Monthly Archives: March 2012

MLS Weekend Preview: March 30-April 1

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Friday

DC United (0-1-2) v. FC Dallas (1-1-1). (4:30 p.m.) United looked, well, defensively solid, I guess, against Vancouver last week, but have yet to find their stride offensively. Here’s an idea: Drop Maicon Santos. I’m just saying. For a team that was at times refreshing last year in their swashbuckling attack, they’ve been miserable and one-dimensional so far. In Dallas, they’re facing an opponent who have yet to get going this season either. On the bright side (for Dallas), Brek Shea should be back, and Dallas fans will probably hope that he starts playing like he did last year. If not, it could be a long year. Prediction: DC 1-0

Saturday

Toronto (0-0-2) v. Columbus (1-0-1). (11 a.m.) I’m going to go against what seems to be the prevailing wisdom in North American soccer circles and say that Toronto’s draw at home with Santos Laguna was not a great result. Not because Toronto is good enough to beat Santos, but simply because winning at home was probably their best chance at winning the tie overall. With that said, any time Toronto holds a team – especially one as good as Santos – to one goal, there should be cause for celebration. Columbus strolled past Montreal in their home opener, and new signings Miroslav Mirosevic and Olman Vargas looked decent. Prediction: 2-2

New York (1-0-2) v. Montreal (0-1-2). (1 p.m.) The Red Bulls finally came out of their shells to crush Colorado, though they were helped out a lot by woeful defending from the Rapids. However, they do face an Impact team that can’t defend, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see New York romp to another big win. As far as Montreal goes, umm … keep plugging away, boys. Prediction: New York 4-1

Philadelphia (0-0-3) v. Vancouver (2-1-0). (1 p.m.) The Union are already a mess, and it seems like coach Peter Nowak isn’t helping the team out by claiming they’re playing just fine, or trying to issue inflammatory statements in Sebastian LeToux’s direction prior to Vancouver’s visit. This game, though, the Union HAVE to win. Obviously we’ve got a long way to go in the season, but if they can’t beat a second-year team with a lot of new faces, at home, the Union can’t seriously be considered a team with any aspiration of making the playoffs. As for Vancouver, the offense has yet to get untracked, and Eric Hassli in particularly hasn’t looked interested or motivated. However, they should be able to get a result just on the strength of LeToux and Camilo being in the starting lineup. Prediction: 1-1

Portland (1-1-1) v. Real Salt Lake (2-0-1). (7 p.m.) John Spencer labeled the Timbers’ performance at New England as terrible, and he was right. Portland has now conceded the first goal in their first three matches, and it’s something they can’t afford to do against an RSL team that is very good despite a somewhat embarrassing loss to Chivas USA last week. RSL dominated Chivas USA, but was let down by poor finishing, particularly from Alvaro “What, I thought the season started in May?” Saborio, as well as some bad refereeing. They should be better in this match, though Portland are tough at home. Prediction: 1-1

Seattle (2-0-0) v. San Jose (2-0-1). (7 p.m.) San Jose thrashed Toronto in Canada despite rarely stringing more than a couple passes together, but they face a much better defensive (and offensive) team in the Sounders. This will be an interesting contrast of styles, as in the first couple matches the Sounders have seemed happy to let the other team pass the ball around and then counterattack. Against the Earthquakes, though, they obviously won’t be able to use that strategy, since the Quakes play probably more defensive long-ball football than any other team in the MLS. Will David Estrada keep scoring for Seattle? Will Fredy Montero wake up? Prediction: Seattle 2-0

LA Galaxy (1-0-1) v. New England (1-0-2). (8 p.m.) The Galaxy were as fantastic against DC United as they were terrible against Real Salt Lake in the opener. So which will we get today? Since they’re playing New England, I’m going to say the former. LA desperately misses the injured Omar Gonzalez, and it’s hard to tell if they seem overly concerned with playing well from game to game. They do have enough weapons to win a match like this in a walk, though. New England were much-improved against Portland, and if they play a midfield trident of Lee Nguyen, Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe, could actually have one of the more creative attacks in the league – that is, if those three players will pass to each other. Prediction: LA 3-0

