Monthly Archives: May 2012
Ranking: 50; Qualifying record: N/A (Qualified as host); Best finish: First appearance; Coach: Olei Blokhin; Nickname: Zhovto-Blakytni
Ukraine’s squad consists almost entirely of players who play in the Ukraine, but there are some decent enough players (Andriy Shevchenko – yes, he’s still alive; former underwhelming Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin; Bayern’s Anatoliy Tymoshchuk). Whether the home advantage will be enough to nab them the points needed to edge out England, Sweden and France is debatable, though.
Player to watch: Andriy Shevchenko. The striker’s storied career has got to be on downward slope by now (he’s 35), but after a rough spell at Chelsea, nothing would захват him more than helping his team edge out England on home soil.
Ranking: 17; Qualifying record: 6-0-2; Best finish: Semi-final, 1992; Coach: Erik Hamren; Nickname: Blagult
The Swedes, like England minus the unrealistic expectations, are one of those teams that usually qualify for major tournaments and generally advance to the first knockout round before losing. This tournament will certainly feature a dramatically different squad than the next Euros (12 players are at least 29 or older), and with World Cup qualification not a certainty, look for players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olof “The Beard” Mellberg to do all they can to secure a second-round berth.
Player to watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan is all bravado and bluster, but when he’s on his game, he’s as good as (or better than) any striker in the world. His performance for Sweden has often been less than inspiring, though.
Ranking: 16; Qualifying record: 6-3-1; Best finish: Champions 1984, 2000; Coach: Laurent Blanc; Nickname: Les Bleus
Like Italy, France is another dormant champion little is expected from. However, unlike Italy, they have a very strong squad and have been performing well of late. Now that the Raymond Domenech era is over, can France return to the world’s elite?
Player to watch: Franck Ribery. He might look like Quasimodo, but Bayern’s crafty winger is certainly one of the most talented players in world football. After the disappointment of Bayern’s Champions League defeat to Chelsea – and with several young attacking wingers coming up through Les Bleus’ ranks – he’ll be looking to show he is still France’s driving force.
Ranking: 7; Qualifying record: 5-3-0; Best finish: Semi-finals, 1996; Coach: Roy Hodgson; Nickname: Three Lions
If any English people actually read my blog, they’d probably think I was too hard on England, a team that always has huge expectation that it generally is doomed to not fulfill. This time around, the English FA waited an eternity to hire Roy Hodgson as coach, a good tactical man who probably needed more than a couple weeks with the squad to get them ready for a tournament of this magnitude. But hey, I’m sure they’ll win it anyway even though Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two games, and Rio Ferdinand, Gareth Barry, Darren Bent and possibly Frank Lampard won’t be playing. Right, English media?
Player to watch: Andy Carroll. So far, the most expensive player in English football hasn’t lived up to expectation Merseyside, but his performances in an England shirt tend to be better, since there is not the pressure of a $50 million price tag on him.
France vs. England
Ukraine vs. Sweden
Ukraine vs. France
Sweden vs. England
Sweden vs. France
England vs. Ukraine
Jeremiah says: This is probably the hardest of the four groups to call. In terms of performance, probably the strongest team is France, though they are often prone to inter-squad clashes (see World Cup 2010). England is a perennial favorite who rarely does much, but will be missing several big players for most or all of the tournament. Ukraine is the home team, but also the weakest, and Sweden has enough talent that they should make it to the next round. So … here goes.
There are only two MLS matches over the next two weeks, (What? They finally took advantage of an international break? Crazy, I know!) so the good ol’ MLS rankings will only come in ranking form without my usual witty banter. We’ll be back in a couple weeks, though!
