Monthly Archives: September 2011

Klinsmann calls up players for October friendly

No huge shocks here, which is actually a little disappointing – Danny Williams, a German-born player with an American father who plays for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, probably qualifies as the most surprising pick. 
Besides that, more of the usual Howard-Bocanegra-Onyewu-Bradley-Cherundulo-Spector-Beasley-Donovan group that we've come to expect.

I'd love it if Jurgen Klinsmann would take a chance on players who haven't had much time with the national team but are probably deserving of a chance, some of which were mentioned in the NY Times excellent <a href="http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/u-s-5-for-2-friendlies/">Goal blog</a>:
George John, Omar Gonzales, Justin Braun (who I've all mentioned in the past should get called up) as well as Justin Gatt. Other potential call-ups once again ignored include Sporting Kansas City's Graham Zusi, Dallas' Andrew Jacobsen and Zach Lloyd, Portland's Jack Jewsbury, Chivas USA's Nick LaBrocca and of course, Mix Disterud (Somewhere in Norway), who has looked great when he's put on a U.S. shirt. 

Take a chance, Jurgen! Do you really think the likes of Kyle Beckerman and DaMarcus Beasley are going to take the U.S. places in the next World Cup? Not likely. Ho hum, meh, etc... 
We should win both of these matches. Nothing wrong with changing the style of play, but if we're just going to recycle the same retreads, we should at least beat mediocre teams while doing so. 

Complete list
Goalkeepers Bill Hamid (DC United/MLS), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake/MLS)

Defenders Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers/Scotland), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg/Germany), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96/Germany), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon/Portugal), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis/Mexico), Tim Ream (Red Bulls/M.L.S.), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City/England)

Midfielders Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake/MLS), Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona/Italy), Clint Dempsey (Fulham/England), Maurice Edu (Rangers/Scotland), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado/MLS), Brek Shea (Dallas/MLS), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim/Germany)

Forwards Juan Agudelo (Red Bulls/MLS), Jozy Altidore (AZ/the Netherlands), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/Mexico), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City/MLS), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles/MLS)

Rafa blames teammates for Red Bulls’ woes

If only defending players like Cam Weaver and Joseph Ngwenya was as easy as shilling cologne

According to the article here. (NY Daily News)

Basically the gist of it is that he said that the crowd was wrong for booing him, and that the reason the Red Bulls have struggled on defense is because the other players aren’t up to his level.

This might be true, but for the salary Rafa is being paid, you expect more than for him to be oh, the second or third-best defender on the team. He is a huge star in Mexico, but he has always been a little dodgy – even when he played for Barcelona – and when the guy organizing your defense is making critical errors, your team is going to suck.

And the Red Bulls suck.

Go back to Mexico, Rafa. Club America needs some defenders.

MLS Playoff Prospectus: Sept.20

The Contenders

1. LA Galaxy (16-10-3, 43 gs 22 ga, 58 pts) beat Vancouver 3-0. Possible finish: 1st-5th. Last five:  4-1-0, 11 gs 3 ga, 13 pts. Remaining: @CLB, RSL, @NYR, CHV, @HOU
The Galaxy are to the point where a couple wins will wrap up the Supporter’s Shield and a Champions League spot.

2. Seattle Sounders (14-9-6, 46 gs 31 ga, 51 pts) beat DC United 3-0. Possible finish: 1st-12th. Last five: 3-1-1, 11 gs 4 ga, 10 pts. Remaining: @VAN, @NER, PHI, SJE, @CHV
A win at Vancouver would confirm a playoff spot for the Sounders, though with a relatively easy run-in, they should do that pretty easily anyway.

3. Real Salt Lake (14-6-7, 38 gs 22 ga, 48 pts) beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. Possible finish: 1st-12th. Last five: 4-0-1, 8 gs 5 ga, 12 pts. Remaining: @NYR, @DCU, CHI, @LAG, @VAN, @COL, POR
RSL are along with the Galaxy the league’s hottest team. And with two games in hand over the Galaxy and the Sounders, 2nd (and possibly even 1st, though that’s unlikely) is within their grasp.

4. FC Dallas (13-7-9, 36 gs 32 ga, 46 pts) lost 1-0 to New York. Possible finish: 1st-14th. Last five: 1-1-3, 5 gs 8 ga, 4 pts. Remaining: HOU, @COL, @CHI, VAN, @SJE
Dallas is running on fumes at this point, but if they get 3 points at home against Houston, they’ll be all but in the playoffs.

5. Columbus Crew (11-8-10, 35 gs 37 ga, 41 pts) lost 1-0 to Philadelphia. Possible finish: 2nd-17th. Last five: 1-1-3, 8 gs 14 ga, 4 pts. Remaining: LAG, @SKC, DCU, @NER, @CHI
The Crew’s vaunted defense has fallen apart as of late. And who’s next? Why, three of the best offensive teams in the league, of course.

The Pretenders

6. Colorado Rapids (10-11-9, 40 gs 39 ga, 41 pts) lost 2-1 to Toronto. Possible finish: 2nd-17th. Last five: 1-1-3, 5 gs 8 ga, 4 pts. Remaining: SJE, FCD, RSL, @VAN
Like Dallas, Colorado are paying for Champions League exertions with a small and injury-plagued squad. With three home matches and a relatively easy road one, they should squeeze into the playoffs.

7. Sporting Kansas City (10-10-9, 43 gs 37 ga, 40 pts) lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake. Possible finish: 2nd-17th. Last five: 2-1-2, 8 gs 5 ga, 7 pts. Remaining: PHI, CLB, @SJE, NYR, @DCU
Sure, KC isn’t so great on the road. With three home matches against their Eastern Conference rivals, it shouldn’t matter.

8. Philadelphia Union (9-12-7, 36 gs 30 ga, 39 pts) beat Columbus 1-0. Possible finish: 2nd-18th. Last five: 1-2-2, 7 gs 8 ga, 5 pts. Remaining: @SKC, DCU, @CHV, @SEA, TOR, @NYR
The Union finally got a morale-boosting performance and a win against Columbus. If they can get at least a point at KC, they will be well-placed for the race for 1st in the East.

9. Houston Dynamo (9-12-9, 38 gs 39 ga, 39 pts) beat San Jose 2-1. Possible finish: 3rd-18th. Last five: 2-1-2, 7 gs 9 ga, 7 pts. Remaining: @FCD, CHI, @POR, LAG
The Dynamo have stumbled and bumbled their way to a playoff position, but with arguably the hardest run-in of matches in the league and teams like DC United, New York and Portland each with at least two games in hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them drop out of the playoffs the final weeks.

10. New York Red Bulls (7-15-6, 43 gs 38 ga, 36 pts) beat FC Dallas 1-0. Possible finish: 2nd-18th. Last five: 1-3-1, 6 gs 8 ga, 6 pts. Remaining: RSL, POR, @TOR, LAG, @SKC, PHI
It’s been a horribly disappointing season for New York, but if they can build on their win at Dallas by notching at least seven points against RSL, the Timbers and Toronto, they will start dreaming of 1st in the East again.

On The Outside Looking In

11. Portland Timbers (10-6-12, 36 gs 41 ga, 36 pts) beat New England 3-0. Possible finish: 2nd-18th. Last five: 3-1-1, 7 gs 4 ga, 10 pts. Remaining: SJE, @NYR, @VAN, HOU, @DCU, @RSL
The Timbers have been imperious at home, but if they want to make the playoffs, they’ll have to pick up some points on the road down the stretch.

12. DC United (8-10-8, 37 gs 38 ga, 34 pts) lost 3-0 to Seattle. Possible finish: 2nd-18th. Last five: 2-1-2, 8 gs 4 ga, 7 pts. Remaining: CHV, RSL, @PHI, @CLB, @VAN, CHI, POR, SKC
Despite being in 12th place, an easy run-in and at least two games in hand against all their rivals should see United make the playoffs – unless they completely crash.

13. Chivas USA (7-10-12, 34 gs 36 ga, 31 pts) lost 3-2 to Chicago. Possible finish: 5th-18th. Last five: 0-1-4, 4 gs 10 ga, 1 pt. Remaining: @DCU, TOR, PHI, @LAG, SEA
Chivas have been the worst team in the league over the last six matches, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see them drop into the bottom 3 by season’s end.

Slim To None

14. Chicago Fire (5-15-8, 33 gs 37 ga, 30 pts) beat Chivas USA 3-2. Possible finish: 4th-18th. Last five: 2-2-1, 8 gs 7 ga, 8 pts. Remaining: NER, @RSL, @HOU, FCD, @DCU, CLB
The Fire’s recent run of form lately has just highlighted how good this team should have been this year. They have several difficult matches remaining and would have to shock their way into a playoff spot.

15. Toronto FC (6-12-12, 32 gs 52 ga, 30 pts) beat Colorado 2-1. Possible finish: 5th-18th. Last five: 2-1-2, 7 gs, 7 ga, 7 pts. Remaining: @CHV, NYR, @PHI, NER
Toronto could get maximum points from their last four, though it’s unlikely. Even doing so might see them fail to qualify for the playoffs. Hey, they’re still in the Champions League, right?

16. San Jose Earthquakes (6-11-11, 30 gs 37 ga, 29 pts) lost 2-1 to Houston. Possible finish: 4th-18th. Last five: 1-1-3, 5 gs 7 ga, 4 pts. Remaining: @POR, @COL, SKC, @NER, @SEA, FCD
Poor player moves have doomed what was a decent looking team earlier in the season. Now with a rough stretch of matches left, we’ll see if they start giving the young guys some playing time.

17. New England Revolution (5-12-12, 32 gs 46 ga, 27 pts) lost 3-0 to Portland. Possible finish: 5th-18th. Last five: 1-3-1, 9 gs 10 ga, 6 pts. Remaining: @CHI, SEA, SJE, CLB, @TOR
The Revs narrowly edge Chicago for most disappointing team of the season. They’ll get a chance to prove me wrong when they visit Chicago next week.

18. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-10-14, 28 gs 46 ga, 22 pts) lost 3-0 to the LA Galaxy. Possible finish: 8th-18th. Last five: 1-1-3, 3 gs 10 ga, 4 pts. Remaining: SEA, POR, RSL, DCU, @FCD, COL
Hey, it’s been a fun first year, right? Let’s see who Vancouver signs in the offseason.

Aston Villa 1, Newcastle 1: What we learned

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

Villa are mostly overwhelmed by a decent Newcastle side, but aside from a quick bit of poor defending from Richard Dunne, we probably would’ve gotten the win.
Record: 1-4-0, 6 goals scored, 4 goals conceded, 7 points, 7th place
Goal scorers: Gabriel Agbonlahor (3)
Assists: Barry Bannan (1)
Man of the match: Gabriel Agbonlahor
Next up: Bolton Wanderers (Tuesday, Carling Cup); @ Queens Park Rangers (next Sunday, EPL)

1. Villa need some changes in midfield. This isn’t a knock on Stiliyan Petrov and Fabian Delph, both who have had fairly good starts to the season, but Newcastle passed the ball around at will in this game, something you never want to see at home. Petrov seems to be playing higher up on the pitch, but since he’s slow, that often means that he’s not in a good place to charge back and defend if Villa lose the ball, and Yohann Cabaye in particular had plenty of freedom to run and shoot to his heart’s content, something you don’t want any player to do in the EPL. I’m not sure what the answer is, though – Villa need a stronger ball-winner in midfield that allows players like Petrov and Delph to attack goal, but there just isn’t anyone on the team that equipped to do that. Maybe move Ciaran Clark back to the defensive mid like he played for a few matches with Gerard Houllier in charge? Regardless, they’re going to struggle in possession when playing a 4-4-2 because of the numerical disadvantage against teams playing 4-5-1 or ones like Newcastle that have bruisers like Chick Tiote to take the ball away.

2. Gabby Agbonlahor looks like the Gabby of old. A lot of Villa fans hate Agbonlahor because they see so much unrealized potential, but on his day he’s a pretty serviceable striker who will get 10-15 goals a season. He’ll probably never turn into a 20-goal a season player, but that’s OK, because Darren Bent is already that. He has three goals so far, and along with Shay Given has been the best player on the team so far.

3. We need better wing play. I’ve never been a fan of the inverted winger thing that all the teams do now. If a guy is left-footed, have him play on the left. It’s especially noticeable with someone like Bannan playing on the right wing. Bannan is a good player and a nice passer and would play all the time if he wasn’t 5-2, but he’s especially deficient when he plays on the wing because he favors his left foot so much and isn’t exceptionally quick. The result is, he comes inside on his left foot and then tends to just send looping balls over to Charles N’Zogbia instead of trying to beat anyone. As for N’Zogbia, I still have faith he’ll come good. He has shown flashes lately of being the player that people think he’s going to be, but he needs to start producing that on a daily basis, because there is no point in having a poacher like Darren Bent on the team if he never gets the ball.

4. Yohann Cabaye is a pretty good player. Cabaye was signed by Newcastle to replace Joey Barton (I guess.) He’s a good player. I could see him playing for a team like Arsenal next year. At any rate, with him in the side, I could see Newcastle challenging for a European spot.

Match grade: C

Site maintenance

For the next couple weeks, I’m going to be working on changes to design and content in this site. So don’t expect as many posts as usual, though I’ll try and do something things.

Thanks. Yeah.