Sunday

Colorado (2-0-1) v. Chicago (1-1-0). (4 p.m.) Two teams struggling for a little consistency meet in this match. The Rapids were impressive in their first two matches, then completely came unraveled against New York with Jeff “The Ginger Assassin” Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni missing. Chicago was rarely threatened in their opening draw and win, but also seldom threatened their opponent’s goal. Their ball retention in particularly has been disappointing. Pavel Pardo is a classy player on his day, but if you’re going to start a midfielder who moves like he’s bolted to the floor, he should at least complete 20 passes in a match. Colorado could see the season debuts of Conor Casey (before his inevitable season-ending injury) and new signing Martin Rivero. Prediction: Colorado 2-1

Chivas USA (1-0-2) v. Kansas City (3-0-0). (6 p.m.) The Goats have to be riding high after being extremely lucky to beat Real Salt Lake last week. They’re hoping to welcome back Juan Pablo Angel, though I can’t find any information on whether he’ll be available. It would certainly be a boost if he returned, nothing against Casey Townsend. They also might have Michael Lahoud back in the lineup, which is great if you love own goals and misplaced passes. Kansas City has won their three matches to start the season without really dominating any, which I think bodes well for them. Kei Kamara, who got the winner against Dallas, is so far the top-rated player in the Castrol Ratings, which doesn’t mean anything really, though might help distract people from thinking about his epic miss against the Galaxy in 2010. (Unfortunately, the MLS has blocked youtube clips of it, so this is the best I can do. Thanks, buddy.) Prediction: Kansas City 1-0

Wow, I just can’t get enough of this guy.

 

Aston Villa to do 3-match U.S. tour in July

I sure hope posting this photo on the web doesn't ruin its resale value

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Aston Villa, who are terrible again this year, but it’s worth noting have won the English league, Champions League and FA Cup more than Chelsea, are doing a three-match tour of the MLS ballparks in July. They open against the Union in Philadelphia on July 18, play the Chicago Fire on July 21, and close the tour with a match against the Timbers in Portland on July 24.

I’m all for a tour of the U.S. by Villa, though they never seem to play anywhere I can get to. The optimist in me is hoping that the team will be buoyed by the recent jettisoning of dead wood like Emile Heskey (1 goal in 2012 – yes, he’s a striker), Richard Dunne and Stephen Warnock and a healthy influx of new players, though I’ll probably be disappointed in that end.

At any rate, I hope those of you in those cities get a chance to attend the matches.

I can’t wait ’til the Olympics … WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE AREN’T GOING?!

Greece's failing economy won't just affect the business sector. Anyone? Anyone?

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

This is probably a story that has been covered more by the mainstream U.S. sports media than the soccer media, since generally speaking the U.S. cares more about Olympic soccer more than most other countries (except for maybe Argentina and the African countries) do. Anyway, as one of the favorites (along with Mexico) to advance to the London Games, this has to be considering a crushing disappointment for the U.S. For those of you who didn’t follow it as closely as I did (I didn’t actually follow it very closely), the U.S., featuring “stars” like Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea, cruised to a 6-0 win over Cuba in the opener, then were shocked by Canada and drew with El Salvador in the third match. Oops!

El Salvador is reasonably good, and Canada is OK, but a team with 54 international caps on its roster probably shouldn’t even have conceded  a goal in these three matches, much less five – especially at home. The U.S.’s absence won’t affect World Cup 2014, but for those of us who thought that the United States could’ve been a dark horse to at least reach the Olympic semifinals, well, cheer for Gabon, I guess.

Unfortunately for Freddy Adu, this means that he has to start performing at the club level if he wants people to keep considering him the great young hope of U.S. soccer for another couple years.

MLS rankings: March 27

And you thought today wouldn't start off so sexy.

For once, MLSsoccer.com’s Power Rankings and ours relatively agree. That’s nice to see. I’m not trying to rhyme. Not a lot of huge changes in the rankings, though good performances by San Jose and Chivas USA have them moving up a little bit. With Sporting Kansas City and Seattle off to such good starts, the onus will be on the Galaxy to keep pace after a bye week. Luckily they’re playing the Revs.