1 – 1. Real Salt Lake (9-2-3 – 29 pts, 22 gf, 14 ga). This week: Beat Dallas 3-2. Up next: At Chivas USA on June 16
2 – 2. New York Red Bulls (8-2-3 – 26 pts, 26 gf, 18 ga) This week: Drew 1-1 with Chivas USA. Up next: At Chicago on June 17
3 – 4. San Jose Earthquakes (8-3-3 – 27 pts, 27 gf, 17 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Kansas City; Beat LA Galaxy 3-2. Up next: At Colorado on June 20
4 – 3. DC United (8-3-4 – 27 pts, 28 gf, 19 ga). This week: Beat New England 3-2. Up next: At Philadelphia on June 16
5 – 6. Sporting Kansas City (8-1-3 – 25 pts, 17 gf, 10 ga). This week: Beat San Jose 2-1. Up next: Toronto on June 16
6 – 5. Seattle Sounders (7-3-3 – 24 pts, 16 gf, 9 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Chivas USA; Lost 2-0 to Columbus. Up next: At Montreal on June 16
7 – 7. Vancouver Whitecaps (5-4-3 – 19 pts, 13 gf, 14 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Portland. Up next: Houston on June 10
8 – 9. Houston Dynamo (4-4-3 – 16 pts, 12 gf, 12 ga). This week: Beat LA Galaxy 2-1. Up next: At Vancouver on June 10
9 – 10. Colorado Rapids (6-1-6 – 19 pts, 20 gf, 18 ga). This week: Beat Montreal 3-2. Up next: At Vancouver on June 16
10 – 8. Chicago Fire (5-3-4 – 18 pts, 15 gf, 15 ga). This week: Lost to Columbus 2-1; Beat Dallas 2-1. Up next: At New England on Saturday
11 – 12. Columbus Crew (5-3-4 – 18 pts, 13 gf, 13 ga). This week: Beat Chicago 2-1; Beat Seattle 2-0. Up next: At New England on June 16
12 – 11. New England Revolution (4-1-7 – 13 pts, 16 gf, 18 ga). This week: Lost to DC United 3-2. Up next: Chicago on Saturday
13 – 15. Chivas USA (4-3-6 – 15 pts, 9 gf, 14 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Seattle; Drew 1-1 with New York. Up next: Real Salt Lake on June 16
14 – 14. Portland Timbers (3-4-5 – 13 pts, 12 gf, 15 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Vancouver. Up next: At LA Galaxy on June 17
15 – 13. Montreal Impact (3-3-7 – 12 pts, 15 gf, 21 ga). This week: Lost 3-2 to Colorado. Up next: Seattle on June 16
16 – 16. FC Dallas (3-4-8 – 13 pts, 15 gf, 24 ga). This week: Lost 3-2 to Real Salt Lake; Lost 2-1 to Chicago. Up next: At Houston on June 16
17 – 17. LA Galaxy (3-2-8 – 11 pts, 15 gf, 21 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Houston; Lost 3-2 to San Jose. Up next: Portland on June 17
18 – 18. Philadelphia Union (2-2-7 – 8 pts, 8 gf, 14 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Toronto. Up next: DC United on June 16
19 – 19. Toronto FC (1-0-9 – 3 pts, 8 gf, 21 ga). This week: Beat Philadelphia 1-0. Up next: At Kansas City on June 16
Houston 2, LA Galaxy 1: An own goal from Mike Magee and an Andre Hainault goal give Houston the win after Edson Buddle’s opener. The Galaxy are terrible, but are they worse than NBC color commentator Brian Dunseth? Discuss.
Toronto 1, Philadelphia 0: A scrappy Danny Koevermans goal gives Toronto their first points – and first win – of the season. In fairness, the Union were rarely threatening, and Toronto deserved the win. With one win on the books and a Canadian Championship, Aron Winter probably has the Toronto head coach job for life now.
Columbus 2, Chicago 1: Goals from Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria push the Crew into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Austin Berry scored the consolation for Chicago. The two teams are now tied for 5th in the East, which has to be disappointing for the Fire, who have occasionally looked like a playoff team.
DC United 3, New England 2: DC jump out to a 2-0 lead behind Brandon McDonald and Dejan Jakovic, then give up the lead on goals from AJ Soares and Saer Sene, before Maicon “Sometimes I’m bad, sometimes I’m OK” Santos scored the winner. A fun match between two attacking teams. The Revs are a little porous defensively.
Real Salt Lake 3, Dallas 2: Dallas are so bad that even though they seemed to do enough to grab a point, I was just waiting around for the almost inevitable RSL winner. Which came from Nat Borchers in the 93rd minute. Alvaro Saborio scored twice for RSL, which gives him six on the season. Matt Hedges scored his second for Dallas, before Blas Perez got his fifth of the season.
