Monthly Archives: May 2011

MLS rankings: Week 11

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

All times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…

1 – 1. LA Galaxy won 1-0 at New England; beat Houston 1-0 at home. Galaxy keep grinding out results at home or away. Will they falter once Donovan and Donovan Ricketts are gone for the Gold Cup? Season: 8-5-2, 20 gf, 12 ga; Up next: DC United on Friday

2 – 4. FC Dallas drew 2-2 at Houston; won 1-0 at Seattle. Few expected the Burn to scale such lofty heights after the loss of David Fereira, but they have done it thanks to solid defending and mostly opportunistic goal-scoring. Season: 6-4-3, 16 gf, 12 ga. Up next: New England on Saturday

3 – 2. Real Salt Lake lost 2-1 at home to Seattle. Their 29-match home winning streak is over, though they weren’t outplayed. Who will score for this team? Season: 5-2-2, 10 gf, 4 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

4 – 3. Red Bull New York drew 1-1 at Vancouver; drew 2-2 at home with Colorado. Red Bulls picking up points, but just aren’t playing as well as they should be. They need a win against the Crew. Season: 4-6-2, 18 gf, 11 ga; Up next: Columbus Crew on Saturday

5 – 7. Philadelphia Union won 6-2 at Toronto. Union’s crushing win at Toronto was mostly due to TFC self-destructing, but they’ll take it. Season: 6-2-3, 14 gf, 9 ga; Up next: At Colorado on Saturday

6 – 6. Seattle Sounders won 2-1 at Real Salt Lake; lost 1-0 at home to FC Dallas. A tale of two matches – Sounders were poor against Dallas and great against RSL at the hardest place to win in the league. Season: 5-5-4, 16 gf, 13 ga; Up next: At Chicago on Saturday

7 – 8. Colorado Rapids drew 1-1 at home with Sporting Kansas City; drew 2-2 at New York. Rapids keep drawing matches; hopefully the return of injured players will see them return to the win column. Season record: 4-6-3, 15 goals for, 13 goal against; Up next: Philadelphia on Saturday

8 – 14. DC United won 3-2 at Portland. United ended Portland’s 100 percent home record in style. Can they keep it going against the Galaxy? Season: 4-3-4, 16 gf, 20 ga; Up next: At LA Galaxy on Friday

9 – 5. Portland Timbers lost 3-2 at home to DC United. Now the big test for Portland is to prove they can rally from seeing their undefeated home streak end. Season: 5-2-4, 15 gf, 17 ga; Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday

10 – 10. Chivas USA drew 3-3 at Columbus. Chivas played well in a see-saw match with Columbus, but still look a player or two short of being true contenders. Season: 3-4-4, 14 gf, 13 ga; Up next: At Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday

11 – 11. San Jose Earthquakes drew 2-2 at Chicago. Despite being outplayed by Chicago, the Earthquakes emerged with a point. They’re now undefeated in four. Season: 3-4-4, 14 gf, 14 ga; Up next: Houston on Saturday

12 – 9. Houston Dynamo drew 2-2 at home with FC Dallas; lost 1-0 at LA Galaxy. The Dynamo need to find a way to stop their penchant for falling behind early – in May, they only led a match once and failed to win any. Season: 3-6-4, 17 gf, 15 ga; Up next: At San Jose on Saturday

13 – 12. Columbus Crew drew 3-3 at home with Chivas USA. It was heartening to see Andres Mendoza score a brace this weekend, but what happened to the Crew’s defense? Season: 3-5-3, 11 gf 13 ga; Up next: At New York on Saturday

14 – 13. New England Revolution lost 1-0 at home to LA Galaxy. The expected bump in results from Benny Feilhaber’s arrival has never really happened. In fact, the team has only completed over 300 passes once since his arrival – in a 0-0 draw with Colorado. Season: 3-4-5, 10 gf, 15 ga; Up next: At FC Dallas on Saturday

15 – 16. Chicago Fire drew 2-2 at home with San Jose. Head coach Carlos de los Cobos was unsurprisingly fired Monday. Will Frank Klopas turn it around? Season: 1-6-4, 15 gf, 19 ga; Up next: Seattle on Saturday

16 – 17. Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 at Colorado. KC has played fairly well in their last two matches. Can they end their road swing with a win over Jekyl and Hyde Toronto?  Season: 1-2-6, 12 gf, 19 ga; Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

17 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps drew 1-1 at home with New York. Caps fired Teitur Thordarson after drawing with New York, though you can’t really fault him too much for the rough start. This is an expansion team after all. Season: 1-6-5, 13 gf, 17 ga; Up next: Wednesday at Chivas USA

18 – 15. Toronto FC lost 6-2 at home to Philadelphia. After some promising performances, Toronto was obliterated by Philadelphia, mostly by their own doing. They need to rally against KC, and fast. Season: 2-6-5, 13 gf, 23 ga; Up next: Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

MLS weekend recap: May 28-29

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
Saturday

Toronto FC 2 Philadelphia 6. I actually predicted a draw in this match, but wasn’t prepared for the degree to which Toronto’s defense was inept. Interestingly, Toronto had more shots on goal and better possession, but every single goal scored by Philadelphia could’ve been prevented with even rudimentary defending. Gabriel Farfan opened the scoring after two minutes, then Mapp doubled it after getting miles of space in midfield in the 11th minute. Right before halftime, Kyle Nakazawa was again afforded too much time and space to shoot, and he made it 3-0. Toronto rallied briefly thanks to two goals from Maicon Santos, but Mapp added his second just minutes later, and Danny Mwanga added a later brace, both thanks to nonexistent marking on the part of Toronto. A terrible loss for Toronto, particularly at home. They were OK in attack, but were a disaster in midfield and defense, and could’ve given up 10 in the match. For the Union, it was a nice result, though it had more to do with Toronto’s ineptness than their skill.

Vancouver 1 New York 1. Both teams continued their winless skids with this result. Eric Hassli scored a penalty for the opener, then Luke Rodgers scored the equalizer. Vancouver hasn’t won in 11 and dismissed coach Teitur Thordarson, whose name will be missed, after the match. New York is winless in five. Unlike the last few matches, they can’t blame terrible defense for not winning, though they were playing without Thierry Henry or Rafa “Oops” Marquez. New York will try to stay afloat despite players missing for the upcoming June tournaments, and with Luke Rodgers and Henry likely to play most matches, they should be OK. Vancouver should be better after Thordarson’s departure. He’s not a bad coach, but some of his signings haven’t panned out.