1 – 1. Sporting Kansas City (3-0-0 – 9 pts, 6 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Dallas 2-1. KC grinds out a result, which is a good sign for a team hoping to challenge the Galaxy, who are kings of grinding out results. Up next: At Chivas USA on Sunday

2 – 3. Seattle Sounders (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Houston 2-0. The Sounders aren’t great at retaining possession, which is a bit surprising for what is clearly one of the top teams in the league. They do have enough weapons that it doesn’t matter, though. Up next: San Jose on Saturday

3 – 4. LA Galaxy (1-0-1 – 3 pts, 4 gf, 4 ga). This week: The Galaxy got a week off so Landon Donovan can concentrate on his real love: Crocheting. Up next: New England on Saturday

4 – 2. Real Salt Lake (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 2 ga). This week: Lost to Chivas USA 1-0. RSL never should have lost to Chivas USA, but they certainly weren’t helped out by Alvaro Saborio’s annual March dry spell in front of goal. Up next: At Portland on Saturday

5 – 7. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-1-0 – 7 pts, 3 gf, 0 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with DC United. For a team having Camilo, Eric Hassli and Sebastian LeToux up front, the Caps have struggled to score. But they still have yet to concede a goal. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

6 – 5. Houston Dynamo (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 2 gf, 2 ga). This week: Lost to Seattle 2-0. After their 2-0-0 start on their 7-match season-opening road trip, the Dynamo crash down to Earth at Seattle, though they weren’t dominated. If they can pick up another win on their travels, they’ll be well-placed for the playoff battle when they return home. Up next: At Chicago on April 15

7 – 11. San Jose Earthquakes (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 3-0. They don’t play beautiful football, but their defense is solid, and Chris Wondolowski is the best finisher in the MLS. And with a much deeper team this year, the Earthquakes have to think the playoffs are a very real goal. Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

8 – 10. Chicago Fire (1-1-0 – 4 pts, 2 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Philadelphia 1-0. It’s been a bit of an uneven first two matches for the Fire, but they have enough quality in the team that they shouldn’t fall apart like they did last year after starting 1-1-0. Up next: At Colorado on Sunday

9 – 6. Portland Timbers (1-1-1 – 4 pts, 4 gf, 3 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 at New England. If the Timbers want to be serious contenders in the West, they need better performances from their midfield – Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara were dominated by the Revs midfield. Don’t expect Kris Boyd to miss as many chances as he did in that game, though. Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

10 – 9. FC Dallas (1-1-1 – 4 pts, 4 gf, 4 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Kansas City. Dallas continues to wait on David Fereira returning from injury. At some point, they have to find a plan B if they want to challenge for the MLS Cup. Up next: At DC United on Friday

11 – 12. Columbus Crew (1-0-1 – 3 pts, 2 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Montreal 2-0. New DP Mirosevic looks like quite a player, which is good, because the Crew need him to be if they’re going to go far in the playoffs. Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

12 – 8. Colorado Rapids (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost to New York 4-1. The Rapids were inept in New York, but falling victim to a bunch of dumb defensive mistakes, it wasn’t a completely accurate picture of the team’s quality. Up next: Chicago on Sunday

13 – 14. New York Red Bulls (1-0-2 – 3 pts, 5 gf, 5 ga) This week: Beat Colorado 4-1. Yes, the Red Bulls beat the Rapids by three goals. If they want to move up in the rankings, they need to produce like that more often. Up next: Montreal on Saturday

14 – 13. DC United (0-1-2 – 1 pt, 1 gf, 4 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with Vancouver. Could United’s laboring offense be all Maicon Santos’s fault? If you read OLS regularly, you know the answer can only be yes. Up next: FC Dallas on Saturday

15 – 19. Chivas USA (1-0-2 – 3 pts, 1 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Real Salt Lake 1-0. Chivas finally scored! Chivas finally scored! This team is still a mess. Up next: Sporting Kansas City on Sunday

16 – 18. New England Revolution (1-0-2 – 3 pts, 1 gf, 4 ga). This week: Beat Portland 1-0. Lee Nguyen provided quite a spark in midfield for the Revs, though the jury is still out on Saer Sene’s ability to be a top-notch striker. Up next: LA Galaxy on Saturday