Colorado 3, Montreal 2: After Montreal’s loss at home to New York, which featured booing and was kind of ugly, I thought the Impact would get trounced in this match. They didn’t, but they did manage to lose their second match in a row when up a man and tied. That’s not good. In this case, it was Jaime Catrillon with the winner. After briefly looking like a possible playoff team, Montreal are regressing thanks to some shoddy defending and tentative play late in games. Patrice Bernier and Andrew Wenger scored for the Impact, and Colorado’s other goals came from Jeff Larentowicz and Drew Moor.
Portland 1: Vancouver 1: The Timbers dominated the early going, taking the lead through Kris Boyd (his first in six matches), then Darren Mattocks scored the equalizer, and Vancouver almost looked like they would pull out a late win, but they didn’t. Another case of musical chairs lineup-wise for Timbers coach John Spencer, who at least uses the same players, albeit in different positions every match. Hey, at least they’re not the Galaxy. Portland did have a fairly clear penalty turned down as well.
Chivas USA 1, Seattle 1: Juan Agudelo scores his first goal for Chivas, before David Estrada gets his fifth of the season for the Sounders. The Sounders are now winless in four and look to be missing self-confidence, which is bad, considering how good the elite teams are this year. Chivas looks better. Can they make the playoffs? Hmm…I’m not sure.
Kansas City 2, San Jose 1: A nice goal from CJ Sapong and a goal from Kei Kamara (who also had an assist on Sapong’s goal) are enough to end Kansas City’s four-match winless streak. Simon Dawkins had the consolation for San Jose. The Quakes are still pretty good, but looked tired after rallying to beat LA in midweek. They’ll be OK. Look for Kansas City to start winning again.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
With the Euros starting in about 10 days, and to a lesser extent, the Olympics, it’s pretty likely that I’ll spend less time on MLS action for most of the month – which is just as well, since they insist on not stopping league matches for hell or high water, even if everyone else is watching something else. Nonetheless, all times Pacific, as always.
Most eyes will be on the U.S.-Scotland friendly (5 p.m.; on NBC Sports Network, whatever that is – look for it online), which is good, because there are no crucial crucial matchups on Saturday. Real Salt Lake looks to jump back into first, at least temporarily as they take on FC Dallas (6 p.m.), who really are starting to look like one of the league’s worst teams. The only other team within spitting distance of first in either division who are playing Saturday is Seattle – they travel to L.A. to take on Chivas (7:30 p.m.). Seattle has been struggling lately, and Chivas have looked much improved. Speaking of the other L.A. team, the defending champs visit Houston (11:30 a.m.) David Beckham is playing, surprising those of us who half-expected him to be suspended (as other players would have been) for criticizing the officiating in the Galaxy‘s horrendous collapse at home to San Jose on Wednesday. Beckham’s non-suspension continues the league’s long-running policy of not doing anything that will upset such a big star, even if he deserves it. In other matches of note, suddenly the Crew are playing well, and they host the Fire, who have also been playing pretty well, at 4 p.m.; DC United look to continue to rise up the standings when they host New England (4:30 p.m.), and Portland hosts Vancouver (7 p.m.) Oh yeah, Colorado takes on Montreal at 6 p.m., and Toronto hosts Philadelphia at 1:30 in a match no one wants to watch. Trust me, don’t watch it!
Only one match Sunday, but it’s a doozy: Kansas City takes on San Jose (1:30 p.m.). The Earthquakes looked dead and buried against the Galaxy last week, even though LA was down to 10 men, but then rallied to score three late in the second half and win. They’ll still be without Chris Wondolowski, but if they can build on that performance, they have a good shot against KC, who have yet to shake off the doldrums of their recent 0-1-3 run, though the 2-2 draw against Colorado last week was at least a better performance.