Columbus 3 Chivas USA 3. What, a six-goal thriller between these two teams? I wouldn’t have thought so either. Three times Chivas took the lead, and three times Columbus equalized. Andres Mendoza scored twice for Columbus, though he had the miss of the season so far, which I hope I can find online to post sometime soon. Emanuel Ekpo scored the equalizer for Columbus. For Chivas, Nick LaBrocca scored the opener after four minutes, Andrew Boyens added a header, and Jorge Flores scored the third, though he was partially the goat after getting his second yellow card after Ekpo’s equalizer.

New England 0 LA Galaxy 1. Miguel Lopez scored his first MLS goal to give the Galaxy the win. It was a fairly dull match, notable only for the fact that the Revs never really were a threat offensively. In addition, they also lost Benny Feilhaber to injury, though he was set to leave to join the U.S. team for the Gold Cup. The Galaxy have now won four straight. Yawn.

Chicago 2 San Jose 2. Despite dominating most of the match, Chicago fails to win for the ninth consecutive match. The fire outshot San Jose 19-9. Ramiro Corrales got the opener off a corner in the 49th minute, then Chicago tied it up when new signing Cristian Nazarit shot the ball and had it bound off both posts before Dominic Oduro (!) put in the rebound. Chris Wondolowski put San Jose back ahead before Cory Gibbs got the equalizer for Chicago. Today Chicago announced that they had parted ways with coach Carlos De Los Cobos, which isn’t surprising at all given with their lack of success lately. They have a talented enough squad to begin picking up some results.

Houston 2 FC Dallas 2. Andrew Jacobsen opened the scoring with a crazy goal, heading the ball in from distance after Marvin Chavez’s initial shot from distance hit the post. Cam Weaver tied it up for Houston in the 42nd minute, Ugo Ihemelu put Dallas back up in the 70th minute before Colin Clark grabbed the equalizer, despite Houston having Kofi Sarkodie send off for two yellows in the 72nd minute. A fun match, and a fitting result for both teams.

Colorado 1 Sporting Kansas City 1. Ryan Smith scored in the 75th minute to put an end to Sporting Kansas City’s five-match losing streak and extend Colorado’s run of draws to five straight. It has to be considered an encouraging result for Kansas City in light of their recent form, and they did outshoot Colorado 14-7. Conor Casey scored the opening goal after a ludicrously bad back pass from Aurelien Collin. Colorado also got the news that Omar Cummings might not be joining Jamaica for the Gold Cup, which should help rev up their attack a bit. KC now only has one more match left in their season-opening 10-match road trip. Yay!

Real Salt Lake 1 Seattle 2. Seattle ends RSL’s 29-match unbeaten streak, albeit not with the vintage performance that MLSSoccer.com seems to suggest in their story, jerks. RSL were on top until Jamison Olave was sent off for bringing down Seattle’s Mike Fucito. After his dismissal, Seattle went two up thanks to goals from Patrick Ianni and Lamar Neagle. Nelson Gonzalez pulled a goal back and RSL threatened but failed to grab the equalizer. RSL continues to struggle to score, and it doesn’t figure to get any easier until they get all their players back from the Gold Cup. As for Seattle, they’re getting results often enough to probably guarantee they make the playoffs, though they haven’t been impressive.

Sunday

Portland 2 DC United 3. A bizarre, bizarre match marred by poor refereeing which sees United end the Timbers’ 100 percent home record. It was bound to happen at some point. After Perry Kitchen scored the opener for DC United, Portland equalized when Kenny Cooper took a poor penalty that DC’s Bill Hamid saved, but was allowed to retake it because Hamid encroached, then Cooper had his retaken penalty saved by Hamid, only for the ref to again rule Hamid had encroached, which I thought was a dubious call at best. Finally, Jack Jewsbury shooed Cooper away and put away the penalty to tie the match. Chris Pontius then put DC back in front after an equally or maybe even more dubious penalty call, and Josh Wolff put United two goals up in the 85th minute. Jorge Perlaza pulled a goal back in the 88th minute. United did a very good job of keeping the Timbers’ defenders Futty Danso and Eric Brunner from attacking the ball on set pieces, and it will be interesting to see if other teams follow their blueprint in future matches.

MLS weekend preview: May 28-29

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

*Game to watch ^Game not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual

Saturday

Toronto FC v Philadelphia. (9:30 a.m.) Toronto is coming off an abandoned Canadian Championship match in midweek, and prior to that, a scoreless draw at Colorado where they were probably the better of the two teams. Philadelphia rallied from a string of so-so results to beat Colorado thanks to a Carlos Ruiz wonder-lob. This probably won’t be a particularly exciting match. Philadelphia doesn’t score much at all, and Toronto is trying to change their whole style of playing, which has been (not at all) enjoyable to watch so far. They need to get in a positive result before Joao Plata and Julian de Guzman leave for international duty. Prediction: 1-1

^Vancouver v New York. (2:30 p.m.) Ordinarily this would be more in the realm of a game to watch, but with the injury and international absences (New York: Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Dane Richards; Vancouver: Atiba Harris, Long Tan), it won’t be as exciting. Even with the absences, New York still has Luke Rodgers, Dwayne De Rosario and Juan Agudelo, which should be more than enough for them to cope with Vancouver. Except that New York’s defense continues to be a shambles, which is why I can’t predict a win for them. Prediction: 2-2

Columbus v Chivas USA. (4:30 p.m.) Columbus lost both matches of their two-game road swing, failing to score in either, and they’ll be without leading (or really, only) scorer Emilio Renteria for this match, but since they’re not exactly facing a juggernaut in Chivas, who are strong defensively but struggle in attack, they should be able to pull out a fairly dull win. Prediction: 1-0 Columbus

New England v LA Galaxy. (5 p.m.) The Galaxy labored through a home win against Houston, but their focus was always going to be on this match, especially since it requires a five-hour flight. They don’t have any absences, but you have to wonder if the short turnaround time will affect them. For New England, they desperately need to pick up points now, as they will be without Shalrie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber for a few weeks, and Ousmane Dabo is still not 100 percent. Prediction: 1-1

Chicago v San Jose. (5:30 p.m.) The two teams met just a few days ago in a US Open Cup match won by Chicago (in San Jose), albeit with a different lineup than they’re likely to field in this match. It remains to be seen whether or not winning that match will be a boost for their league play (no wins in 8). San Jose have been playing better lately, but their ball retention is poor, and against a team like Chicago that likes to kick the ball around a bit, it remains to be seen whether they’ll create many chances. Prediction: 2-1 Chicago