17-16. Montreal Impact (0-1-2 – 1 pt, 1 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost to Columbus 2-0. Only woeful starts for Philadelphia and Toronto are keeping the Impact from propping up the rest of the league in the rankings. They should be doing it pretty soon. Up next: At New York on Saturday

18 – 17. Philadelphia Union (0-0-3 – 0 pts, 2 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost to Chicago 1-0. A better performance from Zack MacMath is a start, but the Union are still porous defensively and punchless offensively. Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

19 – 15. Toronto FC (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 1 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost to San Jose 3-0. Losing Sebastian Freis for two months really hurts a team that can’t defend anyway. When does Torsten Frings get back? Up next: Columbus on Saturday

MLS Weekend Roundup: March 23-25

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Friday

Seattle 2 Houston 0. An odd game where the Sounders were both a bit lucky and fully deserving of their win. Seattle got goals from David Estrada (his fourth of the year, and it should’ve been scored an own goal, but this is the MLS, so … ) and Brad Evans (slotting home a relatively soft penalty). Though Houston dominated possession, they rarely created chances, something that’s been an ongoing problem for them. Also, is there any established MLS star who is as rarely influential as Fredy Montero? Sure, he’ll probably score 10 goals and pass out 10 assists again, but he drifts through so many games without worrying this opposition. In this one, he had one shot attempt, and it was well-wide. You expect more from someone so talented. My Prediction: Seattle 2-0

Saturday

Toronto 0 San Jose 3. Chris Wondolowski scores twice and Shea Salinas grabs the other as the Earthquakes pull off a smash-and-grab win against defensively inept Toronto. After seeing David Estrada saunter past the TFC defense last week, I was concerned that Toronto were up to their old habits defensively, and, well, they are. It doesn’t seem to matter who Aron Winter puts in defense for this team – they all seem to catch what I like to call “Any Iro-itis,” the propensity for looking like a deer in the headlights whenever opponents run at them with the ball. This time the perpetrators were new signing Miguel Aceval and the typically terrible Ty Harden. At this point I think we need to start examining the possibility that Winter’s penchant for playing attacking football with no capable holding midfielder (Julian De Guzman? Yeah, right.) at least being partly to blame, along with having defenders whose reaction to the team losing possession seems to be “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” Anyway, good win for San Jose. My Prediction: 1-1

New England 1 Portland 0. Saer Sene gets an early goal off a header, and New England aren’t worried much by Portland in getting their first win of the season. I thought this would be a bit of a banana peel for Portland after head coach John Spencer’s increasingly angry assertions that the team doesn’t have a problem winning on the road. Probably the biggest story to this match, though, was former U.S. starlet and PSV Eindhoven midfielder Lee Nguyen looking quite good in the New England midfield, thanks largely to the absence of the injured Benny Feilhaber. Nguyen offers the Revs a change of pace in that he is a good ball handler who isn’t afraid to take on defenders, unlike the rest of the team. It seems like Feilhaber is an automatic choice to start, for some reason, and I’m not sure how well two ball hogs can play together in midfield. Prediction: New England 2-1

Columbus 2 Montreal 0. Columbus gets goals from its two new signings, and Montreal self-destructs a bit with a red card and penalty. Early on, Montreal wasn’t able to handle the physical play of Columbus forward Emilio Renteria, and a couple dumb fouls doomed them to this loss. They don’t offer much offensively – only about 36 percent of their completed passes were in Columbus’s half, and they give away WAY too many fouls. As for the Crew, they labored a bit to create chances, but they were always going to win this match. It still remains to be seen whether they’re an MLS Cup contender, though Milovan Mirosevic completing 67 of 74 passes in midfield bodes well. Prediction: Columbus 3-0