1 – 1. Real Salt Lake (8-2-3 – 26 pts, 19 gf, 12 ga). This week: Didn’t play. RSL got a week off to see the top teams in the West not win. It’s starting to look like their biggest competition as MLS Cup favorites might come from the Eastern Conference. Up next: FC Dallas on Saturday
2 – 4. New York Red Bulls (8-1-3 – 25 pts, 25 gf, 17 ga) This week: Beat Montreal 2-1. The Red Bulls have been so reliably disastrous defensively the last year and a half, it’s hard not to expect the bottom to drop out again at some point. But maybe it won’t happen. Up next: Chivas USA on Wednesday
3 – 6. DC United (7-3-4 – 24 pts, 25 gf, 17 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 3-1; Beat Colorado 2-0. Two impressive wins this week, and United are back where we’re probably accustomed to seeing them – near the top of the standings. Up next: New England on Saturday
4 – 2. San Jose Earthquakes (7-3-2 – 24 pts, 23 gf, 13 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Columbus. The Quakes were dominant against Columbus, but failed to grab three points. Now they will have to find ways to score without Chris Wondolowski. Up next: At LA Galaxy on Wednesday
5 – 3. Seattle Sounders (7-2-2 – 23 pts, 15 gf, 6 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with Vancouver. The Sounders are doing little to discourage the “Only Good Against Lightweights” tag. Up next: Columbus on Wednesday
6 – 5. Sporting Kansas City (7-1-3 – 22 pts, 15 gf, 9 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with Colorado. Throwing away a 2-0 lead against Colorado masked what was, at least up until a certain point in the second half, an encouraging performance from KC. Up next: San Jose on Sunday
7 – 9. Vancouver Whitecaps (5-3-3 – 18 pts, 12 gf, 13 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with Seattle. The Whitecaps are oh so close to establishing themselves as maybe one of the elite teams in the MLS. But they need their forwards to start firing. Traveling to Toronto then Portland in the span of three days will be tough. Up next: At Portland on Saturday
8 – 7. Chicago Fire (4-3-3 – 15 pts, 12 gf, 12 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Portland. Perhaps the loss to Portland was a bit unfair, but the Fire haven’t done a great job of taking control of matches – even against lesser competition. Up next: Dallas on Wednesday
9 – 8. Houston Dynamo (3-4-3 – 13 pts, 10 gf, 11 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with New England. With their long season-opening road trip over, is it possible that the Dynamo are just average? Up next: LA Galaxy on Saturday
10 – 10. Colorado Rapids (5-1-6 – 16 pts, 17 gf, 16 ga). This week: Lost 2-0 to DC United; Drew 2-2 with Kansas City. The Rapids continue to play very, very up-and-down soccer (see the first half against KC, then the second half), but should ease into the playoffs. Up next: Montreal on Saturday
11 – 12. New England Revolution (4-1-6 – 13 pts, 14 gf, 15 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with Houston. This Revs’ team – arguably the funnest one in the MLS right now – could stumble into the playoffs. And who knows what could happen then. Up next: At DC United on Saturday
12 – 14. Columbus Crew (3-3-4 – 12 pts, 9 gf, 12 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with San Jose. Injuries to defenders have been tough to deal with, but the Crew only started scoring once Justin Meram started playing regularly, as weird as that is. Up next: At Seattle on Wednesday
13 – 11. Montreal Impact (3-3-6 – 12 pts, 13 gf, 18 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to New York. All of the optimism of the Impact’s recent run of results withered in the loss to 10-man New York. It was pretty soul-crushing, in fairness. But booing already? Aren’t Canadians supposed to be polite? Up next: At Colorado on Saturday
14 – 16. Portland Timbers (3-3-5 – 12 pts, 11 gf, 14 ga). This week: Beat Chicago 2-1. They might have “the shoebox” to thank for the win against Chicago, but three points is three points. Now if Kris Boyd can just start scoring goals. Up next: Vancouver on Saturday
15 – 17. Chivas USA (4-1-6 – 13 pts, 7 gf, 12 ga). This week: Beat LA Galaxy 1-0. Two new solid players in, and a relatively convincing win against the Galaxy? Things are finally looking up in whatever part of Los Angeles Chivas are supposed to be from. Up next: At New York on Wednesday
16 – 15. FC Dallas (3-4-6 – 13 pts, 12 gf, 19 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Philadelphia. Dallas is fighting it out with the Galaxy for the role of “Most Disappointing,” and only the fact that LA should automatically be better is keeping them ahead. Up next: At Chicago on Wednesday
17 – 13. LA Galaxy (3-2-6 – 11 pts, 12 gf, 16 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Chivas USA. It says a lot about the Galaxy that their greatest concern coming into the season – the defense – hasn’t been the biggest problem they’ve had. I mean, the defense has been bad, but the team’s general malaise had been far, far worse. Up next: San Jose on Wednesday
18 – 18. Philadelphia Union (2-2-6 – 8 pts, 8 gf, 13 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Dallas. Whatever Piotr Nowak’s plan is this season, it hasn’t happened yet, and doesn’t look like it’s going to start. Up next: At Toronto on Saturday
19 – 19. Toronto FC (0-0-9 – 0 pts, 7 gf, 21 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to DC United. You have to wonder that if Toronto loses out in the Canadian Championship this week, if ownership will finally dismiss Aron Winter. I’m guessing no, based on the fact they haven’t so far. Up next: Philadelphia on Saturday
