Archive for February, 2008


Africa Cup Of Nations Peeve

No this isn’t going to be an article asking why it’s played when it’s played. I am going to bitch about people bitching about when it’s played.

This came about as I was watching Barca dismantle Levante (hooray! Sorry Levante fans and Madrid fans who were Levante fans for a weekend) and one of the announcers on Gol! TV Rafael complained about Eto’o missing time and saying that the Africa Cup of Nations (ACON) should be played in the summer so it doesn’t interfere with the “European season.”

Now, I am sure there are many in Scandinavia who are sad to hear that they are no longer part of Europe since their season doesn’t occur during this so called ‘European Season’ that Rafael talked about and aren’t affected by the ACON.

He claimed that the ACON should be played during the summer. I have to ask: “Are you fucking insane?”

This year the tournament was in Ghana. If it was held in the summer, the ‘normal’ humidity reading in Ghana is well over 85% and the temperature is pretty much guaranteed to be in excess of 80-85F with much higher temperatures being common combine that with the humidity and you have less than ideal conditions to be playing in during the day….and Ghana is a relatively cool place by comparison to some of its neighbors.

Now imagine playing in the summer in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia or any other nation that lies mostly in the Sahara desert. As you may know, it’s not a desert because it’s cold. Do they simple get left out of the chance to host their continent’s tournament? Should it always go to Ghana and South Africa since they are about as close as you are going to get to non-oven temperature/humidity combinations?

Sorry, for me the tournament is just fine where it is. I hear people whine and bitch about MLS scheduling games during international dates and they should. However, their ire should be raised that the “European Season” keeps on running through the ACON as well then, but it’s not.

Look around the top leagues in Europe and the top teams in those leagues. What do you see? A lot of African players right? Right. Now if they are going to make millions upon millions on these stars, it seems the least they can do is take 3 weeks off for their tournament or shut up and not bitch when it comes around and let them play for the glory of their country.

I know the argument is ‘but these clubs pay them big money {{growl}} {{grrrrr}}” and that is true. However, there is a fund now to compensate clubs for players who are injured so the argument is a bit weak now.

Lastly, football (soccer) has always been and international sport. Part of the charm of the game is that there are international competitions every year and every couple of months we get individual one off games between nations. There is no other team sport I can think of that does this. It’s a truly unique experience. Basketball could do it if the NBA wasn’t so protectionist (sound familiar European club defenders?) in its desire to not have players injured which is why the game doesn’t explode into a firmer place as the #2 sport in the world.

So let’s take it easy on Africa. Every federation has their championship let Africa have theirs. I mean listen, if MLS ever becomes a dominant league, would you like to hear fans hear bitch about the World Cup and European Championships coming in the middle of the season when European players have to leave for international duty? It could happen as MLS isn’t changing to a fall-spring sked any time soon unless they take a 2-3 month winter break, as Toronto and Chicago are colder than any place in Europe that plays during the ‘European Season’ by a fairly large margin and they aren’t the only cities that get past that pain threshold. I don’t think anyone would think much of fans bitching about that. They would say the very things I say to you now: let them have their championship when it works for them.


Pan Pacific Championship Recap: What have we learned?


Then again, if you are reading sports blogs trying to avoid scores you are a fucking dickhead.

On to the show…

The Pan Pacific Championship wrapped up this evening with the LA Galaxy def. Sydney FC 2-1

and Gamba Osaka def. Houston Dynamo 6-1

What have we learned? Basically nothing new. I think everyone knows that the J-league is on par with MLS and A-league is a touch behind.

We also learned that Gamba being further along in their pre-season and spending the last 2 weeks in Hawaii rather than the last 4 days paid off. They were obviously very serious about winning and it showed in their hustle.

We also learned that even very good teams can have fluke games. The 6-1 scoreline was cruel. Houston had a lot of hate coming from the woodwork and Gamba had just about every good bounce go their way.

That’s not to say Gamba didn’t deserve victory, I simply don’t think the scoreline was indicative of how close the game was. 3-1 or 3-2 would have been a fairer result. However, that’s not the end result.