Chicago 1 Philadelphia 0. Dominic Oduro scores the winner right before halftime. As much as I hate to ever admit being wrong, he’s flowered as a striker in Chicago. Sure, he’ll never be Ruud Van Nistelrooy, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another striker in the MLS with his blend of speed and athleticism. As for the match itself, Chicago struggled to retain possession a bit, though in fairness, Philadelphia’s problems this year don’t include a lack of passing ability. Nonetheless, you’d expect Pavel Pardo to be a bit more involved in the offense. Even though the Union lost, they have to feel heartened that Zack MacMath didn’t make another high profile error leading to a goal, but that’s probably about as good as it gets so far for them. Prediction: Chicago 2-0

Real Salt Lake 0 Chivas USA 1. RSL fans are probably still raging – in a very polite, earnest kind of way – after Real Salt Lake dominated the match, had what seemed a perfectly legitimate goal disallowed, then gave up the game-winner on basically Chivas’s only attack of the day. Hard to take. A nice three points for Chivas in a place where the road team never wins, but their problems are still there, and they’d lose this fixture 3-0 nine times out of ten. Prediction: RSL 3-0

Vancouver 0 DC United 0. A bore draw between two teams that are probably at about the same level. The Whitecaps couldn’t get going offensively – out of only 8 shots in the match, only two were from their forward line (one each for Camilo and Eric Hassli), which isn’t good enough for a team with the weapons they have. DC United will be happy with a point on the road, I would think. United fans probably have to be a bit disappointed in the poor play of Branko Boskovic, who just isn’t looking up to the pace of the MLS. Prediction: Vancouver 1-0

Sunday

New York 4 Colorado 1. Colorado is uncharacteristically self-destructive defensively, and Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper (two goals each) are the beneficiaries. The biggest question I have from a match like this is: Should the Red Bulls play Juan Agudelo when he gets back? Sure, Agudelo is a player with good potential, but it’s already clear that Henry and Cooper are developing a partnership that Agudelo has yet to develop with anyone, but particularly not Henry. As for Colorado, Omar Cummings finally scored a goal. They’ll just have to assume that this result is an abberation. Prediction: 2-2

Sporting Kansas City 2 FC Dallas 1. Kei Kamara’s late goal continues KC’s undefeated start. Aurelien Collin added a goal for Kansas City, and Ricardo Villar floated a nice free kick into the back of the net for Dallas. A bit more of a workmanlike win for KC, but they still look like the best team in the Eastern Conference and possibly all of the MLS. The only thing I can see derailing this team from at least a semifinal spot is injuries. Dallas was fairly disappointing. Here’s a bad stat: Villar and forward Blas Perez completed 19 of 46 passes. Eww. They were missing Brek Shea, but the whole team needs to be better than this, or they’ll struggle to make the playoffs. Prediction: Kansas City 2-1

MLS Weekend Preview: March 23-25

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Friday

Seattle v. Houston. (7 p.m.) Seattle rolled past the leaky Toronto defense last week, but Houston is a much better defensive team. With Mauro Rosales out through injury, they’ll need David Estrada to continue the form that netted him a hat trick last week. Houston is 2-0-0 to start the season, but hasn’t faced a team with anywhere near the attacking power of the Sounders. Despite their first two wins, Houston hasn’t looked convincing offensively. Prediction: Seattle 2-0

Saturday

Toronto v. San Jose (10 a.m.). Toronto fans are hoping that the calamitous defending that was on display last year – and then again last week against Seattle – isn’t going to be the norm again, though they’ll have to do so without the injured Torsten Frings. San Jose have looked good on defense this year, but they need to stop just relying on Chris Wondolowski to score all the goals. Prediction: 1-1

New England v. Portland (1 p.m.). As early as it is in the season, the Revs need to win this match to show they have any illusions of making the playoffs this year. Completely reshuffling the forward line every match is not the way to start. Portland rallied for an impressive road point at Dallas. They hope to establish their bonafides against a team that they should be strong enough to beat. In doing so, they’d also banish the ghosts of last year’s road struggles. Prediction: New England 2-1

Columbus v. Montreal (1 p.m.). The Crew didn’t show much in their season opener at Colorado, but with several new pieces in their starting lineup, that’s to be expected. They take on an Impact side that earned their first point of the season – against Chicago – but shouldn’t provide much competition in this match. Prediction: Columbus 3-0