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
Vancouver 2 Seattle 2. Fredy Montero scores a late equalizer in this match to give both teams a share of the points. It was a nice goal by him too, though not particularly great defending on the part of Vancouver. Alain Rochat had a nice run and finish (more poor defending) to open the scoring for the Whitecaps, before Eddie Johnson (!) equalized. Camilo scored the other goal for Vancouver on a free kick that eluded everyone and went in. Both teams played OK, though it always felt like Seattle were going to tie it up. Prediction: 1-1
Montreal 1 New York 2. Disaster for Montreal, who lose on a Dane Richards goal despite playing against 10 men for much of the second half. The big talking point in this match was probably referee Ismail Elfath, who gave two penalties and sent a player off, but in his defense, it was his first MLS match ever. Which begs the question: Why does the MLS have referees who have never ref’ed before? Anyway, Bernardo Corradi, who is pretty much a designated penalty-taker and doesn’t do a whole lot else, scored the opener – on a penalty – for Montreal, before Kenny Cooper tied it with his own penalty. Victor Palsson was sent off for two yellows, and they were soft yellows but also dumb fouls. New York has won five straight, four without Henry. Prediction: 2-2
DC United 3 Toronto 1. More sleepy defending (and opportunistic finishing from Dwayne DeRosario) sends Toronto to their ninth straight loss. Seriously, why is Aron Winter still in charge of this team? It’s one thing to say your defenders made some mistakes, it’s another to make really obvious, preventable ones for nine straight games. Fire him, he’s not a good coach. DeRo had two goals, Hamdi Salihi scored the other for DC, and Danny Koevermans, god bless him for playing on this team, scored for Toronto. Prediction: DC 2-0
New England 2 Houston 2. Saer Sene scores twice for the Revs, but Luis Camargo’s nice volley gives Houston a point. The other goal was from Will Bruin. I have to make a complaint about Matt Reis, Revs goalkeeper. I know he’s been playing in the MLS since 1974, but I have seen him come out on more than one occasion and attempt to claim a cross or corner and have it bundled in by the opposing team. For some reason, MLS announcers never take him to task for this, but a good goalkeeper doesn’t leap out of position numerous times, leaving the other team to head into an empty net – or give up three feet of space at his near post for the opposing player to volley the ball into for a draw. With someone else in goal, Houston wouldn’t have scored in this match. Thank you, that is all. Prediction: New England 2-1
Dallas 1 Philadelphia 1. Blas Perez (Dallas) and Gabriel Gomez both score “sensational” headers (according the MLSsoccer.com) in this match. Actually, neither header was sensational, they were simply headed goals, but thank you, MLS for being creative with your adjectives. A blah match between two poor teams. New Union signing Michael Lahoud, who I famously referred to as “Rhymes With No Good” Lahoud, should’ve been sent off. Prediction: Dallas 2-1
Colorado 2 Kansas City 2. Colorado rallies from two-down against a Kansas City team that was clearly pretty worried about hanging onto their lead in the second half. Teal Bunbury briefly reminded people why he was considered a player-to-watch for the U.S. as recently as last year by scoring twice in the first 15 minutes, but goals from Tyrone Marshall and Kosuke Kimura earned the Rapids the draw. In truth, 75 minutes is a long time to hold onto a 2-0 lead when you’re playing in someone else’s park, so both teams will probably be happy with a point. Prediction: 1-1
San Jose 1 Columbus 1. Aside from a brief stretch in the first half where the Crew took the lead, San Jose was by far the better side in the match, but it took former Yavapai College striker Alan Gordon’s late goal to earn the Quakes a point. The goalscorer for Columbus was another former Yavapai College player – Justin Meram. Speaking of Meram, with goals in back-to-back matches and general fine attacking play, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become more and more talked about in the league. He certainly offers more than many of the Crew’s sad collection of attacking players. Columbus also benefited from a poor performance from Chris Wondolowski, which hasn’t happened much this year. Prediction: San Jose 2-0
Chivas USA 1 LA Galaxy 0. Jose Erik Correa, who was far, far better than any of the Galaxy’s attacking players, and scored the winner on a penalty after LA’s David Junior Lopes had blocked his goalbound shot with his hand (and was sent off). After this match, I shall henceforth refer to the Galaxy as “LA’s Gals.” Not to get too statty, but of the Gals’ 329 completed passes, only about 40 percent were in the Chivas defensive half (compared to more than half for Chivas). What that means, essentially, is that the Galaxy passed the ball around their back four a lot and did little else. Prediction: 2-2
Portland 2 Chicago 1. A Logan Pause own goal gives Portland three points against Chicago. The Timbers scored first on an Eric Brunner goal, and then the Fire equalized through Jalil Anibaba. After the match, Chicago defender Dan Gargan referred to Jello-When Field as “a shoebox,” but seemed to ignore the fact that no one cares what Dan Gargan thinks about anything. Prediction: 1-1
For those of you interested in watching the games, here is a complete list of the TV schedule. Whew! Also keep in mind, these should all be available online at ESPN3.com or, whisper-whisper, via other web sites. Times are Pacific.
