (Chivas USA)

DEF Justin Morrow (SJ Earthquakes)

DEF Avery John (FC Dallas)

DEF Austin Berry (CHI Fire)

SUB FOR Jack McBean (LA Galaxy)

SUB FOR Carlos Alvarez (Chivas USA)

SUB GK Clint Irwin (COL Rapids)


Posted on: March 20, 2013 11:58 am
 

Brian Straus' USMNT Bombshell

For the first time in my life, I saw something "blow up" on Twitter. Mainly because I've only had an account for the better part of a week however, and since I am only following soccer websites, writers and analysts, the bombshell that was dropped on the USMNT was bound to get noticed.

That bombshell came from AOL Sporting News' Brian Straus. It is one of the [single greatest peices of journalism] I've ever read. In fact, I want you to stop reading this stupid blog and go read it if you haven't already. Click the link. Then comeback and finish this. Here's the link again.

[http://aol.sportingnews.com/soccer/
story/2013-03-19/jurgen-klinsmann-u
s-mens-soccer-coach-national-team-u
sa-american-world-cup-2013]

Just about every major soccer website in the USA has been reacting to this story since it came out yesterday afternoon. There are a lot of varying opinions but I hope mine is a simple one. Jurgen Klinsmann is, as of right now, on the hot seat. And his preperation style must change. Immeadiately. Not his player selection (save for one defender...), not his line-ups (as long as it's a 4-4-2), but establishing a gameplan for qualifiers needs to happen. Now.

For those of you saying that it's just a bunch of unnamed sources, this is 22 unnamed players (a minimum of 11 players in MLS), staff and others associated with the USMNT. This is not a few poeple airing dirty laundry about Jurgen Klinsmann, this is not a case of if there's smoke there's fire. This is a full blown, 10-alarm blaze that is threatening the USA's qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

The most alarming part of all of this appears to be Klinsmann's general lack of tactics. I'm pretty sure that most of the players in camp are getting conditioning and nutritional help from their club teams. National teams have only a few short days/practices to decide on a formation and gameplan for an upcoming qualifier or friendly. So if all this talk about Klinsmann spending time on condidtioning (January camp aside, where I'd expect some conditioning work for the MLS guys in the offseason) and other "non-soccer" stuff is true, then the USA could be staring at one point in The Hex through three games.

That is a far cry from the heightened expectations Klinsmann put on the USMNT when he took the job. He wanted to change the USA into a more technically skilled side, much like his 2006 Germany team that finished third in the World Cup. And Klinsmann does bring up some good points in this article, some like these changes won't happen overnight and some that I think are lost in translation. When Klinsmann says he wants the USA to play like Spain, I want to believe that Klinsmann means he wants the USA to play at the level of Spain. And four years ago, the USA did just that. How? By being tactically organized, playing good defense, countering well and finishing the few chances they get.

It was called boring soccer. Bob Bradley soccer. It was the soccer Klinsmann want to get away from. It was the type of soccer that the USA could never win a World Cup playing. It's also the soccer that the USA is the best at. Why? Because that's the type of players we have. We don't have a Lionel Messi type player and the USA might never have a player like that. You can't change the talent pool that you have right now. Right now, you have the best generation of players the USA has ever had in its history. Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra. Theses guys have been playing for the better part of the last decade. You're not chaging what they are, what the USMNT is right now. What you have is a very technically sound group of players who when organized, are very tough to beat. And I think up until recently, the rest of the world knew it. Not anymore. Not after struggling in the semifinal round of CONCACAF vs. Jamaica and Guatemala. Not after Brian Straus' bombshell.

I said before this tournament started that the USA needed four points from it's first three games. Draw at Honduras, Win vs. Costa Rica, Loss at Mexico. Basically, defend your home turf and sneak results on the road when you can. The USA started with the three hardest opponents in the region and two of those games on the road. This is about the worst case scenario to start qualifying from. Add in Landon Donovan's sabbatical, Tim Howard's injury and the first choice defense being unavailable, and perhaps we shouldn't be shocked if the USA has one point through three games. 

With all this being said, the fact remains that the USMNT will have to survive this story and survive the next two qualifiers. That's all I can ask them to do right now. It's early enough in The Hex to where I'm not going to push the panic button immeadiately after the USA doesn't win against Costa Rica. But this needs to be a wake up to Klinsmann and the rest of the USMNT coaching staff. Pick a formation (here's a hint, it's a 4-4-2) and give players defined roles. If that means Dempsey is going to be up front as a striker, fine. If that means Eddie Johnson is a left midfielder, fine. But that means they should be practing at that position leading up to the game.

If for some reason this blog should find the USMNT and/or Jurgen Klinsmann, I have a message for you. Or rather, Carlos Bocanega does, who [posted on his Facebook page.] I don't care about Bocanegra's form with Racing Santander (whom he hasn't played for in almost two months), that man is the captain of the USMNT. And Klinsmann had better get him back into the squad for the June qualifiers.

That is if Sam's Army doesn't run him out of town by next week.


Category: Soccer
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com