*Houston v FC Dallas. (5:30 p.m.) Dallas have been one of the surprises of the season so far – not that they’re good, but rather that they’re good without David Fereira. Brek Shea in particular has been excellent, but their midfield has played very well, and their defense is one of the better ones in the league. Houston has had some up and down results, but they’re a solid club that will be a contender for a playoff spot this year and probably better next year. The winner of this gets “El Capitan,” whatever that means. Prediction: 1-1

Colorado v Sporting Kansas City. (6 p.m.) Colorado comes off a moral-boosting, fine performance drawing at the high-powered Red Bulls despite having a number of injury absentees. They’re still probably missing Omar Cummings and Caleb Folan, though Conor Casey is back. KC is missing quite a few players due to international callups – at this point they’re probably relying on a really dour performance from Colorado to snatch some points. Prediction: Colorado 1-0

Real Salt Lake v Seattle. (6 p.m.) Both teams have been anemic offensively, and RSL in particular are missing most of their creative players through injuries or international callups. Luckily for them, they’re playing in Salt Lake, where they never lose. Prediction: 0-0

Sunday

Portland v DC United. (2 p.m.) Portland is 5-0 and counting at home, and in United they host the league’s second-worst defensive team. The fact Portland has created so little from open play has to be a concern, though. United still might be without Charlie Davies and Josh Woolf, which doesn’t bode well for their offensive production. Prediction: Portland 1-0

Premier League Season Review: Part 1

Yulin, Manchester-born, Manchester-bred

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

Champions: Manchester United
Qualified for Champions League: Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal
Qualified for Europa League: Tottenham Hotspur, Stoke City (FA Cup runners-up), Birmingham City (League Cup winners)
Relegated: West Ham, Birmingham City, Blackpool

Manchester United. Record: 23-11-4, 78 gs, 37 gc; Despite being criticized by some for being the “shite invincibles,” United won the title and are in the Champions League final, so they can’t be THAT bad. Their final point total (80) was their lowest since 2004, and the lowest for an English champions since the 2000-01 season. Grade: A
Star of the season: Nemanja Vidic, D. Arguable the best defender in the league, which is good, because Rio Ferdinand is old and creaky.
Flop of the season: As easy as it would be to pick Wayne Rooney for this, he did finish the season with 11 goals, nine more than Michael Owen.
Goodbye, fellas: Edwin Van Der Saar (retiring), Owen Hargreaves (released), Gabriel Obertan (not good enough), Paul Scholes (retiring), Darron Gibson (not good enough), Owen (not good enough), Wes Brown (old)

Chelsea. Record: 21-8-8, 69 gs, 32 ga; It seems weird to call a season where a team led the league for much of the year before finishing second and reaching the quarterfinals of the Champions League a failure, but that’s how they do things at Chelsea, who followed up their season-ending loss to Everton by sacking manager Carlo Ancelotti, who won the double last season. It was a weird season for the pensioners, though, who opened with five straight wins (21 goals scored, 1 against) and then were unbeaten in 10 later on (8 wins, 2 draws, 20 gs, 6 conceded), but otherwise went 8-6-8 with 28 goals scored and 25 conceded. Grade: B
Star of the season: Petr Cech, GK. Consistent and composed and largely the reason why Chelsea had the best defense in the league, despite losing Ricard Carvalho to Real Madrid and Alex missing most of the season through injury.
Flop of the season: Fernando Torres. One goal in 13 league matches for a player who coming into the year had scored at least 13 the last eight seasons.
Goodbye, fellas: Ancelotti (fired), Frank Lampard (old), Didier Drogba (old), Jose Bosingwa (never really got settled), Nicholas Anelka (I’m just guessing on this, since he’s also old), Paulo Ferreira (old)

Manchester City. Record: 21-8-9, 60 gs, 33 ga; The ridiculous 200 million plus pounds Man City’s owners spent on the team paid finally in a Top 4 position, with it coming qualification for the lucrative Champions League. There was a bit of trouble, though, with a couple players constantly causing problems with team morale (That means you, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli). Next year, league title? It might not be that easy. Grade: A-
Star of the season: Vincent Kompany, D. Kompany was my pick for the player of the year in England, though the award went to Gareth Bale of Tottenham, for some reason. David Silva and Yaya Toure were also excellent.
Flop of the season: James Milner. It would be easy to pick Edin Dzeko, the Bosnia Fernando Torres, but Milner wins for two reasons: 1. He left a successful starting gig at Aston Villa, where he scored seven goals last year and became an England regular, to languishing on the bench, not scoring and becoming a marginal England player all in one year. 2. David Silva’s skill and composure on the ball highlight Milner’s lack of technique, pace and creativity on the wing.
Goodbye, fellas: Shay Given (Doesn’t play), Michael Johnson (Is he still there?), Patrick Viera (too old), Jo (If anyone will take him), Emanuel Adebayor (Wants to stay at Real Madrid), Carlos Tevez (Unhappy, at least this week)

Arsenal. Record: 19-11-8, 72 gs, 43 ga; At one point, there was talk of Arsenal winning four trophies, but this being Arsenal, everything collapsed in catastrophic fashion with the team losing the Carling Cup final (to Birmingham of all teams), getting knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup and throwing away their chance at the league title, all in the span of a few weeks. For all the pretty football they play, you get the feeling that this team isn’t going to win anything until they bring in some players who can win matches again lower-table sides. Grade: C+
Star of the season: Jack Wilshere, MF. Samir Nasri would’ve won this based on his first half, and Robin Van Persie would have own based on his second half, but Wilshere was consistent all year and earned a regular starting spot for England. Also one of the few players who didn’t look too overawed by Barcelona.
Flop of the season: Sebastian Squillaci. Everyone is picking Andrey Arshavin for this, but he still scored six goals and passed out 11 assists. They just expect more out of him than some players. Squillaci was a disaster all year, though, definitely not what Arsenal fans had in mind when they clamored for a new defender.
Goodbye, fellas: Squillaci (Not good enough), Manuel Almunia (Dropped to fourth choice), Tomas Rosicky (Getting old), Arshavin, Denilson (Not good enough)