Chicago v. Philadelphia (5:30 p.m.). This match provides a perfect opportunity for the Fire to lay their claim as a playoff team against the reeling Union, who have been perhaps the worst team in the league after the first two weeks. The Union aren’t helped by the fact that Freddy Adu and the recently called-up Sheanon Williams are with the U-23 squad for Olympic qualifying. Look for the Fire to attack the Union goal as often as possible to test goalkeeper Zack MacMath, who has been a horror show so far. If the Union keep playing like this, head coach Peter Nowak could be out of a job. Prediction: Chicago 2-0

Real Salt Lake v. Chivas USA (6 p.m.). RSL haven’t missed a step despite injuries to some starters, and it shouldn’t be much easier than playing Chivas USA, who were shut out in their first two home matches, losing both, and probably won’t have Juan Pablo Angel or Alejandro Moreno. If any match this weekend is a rout, it should be this one. Prediction: RSL 3-0

Vancouver v DC United (7 p.m.). Along with Sporting Kansas City and RSL, the Whitecaps have been one of the three biggest success stories so far this season. They take on a United team that aren’t quite in free fall, but might be if they don’t win – or at least draw – this match. This is the point where I take the opportunity to highlight the wastefulness, lack of tracking back and general uselessness of United forward Maicon Santos. Why is he starting? I’ll be back next week with more, folks. Prediction: Vancouver 1-0

Sunday

New York v. Colorado (1 p.m.). The Rapids are undefeated and might (though probably not) have Conor Casey available to play some sort of role. The Red Bulls have been struggling, though they’re starting to get some regulars back in their lineup – I hate saying this, but they’ve missed Rafa Marquez. There’s no logical reason for coach Hans Backe not to start Kenny Cooper, which with the Red Bulls probably means he won’t. Prediction: 2-2

Sporting Kansas City v. FC Dallas (4 p.m.). Here is is, the best match of the weekend. KC have been the best team so far, apologies to Real Salt Lake, but they take on a Dallas team that rallied from two goals down late to beat them in the corresponding fixture last year. Dallas have looked good, but they continue to wait on David Fereira to return, and don’t have to as much speed on the wings to make up for it if he doesn’t – or at least not so far. This should be a competitive match, but look for KC to not throw it away at the end this time. Prediction: Kansas City 2-1

MLS rankings: March 19

Sorry for the late start on rankings, but I was, uhh … busy. Anyway, impressive starts for Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, Houston, Colorado and Vancouver have those teams surging up the standings. Meanwhile, the Galaxy drop a bit after a bad season-opening loss (and a surprise Champions League one), and teams like Philadelphia, New England, DC United and Chivas USA are reeling. First number is current ranking, second is previous ranking.

1 – 4. Sporting Kansas City (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 0 ga). This week: Beat New England 3-0. Last year’s 1-3-6 start to the season is a distant memory with a fortuitous win on the road, then a dominating one at home. Up next: Dallas on Sunday

2 – 3. Real Salt Lake (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat New York 2-0. RSL continue to roll on despite the curious decision to start Paulo Jr. and bring Alvaro Saborio off the bench. However, RSL are always really good at home, so it’s hard to get an accurate read on the team so far. Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday

3 – 2. Seattle Sounders (1-0-0 – 3 pts, 3 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 3-1. Is David Estrada THAT good, or is Toronto’s suicidally high defensive line THAT bad? We’re guessing the latter. Up next: Houston on Friday

4 – 1. LA Galaxy (1-0-1 – 3 pts, 4 gf, 4 ga). This week: Beat DC United 3-1. After a woefully bad defensive (and uninspiring offensive) performance in the season opener, it was back to business for the Galaxy in an easy win over DC United. Still, how did they lose at home to Toronto in the Champions League? Up next: New England on March 31

5 – 8. Houston Dynamo (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 2 gf, 0 ga). This week: Beat San Jose 1-0. A stoppage-time goal wins the opener and a penalty settles the second. It’s not pretty, but Houston  hasn’t lost yet. Or conceded a goal. Friday’s match will be the first real test of the Dynamo’s mettle. Up next: At Seattle on Friday