Friday, June 8
Poland vs. Greece, 8:30 a.m., ESPN
Russia vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
Saturday, June 9
Netherlands vs. Denmark, 8:45 a.m., ESPN
Germany vs. Portugal, 11:30 a.m., ESPN
Sunday, June 10
Spain vs. Italy, 9 a.m., ESPN
Ireland vs. Croatia, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Monday, June 11
France vs. England, 9 a.m., ESPN
Ukraine vs. Sweden, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Tuesday, June 12
Greece vs. Czech Republic, 9 a.m., ESPN
Poland vs. Russia, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Wednesday, June 13
Denmark vs. Portugal, 9 a.m., ESPN
Netherlands vs. Germany, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Thursday, June 14
Italy vs. Croatia, 9 a.m., ESPN2
Spain vs. Ireland, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Friday, June 15
Sweden vs. England, 9 a.m., ESPN2
Ukraine vs. France, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Saturday, June 16
Czech Republic vs. Poland, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Greece vs. Russia, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Sunday, June 17
Portugal vs. Netherlands, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Denmark vs. Germany, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Monday, June 18
Croatia vs. Spain, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Italy vs. Ireland, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Tuesday, June 19
England vs. Ukraine, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Sweden vs. France, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Thursday, June 21
Group A winner vs. Group B runners-up, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Friday, June 22
Group B winner vs. Group A runners-up, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Saturday, June 23
Group C winner vs. Group D runners-up, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Sunday, June 24
Group D winner vs. Group C runners-up, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Wednesday, June 27
Semifinal 1, 11:45 a.m., ESPN2
Thursday, June 28
Semifinal 2, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
Sunday, July 1
Euro 2012 Final, 11:45 a.m., ESPN
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
Abbreviated, sorry. All times Pacific, as usual.
Vancouver (5-2-3) v. Seattle (7-1-2). (2 p.m.) A disappointing draw in the first leg of the Canadian Championship against Toronto was not the way the Whitecaps hoped to follow the crushing defeat last week at New England. Seattle struggled to create chances against RSL in their last match, ending their winning streak. Prediction: 1-1
Montreal (3-3-5) v. New York (7-1-3). (4:30 p.m.) The red-hot Red Bulls take their four-match winning streak into Montreal, where the Impact have quietly begun to play like an MLS team and are undefeated in their last four. Prediction: 2-2
DC United (6-3-4) v. Toronto (0-0-8). (4:30 p.m.) DC United easily beat Colorado in midweek, and now take on league-worst Toronto, who they beat in Toronto’s last match. Don’t expect much to change here. Prediction: DC 2-0
New England (4-0-6) v. Houston (3-3-3). (4:30 p.m.) After a 4-1 win against Vancouver, the Revs are tied with Houston (albeit with one more match played) for the final playoff spot in the East. The Dynamo aren’t scoring very many goals. Prediction: New England 2-1
Dallas (3-3-6) v. Philadelphia (2-1-6). (5:30 p.m.) Dallas have had players sent off in three of their last four matches, none of which they’ve won. For the Union, Piotr Nowak is continuing his bizarre deconstruction of what was once one of the East’s best teams – this time exchanging captain Danny Califf for Chivas’ Michael “Rhymes With No Good” Lahoud. Prediction: Dallas 2-1
Colorado (5-0-6) v. Kansas City (7-0-3). (6 p.m.) As I’ve mentioned endlessly on here, Colorado have been the ultimate up and down team, only conceding one goal in five wins, and giving up 13 in six losses. KC have lost their last three, but they’re bound to turn it around at some point. Prediction: 1-1
San Jose (7-2-2) v. Columbus (3-2-4). (7:30 p.m.) The Quakes have stumbled a bit the last two weeks in losing one and drawing one, but Chris Wondolowski continues to put the ball in the back of the net, which should be good enough to beat struggling Columbus – though the Crew looked much better last week against Dallas. Prediction: San Jose 2-0
Chivas USA (3-1-6) v. LA Galaxy (3-2-5). (7:30 p.m.) Chivas have been terrible all year, but made some astute trades to pick up US National Team forward Juan Agudelo and defender Danny Califf this week. Will it be enough to beat a Galaxy team that is struggling but always seems to find a way to win this match? Umm…I don’t know. Prediction: 2-2
Portland (2-3-5) v. Chicago (4-3-2). (4 p.m.) I hate to predict so many draws, but I just don’t think the Timbers are playing well enough to beat Chicago, but conversely, I don’t feel like the Fire have been clicking enough to just automatically pick up three points. Prediction: 1-1
In an effort to liven up Major League Soccer’s traditional early summer stretch where all the good teams lose to bad teams and no new players are signed, I’m starting a MLS coach that should get fired ranking watch. I’ll try and update this occasionally. Bear in mind that MLS teams rarely fire their manager, even if they deserve it (This means you, Toronto FC). List goes from should get fired to not a chance, though the bottom 10 are fudged a bit, since none of them are going to lose their job this year.
1. Aron Winter, Toronto FC. Winter is 0-0-8 to start this year, worst in MLS history, and has won only 26 percent of his matches overall. The only thing keeping him in a job (I’m guessing) is the team’s relative success in the Canadian Championship/Champions League. Should he go? Yes. Will he go? Probably.
2. John Spencer, Portland. Portland rode a wave of fan support and never-say-die attitude almost to the playoffs last year, but this year have been a mess tactically and given away leads in several matches late on. Also, owner Merritt Paulson seems more like a European-style owner than some of the others in the league, which might mean he has an itchy trigger finger. Should he go? If the Timbers don’t start stringing together some results. Will he go? See the previous answer.
3. Piotr Nowak, Philadelphia Union. On the bright side, the Union don’t have a very good team, and have been mostly competitive despite this. On the dark side, Nowak was responsible for trading/releasing their two best players. I can’t imagine that the Union will stick with him unless there is a dramatic improvement, which I also can’t imagine. Should he go? Yes. Will he go? Probably at some point this season.
4. Schellas Hyndman, FC Dallas. The pride of Macau (yes, he’s from Macau) led Dallas to the MLS Cup final in 2010, but the team struggled down the stretch and is showing worrying signs of a lack of discipline lately. Should he go? Dallas has been injury-hit, but have been surprisingly poor despite that. Will he go? Probably not.
5. Bruce Arena, LA Galaxy. It’s hard to see the Galaxy dismissing one of the great coaches from the U.S., but it’s also hard to see Arena sticking around if LA continue to stink so bad. The most likely situation is that the Galaxy rally slightly, make the playoffs, but don’t win the MLS Cup, then the Galaxy hire Gregg Berhalter or someone to take over in the offseason. Should he go: Probably not. Will he go? Most likely after the season.
6. Robin Fraser, Chivas USA
7. Robert Warzycha, Columbus
8. Frank Klopas, Chicago
9. Hans Backe, New York
10. Sigi Schmid, Seattle
11. Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake (Note: Only because he’s bound to get attention from Europe eventually)
12. Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City
13. Oscar Pareja, Colorado
14. Dominic Kinnear, Houston
15. Martin Rennie, Vancouver
16. Frank Yallop, San Jose
17. Ben Olsen, DC United
18. Jay Heaps, New England
19. Jesse Marsch, Montreal