MLS rankings: Week 24

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 didn’t play. Galaxy are going through a tough stretch of the tougher Western Conference opponents. If they make it through this unscathed, the Supporter’s Shield (best record) should be theirs.  Season: 14-9-3, 37 gf, 20 ga; Up next: Sporting Kansas City on Monday

2 – 2. Seattle Sounders beat Columbus 6-2 at home. Sounders are undefeated in their last eight in all competitions. Season: 13-9-5, 42 gf, 29 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

3 – 4. FC Dallas won 3-2 at Sporting Kansas City. A surprising rally from two goals down at Kansas City helped alleviate Dallas’ recent slump. The playoffs are assured, but can they stay in the Top 4? Season: 13-7-7, 36 gf, 28 ga. Up next: At New England on Saturday

4 – 3. Colorado Rapids lost 2-0 at Chicago. After being in fairly imperious form, Rapids were woeful against Chicago. All the Champions League travel might cause a slip in MLS play. Season record: 10-11-7, 39 goals for, 36 goal against; Up next: At LA Galaxy on Friday

5 – 7. Real Salt Lake won 2-1 at home against Philadelphia; won 1-0 at Chivas USA. RSL are very up and down this year, but on their day, they’re very hard to beat. It helps that they’re starting to get injured players back, finally. Season: 12-6-7, 34 gf, 21 ga; Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

6 – 5. Columbus Crew lost 6-2 at Seattle. After a very strong second half, the Crew were annihilated at Seattle. Now at least they host Toronto, who can’t stop anyone from scoring. Season: 11-7-8, 31 gf 30 ga; Up next: Toronto on Saturday

7 – 8. Philadelphia Union lost 2-1 at Real Salt Lake. Philadelphia needs to find some way to turn things around of they’re in danger of missing the playoffs; they are winless in their last six and have only won once in their last nine.  Season: 8-10-7, 31 gf, 26 ga; Up next: New England on Wednesday

8 – 6. Sporting Kansas City lost 3-2 at home to FC Dallas. After giving up a two-goal lead the last twenty minutes of the match for the second time this season – this time at home – KC needs a much better performance against the Galaxy. Season: 9-9-8, 38 gf, 34 ga; Up next: LA Galaxy on Monday

9 – 9. Houston Dynamo lost 1-0 at Vancouver. It says it all about the Eastern Conference that after the mediocre season Houston has had, they’re still third in the conference. They still need to finish strong to ensure a playoff spot. Season: 8-11-8, 33 gf, 33 ga; Up next: At Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

10 – 10. DC United didn’t play. DC are one point out of the last playoff spot, but have two games in hand. Winning at Chivas would go a long way toward getting them there. Season: 7-10-7, 34 gf, 35 ga; Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday

11 – 11. Portland Timbers didn’t play. It says a lot for Portland that despite their occasional poor play, they have stayed on the edge of making the postseason. Unfortunately, they haven’t proven conclusively they can beat anyone on the road. Season: 9-5-12, 33 gf, 41 ga; Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

12 – 13. Red Bull New York didn’t play. Vancouver is the sort of team New York should beat 4-0 in a home match, but the way they’ve played this season, they could lose 4-2. Will Hans Backe keep his job if they miss the playoffs? He probably shouldn’t. Season: 6-14-6, 41 gf, 37 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

13 – 12. Chivas USA lost 1-0 at home to Real Salt Lake. After some good results, Chivas have now lost their last two to fall back out of the playoff positions. Season: 7-10-10, 32 gf, 30 ga; Up next: DC United on Saturday

14 – 16. Chicago Fire won 2-0 at home against Colorado. Will a late-season rally be enough to get the Fire into the playoffs? Probably not, but the way the MLS works, it’s never impossible. A match at San Jose is one the Fire are fully capable of winning. Season: 4-15-7, 30 gf, 33 ga; Up next: At San Jose on Saturday

15 – 14. New England Revolution didn’t play. A miserable season for the Revolution is almost over, at least. Can they salvage some pride in hosting the Union? Season: 4-11-11, 26 gf, 39 ga; Up next: Philadelphia on Wednesday

16 – 15. San Jose Earthquakes drew 1-1 at Toronto. On the bright side, San Jose managed to not lose at Toronto. On the down side, they still didn’t win, and the playoffs are all but out of their reach at this point, unless they go undefeated the rest of the way. Season: 5-11-10, 27 gf, 35 ga; Up next: Chicago on Saturday

17 – 17. Toronto FC drew 1-1 at home with San Jose. Toronto probably should be beating a team like San Jose at home. There have been enough intriguing signs from the team this year – and at least they’re playing well in the Champions League. Season: 4-12-12, 26 gf, 49 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

18 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps won 1-0 at home against Houston. Vancouver won at home against Houston. They have been terrible this season, but they have great fans, and man, what a beautiful city. Season: 4-9-13, 27 gf, 42 ga; Up next: New York on Saturday

Onions Sports Network gets it exactly right, sadly

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