6 – 5. Portland Timbers (1-1-0 – 4 pts, 4 gf, 2 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Dallas. A dominant opening home win was probably expected, but a road point at one of the league’s better teams (Dallas) has to be considered a positive sign for the Timbers. Up next: At New England on Saturday

7 – 13. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 3 gf, 0 ga). This week: Beat Chivas USA 1-0. The Whitecaps might be ranked No. 1 based on their first two performances, were they not so dreadful last year. Is this a playoff team? Sure looks like it. Up next: DC United on Saturday

8 – 11. Colorado Rapids (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Philadelphia 2-1. The Rapids open their season 2-0-0 under the radar. A road win in Philadelphia – a man down for much of the match, even – is even more impressive than their whitewashing of Columbus. Up next: At New York on Sunday

9 – 7. FC Dallas (1-1-0 – 4 pts, 3 gf, 2 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Portland. After a surprisingly easy win over New York, Dallas gives away an equalizer to Portland and draws. So far, their defense looks good, even without George John. Up next: At Kansas City on Sunday

10 – 9. Chicago Fire (0-1-0 – 1 pt, 1 gf, 1 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Montreal. No one wants to do anything but win against the expansion team, but considering the atmosphere, coming away with a point can’t be considered that bad of a result. Up next: Philadelphia on Saturday

11 – 14. San Jose Earthquakes (1-0-1 – 3 pts, 1 gf, 1 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Houston. Mixed reviews for the Earthquakes after two weekends. Defensively they look solid, and Chris Wondolowski seems to have his poacher instincts honed. But will anyone else score? Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

12 – 10. Columbus Crew (0-0-1 – 0 pts, 0 gf, 2 ga). This week: Did not play. Hard to read the Crew after the opening-day road loss to Colorado and a bye week this week. Up next: Montreal on Saturday

13 – 12. DC United (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 1 gf, 4 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to LA Galaxy. After a disappointing late loss to Kansas City, United are shellacked by the Galaxy. The lack of goals so far is worrying. Up next: At Vancouver on Saturday

14 – 6. New York Red Bulls (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 1 gf, 4 ga) This week: Lost 2-0 to Real Salt Lake. So far the Red Bulls are slow and mistake-prone in defense and surprisingly punchless in attack. Was their disappointing last season NOT a fluke? Up next: Colorado on Sunday

15 – 17. Toronto FC (0-0-1 – 0 pts, 1 gf, 3 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to Seattle. All-in-all, a loss at Seattle isn’t that embarrassing, especially in light of their shock Champions League win, but Toronto needs to get their defensive line sorted, or they’re going to lead the league in goals against again. Up next: San Jose on Saturday

16-19. Montreal Impact (0-1-1 – 1 pt, 1 gf, 3 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Chicag0. OK, so the Impact have their first point. Nonetheless, they’re weak offensively, and Matteo Ferrari has yet to look up to the pace of the MLS. Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

17 – 16. Philadelphia Union (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 2 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Colorado. On the bright side, the Union can’t get much worse than they have been in their first two matches. Up next: At Chicago on Saturday

18 – 18. New England Revolution (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 0 gf, 4 ga). This week: Lost 3-0 to Sporting Kansas City. The Revs were a bit unlucky to go a man down against Kansas City. And Kansas City was a bit unlucky not to score 8 goals in the match. Up next: Portland on Saturday

19 – 15. Chivas USA (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 0 gf, 2 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Vancouver. Robin Fraser seems like a decent guy and could be a very good coach, and it’s debatable anyone could win with this lineup. Nonetheless, opening the season with two matches at home, losing both and not scoring is not a good way to keep your job. Up next: At Real Salt Lake on Saturday

See you next week!

Dance, dance for America, damnit!

The family and I are traveling, so I won’t be able to update much, but stay tuned – we’ll be back in full force next week. Possibly with new writers.

Fire sign German international Friedrich

Image

Friedrich at work for Die Mannschaft. Any chance I get to use the term "mannschaft," I take.

I neglected to mention this yesterday, but the Chicago Fire signed former German international Arnie Friedrich. He has 82 caps for his country, played most recently with Wolfsburg after spending nine years with Hertha Berlin. He hasn’t played since 2010 after suffering a long-term injury with Wolfsburg, but he’s very experienced and should be a good MLS defender once he gets up to speed. Also, he’s not Colombian, so I’m not sure how it happened.