We also learned that Bare is a hell of a player and someone needs to try to lure him to MLS ASAP.

We also learned that when you have little/no salary cap restrictions you can put together a technically adept side pretty easily as Gamba showed.

We also learned that Stuart Holden looks REALLY good out right. I am no Dynamo fan but for the sake of the currently RM/RW-less USMNT that Holden continues playing the way he did all tournament.

We also learned that trading Zach Wells was a REALLY bad idea. Onstad is simply looking old and slow right now. Maybe he just needs to shake the rust since Houston has been training for all of 4 days, but he is old and it may be that his time is up.

We also learned that LA is capable of playing decent football. The debacle on Thursday was an embarrassment to the club but they came out and played much better. Beckham looked sharp and Tudela continues the rock solid play he started to show at the end of last season.

We also learned that Bobby Boswell had no right getting a defensive player of the year award and we now have confirmation that he had a LOT of cover while be was in DC because he got TORCHED on a few occasions.

We also learned that Pat Ianni probably should be an emergency starter only. As poorly as Boswell played at times, Ianni was just not good at all. Slow. Poor positioning. Need I go on? If you don’t have either one of those two you are in trouble.

We also learned that Dynamo loses a TON of their dynamism (no pun intended) when DeRosario is out of the line up. He is truly a special player in the league. Kinda shocking that he doesn’t get more European looks. He’s a fierce competitor.

We also learned that this may be the last one of these. The field was shit and the crowds were equally shit. Thursday was bad but Saturday improved a bit. The crowd as announced at roughly 23K. Not horrible, but you know MLS/SUM was expecting more with Beckham in the house. If they can find a better venue it’s not a bad idea as all three leagues participating are roughly the same standard of play and could benefit from international competition like this as the styles of play are quite different.

However, with the turnout I don’t like the chances. Perhaps if the audience in Japan was big it will stay but with the gate as it is, it seems like a lot of effort to fly teams out for ‘OK’ turnouts in a building that probably costs quite a bit to rent.

That’s about all. Congrats once again to Gamba Osaka for coming in serious as a heart attack and really playing their hearts out to win. Their work and effort beforehand really paid off in the end.

I wouldn’t mind seeing it again next year, so long as LA isn’t a compulsory inclusion in the line up. Please make them start proving themselves on the field before throwing them into these tournaments.

UPDATE: I see a lot of hits coming in from Japan. I assume they are Gamba fans or fans of J-League in general. I just wanted to say ‘welcome!’ and to also congratulate Gamba on a well played tournament once again. Good luck in the regular season.


USMNT World Cup 2010 Roster in 2008?

Yanks Abroad ran their recurring feature on who will be in the roster at the WC. You can view it HERE. Take a looks at it and come back here.

I truly do appreciate the work they do cataloging who is where and what they have been up to. However, anytime they have and analysis like this they just look foolish. My 3 specific issues are with their thoughts that Bornstein won’t be in the squad, Kasey Keller will be, Johnathan Spector & Altidore will most likely be.

OK, let’s be clear, they are Eurosnobs through and through. That’s not a new thing in the US so you have to get used to it. However, to say Bornstein is ‘out’ is retarded. There is no other way to put it.

Let’s take a look back to last year in Copa America when we played Argentina. The US held Argentina at bay the first half and Lionel Messi was non-existent the first half before being switched to the other side of the formation. The person charged with covering him the first half: Bornstein. Now I may not know everything (only practically everything) but I think if Bornstein can neutralize Messi (who went on to have a MONSTER tournament) he can handle just about anyone.

Is Bornstein perfect? No. He still has his mental lapses but he’s also 23 right now. Not a baby, but still developing. Most defenders bloom a little later in life like goalkeepers. However, Bornstein gives us something no one else gives us at left back: blistering pace and a legit offensive threat. In the modern game your fullbacks MUST be dangerous in attack and be able to help in keeping the width in your attack with their overlapping runs. Bornstein is the only one really able to give us that right now as everyone else is too damn slow (they includes the right backs). I think we can see how foolish it is to suggest that he is ‘out’ in 2010. Onto the man they think will replace him: Spector. Continue reading ‘USMNT World Cup 2010 Roster in 2008?’


USA to play England at Wembley

I told you the US was going to play England. Now it looks like it’s becoming a reality and everyone is piling on the story.

Here is some of the news from England and this SIDE of the pond

You should listen to uncle Papa Bear more often. :p

The big question is whether Capello will pick Beckham to play against his adopted home? I wouldn’t be too shocked, since I’ve said it a billion times, that this will be Beckham’s 100th cap. I thought they would do it in the US but it’s a classy move to let him go out in Wembley.


MLS Schedule Released

The MLS season schedule was released, you can view it HERE

OK, so I’m not going to get into to many specifics or focus on one team (though Chicago are my team) I’m also not going to rail on about how the league schedules game on FIFA dates. There isn’t a league on earth that doesn’t do it at some point(EPL & La Liga all had matches during Africa Cup of Nations which are reserved dates and Bundesliga despite the break, had a touch of overlap with the aforementioned tournament); though some do it more than others.

I am going to bitch about some of the ‘sexier’ matchups being skedded against the international dates. There are at least 1 match in each of the 3 biggest markets (LA, Chicago & New York) that are played amongst one another that gets killed due to being skedded on or around a FIFA date.

I GET that MLS doesn’t have all the flexibility that Bayern or Barca has. Not every team is the sole tenant in their stadium so there are considerations. However, we certainly must be approaching the time when there are enough to where they can skip a weekend and play on a Tuesday every now and then.

If that isn’t possible, then they MUST preserve matches like LA v. Chicago, Chicago v. RBNY because, well that’s where the leagues biggest stars are. DC gets a 1/2 star slot since Gallardo is pretty well known, but he’s not the draw that Blanco and Beckham are and Altidore is rapidly becoming an American superstar. In addition, Angel is quite popular amongst the Spanish speaking community as evidenced by his Beckham-esque inclusion on ‘sexiest man’ issues of People en Espanol and the like.

The match they should really be kicking themselves over is the LA v. Chicago match that come 1 day after an international date in LA. Blanco is MASSIVE in the Mexican community and is a huge draw. Putting him head to head against Beckham in LA would have been HUGE. Blanco is essentially done with his international career but could still be pulled up. Beckham is still semi-active and no doubt will be called. MLS missed having this match up in LA last year and they will miss it again this year. Assuming they don’t meet in the MLS Cup final which looking at LA last year is making a BIG leap of faith. Chivas USA will still be the best club in the HDC this year.

The league is still young and growing. It NEEDS games like this where the atmosphere is crazier than usual if it wants to market itself to the casual, semi- & non-fans. Yet it didn’t take that chance.

At is stands now, Blanco will play Beckham in LA one time during Blanco’s contract, but not until next year. Not good. Not good.

As it stands now, we are left hoping the CBA negotiations include tripling (at least) the salary cap to about $10 million a year (it will be near $3 million per team after the ’09 season) and higher max salaries to bring in more higher quality players and keep more promising youngsters with bumped up minimums.

For now, let’s take the tools you have at your disposal and utilize them OK, Garber? Make sure your stars will be playing each other (barring injury).


what did jozy altidore say to rafa marquez?

I am trying to find the original link from Yahoo Sports, but they had the scoop on what Jozy said to Rafa that made him laugh.

Basically, Jozy ran from all the way across the field to tell Rafa that he was a huge Barcelona fan and watched them every week. Rafa apparently was taken aback by Jozy’s youthful exuberance given his less than youthful frame and poise on the pitch.

It was a, for lack of a better word, ‘cute’ moment. It’s hard to remember that Jozy is barely out of high school sometimes.

I noticed a lot of people searching for it in the dashboard so I figured I’d toss it up there for those wondering.


USA vs. Mexico 2.6.2008 recap

So as you no doubt know since you are here, the result of the match was a 2-2 draw.

It was painful to see the USMNT (Moor in particular) give up such cheap equalizing goals. However, credit to Magallon and El Tri for putting forth a higher level of urgency and effort all game to try to achieve the draw.

In the end, the result was a fair one.


Jozy Altidore, while still raw, is the future of the USMNT. He was a load to handle and Rafa Marquez, one of the premiere defenders in the world, looked like he really earned his paycheck out there today.

The biggest thing Jozy needs to do is be more aware of his positioning and raise his aggressiveness a little bit. He has more drive than any other striker in the US pool right now, but he could be so much more with a bit more of a nasty streak in him.

Drew Moor and Ramiro Corrales effectively ended their USMNT careers. They were truly awful. They both had moments. Moor served in a great cross on Altidore’s goal and Corrales subdued Giovani Dos Santos (except when he allowed Gio to get beyond him a bit and had to foul him in a dangerous position to the left of the box) in his limited minutes. However, they looked out of sorts.

Dos Santos: Barca is one of the European teams I follow. I’ve wanted this kid to be a hit but he has yet to really break out. He has flashes but he continues to be weak on the ball and is basically in the business of trying to dazzle people with his pace. He is fast, but he is not so fast that he eclipses everyone else on the pitch. (hell on his own team Henry could run him down with a 10 yard penalty) The same held true except for the aforementioned free kick he won; despite the glowing praise from some people who just seem set on talking the kid up based on potential alone.

Right now he is basically Eddie Johnson. Tons of talent. Speed to burn. Unfocused and ineffective far too many times to be dubbed a star.

One bright spot, other than the continued good play of Magallon vs the USMNT, was Vela. He looked dangerous and threatening all day on the flanks. Dos Santos gets the ink, but Vela gets the job done for club and country. If there is a future Mexican superstar, it’s Vela.

Michael Bradley is a conundrum. He played poorly, but perhaps not as poorly as we’ve seen come people play in the central midfield. I think perhaps the expectations he’s brought in with his form in Holland hurt him a bit. He still made some very cheap fouls and got a cheap yellow card that he NEEDS to control.

That being said, Bob Bradley needs to stop making him ‘the man’ in front of the back line. Michael has shown in his club play that he is more natural playing more advanced. He’s not good at the whole ‘last gasp defensive effort’ think that marks the best of the best D-mids. Many of his cheapest fouls come in those situations and it’s not good. Perhaps it will come with maturity, but for now, he needs to play more advanced.

Finally, Gooch and Benny. I have been as hard on both of them as a person can be. Gooch began the road to redemption with a goal and some good work in the back (unlike Bocanegra who looked totally out of sorts far too many times and colliding foolishly with Howard) Gooch is still guilty of cheap fouls and soft cards though. I don’t know if that’s every going to end.

Benny shouldn’t have been called up. I stand by that. The USMNT shouldn’t be in the business of calling people in who have not featured in their club side for 4 months. Sorry.

That being said, Benny came in and put in a workmanlike effort in relief of Bradley. His energy was apparent. His touch and feel wasn’t always there, though that’s to be expected with the layoff, but for the first time since the Gold Cup, he looked like someone fighting for a spot which is something everyone on the team should take to heart. The talent pool of the US, while not Brazil, Germany, Argentina like, is deepening and the days of automatic selections are thankfully nearing their death. It’s time to fight and claw and scratch for your spots, boys. Once you get the spot, keep clawing and fighting and scratching on the field for victory. That is the only acceptable way of continuing going forward and the only way we will ever win anything on the international scene.

MLS skeds will be coming out soon and there may be an announcement on a matchup with a ‘top 5’ opponent coming up soon. All indications point to it being Argentina. I talked to people at the DFB and they said there was no plan to play the US and the schedules of the European Championships wouldn’t allow anyone else to play us (save for Spain who is already on the sked)

There is also talk of a ‘top 20’ European side playing us, who I will stake my life on based on what I’ve heard from some little birdies, will be England. We should get the official announcement soon though when I’m proven right. :p

Continue reading ‘USA vs. Mexico 2.6.2008 recap’

MLS ASG in DENVER- by eBatty