Tottenham Hotspur. Record: 16-14-8, 55 gs, 46 ga; As impressive as Spurs were against the big boys of Europe (or of Italy, at least), this season ultimately ended in disappointment, with the team only qualifying for the Europa League and getting a heavy dose of reality against Real Madrid. Regardless, as long as Harry Redknapp stays in charge and they keep their core group of players, they should compete for a Champions League spot and Europa League honors next year. Grade: B-
Star of the season: Luka Modric, MF. A lot of the press have picked Rafael van der Vaart (13 goals), which is fine, or Gareth Bale (three goals in Champions League group stage match against Inter Milan), which is not, as the player of the year, but Modric is the steady player who pulls the strings and allow Van der Vaart and Bale (in the Champions League group stage match against Inter Milan) to excel.
Flop of the season: Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe, F. The two players combined for 8 goals in 50 league appearances, one more than West Ham’s Demba Ba scored in 12 matches for the relegated Hammers. Not good enough for a team hoping to qualify for the Champions League. Goalkeeper Gomes also deserves mention for being terrible.
Goodbye, fellas: Roman Pavlyuchenko (Always rumored to be leaving), Sebastien Bassong (Unhappy), Niko Kranjcar (Never plays), Jonathan Woodgate (Constantly injured), David Bentley (Not good enough), Robbie Keane (Not good enough), Vedran Corluka (doesn’t play much)

Liverpool. Record 17-7-14, 59 gs, 44 ga; It seems weird to call a season where a team of Liverpool’s stature finish out of the placing for Europe and win no silverware a success, but considering that at one point this season, the old guy from Fulham was their manager, Paul Konchesky was starting and there was talk of them getting relegated (however briefly) and/or going into administration, you take what you can get. Even though Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are starting to turn into shells of the players they once were, this team is still only a couple more astute signings from competing for a Champions League place again. Well, once they get rid of everyone Roy Hodgson signed. Grade: C+
Star of the season: Dirk Kuyt, F. Kuyt narrowly edges Raul Meireles out for this. Meireles was great and helped the team rally to a respectable finish, but Kuyt continues to defy the odds and and naysayers to score big goals for the club. And no one on the team works harder. Also, for what it’s worth, he scored 13 goals, three more than Fernando Torres.
Flop of the season: Joe Cole, MF. There are a few easy marks for this (Milan Jovanovic, Konchesky, Christian Poulsen), but Cole wins by virtue of the fact that coming into the season, he was considering one of England’s best players, and he was a nonentity pretty much from the moment he stepped onto a pitch in a Liverpool jersey. When one of your season highlights is getting sent off in your first match, that says it all.
Goodbye, fellas: Konchesky (Obviously), Jovanovic (Not good enough), Poulsen (Not good enough), Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Getting old)

Everton. Record: 13-15-10, 49 gs, 43 ga. Despite another season of competing against the top clubs without the heavy investment they’re afforded, this was probably the first season where you started to see cracks with the Everton team. It’s not as if they’re bad – indeed, the team was almost good enough to qualify for Europe. It just seems like they’re less satisfied in doing so. There has always been speculation linking manager David Moyes to other clubs like Aston Villa, and his leaving could leave to a dramatic change in playing staff. Grade: B-
Player of the season: Leighton Baines, LB. Baines started every match and was arguably the outstanding left back in England this year.
Flop of the season: Everton’s forward line. You know it’s a bad year when your best forward is Jermaine Beckford, no disrespect to him. Louis Saha (7 goals, but only three if you discount his 4-goal haul against Blackpool), Victor Anichebe (0 goals), Yakubu (1 goal before leaving for Leicester) and Magaye Gueye (0 goals in five matches) all left an impression on the Premier League. One of awfulness.
Goodbye, fellas: Yakubu (not good enough), Anichebe (I’m just guessing, but also not good enough), Marouane Fellaini (linked with bigger clubs) all could leave, though I haven’t heard much about players heading for the door.

Fulham. Record: 11-16-11, 49 gs, 43 ga. Yes, Fulham finished eighth. Who knew? They’ll also be competing in the Europa League next year, thanks to finishing first in the fair-play table. Weird season which saw them finish with a flurry of points (9-6-5, 33 points in final 20 matches after being stuck on 16 points after first 18 matches – by means of comparison, Arsenal had 31 in the same span). So all-in-all a success, though as with every Fulham side, they’re utterly dependent on the riches of owner Mohammed Al-Fayed to keep them competitive in the Premier League. Grade: B
Player of the season: Clint Dempsey, F. The much-maligned Texas native (maligned by American soccer fans, not their English counterparts) is now the all-time high-scorer in Fulham history, and the first American to score double-digit goals in a season in Europe (12 goals). He also helped take some of the focus off American Eddie Johnson, arguably the worst American playing overseas (2 goals in 44 appearances in England. That’s right, two. He’s a forward, folks.)
Flop of the season: Philippe Senderos, DF. He arrived with much fanfare from Arsenal, missed the first half of the season with injury, then only played in two matches.
Goodbye, fellas: Manager Mark Hughes has also been linked with Aston Villa, though it’s unlikely; Zoltan Gera (rumored to want out), Carlos Salcido (getting old), Diomansy Kamara (not good enough), Johnson (someone, anyone take him), Kigasho Dikgacoi (not good enough)

Aston Villa. Record: 12-12-14, 48 gs, 59 gc. Oh yes, and now we get to my team. Villa, who finished sixth the previous three teams, sometimes climbing as high as second over the course of the season, then endured an awful, awful year. After manager Martin O’Neill left six days before the start of the season and Gerard Houllier was appointed after the transfer deadline (no one signed), the team spent most of the season in the bottom half of the table, sometimes even in the bottom three. For all of his qualities as a man, Houllier never got the team playing together or defending, and only a late run after he left the team to deal with medical issues did they rise up into the top half before finishing 9th. Now an offseason of uncertainty (new manager? new players? anyone staying?) awaits. Grade: D-
Player of the season: Stewart Downing, LW. Downing was the only steadily performing player on the team (aside from Brad Friedel and January signing Darren Bent), but probably enhanced his chances of joining Liverpool or Arsenal after spurning Villa’s offer of a new contract this week.
Flop of the season: Well, there are many candidates, but Stephen Ireland, MF, who was brought into the team to replace James Milner, instead performed poorly, angered the manager and then was banished to Newcastle. It’s doubtful he’ll return to Villa.
Goodbye, fellas: Where do I start? Ireland, Richard Dunne (malcontent), Habib Beye (old), Stephen Warnock (frozen out of team), Kyle Walker (loan), John Carew (frozen out of team), Nigel Reo-Coker (Wants Champions League ball – good luck with that, Nigel), Robert Pires (old), Brad Friedel (likely headed to Liverpool), Stewart Downing (wants to play at a bigger club), Ashley Young (wants to play at a bigger club), Brad Guzan (not in the plans of management), Michael Bradley (didn’t play, also on loan), Emile Heskey (best days are behind him), Moustapha Salifou (ball boy), Houllier (heart conditions)

Sunderland. Record: 12-11-15, 45 gs, 56 gc. Sunderland endured a topsy-turvy season where they competed for a European spot for the first half of the season, then were winless in 11 following Darren Bent’s departure to Aston Villa, then rallied strong. This season sort of begs the question whether owner Ellis Short is willing to invest the amount of money it would require to turn this into a top side, because if you look at the Guardian’s story on Premier League finances, it’s just not sustainable for the team to spend the money it spent last year without competing in Europe. Which they probably won’t unless he spends more. Grade: C
Player of the season: Asamoah Gyan, F. Despite coming off the bench 11 times, Gyan showed himself to be a viable forward in the Premier League, leading the team in both goals (10) and assists (4). He needs a partner in attack, though.
Flop of the season: Marcos Angeleri, DF/MF. Argentinian international Angeleri signed for 1.5 million from Estudiantes, but only made three appearances all season before claiming boss Steve Bruce didn’t like him because he wasn’t English. He returned to Argentina late in the season because of knee complaints, and probably won’t be back.
Goodbye, fellas: Angeleri, Danny Welbeck (loan), Boudewijn Zenden (old). The team needs additions, not subtractions.

Adu, Wondolowski called up for Gold Cup

I can't not post this photo

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

Bob Bradley called up his squad for the Gold Cup in June, and there are some surprises, though most of the picks are the ones you’d expect. Here is a look at the players called up:

Goalies: Tim Howard (Everton), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolves), Nick Rimando (RSL). Howard and Rimando are both good choices. Howard is the first choice keeper, and Rimando is the best goalkeeper in the MLS. Brad Guzan probably would’ve been called up despite his lack of playing time at Aston Villa in England, but he’s getting married this summer. Hahnemann is 38 and played less than half of Wolves matches this year. You have to think this is going to be his last hurrah with the national team.

Defenders: Jonathan Spector (West Ham), Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Steve Cherundulo (Hannover 96), Jonathan Bornstein (Tigres), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Clarence Goodson (Brondby). No big shocks with the defensive callups. Bornstein didn’t play a ton with Tigres, but he’s a favorite of Bradley’s. Onyewu is as well, though at least he got some playing time after moving to Twente on loan. Spector played a lot for relegated West Ham initially, but then faded as the season progressed. But like the others, he seems to be a favorite of Bradley’s, for some reason.

Midfield: Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Freddy Adu (Caykur Rizespor), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Robbie Rogers (Columbus). The big shock here is Adu, who has played well since joining Turkish second division side Caykur Rizespor, but he’s playing with a second division Turkish side. No disrespect to Adu, who I’ve always enjoyed and hoped would find a team that fits his style of play, but there are plenty of players playing well for first division clubs (Brek Shea, Andrew Jacobson, Jack Jewsbury, Timothy Chandler – albeit on defense in his case) who you could argue deserved it more. Aside from him, there are no surprises in the midfield, though it’ll be interesting to see if Michael Bradley plays a lot after barely making the substitutes bench in his half-season with Aston Villa (two appearances).

Forward: Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes). Wondolowski is sort of a shock, I suppose, but I think he’s a good pick since he’s a better finisher than Altidore or probably even Agudelo. Agudelo is the golden boy of U.S. soccer, but he’s not a first-choice forward with the Red Bulls. But hey, as long as he keeps scoring for the U.S. national team. Altidore is starting to get labeled with the dreaded “American Emile Heskey” tag (i.e., big guy who can’t score). Dempsey and Donovan both can play at forward too, and are probably better than anyone on offer here, though Bradley seems to prefer them on the wing.

The big question is: Can the U.S. beat Mexico? Canada has a decent side this year. The usual Central American sides (Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras) also have a decent shot at reaching the final. One thing that will help out the U.S. is that Mexico will once again be distracted by also competing in the Copa America later in the month – though they’re sending a much stronger side for this tournament.

Resurgent Rapids rush rusty Red Bulls. Arrrrrr…

This is as hip as French people get

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

After a fairly turgid home scoreless draw with Toronto, the defending champs played well in holding New York to a 2-2 draw in New York. Jeff Larentowicz scored a brace, one coming when he put back a penalty that was saved by New York keeper Greg Sutton. As with the past two Red Bulls performance, there were moments of brilliance – both goals, from Luke Rodgers and Thierry Henry were nicely set up and scored, but they were sandwiched by New York’s propensity to switch off at the defensive end lately. I get that they’re an attacking side – and a fine one at that – but their moments of hair-brained idiocy make them, at least at this point, the most fragile defensive team in the league. And for the amount of experience in the line-up, they make a number of dumb, dumb mistakes – the penalty, and then the wall inexplicably allowing Larentowicz’s free kick to get through and beat Sutton. There is a lot of talk about David Trezeguet or Robert Pires joining the team, but how about a new left back, nothing against Roy Miller. Colorado will be happy with the result. If they can ever get everyone back from injuries, suspensions and international call-ups, this is certainly a team with the ability to be playing in the MLS Cup come season’s end.

LA Galaxy 1, Houston Dynamo 0. In LA, a really dull match settled on Landon Donovan’s penalty. Neither team played particularly well, and the Galaxy didn’t even have a shot on target until the penalty – which was awarded when Lovel Palmer was whistled for a hand ball. For Houston, none of the three forwards registered a shot, which just isn’t going to win you matches on the road. Or anywhere else, for that matter. The Galaxy weren’t great but did enough to win, which you expect them to do.

Seattle 0, FC Dallas 1. Against all odds, this Dallas team appears to be one of the early-season favorites to compete for the Supporters Shield (awarded to the team with the best regular-season record.) Brek Shea (who probably should’ve been called up to the Gold Cup, but hey, I’m not the coach of the U.S. National team … yet) scored the lone goal off an excellent defense splitting pass from Casey Jacobsen, who I officially dub the Sergio Busquets of the MLS, minus the flopping. Seattle did a lot of huffing and puffing, but as has been the case recently, with little reward. Seattle had 65 percent possession and 19 shots, but somehow never really looked like scoring.

MLS rankings: Week 10

By Jeremiah Paschke-WoodAll times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…

1 – 2. LA Galaxy beat Chivas USA 1-0 on the road, sort of. The Galaxy have taken advantage from slip-ups by the other top teams in the MLS to consolidate their place in first. It also helps that they’ve played three more matches than everyone else. Season: 6-5-2, 18 gf, 12 ga; Up next: Houston on Wednesday

2 – 1. Real Salt Lake drew 0-0 at FC Dallas. RSL’s punchlessness has been mostly obscured by their great defense. But for how long will that continue?. Season: 5-2-1, 9 gf, 2 ga; Up next: Seattle on Saturday

3 – 3. Red Bull New York drew 2-2 at Houston. More poor defending results in more dropped points for New York. Luckily, as long as they finish in the Top 10, it doesn’t matter what their regular season record is. Season: 4-4-2, 15 gf, 8 ga; Up next: At Colorado on Wednesday

4 – 4. FC Dallas drew 0-0 at home with Real Salt Lake. Dallas gets a fine result against RSL. They’re still not creating much on offense, but they’re solid defensively. The Burn have two difficult road matches this week. Season: 5-3-3, 13 gf, 10 ga. Up next: At Seattle on Wednesday

5 – 6. Portland Timbers beat Columbus 1-0 at home. Five matches at Jello When Field, five wins. They might not keep it up, but it’s been a great start in the Timbers’ first MLS season. Season: 5-2-3, 13 gf, 14 ga; Up next: DC United on Sunday

6 – 5. Seattle Sounders beat Kansas City 1-0 at home. Sounders get a somewhat fortuitous win against Kansas City. Where is Fredy Montero (2 goals this season)? Season: 4-5-3, 14 gf, 11 ga; Up next: Dallas on Wednesday

7 – 8. Philadelphia Union beat Chicago 2-1 at home. A Carlos Ruiz wonder goal gets the Union’s season back on track. Also nice to see them finally score some goals. Season: 5-2-3, 8 gf, 7 ga; Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

8 – 7. Colorado Rapids drew 0-0 at home with Toronto. Though they haven’t lost lately, Colorado needs to be SIGNIFICANTLY better when they travel to the Big Apple on Wednesday or they could be in for a shellacking. Season record: 4-4-3, 12 goals for, 10 goal against; Up next: At New York on Wednesday

9 – 9. Houston Dynamo drew 2-2 at home with New York. Disappointing result, but a good performance against New York. If the Dynamo can show the resilience of the past two weeks at Los Angeles … Season: 3-5-3, 15 gf, 12 ga; Up next: At Los Angeles on Wednesday

10 – 10. Chivas USA lost 1-0 at home against LA Galaxy. Chivas’ long dry spell against the Galaxy continues. They weren’t terrible in the match, but struggled to make much happen on offense. Season: 3-3-4, 11 gf, 10 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

11 – 13. San Jose Earthquakes beat New England 2-1 at home. After finally winning a couple matches at home, the Earthquakes will hope to continue their streak against struggling Chicago. Season: 3-3-4, 12 gf, 12 ga; Up next: At Chicago on Saturday

12 – 11. Columbus Crew lost 1-0 at Portland Timbers. After a strong start, Columbus has struggled on attack, and their defense has been giving up some bad goals. The match against Chivas is important if they want to show they aren’t a lower-table MLS side. Season: 3-4-3, 8 gf 10 ga; Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday

13 – 12. New England Revolution lost 2-1 at San Jose. Revs just can’t win matches on the road, something they’ll have to change if they want to truly contend for a playoff spot. Season: 3-4-4, 10 gf, 14 ga; Up next: LA Galaxy on Saturday

14 – 14. DC United didn’t play. A week off hopefully helped some of United’s injured players heal. They have a tough task this weekend, though – ending Portland’s 100 percent home record. Season: 3-3-4, 13 gf, 18 ga; Up next: At Portland on Sunday

15 – 16. Toronto FC drew 0-0 at Colorado. Toronto surprisingly bossed the game at Colorado. Next up is a golden opportunity to knock off Vancouver in the Canadian Championship. Season: 2-6-4, 11 gf, 17 ga; Up next: Vancouver in Canadian Championship on Wednesday

16 – 15. Chicago Fire lost 2-1 at Philadelphia. The encouraging signs of the Fire’s start have long since faded. They now need a win to keep Carlos de los Cobos in his job. Season: 1-5-4, 13 gf, 17 ga; Up next: San Jose on Saturday

17 – 17. Sporting Kansas City lost 1-0 at Seattle. Another road match, another loss for KC. Sporting fans should be encouraged by their better play against Seattle, though.  Season: 1-1-6, 11 gf, 18 ga; Up next: Saturday at Colorado

18 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps drew 1-1 at home against Toronto in first leg of Canadian Championship. Caps were disappointed with a draw in the first leg of the Canadian Championship. With their rough start to the season, you wonder if the Championship is a distraction they should even be concerned with. Season: 1-5-5, 12 gf, 16 ga; Up next: At Toronto in Canadian Championship on Wednesday

MLS weekend recap: May 21-22

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

There were a number of nice goals this weekend, which you can view here. The first three are by far the best. The rest of the matches were dull, though.

Saturday

Philadelphia 2 Chicago 1. A great volley from Carlos Ruiz gives the Union the win and extends Chicago’s winless streak to eight. You have to wonder how much longer the Fire can go with Carlos De Los Cobos as head coach as they aren’t getting results at home or away, can’t defend and haven’t been scoring much either. Bad combination, those. Michael Farfan opened the scoring on the 64th minute with a good long-range strike, before Dominic Oduro (!) scored to tie the match. Ruiz’s volley came after his free kick was blocked and fell back to him on the bounce, but just watch it on the video up there. For Philadelphia, it’s amazingly the first time they’ve scored twice in one match, though it always helps when Jon Conway is the opposing goalkeeper.

Houston 2 New York 2. Probably the best match of the weekend, which is why I’m so annoyed I chose to watch FC Dallas-Real Salt Lake instead when I had a choice between the two. Dane Richards opened the scoring in the first minute, with a very nice goal from distance (also on the video above), before Brad Davis equalized on a penalty and Koke gave Houston the lead late. Mehdi Ballouchy rescued the Red Bulls with a header off a corner in injury time. If I’m a Red Bulls fan, I’d be increasingly concerned with the defense’s utter lapses at times. Mexican captain Rafael “Oops” Marquez has been guilty in a few of those lapses. The Red Bulls were playing without Thierry Henry, though, which still doesn’t explain their defense sucking. Thanks for making me pick the Galaxy as the No. 1 team in my next poll, jerks.

Chivas USA 0 LA Galaxy 1. A Chad Barrett (!) header off a David Beckham free kick gives the Galaxy the win. In the “SuperClasico,” Chivas USA haven’t won since 2007. They really struggled to create any offense in this match. Well, both teams did. If you can really call it a derby, it was a typical derby match, filled with lots of intent and very little in the way of product. The only other play of note was the Galaxy’s Juan Pablo Angel chesting a cross into the path of Alejandro Moreno, who almost tied it up. Luckily for Angel, Donovan Ricketts is the goalkeeper, and he eats punks like Moreno for breakfast.

Seattle 1 Sporting Kansas City 0. Jeff Parke scored in injury time to give Seattle a victory they barely deserved. Disappointing for Kansas City, who defended well and probably had the better of the chances, at least in the first half. They did have Omar Bravo back on the field finally, though he was playing in more of a midfield role. On the bright side for Kansas City, the long road trip is almost over – two more games! Seattle have been dismal lately on offense, though they’re organized enough on defense that they don’t tend to concede many goals.

San Jose 2 New England 1. Absolutely nothing happened in the first 70 minutes of this match, until Ellis McLoughlin scored his first MLS goal off a cross from Chris Wondolowski. Bobby Convey curled in a nice free kick, and Chris Tierney scored the consolation for New England. It was pretty even for most of the match. San Jose has good attacking players in Ryan Johnson and Wondolowski, but their midfield doesn’t do a great job of controlling possession, particularly for a home team. Luckily for them, the New England midfield, despite the talent it has, is equally poor at creating chances, and the jury is still out on Rajko Lekic as a forward, though he does a lot of whining and posturing.

Portland 1 Columbus 0. Again, not trying to pat myself on the back (but I’m totally patting myself on the back), but who called it? 1-0, off a set piece. That’s what I said. And that’s what happened. The Timbers aren’t an elegant attacking team, but they know what they have to do at home, and they do it, consistently. Whether or not teams will start to stack players in the box on set pieces to stop them, since they’re so terrible attacking in the run of play (no goals in open play in five weeks) remains to be seen. Eric Brunner got the goal against his former club after Jack Jewsbury and Khalid Alhassan (who else) combined on a free kick. Columbus are anemic on offense and boring.

Sunday

FC Dallas 0 Real Salt Lake 0. A good result for FC Dallas, who stay in second in the West with the scoreless draw. As dominant as RSL are in possession and defense, they have really been in a funk in attack lately, and I don’t know what would change that. They hold onto the ball for minutes at a time, but never fashion chances – for the second straight match, they had over 60 percent possession and only one shot on target. As for Dallas, they have amazing quickness in attack, though Marvin Chavez never met a good chance he couldn’t pass up.

Colorado 0 Toronto 0. Colorado are really disappointing in settling for a nil-nil draw that was probably lucky, since Toronto was the only team that really looked like scoring. A very good performance from Toronto, who could be a playoff team if they keep playing like this. Mikael Yourassowksy was particularly good, and should start. Matt Pickens kept Colorado in the game with a number of saves, though in one instance, Nick Soolsma blew a huge chance to score, electing to take an extra touch on the ball before shooting right at Pickens. And that’s why you’re not playing for Real Madrid, my friend.

MLS weekend preview: May 21-22

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

*Game to watch ^Game not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual

Saturday

Philadelphia v Chicago. (5 p.m.) Philadelphia’s hot start has slowed down a bit, largely due to the fact they can’t score goals to save their lives. Six goals? In nine matches? Look at this: Sebastian LeToux – last season, 14 goals, 11 assists in 28 matches; this season, one goal, one assist in nine. Danny Mwanga – last seasons, 7 goals in 24 matches; this season, one in nine. Carlos Ruiz has averaged better than a goal every two games for his entire career; this season, two in nine. Terrible. The difficult thing for the Union will be that they can’t possibly hope that their defense keeps playing such good ball all season long, though I do think Faryd Mondragon might be the best goalie in the league.This week they’re playing at home and taking on a Chicago team that is playing reasonably well, but is stuck on a streak of draws. Whatever happens this match, don’t expect five goals. Or maybe you should – the world is ending, after all. Prediction: Chicago wins 3-2

Houston v New York. (5:30 p.m.) Both teams are coming off surprising results. Houston held off Real Salt Lake at home, though they didn’t get a win, and New York somehow gave up three goals to Chivas USA in losing at home. Logic would dictate that New York will rally behind the shame of losing at home to the team whose best striker averages a goal every four matches. If they truly are the best team in the MLS like I keep saying, they need to show it here. As for Houston, they’re a decent team that defends well and score a lot of goals off set plays. Prediction: New York 2-1

*Chivas USA v LA Galaxy. (7 p.m.) Chivas shocked New York last week and come into the “El Clasico” with a head of steam. I never really understood that expression. The Galaxy are first in the West, though that is partly due to the fact they have played more matches than anyone else – if teams were ranked by points per match, the Galaxy would be third in the West. What will happen in this match? Well, I don’t have much faith in Chivas, who are playing well but beat a Red Bulls team that made virtually no effort on defense last week. The Galaxy should win, but they have stumbled on that in the past this season, though not last week. Prediction: 2-2

Seattle v Sporting Kansas City. (7 p.m.) Oh the horror, Kansas City. The horror. Sporting can’t even draw a match lately, and it doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Seattle. As for the Sounders, they aren’t performing all that well, but they’re still in the top half in the West and should be expected to beat KC. Will Omar Bravo be back for Kansas City? If he is, they have a chance (albeit a small one) to pick up a result. Prediction: Seattle 3-1

San Jose v New England. (7:30 p.m.) San Jose thumped Columbus last week and have another eminently winnable match against a mediocre Eastern Conference team. New England beat Vancouver, but it was a slog, and they haven’t been particularly inspiring on the road this season. With a quality midfield like they have, you’d expect them to keep it competitive; it’s just a shame the defense and attack are so mediocre. San Jose to continue their recent run of form. Prediction: 2-0 Earthquakes.

^Portland v Columbus. (8 p.m.) The Timbers are still unbeaten (or even untied) at home, and they’re taking on a Crew team that was smacked around by San Jose. One thing about the Portland match that weighs in the Crew’s favor is that Columbus has the height to withstand some of Portland’s tall trees who have been murdering teams on set plays. That’s the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written. Nonetheless, I keep picking Portland to draw at home, and it hasn’t been happening. So since I’m not going to today, they probably will. Prediction: Timbers 1-0

Sunday

FC Dallas v Real Salt Lake. (4 p.m.) A good match between two of the better teams in the West, at least by record. RSL have still yet to emerge from their funk, and Alvaro Saborio still hasn’t scored this season. As for Dallas, they have been a pleasant surprise despite not having David Fereira, though a lot of their good results have been against poor teams. Fabian Castillo had his first good match of the season last week, and if he can continue to play well, Dallas could win this. Prediction: 1-1

Colorado v Toronto. (4 p.m.) According to a fairly pointless statistical story mlssoccer.com posted last week, which I can’t be bothered to look up and link here, Colorado have been losing in a match the third least percentage-wise of any team in the league. Not sure what that means really, other than they’ve given up late goals and gotten a lot of draws, because they’re not in first place. Nonetheless, they’re not losing much right now, and Toronto is still undergoing their glacially slow remodeling process, which is showing occasional results backed with bad losses. This should be one of the latter. Prediction: Colorado 2-0

A look at MLS stats: Ugh

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

I know that I draw attention to or focus on some of the more inane decisions by the MLS or MLSSoccer.com pretty frequently, but more than almost anything the league has done lately, whether it’s Kansas City’s 10-match road trip to open the season, the decision to increase the playoffs to 10 out of the 18 teams or the fact that if the schedule works out accordingly, you could see San Jose playing Seattle in the Eastern Conference final, while New York and New England battle it out in the Western Conference final, one thing in particular drives me crazy about this league every week: Stat-keeping

I get the league’s imperative to introduce stats to an American sporting public that thrives on them (just look at baseball), but some of them range from quizzical (scoring chance percentage) to downright nonsensical (game winning assists? really?).  Even those two options are reasonably bearable, if it weren’t for the league’s statisticians haphazard or even incorrect ways of applying them.

Let’s take a look at those two stats first.

Game-winning assists. I have only a little problem with having a game-winning assist that goes to a player for setting up another nicely for the eventual match-winning goal. Giving it to any player who touches the ball prior to a goal that puts the team in the lead of a match they eventually win? A little excessive. In the case of the Portland Timbers, off to a fine start this season, they have two players with two game-winning assists, Khalif Alhassan and Jack Jewsbury. Portland have won four matches this season. In their first win, 4-2 over Chicago, the only player to notch an assist for the Timbers was Alhassan, who set up Jorge Perlaza’s opening goal. Let’s ignore the fact the Fire scored twice more in the match and just give Alhassan the game-winning goal in this match. I guess? In Portland’s next win, Alhassan set up Rodney Wallace for the third goal in an eventual 3-2 win (the goal made it 3-0). But by the logic of the scoring from the first match, the winner was Jewsbury’s strike from distance to open the scoring, in which Alhassan was given an assist for merely passing the ball to Jewsbury, who took the ball to the edge of the box, fired it off goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and then the post. Iffy. Very iffy. The next Timbers win came when Kenny Cooper volleyed a cross from Alhassan for the first and only goal of the match against Real Salt Lake. So if you’re counting, Alhassan either has three game-winning assists (according to MLS stat-keeping) or he has two (the one against RSL and the pass to Rodney Wallace against Dallas. If you use logic to accumulate the statistics). The fourth win came when Futty Danso headed in Jewsbury’s corner for a 1-0 win over Philadelphia. So Alhassan has three game-winning assists, and Jewsbury has one. Or if you’re the MLS, they each have two even though Jewsbury has only one assist in a Timbers win, according to the match stats posted by the MLS.

Scoring chance percentage. Scoring chance percentage, so far as I’m able to gather, is the amount of goals scored by a player per shots taken at goal (but not on target). Some examples of this statistic at work are the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, who has scored seven goals on 17 shots for a 41.2 percent scoring percentage (two of those were penalties, but hey, why not?) or Seattle’s Fredy Montero, who has two goals, three assists and has had 46 percent of his shots on target, but has a 5.7 percent scoring percentage. Montero has been off to a slow start, but it’s a stretch to say that Robbie Rogers (only five shots on target and one assist, but like Montero, two goals) is having twice as good of a year – at least if this stat matters to you at all. (11.1 percent) My next rant also takes scoring percentage into account.

San Jose 3, Columbus 0. This was an entertaining match where the Earthquakes ran out winners convincingly against a subpar Columbus side. The stat-keeping was farcical, however. First goal was a Chris Wondolowski volley off a Ryan Johnson cross. Game-winning goal to Wondolowski, game-winning assist to Johnson. Easy. (Let’s ignore for a moment that three San Jose players have been credited with game-winning assists even though they’ve only won two matches.) Joey Gjertsen then took a corner that Stephen Lenhart headed in off the back of Brandon McDonald. Though the ball did hit McDonald, it certainly looked to be headed in regardless. So, in typical MLS fashion, they award the goal to McDonald, and gave assists to Gjertsen and Lenhart. So Lenhart received an assist for heading a goal off McDonald and in. And Gjertsen received an assist for the corner that Lenhart headed off McDonald. The last goal occurred when Bobby Convey passed the ball to Lenhart, who was fouled, and the carom bounced to Kari Stephenson who took a few steps and then hammered the ball home from distance. Convey, naturally, was given an assist for attempting to pass the ball to Lenhart. After a little more research, I was able to discover how, apparently, the Quakes have three guys with game-winning assists. Brad Ring passed the ball to Ryan Johnson before he crossed it in for Wondolowski to volley home. So, the final tally from the Quakes 3-0 win: Three goals, five assists, one game-winning goal, two game-winning assists. Lenhart was credited for one assist despite scoring a goal and being the intended recipient of a pass from a player that got an assist from the goal that followed, and McDonald was awarded with a goal (and a 100 percent scoring chance percentage on his one “shot”) for having a ball headed off his back and into goal. Ring noted a game-winning assist for a pass to a winger who controlled the ball with a fine piece of skill and then crossed the ball for an eventual goal.

Does any of this make any sense to you? Nope, me neither.

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