For more info on the Friedrich signing, go here. If you’re too lazy, here’s the money quote:

Under cover of darkness, the club brought Friedrich in for a medical in the days between the team’s preseason stays in Ventura, California and Charleston, South Carolina.

“Under cover of darkness.” How mysterious!

Weekend Preview: March 9-11

Back in my Chinese football hooligan days. They'll rip you apart!! My wife took this picture, so please stop harping on it, Missy, there's your credit, thanks.

 

 

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

I love doing the world weekend previews, though I don’t always have time for them. But anyway, I’ll try and do them when I can. All times Pacific, as usual.

Today (Friday)

Tijuana vs. America/Morelia vs. Toluca. (Mexico,  6:10 p.m.) These two clashes feature four of the Top 8 teams in Mexico. Morelia and America have been steamrolling everyone, more or less (though Morelia did lose at home to Monterrey in the Champions League earlier in the week). Tijuana is much-improved after a rough first half of the year in the Primera and have the best club crest in the top division. Toluca are a bit uneven, but they do feature the league’s top scorer in Ivan Alonso (9 goals). In fact, all four of the league’s top scorers are playing in these two matches: Alonso, Miguel Sabah (Morelia), Christian Benitez (America) and Jose Sand. (Tijuana). Predictions: Tijuana 1, America 1; Morelia 3, Toluca 1

Saturday

Bolton Wanderers vs. Queens Park Rangers/Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Blackburn Rovers (England, 5:45 and 8 a.m.) One of the big pluses of many world leagues is relegation, which makes what is often the inevitable (Real Madrid/Barcelona winning La Liga; Manchester United winning the EPL) a little more interesting. And here’s why, for the unitiated: In the top leagues of Europe, three teams are typically relegated to the second division. So that creates a whole new competition at the end of the season, which is often much more interesting than the title battles. Fairly big teams such as Deportivo La Coruna in Spain, River Plate in Argentina and Newcastle and Leeds in England have been taken down a notch in recent years. These four teams don’t really qualify as “big teams” per se, though Blackburn did win the league in the ’90s, but nonetheless, the matches have great potential to be back-and-forth goalfests, especially since Wigan isn’t playing. Prediction: Bolton 3-1; Wolves 2, Blackburn 2

Malaga vs. Levante (Spain, 10 a.m.). This match features two teams that aren’t in the title hunt (of course not; this is Spain), but they are competing for the fourth and final Champions League spot – Valencia is well on pace to finish third. Malaga are the new money team, bankrolled by millionaires, that are currently in sixth, a point back, but have largely been disappointing this year. Can they start to push on the second half of the season? Levante are the big shock team, nearly going out of business last year for failure to pay player salaries and operating at a fraction of the budget of the Real Madrids, Barcelonas and Malagas of the world, and then spending the first few weeks in first before their inevitable drop down the table. They’re unlikely to keep pushing for a Champions League spot, but it sure would be neat if they did.  Prediction: Malaga 3-0

Shanghai Shenhua vs. Jiangsu Shuntian. (China, 4:35 a.m.) That’s right, my boys in blue (Jiangsu Shuntian) are taking on … the other boys in blue (in China, there are about four color combos, mostly blue and white, and pretty much every team wears white on the road), who have just signed French striker (and former Chelsea/Arsenal/Liverpool/Real Madrid player) Nicolas Anelka. Shanghai had a bad year last year, but optimism is renewed with the Anelka signing. As for Shuntian, they surprised everyone by finishing just out of a Champions League slot, and they signed former star and Chinese national team member Deng Zhouxiang. Yes, I’m going to occasionally highlight the Chinese league on here. Prediction: Shanghai 3-2.

Sunday

Not much of note going on Sunday, unless you feel particularly interested in matches like Manchester United vs. West Brom (England), Schalke vs. Hamburg (Germany), Genoa vs. Juventus (Italy) or Racing Santander vs. Barcelona (Spain). I will pass – this is MLS opening weekend, after all.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers

%d bloggers like this: