Monday, April 30, 2007

Bakary Soumare


I had the pleasure of initiating a brief Q&A exchange with Bakary Soumare, the #2 2007 MLS Superdraft pick for the Chicago Fire out of the University of Virginia. A big 6'4" fullback in college, Bakary now plies his trade at the defensive midfielder position in Chicago. His story is an interesting one and I am sure all we did was scratch the surface, but he was born in Mali, moved to Paris when he was 3, and then to New York City sans family at 16. Coached by George Gelnovatch at the University of Virginia, Soumare was the third highest Cavalier to be selected in the MLS Superdraft (behind former #1 picks Alecko Eskandarian and Jason Moore). Despite only one year of collegiate competition, Soumare joined fellow Cavaliers Nico Colaluca and Adam Cristman in declaring for the Superdraft. With Marvell Wynne-raw talent, Soumare should develop into a Chicago Fire mainstay and a potential national team target.

Please excuse the tangential question order. My first Q&A, criticism is welcomed!

How was the transition from France to the United States?


It is always very difficult to move from one country to another, it can sometimes be challenging to adjust a new place, new culture, new people etc… On top that I was only 16 and it was tough to leave my parents back home. Also, A few months after my arrival in the States September 11th happened, I went to high school in New York City so it was shocking, no words can describe how it mentally affected me.

Born in Mali and living in Paris, France until you moved to the US, do you support any French teams? Any specific French players?

I grew up in the Paris area so obviously I was a big fan of PSG even though they have been absolutely awful in recent years. I love the French national. My favorite player is [Patrick] Vieira.

Do you use your French often?

Yes, I use my French a little bit. We have a French player in our team in Chicago (Pascal Bedrossian) so we always speak French together. Along with that I speak to my family in France everyday.

Any other teams or players you follow?

I like Chelsea, I love watching [Claude] Makelele play, I think he is one of the most underrated player in the world. Personally, I believe he is the best player at his position.

As your family is in Paris, how often do you head back to France?

I try to go as much as I can, The MLS season is very long so I would have to wait until the off-season to head there. I’m not sure how long I will stay there for, but at least a month for sure.

How was your Super-Y League experience? Do you think it is a good foundation for youth soccer in America or do other things need to happen?


Yes, many of my friends don’t think very highly of the Super Y League, but I had a great experience playing in that tournament for multiple reasons. First of all it allows smaller teams, who don’t necessarily get to play in the big tournaments (Dallas Cup, Jefferson Cup etc...) to play more games. Also, it is a great way to get some games in, it’s fun to train and all, but the best way for one to challenge him/herself is by playing games. It can also help getting recruited by top college programs especially when you make it to the national finals.

How was your time at the University of Virginia? Does the ‘legend of Bruce Arena’ still have an imprint on how that program is run?


Good question!! Virginia has, hands down, one of the best programs in the nation. I mean we have the best facilities in the country, a great coaching staff (George Gelnovatch and Mike McGinty are fantastic guys!!), and the whole community supports the soccer team, and finally it’s a tremendous academic institution. I could easily 10 pages about how great this program is. Of cours,e Bruce played an instrumental role in making the program one of the best programs of all time, his record speaks for itself. When you have a man like that who came through a program, of course he will always be remembered, he is a legend!!

If I remember correctly, the announcement of your pick at the 2007 MLS SuperDraft sat really well with the Chicago supporter groups? How are the Chicago fans?

That’s a simple question. Chicago Fire fans (esp. Section 8) are AWESOME!!! Anyone who follows the League would tell you, we have the best fans in the states by far. I mean they come to all the road games, they show up to all the events, I mean they are incredible, most importantly I know some of them personally and they are GREAT people.

What was training camp like for all the SuperDraftees? Did the veterans make it hard on you?

Well I can’t speak for all superdraftees, but in Chicago our veterans are awesome, I mean rather than making it hard on us, they are actually the ones who made the transition easier. They lead by example and push us everyday to be at our best. For example during fitness, our veteran guys were always in front of the pack, there is no better way to push a young player. I was rooming with Chris Armas during preseason and it really helped me, after every training we would talk for hours about different subject and I feel very close to him now. But the rest of veteran are great too, CJ Brown, Diego Gutierrez, Jon Busch, etc…

Who do you find the most influential on the team?


That’s a tough one. [Chris] Armas, [CJ] Brown, [Diego] Gutierrez, and Jim Curtin are very influential. But I talk a lot with some of the younger guys Chris Rolfe and Chad Barrett are always there to keep my spirit high which is great!!

Which current MLS player would you be a little skeptical of marking?

Easy one: [Justin] Mapp, [Chris] Rolfe, or [Chad] Barrett!!!!

How do you like Chicago? Toyota Park?


LOVE IT!! Chicago is a great place, I mean it’s a fantastic city to live and play soccer. The fire is a great organization, everything is first-class (facilities, coaching staff, etc..) and Toyota park is beautiful, top notch stadium.

Besides yourself, who can you peg as the toughest defenders in the league?


CJ BROWN is a beast!!! I play defensive Midfielder now.
(clearly, I didn't do enough homework. Sorry, Bakary.)

Have you met [Cuauhtemoc] Blanco (new Chicago Fire signing and Mexican football legend) yet?

Yes, I briefly met him when he came, seems to very nice, Im looking forward to playing with, he is a great addition to our squad, he is going to help us achieve our goals (MLS CUP and USOC)

What’s your take on [David] Beckham coming to America?


It will be great for the Galaxy for sure, but it’s also very good for the league, it’s a step in the right direction, it will take soccer in the USA to new heights.

When national interest beckons (as it certainly is starting to), you will have quite the decision on your hands. Any clue as to what national team camp you will find yourself in? Mali with the Diarras? France with Patrick Vieira? Or the USA?


Im not sure yet, but if I was to make a decision right now, I would play for Mali, that’s where me and family are from.

What do you think the USMNT’s chances are in South Africa 2010?


I have been very impressed with the US national team under Bob Bradley, we have a great pool of young players playing in the best leagues around the world along with some talented players in the MLS. In 2010, I would not be surprised to see a great squad, hopefully we can either repeat 2002 or do even better.


Thank you Bakary and good luck with the rest of the season. Nice win for the Fire away at Houston, 1-0.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's a Good Weekend for Football.

Saturday, April 28th

Toronto FC 0, Kansas City 1

An 81st minute strike by Eddie Johnson silenced the BMO Field crowd of 20,000 plus. A shame considering Toronto was playing much better than any previous match. I like the energy and aggression that big-man Danny Dichio brings to the game and apparently so did the Toronto crowd. The biggest star of the game, however, was BMO Field itself. Even on a gray day like it was, the Toronto skyline fit nicely in the background of the stadium and there were very little empty seats. Regardless, Toronto succumbed to their defensive mistakes (somewhat defeating themselves at times). A couple Toronto chances were cleared off the line and it looked somewhat certain that they would get their first goal. But no. Improvement is promising however.
Because I Think...'s MVP: EJ, no matter how many times I call him lazy (I think he hears me), he keeps producing. All different times in the game too. Last week, 5th minute, This week, 81st minute. Can we have him do that at the international level too, please?


Columbus 1, D.C. United 0

I understand a well-fought win. I understand a slow start to the season. But a 0-3 start for reigning Supporter's Shield holders DC United is just mindblowing. Ezra Hendrickson, the veteran of all veterans, got 'two bites at the apple' and made the most of it after Devon McTavish had cleared his first chance off the line. DC shares its last place spot in the Eastern Conference with Toronto FC and failed in a chance to correct themselves. Luciano Emilio had a goal disallowed and plenty of shots were well off-target for struggling United. Watch them drop in the power rankings this week, but I still never bet against D.C., especially with this roster. New signing Nicholas Addlery got 20 minutes in his first appearance.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Ezra Hendrickson, the guy never gets the respect he probably deserves...for longevity, loyalty (despite the several teams he has played for), and leadership.

Los Angeles 3, Chivas USA 1


Landon Donovan likes big games. A goal and two assists from Mr. Landycakes put the nail in Chivas USA's coffin. His goal was his first of the season. Canadian Kevin Harmse scored LA's second with a nice run into the box with the finish right by Brad Guzan's near post. Los Angeles is starting to really like this new guy. For Chivas USA, there was a noticable difference without Sacha Kljestan in there. Despite his absence, however, the chances were there for the Goats but Joe Cannon showed his worth for the first time this season and smothered every Chivas chance (and for this game, made Frank Yallop and Alexi Lalas look like a genius). Like Toronto, Chivas USA paid dearly for their defensive lapses. Superclasico number one in the books and the majority prediction is proven wrong. Now, LA has to play well consistently, not just when they want to.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Landon Donovan and Joe Cannon. Cannon has been under a spotlight since his trade from the Rapids created some controversy. Donovan is always under the microscope and silenced the critics...for one night.

English Premiership

It was a goal-scoring weekend all over Europe as defenders everywhere seemed to take the day off.

Chelsea 2, Bolton 2

Solomon Kalou's goal couldn't spark a Chelsea rout and a tie (with Man Utd's win) puts 5 points between the two with three games to go in the Premiership season. The young Slovakian Lubomir Michalik scored a gift of a goal and Kevin Davies equalized to frustrate Jose Mourinho and the Chelsea hopefuls. Afterwards, Bolton boss Sam Allardyce resigned.

Manchester United 4, Everton 2

With the consistency, regardless of injury problems, shown this season by the Red Devils, who in their right minds would bet against them to hold off Chelsea for the crown. A head-to-head match-up with Chelski still looms but a 5 point cushion could allow for a couple mistakes here or there. Goals from the unlikelys, Chris Eagles (a long-time Man Utd loanee who just can't break into the first team) and Irish defender/defensive midfielder John O'Shea, allowed Man Utd to overcome a pesky Everton side. Timmy Howard was rained heavily with 12 shots on goals forcing Howard to make 9 saves. Wayne Rooney provided the other goal (as his drought is clearly effectively over). Everton went up 2-0 (testing Man Utd's resilience) with strikes from veteran defender Alan Stubbs and Portuguese midfielder Manuel Fernandes.


Wigan 0, West Ham United 3

In a relegation battle, the untapped talent of WHU puts the advantage on the Hammers' side. West Ham spread out their scoring and finished what chances they had to put Wigan's season in dire straits.
Luis Boa Morte, Yossi Benayoun, and big-man Marlon Harewood allowed to pull even point-wise with the Latics but goal difference still separates the two. WHU also have to face seemingly unstoppable Man Utd and recently shaky Bolton with their last two games. Wigan, on the other hand, faces Middlesbrough and Sheffield United to finish out the season. Momentum favors West Ham, but Wigan certainly has the easier match-ups. Fulham, however, is only one point up on both and is now in the thick of the relegation battle.


Other Saturday Premiership Scores:

Manchester City 0, Aston Villa 2

Jon Carew and Shaun Maloney provided the impetus to get around Man City. Damarcus Beasley sat out of this match-up.

Blackburn 4, Charlton 1

Brad Friedel had little work to do as the sharpshooting of Jason Roberts (with two goals) and young'un Matt Derbyshire pushed the Rovers forward.

Middlesbrough 2, Tottenham 3


Gareth Southgate and Middlesbrough's slide continues as Dimitar Berbatov provided the momentum buster with a beautiful volley in the 47th minute. Middlesbrough still fought back from 2 down with a goal from trusty Mark Viduka. Robbie Keane scored two goals to assure Tottenham fans and Martin Jol that Middlesbrough's comeback attempts were futile.

Portsmouth 2, Liverpool 1

Pompey went up 2-0 early and Liverpool had to fight out of the trenches. Benjani and Niko Kranjcar (I hope he stays in the Premiership) scored the goals and Finnish defender Sami Hyypia gave Liverpool a chance with 30 minutes to go. Pompey however took advantage of the young back four used by Liverpool: Gabrial Palletta, 17 year old Emiliano Insua, and Alvaro Arbeloa.

Sheffield United 1, Watford 0


Sheffield United refused to become a relegation battler and profited from a Michael Tonge deflected goal. Paddy Kenny looked strong in goal again. Jay Demerit is out for Watford.

Sunday, April 29th

English Premiership

Arsenal 3, Fulham 1


An early strike from Julio Baptista (who recently talked about the disgusting play, weather, and social life in England) allowed Arsenal to put the run on Fulham. Even an equalizer from former Everton man Simon Davies couldn't sway the momentum. Emmanuel Adebayor and Gilberto Silva (a penalty) provided the other two goals with 10 minutes to go. McBride couldn't find an opening, Bocanegra had trouble with the speedy Adebayor and Baptista, and Dempsey couldn't light the spark needed in the last 30 minutes of the game.


Dutch Eredivisie

PSV are crowned Eredivisie champions for. PSV Eindhoven's win could guarantee Damarcus Beasley's exit from the Dutch Eredivisie. PSV notched 5 goals to continue the trend this weekend of massive goal scoring efforts (Roda JC 7-0 win, Heerenveen's 5-1 win). PSV wins their third consecutive championship and looks to create a Lyon-like dynasty (who clinched last week their 6th consecutive French Ligue One title). This one was tighter race than past years as PSV, Ajax, and AZ Alkmaar were tied in points before matchday. As all three looked that they would win, it came down to goal difference. Ajax won 2-0 against Willem II, AZ lost to Exclesior 3-2, and PSV did the job, spreading the wealth around to 4 different scorers, to take the title.

Heerenveen's Brazilian striker Afonso Alves and Michael Bradley's teammate scored an impressive 4 goals in a 5-1 Frisian spanking of rivals Feyenoord Rotterdam (old Cory Gibbs stomping ground). His total has now reached 34 goals which surpasses some notable tally totals of former big Eredivisie strikers Dirk Kuijt, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Arnold Bruggink, and Jan Vennegor de Hesselink. All have moved on to big European careers and I would look for someone like Chelsea or a Spanish La Liga team to pick him up in the upcoming offseason. Michael Bradley also fared well providing an assist in his 20 minutes of play.


More to come...

Whoever said the Eagles picked Brady Quinn. That was a mean, mean joke.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Philly MLS and More!

Update on Philly MLS all thanks to the Philadelphia Daily News. This is all just let Philadelphians and South Jerseyans alike that Donny Garber is thinking of us. Now if we could just get the politicians to listen.

Rowan was scrapped. Chester (about 5-10 miles south of Philadelphia, considered part of the metro population) is the most recent rumored destination for Philly MLS' stadium. The time window apparently is 4-5 months. I'll be honest...I can't wait that long.

Philly MLS source

Other champions of the Philly MLS cause:

Phillysoccer.com

Sons of Ben Supporter's Club

MLS Futbolito is a MLS sponsored 4v4 event that tours the county. This year they will be in the Philly area. Check out the MLS Futbolito site here...

Its $150 a team for Adult Premiere Division and $120 for all other team.

Saturday, June 30 - Philadelphia, PA
Agusta Fields
10402 Decatur Rd.
Philadelphia, PA 19154

Sign up or volunteer to work through Sons of Ben here...

You can head on out there play a little 4v4 and watch the planes fly over your head (Agusta Fields is located right next to the Northeast Philadelphia Airport) and also smell Tastykakes for miles around (some plant is right next door as well).

Lots of Games - Get MLSLive.TV

Saturday, April 28th

Kansas City vs. Toronto FC
BMO Field

Toronto are gonna try their hand at home across the border. I'd say it's a clean slate with the buzz circulating at home and the big expected crowd, but the truth is, TFC is nine goals and three games in the hole. Sealy will still be out most likely but Kansas City had no trouble without him last time. New TFC signing Daniele Dichio from Preston North End might make his first appearance, but expect little in his first run-out. Can Ronnie O'Brien help when he does come back? I hope so - I really want to see these guys do well.
PREDICTION: 2-1, home-field advantage will help TFC to get their first goal but not their first win. Davy Arnaud scores his first in a while and Eddie J. isn't lazy today and scores again. Esky scores Toronto's first.

D.C. United vs. Columbus
Crew Stadium

United looks for its' first win as does Columbus. Columbus statistically has the upperhand with a 0 goal difference, whereas DC has conceded 6 goals in 3 games. Now clearly we all know after watching CONCACAF Champions Cup games, not to bet against the awakening of a sleeping giant. In terms of this match-up, that's exactly what I expect. Luciano Emilio could have some fun with the Columbus back line provided Gros, Carroll, and Gomez all wake up. For Columbus, Andy Herron is suspended for a nasty elbow and Jason Garey could be out with a groin strain, leaving Kei Kamara, Brad Evans, Ricardo Virtuoso, or Robbie Rogers (who was tried out up front in the USOC loss) to keep the scoring streak going.
PREDICTION: 2-0, Emilio and Gomez bring back past success.

Chivas USA vs. Los Angeles
Home Depot Center

First Superclasico of the new season. Look for Maykel Galindo to have a little more trouble using his speed as both rookie centerback Ty Harden and defensive midfielder second-year Nathan Sturgis can control it. Sacha Kljestan was suspended in that flurry of MLS discipline action that happened with mid-week. Englishman rookie John Cunliffe could get a look at attacking midfielder as he has shown bouts of decency in his limited appearances. A sad note, former US international Carlos Llamosa has pretty much been handed a career ending injury. A knee injury will put him out for almost the whole season. Anyways, look for a real competitive match with great quality on both sides. Don't expect Donovan to let LA go down easy.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles wins 2-1...Donovan has one of those crazy games and scores 2, Mendoza the other.

Sunday, April 29th

New England vs. FC Dallas
Pizza Hut Park

FC Dallas will try again at home with a visit from yet another east coast team. If the Revolution can find the holes, Dallas could be lost early. Both Alex Yi and definitely David Wagenfuhr will not be in the back four, leaving an already thin defensive line a good deal shakier. Look for Adam Cristman to have a breakout game and Khano Smith to light up Chris Gbandi like Dane Richards did on Thursday. If Dallas gets a couple goals from tired but perfectly capable Kenny Cooper and Carlos Ruiz, the game could become more interesting.
PREDICTION: NE wins 3-1. Cristman with a goal and two assists. Khano, if he plays, will partake in one as well and Dorman finds the net again, this time with a long range shot. Cooper uses some of that footwork to pull the Hoops close.

Chicago vs. Houston
Robertson Stadium

Houston looks to rebound after a demoralizing loss to a 10-man Red Bull New York. By demoralizing, I meant nothing that bad. If there is any team capable of bouncing back from a loss, it's Houston. They just need to make sure Ching is in the starting 11 this time. Chicago might be missing Justin Mapp due to a muscle strain and without him the Fire could have a hard time penetrating a tough Houston defense. What I'd like to see up front for Houston is Wondolowski and Ching. I just don't see Dalglish having that much effect going up against a Dasan Robinson or CJ Brown. He's scrappy - but normally only scores when he's in the right place at the right time. I see Chicago making this a tough game for the Dynamo to recoup.
PREDICTION: Chicago 0, Houston 0

Monday, April 30th

Colorado vs. Real Salt Lake
Rice Eccles Stadium

Colorado looks to get back to the basics after a loss that interrupted their great start to the 2007 season. Roberto Brown will back up top with Niko (who has yet to do much). Brandon Prideaux sits out leaving the somewhat untrustworthy Dan Gargan to take over the rightback spot. Hunter Freeman would be nice for them right about now. A couple of knicks plague RSL - seasoned Jamaican midfielder Andy Williams will definitely be sitting out this one. Everyone in MLS is still waiting to the see the Adu-Cunningham-Ballouchy connection but nothing as been produced as of late. Could this be the game? Jason Kreis has now started to look old and I unfortunately don't think this game will be any different. Give Besagno a chance.
PREDICTION: Colorado 3, RSL 2 - it's gonna be a goalfest in Salt Lake. Adu scores his first (please? cause i've been saying that for a while now). Cunningham tallies. Roberto Brown has a field day in the penalty box though and spoils Chris Seitz's debut.

New York Red Bulls 1, FC Dallas 0

Pizza Hut Park Frisco, Texas

In a game that could and probably should have been a tad more lopsided, the Bulls controlled the midfield and effectively the game. Ronald Waterreus got the 'Best Start for Keeper' record and the whole RBNY team followed with the 'Best Start for a Team' record. All of this done away from home. So is it time for people to jump on the bandwagon now? This is the cleanest and most consistently exciting soccer I have seen from an MLS team in awhile. Dane Richards makes Marvell Wynne's speed on the right wing obsolete while Hunter Freeman covers the defensive department. Altidore had a couple chances but receiving balls in the box on the ground was an ordeal for the young'un. Reyna did what he does best, control the game, outshining Juan Carlos Toja in the midfield. All in all, Arena seems to have the pieces but can he keep them all together in health and mind? FC Dallas was also plagued by 'too many games' syndrome it seems, McCarty and Nunez (who had a couple good runs) looked tired mentally and physically. Kenny Cooper showed his big man skills while Ruiz never really got started. Hislop yet again looked questionable in goal but made some good acrobatic saves (the funny thing is, most of them were after the whistle had blown)
Because I Think...'s MVP: Hunter Freeman, a good game at right back but also has made Arena look brilliant in his dispatching of Marvell Wynne. Kind of makes me wonder why Colorado gave him up in the first place. He could share this honor with Carlos Mendes who played solidly breaking up FC Dallas attacks with simple toe-tackles and a presence in the box.
RBNY: H. Freeman (1)
FCD: NONE

Thursday, April 26, 2007

UEFA Cup Semifinals

First Legs:

Espanyol 3, Werder Bremen 0
Parc Montjuic, Barcelona

You can expect to see the often-forgotten Barcelona based team, Espanyol, in the UEFA Cup finals come next week. One name that stood out was the Uruguayan international Walter Pandiani, known as El Rifle, who for a while last year was linked to a permanent move to the Premiership. Pandiani scored along with Hurtado Moises and Coro to pretty much solidify the prospect of an all-Spanish final in Glasgow, Scotland. A big reason for Espanyol's dominance was the sending off Werder's somewhat sure-handed goalkeeper and German international Tim Wiese. It's a shame to see World Cup stud Miroslav Klose not get to his first European final.


Osasuna 1, Sevilla 0
El Sadar


Osasuna is now considered the Mighty Ducks of the UEFA cup. They have stunned everyone they have come up and against and now they find themselves against the defending champs, the Hawks (Sevilla). Sevilla boasts world class caliber players like young Brazilian Daniel Alves, Mali striker and La Liga scoring machine Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, young'un Jesus Navas. Osasuna has Real Madrid youth outcast Roberto Soldado (who ironically enough scored the winning goal) and past-his-prime Gordon Bombay with an Eastern European flavor, Savo Milosevic. They have played out of their gourds and I would love to see them finish it all out. It'll be on FSC, so watch it.

I'm about as impatient as Juan Pablo Angel...

ESPN MLS PRIMETIME THURSDAY...

FC Dallas vs. Red Bull New York
Pizza Hut Park

Home has been good to Dallas at the start of this season and it they look to continue against the Metrobulls. Shaka Hislop would really like to have a good game before he gets booted out of goal again in favor of the Argentine Dario Sala. Can Toja keep the Dallas midfield sound and collected with Nunez providing the offensive spark again? Looking at the MLS preview, the line-ups look borderline identical to each respective team's last match. Also, stumbled across this fast fact: Clint Mathis' red card last week tied an MLS record of 7. Is he really that big of a hot head? Regardless, RBNY will likely go with a 4-5-1 as their midfield is their glue. Look for Dane Richards and Dave Van den Bergh to light up the wings, hopefully connecting a cross with the 17 year old Jozy Altidore's head.
Prediction: RBNY 2, FCD 1...could be even more high-scoring this, but I think you're gonna see RBNY's defense excel a bit and start to jell.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Can Mo inspire TFC?

Kansas City Wizards 3, Toronto FC 0

My prediction was right, but clearly I gave TFC a more optimistic look than most. In a KC downpour, Carlos Marinelli (looking to be as effective as Juan Carlos Toja at holding midfield) certainly kept KC from going full out offensive and getting caught on the counterattack. The injection of new acquisitions Marvell Wynne and Kevin Goldthwaite was marginal to say the least. I think it will pan out still, but look for Toronto to continue their cellar-dwelling. Did Andy Welsh play better? No. Not really. Check in at Jesse's Toronto FC to see what he is saying about the state of the TFC. Maybe a packed stadium will help, cause KC looked like they had paid people to come. 19 year old Yuri Movsisyan got his first goal of the season (2nd of his career) and Michael Harrington got his first assist to go with his first goal.

TFC: NONE KCW: E. Johnson (2), Zavagnin (1), Movsisyan (1)


Kansas City vs. Toronto FC (preview)

Can Toronto shed the expansion shell and show us all that they're not the expansion clubs Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA were in their first year. The truth is, despite their horrid displays, I still believe that these guys can pull themselves out of the cellar. On the other hand, I have no factual evidence to believe that. Just a hunch. Kansas City could potentially have a field day on Toronto's defense, but if those chances aren't converted look for Toronto to get their first goal out of Buddle. In the same breath of my belief that Toronto can rebound, it also won't be at Arrowhead Stadium.
PREDICTION: 2-1, EJ toys with the slow Toronto centre-backs.


Little Extra:

Michael Essien and Michael Ballack will not be in Chelsea's roster today against Liverpool. Ballack because of his ankle and Essien because of his booze (I think he was suspended already, but the Ghanaian went on a DUI pleasure cruise and is now on the sideline). Look for Jon Obi Mikel or Lassana Diarra to get the start. Also, look for Liverpool to come away with 1-0 win thanks to the Robot Artist Formerly Known as Peter Crouch. If not him, Dirk Kuijt.

CHELSEA STILL WINS 1-0 after Joe Cole (he always seems to knock in meaningful goals, despite the fact he's injured most of the time). Look for Liverpool to fight back with a vengeance at Anfield. Drogba has been quiet as of late, if there is anyone that is going to close the door on Liverpool in the 2nd leg it would be him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Loooong yet quiet day.

Preface: Quite a quiet day in football...I have chosen to forego doing a feature in favor of watching Children of Men. Great movie - see it if you haven't already. I will try and catch up on my schedule of features sooooon. Thank you to all who have provided feedback by way of comments and e-mails recently - I want to hear any agreements/disagreements/critiques you might have. It only makes my coverage better. Also, if you'd like to contribute - send me an e-mail with an example of something you'd write about/cover to BonnWM3@hotmail.com. Thanks. Now onto a brief day overview...

US Open Cup Qualifier


Los Angeles 1, Columbus 0

One was all that was needed to top the Crew as two goals in their previous game can't spark more. Columbus shall continue to have this problem if Herron doesn't set the example for the young'uns Kamara and Garey. The Galaxy take on RBNY next in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

LAG: Jaqua (17)
CMB: NONE

UEFA Champions League Semifinal

Manchester United 3, AC Milan 2

Wayne Rooney's 90th minute strike gave Man United the lead heading into the second leg at the San Siro. Carlo Ancelotti was incensed at the result as it was Milan that apparently dominated the game. The scoresheet says otherwise and the Devils outshot their Italian opponents 21 to 14. It will undoubtedly be one hell of second leg. You know this team has a little more than luck and talent on their side when, regardless of their injury problems, they find a way to win. Without hiding in a laundry basket. Ronaldo started the day off, proving yet again he can score at all levels.


MANU: C. Ronaldo (5), Rooney (59, 90)
ACM: Kaka (22, 37)

Ray Ranson
, a former Manchester City player, has confirmed that he has tabled a significant bid for the Blues. A little cash injection would help Citeh, maybe help pay for that "absolutely massive" contract Damarcus Beasley is asking for (ha). Full story here.


Jose Mourinho, the sneaky man he is, has been accused by two British newspapers of "hiding in a laundry basket" to avoid his touchline ban This was when Mourinho was banned from having contact with his players during a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Please read this. It's a riot.

Several quick other things:

Inter Milan has won yet another Scudetto.
Olympique Lyonnais has won its' sixth consecutive League One Championship.
Olympiakos Piraeus has won yet another Greek Championship.

Don't all these teams look familiar? Kinda glad there is some semblance of parity in the MLS now??

Monday, April 23, 2007

10 Bright Spots of Week Three

1. Ramon Nunez – due to the process of getting a green card, Nunez missed going through all of the pre-game motions and it bother coach Steve Morrow to some degree. The result, however, was a fresh and charged Honduran with the determination and vision of an in-form Amado Guevara; could the 21 year get a longer look from the Honduran national team?


2. Jozy Altidore – clearly, he can share number one with Ramon but Jozy has solidified in three games his media-proclaimed title of ‘next big thing to hit US soccer’. His poise and confidence is scary and only one thing can hurt him from now on…”his ego”

3. Maykel Galindo – this guy was picked by money to be troublesome to defensive formations everywhere and for once, the media was right to push the hype. Maykel, as expected, tore up RSL’s defense with his raw speed and added 2 goals and an assist to his season tally


4. FC Dallas – even though the Rapids might not have deserved to lose, they did because Dallas compensated for its’ mediocre defensive showing by constantly pressing to the point of some exhausted Rapids. They also discovered scoring from places other than the Cooper/Ruiz duo. Dax McCarty played well again, setting up the first Nunez goal

5. Juan Carlos Toja/Carlos Marinelli – even though Toja has had more time to acclimate himself to MLS and all it has to offer, I have a feeling all of us fans, collectively, are going to like these two. Toja made some great moves pushing from the center down the wing and Marinelli supplied KC with a consolation PK in their loss.

6. The Prospect of a Jozy/Angel Partnership – makes me damn happy, a perfect mentor/protégé possibility…could there be any Iverson/Anthony ego farts? No - these two have the chance to bring RBNY far and possibly attract some more fans to Bulls games.

7. Chad Barrett/Chris Rolfe – I admit that I hate these two in their several caps for the USMNT, but this year, it’s clear they look to fight back up into the running. Rolfe has 3 assists tied with Terry Cooke for the lead and Barrett (Rooney without the ears) has supplied goals when Chicago has absolutely needed them.








8. Hunter Freeman – why was this guy shopped around so much? I remember seeing him play with the Rapids last season and actually wishing he was on an East coast team that I supported. I will miss Marvell Wynne and his potential but Freeman is rather young and can still develop into an international mainstay – if he wants to.

9. Ante Razov – I gave him a shoutout in the recaps for his 100th and I know he shouldn’t be this low on the list. We all know, however, that this guy deserves every ounce of praise and attention he gets, a goalscorer like Jeff Cunningham who often disappeared out of the limelight but produced nonetheless and just a simple, stand-up guy.


10. Dominic Oduro – I watched this former Richmond Kicker Future’ player play against the SJ Barons two years ago and vowed along with Byron Carmichael that he’d be an MLS player eventually. Only one of those two predictions came true, but I’m glad the Birdman is getting good time in Dallas and a goal to boot.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

South Jersey FC 1, McCrossen Cosmos 1


A 25-30 minute wait for the ref to show up didn't dampen the heated atmosphere of the game. SJFC, once again, had most of the chances but failed to convert them to push into an early lead. There were many good buildups in midfield between John Brackmann and Brandon Bonnette, who fed outside to Adam Evans (who had his best game of the season so far) and Breton Bonnette (a returnee from injury). They, in turn, fed the target men: Eric Danner, Ed Bonnette, Tim Green and Matt Acciani. Unfortunately, errant crossing, hard-to-predict ball movement, and iffy execution led SJFC to go into the half scoreless. South Jersey's best chance came with center midfielder Kevin Murphy finding a little room about 25 yards out and unleashing a long range bomb which, to our dismay, hit the crossbar and bounced out of danger. McCrossen's goalie, Jennifer Goebel and sweeper Phil Randazzo were also big reasons for the 0-0 score.

The game was deadlocked until around the 60th minute when McCrossen wing midfielder Pepe trapped a ball at the corner of the penalty box and drove a swerving half volley right by the near post surprising South Jersey goalkeeper Eric Wirth. Otherwise, Wirth had a relatively quiet game as the defensive combination of Brendan Oakes, Devin Oakes, Jim Bonnette, Chris Gercke and Gerald Van Wilgen got the job done. After McCrossen's goal, South Jersey woke up and barraged Goebel and the McCrossen goal. Each shot was parried or caught in a very impressive display of keeping. In the 75th minute or so, SJ still in the hole, a penalty could have been called on a McCrossen defender who slid in on winger Steve Fatula with a scissor tackle. The call was play on however and chance after chance followed. Eric Danner broke through eluding two defenders to rip a shot at a narrow angle but with considerable power. Goebel punched the ball away. Again. To rewind, right before halftime, Brandon Bonnette took a hard driven ball to the tip of the foot bending it awkwardly and putting him out for seemingly the rest of the match. Once McCrossen went up 1-0 and things on field became somewhat choppy, Brandon laced up and returned. The game was most definitely a physical one as Carlos Clay also picked up a knock and had to sit out the last 20 minutes. For what was physical, however, there was only one card given. Regardless, within 5-7 minutes of Brandon returning, the damage was done. Brandon picked up a feed from someone (anyone know??) and found his way in the penalty box with enough time to fire one early to near post. The power surprised McCrossen's keeper and the game was tied once again. It was Brandon's first goal of the year and preserved South Jersey FC's 14 game unbeaten streak. SJFC is in third with a 2-0-1 record based on goal differential.
South Jersey FC will play Real Men Wear Pink next week, 4/28 at 5:00pm. In last season's meeting...South Jersey beat Real Men Wear Pink 5-0.


Other Scores

Scorers:

SJFC: Brandon Bonnette (77)
MCC: Pepe Aguiar (60)

If anyone would like to set up a scrimmage with South Jersey FC, e-mail me at BonnWM3@hotmail.com.

Week Three Review: A Bullish Fire in Carson

Saturday, April 21st

Red Bull New York 1, Houston 0


I started watching the RBNY game about half way through. It took me about 15 minutes to realize that NY was a man down after Clint Mathis' ejection. That is how well these guys were controlling the play. Reyna and Van den Bergh, as the midfield veterans, worked real well together and provided the balls that allowed Dane Richards to have his third consecutive formidable appearance. This collection that Bruce Arena has developed is rapidly giving me the sense that there is now a team worth going to see at the cavernous Giants Stadium. Chants of 'Jozy' after his 60th minute goal could be heard through the telecast and his dominance in the box sometimes makes me feel we have a 'Little League World Series age controversy' on our hands. He dealt with Eddie Robinson, known as one of the hardest tacklers in the league. Not bad for a 17 y.o. With Juan Pablo Angel coming, I can only think Altidore will then develop at the right pace. It helps that they're a similar mold of player. Houston will rebound, but they certianly didn't look like themselves.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Josmer Altidore...after missing two rather point blank chances, he puts the one that matters away after a nice pass from Hunter Freeman.

Chivas USA 4, Real Salt Lake 0


At what point do people start calling for the good riddance of John Ellinger? Nothing has really worked out for him as of late: Nikolas Besagno should be in the starting line-up by now, there should be a young counterpart forward for Jeff Cunningham...in fact, there's no real young presence on the team whatsoever. Unless you count Freddy Adu, Medhi Ballouchy, and Jamie Watson. Regardless, Chivas beat up on RSL and continued their dominance in Carson with the production through speed of Maykel Galindo (2 goals and an assist) and Sacha Kljestan. Jonathan Bornstein shut Freddy Adu down which, in turn, kept Jeff Cunningham quiet. The play of the young Chivas USA players (Bornstein, Mendoza, Kljestan, Guzan) almost overshadowed the passing of the century goal mark by former US international Ante Razov. Congrats to you.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Ante Razov shared with his soon-to-be successor Maykel Galindo, for pure goalscoring ability. Razov has battled injuries his whole career yet always seems to find the back of the net when healthy. Razov used to have Galindo's speed but their partnership now matches speed and determination with guile and astute decision-making. I like it.

Chicago 2, Kansas City 1


Eddie Johnson sort of disappeared again, but it wasn't like anyone really thought he wasn't going to. In a game that featured two penalty conversions, one was scored by KC new acquisition Carlos Marinelli who played a solid half of football. The strikeforce of Chad Barrett and Chris Rolfe was more potent, however, and Chicago powered through with double amount of shots than the Wizards. It was rather apparent that the Wizards were a bit sluggish from the midweek 120-minute USOC loss to RSL. For Chicago, though, I agree their midfield has been pretty effective these first three games but why hasn't Pascal Bedrossian played much? He was one of the highlights of Chicago's offseason and looked poised to allow the aging midfield of Armas and Gutierrez a rest (which Gutierrez needed for the last 20-25 minutes of that game). Sarachan got a problem with Frenchmen? As oft-injured the two veterans, I'm sure he'll get his time. Sarachan says..."We're undefeated. You haven't seen our best soccer yet. The next three games will be hard games. Two out of three are on an artificial surface. They'll be tough. But we don't fear the road." Yup, he doesn't like Frenchmen. Anyone know the projected first appearance of Blanco?

Because I Think...'s MVP: Matt Pickens, solid showing.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

MLS Week Three Predictions

Saturday, April 21st

Houston vs. Red Bull New York

Giants Stadium

Well...each team will be recognizing and welcoming different players to their outfit. New signing Juan Pablo Angel will most likely not play as he is getting his work visa. Richard Mulrooney is welcomed back to "San Jose" but will be stuck behind Wade Barrett yet again. It will be interesting to see how Hunter Freeman deals with the prospect of having the right back position all to himself. Bruce Arena seems to be building a winner in the Big Apple, but the franchise holds a stubborn stigma. Can RBNY match the defending champion's quality of play?
PREDICTION: 1-2, RBNY continues its' good form with Altidore and Dane Richards (the young'uns) scoring...Brian Ching makes thing interesting.

Kansas City vs. Chicago
Toyota Park

Even with last game's unlikely hero Logan Pause out, Chicago has history on their side against KC. Michael Harrington coming off the best game of his 2 game career, will look to make another important contribution. The Wizards are reeling after beating a tough but flawed DC United team. Even though the all-time series is 17-7 (advantage Chicago), it's gonna be a fun game to watch. Scott Sealy, a little knicked-up, will be ready to link up with new signing Carlos Marinelli who played 20 minutes or so in the US Open Cup qualifier loss to Real Salt Lake.
PREDICTION: 1-1, Sealy and Mapp.

Real Salt Lake vs. Chivas USA
Home Depot Center

With more bite than the Miami Fusion vs. Chicago Fire matchup, this game looks to be an attack fest. Whose defense can last the onslaught. My guess is Chivas USA. The Yankee Goats are bitter over a 1-0 loss last week against Houston and they are out to prove that they are playoff material this year. If the pieces fall together, they could be Championship caliber. Freddy Adu and Jeff Cunningham have to keep the collaboration consistent or else Chivas will exploit the rather weak wingbacks. Look for Maykel Galindo to trouble aging Eddie Pope with his speed and persistence.
PREDICTION: 1-2, Freddy Adu gets his first with RSL while Chivas counters with a goal from Galindo and a second from Francisco Mendoza.

Sunday, April 22nd

Colorado vs. FC Dallas
Pizza Hut Park

I am convinced Conor Casey is going to be a stud for the Rapids. I am also convinced I can't figure out why I like the Rapids so much this season. New colors, faces, stadium...it's easy to latch on. The truth is, their play says a lot. It's not stopping any time soon either. Niko and Kirovski up front. Gomez, an eccentric wing midfielder, will wreak havoc on Dallas' untrustworthy backline. With Wagenfuhr out for Dallas, their defensive prospects get even worse. Look for Casey to come on late and make an impact. Also, check out this game preview section the Rapids have on their new website.
PREDICTION: 2-0, I know it's tough to keep Dallas goalless with Carlos Ruiz and Cooper up on the field, but it is doable and the tough Colorado backline can be the ones to partake. Can Gomez score another? Score one for Niko (about time) and an outside shot by new US international Kyle Beckerman.

Friday, April 20, 2007

All Tied Up

Columbus 2, New England 2

Kei Kamara tied it up in the 86th minute to put a finishing touch on a rather sloppy game. A Goal of the Week from Taylor Twellman put the Revs 2-1 but a defensive slip from defender James Riley allowed Kamara to equalize. Brad Evans and Adam Cristman had decent showings for the their respective teams with Cristman taking the pie for Rookie of the Game. On an interesting note: Twellman is the ironman of all forwards apparently. He set the record for most consecutive games played for a forward in MLS history with his 36th appearance.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Taylor Twellman, this guys gonna have the MLS scoring record at some point


CLB: N. Grabavoy (1), K. Kamara (1)
NER: A. Dorman (2), Twellman (3)

NEWS:

- Stan 'the man' Kroenke upped his stake in Arsenal to 12.09% and causing problems in already tense atmosphere that is Emirates Stadium. There has been a vow from higher-ups to resist the American.

- Jean Makoun II, the 23 year old Lille and Cameroonian national team midfield star, is a summer transfer target. This comes after skipper Gerard Houllier has decided that he wants to stay another year and Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed that the Champions League disappointment was forgivable.

- A Because I Think... eternal fave, Colombian Freddy Guarin has signed a permanent deal with Saint Etienne, rivals of Olympique Lyonnais. Give it a couple years and he'll be playing for OL. The contract is for 4 years and rewards the young midfielder for a job well done in his 14 appearances.

- Conor Casey is now officially a Colorado Rapid. Casey, up front with Panamanian big-boy Roberto Brown is going to be dangerous. Real dangerous. We've got to count the new and improved Rapids as true contenders now.

-
The Montreal Impact have started construction on a stadium with the help and financial clout of the Saputo family. That'll be three USL Division One teams with their own pitch (Montreal, Atlanta, Rochester). Nice.

- Ives Galarcep is starting to believe in the rising stock of Red Bull New York and Bruce Arena.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

MLSLive.TV to the rescue...

Trade flurries left and right. The best and most extensive coverage of it comes from MLS Underground. If I could get to a damn computer tonight, I would but that's not how it is.

Conor Casey to Colorado.
Mulrooney confirmed to Houston. Goldthwaite the other way.
New England international player rumors.
Wynne confirmed to Toronto FC.
Toronto also talking to ancient Jacek Bak, Polish captain at one point and rocksolid defender.

Columbus vs. New England
ESPN MLS Primetime Thursday.
7:00pm

My Prediction: The hubbub of the Schelloto signing pushes Columbus to light up. New England, however, has an answer. They both put the hurtin' on each other and come away with a 1-1 draw on national television. Twellman strikes again with Khano Smith providing the assist and Herron strikes his first as a Crew member.
My prediction record is terrible. It's not 1-5, I haven't updated it to spare myself the embarassment (although 1-5 ain't too pretty either).

Houston Dynamo and Virginia Tech


Here is the Houston press release regarding donations to the Virginia Tech Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. The tribute, commemoration, and fundraiser will all take place surrounding the match-up vs. the Chicago Fire on Sunday, April 29th. After the game, the jerseys will be auctioned off with 100% of the proceeds going to the aforementioned fund. $8 per ticket sold will also go to the fund. Online fundraising activities should be announced as the date gets closer. Glad to see MLS and Houston are doing this.

If you feel compelled to contribute, do it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mid-week Premiership and MLS Wrap-Up

English Premiership

Tuesday, April 17th


Arsenal 3, Manchester City 1

Recently productive DaMarcus Beasley made a strong case for a permanent deal with Citeh by scoring the only goal for City against the Gunners.

Manchester United 2, Sheffield United 0

Man U wants to avoid any more hiccups. A 2-0 win with goals Michael Carrick (who has a match under his ass as of late) and Wayne Rooney. The season increasingly looks like it's going to come down to the wire and it all might hinge on the May 9th matchup been the Devils and Chelski. How's that for dramatic effect?

Wednesday, April 18th

Blackburn 3, Watford 1

After a heart-breaking loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup Semifinals this past weekend, Brad Friedel reversed the morale with his superb performance in goal. His normal, however. Jason Roberts and Benny McCarthy provided the impetus needed to get by Jay Demerit's cellar-dwellers.

Liverpool 2, Middlesbrough 0

Liverpool continued their amazing run of games with a 2-0 win over Gareth Southgate's struggling side. Truth is, it wasn't really Liverpool, it was Steven Gerrard...with both goals. And that's about it.

West Ham 1, Chelsea 4

Chelsea keeps fighting, pulling within 3 points again. Shaun Wright-Phillips, getting a decent amount of time due to Robben's injury, has been showing lately that he deserves a damn starting spot. He put two goals in the pot against the Hammers. Young'un Salomon Kalou scored and so Mr. Drogba (his first in a little while). Tevez scored again but to no avail.

Major League Soccer

Wednesday, April 18th

Real Salt Lake 2, Kansas City 1 (AET)
US Open Cup Qualifier

Jamaican midfielder Andy Williams scored in the 109th minute to propel RSL's tired legs into the US Open Cup. Jeff Cunningham started the scoring converting a 12th minute PK but KC's Sasha Victorine (2 goals in the past 2 games so far) countered with only a couple minutes left.

Other interesting news:

Kamani Hill got a couple minutes of playing time in Wolfsburg's 1-0 German Cup semifinal loss to VfB Stuttgart.

Lionel Messi showed why he is who he is in Barcelona's 5-2 thrashing of surprise kickstarts Getafe. Messi scored two goals to push Barca through to the Spanish Copa del Rey finals. ESPN says "Messi the new Maradona?"

Ajax Amsterdam moved into the Dutch Cup Final by beating RKC Waalwijk 3-1. Romanian Nicolae Mitea, Barca target Wesley Sneijder, and Spaniard Gabri provided the goods.

Olympique Lyonnais continued their tie-fest with a 0-0 deadlock with youth hotspot Rennes.

News News News...

-
No formal confirm on the Barros Schelloto and Marvell Wynne trades.
- Shalrie Joseph of the New England Revs could potentially hold-out from playing against the Columbus Crew in ESPN Primetime Thursday. Divas in the MLS. Nice.
- Gregory Coupet, the long-time stalwart keeper for Lyon, may leave France for England reports Eurosport.com if he's not handed a long-term contract to finish out his days in Lyon.
- Ronaldinho. A 100 million Euro allowance. AC Milan says it has that cash laying around for Ronnie to come to Italy.
- Also some semi-concrete rumors on newly minted Toronto FC midfielder Richard Mulrooney heading over to Houston for Kevin Goldthwaite and a first rounder. The truth should come out sooner or later.
- Vice-chairman of Arsenal David Dein has peaced out. Many think it's over the recent rumors of another American takeover. This one led by the, and I quote, "the American pirate" Stan Kroenke who has upped his share in Arsenal to above 10%.





Tuesday, April 17, 2007

good news and bad news

The Good:

Columbus got Guillermo Barros Schelloto and it should be announced tomorrow.

The Bad:

RBNY apparently has traded Marvell Wynne, even though there has been no formal confirmation, it is for Toronto's 2008 2nd Round Superdraft Pick and a Partial Allocation.
Remember when I told you I might be a Bulls fan? I rescind that offer. What the f***. I liked Wynne to no end...Hunter Freeman, you better prove that this is the right trade. Good luck Marvell at Toronto.

10 Bright Spots of Week Two

1. Rookie Standouts: Adam Cristman, Dane Richards, Robbie Findley, Michael Harrington all had fantastic outings this past weekend; after two games, this draft class looks to contribute effectively

2. Clint Mathis: everything seemed to fall into place for him, the truth is, will this happen every game? I want the old Mathis, the ‘make somethin’ out of nothing’ Mathis.

3. Steve Ralston: this guy keeps on chugging and extends his assist record to 109

4. Andy Gruenebaum: US goalkeeping as a whole is really on the rise and getting close to world class, this guy’s stock is on the rise as well after two clean sheets against two potent offenses


5. DP Signing Rumors: Chivas USA is now linked heavily to Zinedine Zidane, Reinaldo Navia; RBNY to Juan Pablo Angel, Marcelo Salas, Diego Tristan; Columbus for Guillermo Barros Schelloto, the list goes on and the suspense is killing me

6. Herculez Gomez’s goal celebration: looks like Colorado has discovered their personality for the season; was he this loud in Los Angeles? He also made that kid's day.

7. Luciano Emilio: DC’s new signing from CD Olimpia (hard to believe considering he’s already got 6 goals aleady) has taken on a Mamadou Diallo/Raul Diaz Arce/Roy Lassiter scoring ability…problem is, can he acquire the Diaz Arce consistency spanning several years

8. Shalrie Joseph: even with the problems surrounding his possible exit, it was hard to hate him on the field during the 4-0 win over Toronto FC; either that or Toronto just made him look good…

9. Carl Robinson: granted he was a Premier League player and is a Welsh international, Robinson was the only real bright spot for Toronto, my New Mexico sleeper for best rookie defender, Andrew Boyens, took a nose dive and played terribly…

10. The “8,000”: those that even showed up to the RBNY/FCD game are dedicated and/or frugal sons of bitches, those conditions were ridiculous – you could see everyone huddled under the overhang, but 8,000??? I don’t know.

P.S. - Guillermo Barros Schelloto and Juan Pablo Angel will be the next DP signings to grace our little league we got goin' here in the states...their signings will be announced TODAY (Tuesday, April 17th). Welcome aboard.

P.P.S. - It's hard to say, but I think I might now be a converted Bulls fan.


Monday, April 16, 2007

A Brief Premiership/FA Weekend Recap

FA Cup Semifinals

Chelsea 2, Blackburn 1
In extra time, Michael Ballack put the finishing touch on Chelsea’s avoidance of a semifinal upset. By the way, American goalkeeper Brad Friedel signed on for another year and a half. It's about time his contribution was recognized. Plus, the MLS stock of keepers is all full.


Manchester United 4, Watford 1

Two from Rooney, one from Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kieran Richardson led Man U’s second consecutive smash-up.

English Premiership

Arsenal 2, Bolton 1
Gunners decided to win one for the gaffer and their throngs of really loyal but frustrated fans.

Manchester City 0, Liverpool 0

Citeh fought hard against a high flying Liverpool squad. Damarcus went all 90 minutes and played well creating a couple chances and causing some trouble on the wing.



Sheffield United 3, West Ham United 0

WHU gets brought down to earth by not Man Utd, not Chelsea, not Arsenal, but Sheffield United!??! Big win for Sheffield in the relegation battle. Michael Tonge, Phil Jagielka, and former Blackburn and Sunderland standout Jon Stead did the damage.


Reading 1, Fulham 0
The Cottagers’ slide continues, even without the apparent Chris Coleman disease. I hope they realized the mistake they’ve made in getting rid of Coleman. Boca and McBride went the distance and Clint Dempsey got 30 minutes. Shane Long is slowly making the injured Bobby Convey quite expendable. Not good…Hahnemann played real well and Reading is inching closer to a European spot.


Portsmouth 2, Newcastle 1

Pompey found a highlight reel regular in young Matt Taylor (not the Chivas USA outcast). Benjani provided a goal and Newcastle continued their inconsistent ways. The shots were 23 to 7, how does Newcastle do it? Onyewu didn’t start but got 60 minutes regardless after Australian Craig Moore picked up a knock.

Aston Villa 3, Middlesbrough 1

No Angel. Does that mean anything??? Well-balanced performance from the Villans.

Wigan 3, Tottenham 3

A goalfest from beginning to end, Robbie Keane scores another two goals.


Everton 2, Charlton 1

A torrid last 10 minutes attached to a somewhat dull first 80 minutes made this game rather entertaining. The biggest highlight was James McFadden’s injury time volley from the top of the penalty box. David Moyes’ celebration was Jurgen Klinsmann-esque and Everton looks to solidify some European play next year.

RBNY's DP - no real confirmation yet but...

It looks like Juan Pablo Angel is on his way to the big NJ/NY. Actually, someone should be trying their damnedest to make sure his flight stays whereever it is right now considering this piece of crap weather (unless he's coming from Boston). Big Apple Soccer has the scoop.

Does this make the Bulls a championship contender?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

MLS: Week Two

Columbus 0, Real Salt Lake 0

Andy Gruenebaum now has 2 clean sheets this season and was the main reason this game stayed a 0-0 deadlock. Unfortunately, like when Dontrelle Willis is on the mound (except we can't overlook how well the Marlins are doing this year), Gruenebaum was without any offensive help. In what looked to be a shared goalkeeper post for the Crew with Gaudette and Hesmer sharing with Gruenebaum, we are now seeing the making of a decent Crew first team keeper. Then again, it's been two games. Andy Herron has not proven to be the answer to Columbus' scoring woes. Yet. RSL looked somewhat stagnant, no real standouts. Ballouchy and Adu did okay again, but still not producing. I met Danny O'Rourke's good high school friend from Indiana at Spring Fling this weekend. Needless to say, she called him, asked him about the game, and he said it was 'shit'. Columbus is frustrated and if they don't find a goalscorer sooner or later...it's gonna be a long season. Guillermo Barros Schelloto, where are you?

Because I Think...'s MVP: Gruenebaum.

CLB: NONE
RSL: NONE

New England 4, Toronto F.C. 0

Why can't every expansion team start out like the Chicago Fire did? Unfortunately, TFC was a mess today. New England took last week's loss to Chicago personally and came together, egos and cancerous personalities aside. The Revs were helped out by Toronto's disarray but, essentially, any team playing the Revs on Saturday would have had trouble with their fluent play. Mo Johnston's boys were particularly weak on the wings and were turned around by the sweeping play of Stevie Ralston (who connected for 2 assists to make it 109 total) and Bermudan Khano Smith. The only wingers that played better than these two were Dane Richards and Dave Van den Bergh of the Bulls in their 3-0 win on Sunday over Dallas. Adam Cristman played to his potential today. No real standout for TFC.

Because I Think...'s MVP: Steve Ralston and Taylor Twellman...self-explanatory

NER: Twellman 2 (2), S. Joseph (1), A. Dorman (1)
TFC: NONE

Kansas City 4, D.C. United 2

DC’s CONCACAF Champions Cup run has nobody impressed apparently. Kansas City took advantage of DC’s inconsistencies with a wonderful and diverse performance featuring four goalscorers and a really confident Wizards team. Eddie Johnson looked somewhat his old self while Jose Burciaga Jr. and Michael Harrington played brilliantly on the wings. Harrington, out of UNC, became the second rookie to get on the scoresheet this season. Two Facundo Erpen screw-ups, slips, trademarks and a Joshua Gros trip...whatever you want to call it, allowed Kansas City to go up 2-0. I wouldn't be too worried about DC. A slow start means a fast finish with them. DC will be okay...

Because I Think...'s MVP: Eddie Johnson, a revival of sorts, smart play, vision, less laziness, but still not buying it until it's consistent

KCW: M. Harrington (1), S. Victorine (1), E. Johnson (1), S. Sealy (1)
DCU: L. Emilio (2), C. Gomez (1)

Chivas USA 0, Houston 1

Chivas sort of lost this game themselves. They missed coming out of the gate and pouncing on some early chances created by the new kickstart Maykel Galindo. Chivas USA kept Houston from shooting on net until the 39th minute. The game was back and forth and entertaining, too bad I didn't catch it all. Englishman draft pick John Cunliffe came on for the first time and produced some chances without any real results.

Because I Think...'s MVP: Brian Ching

CHV: NONE
HOU: B. Ching (1)

Sunday, April 15th

Red Bull New York 3, F.C. Dallas 0

Today was a lesson...and I was the teacher. Dallas' defense was completely manhandled by the Red Bull midfield. Jozy Altidore scored RBNY's first goal of the season as the Bulls took advantage of FC Dallas' slow start (probably attributed to the Nor'easter conditions). The near post header off an RBNY corner should not be his last this season. Hunter Freeman got his first start this year in the back and Ronald Waterreus was fantastic yet again. For FCD, David Wagenfuhr took a knock and was subbed in the 19th minute for Chris Gbandi. "Gooooooooooolllllll...Cleeeeeeeetoooooooos!". Yes, Clint Mathis scored his first goal in his second stint with the Metrobulls. Nice showing by the Bulls and I like the pieces they have, just need to make them work consistently.
Because I Think...'s MVP: Dane Richards, this kid has hit the ground running


RBNY: Altidore (1), C. Mathis (1), D. Van Den Bergh (1)
FCD: NONE

Colorado 1, Chicago 1

This game was headlined by Herculez Gomez's second goal and resulting celebration. He jumped into the stands and was mobbed by Colorado fans. A man down after new acquisition Roberto Brown was dismissed in the 6th minute, the game was still relatively even despite Chicago's advantage. The Rapids seem to have some bite in them this year. New look? New park? New roster? What's not to like? There will be some tough stretches but these guys will be in the play-offs. Bouna Condoul, once he settles a bit, will be a quality keeper. Chad Barrett spoiled Colorado's charge and fought back with a goal at about the 80 minute mark.

Because I Think...'s MVP: Herc Gomez

COL: H. Gomez (2)
CHI: C. Barrett (1)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

South Jersey FC 1, West Philly FC 0 (Week 2)


Passing the prison, on the way to Pennypack on the Delaware right next to the Riverview Homes, Adult Services Building, how can you not want to play soccer. To be honest, I never knew any of that was there. Either way, a great game by SJFC today with fairly mediocre play.

There were several real highlights to an otherwise calm game. Eric Danner's aerial acrobatics as he flung himself five feet off the ground, attempting a bicycle and then proceeded to fall to the earth without support. Danner resumed play as those on the sideline wondered how his rib cage wasn't shattered. Guess it was one of those 'it looks worse than it feels' sorta thing. Regardless, Danner and Acciani were frustrated up top, all the while still creating chances for themselves. None of the shots found the net though. Dominance rang true in the midfield for Jorge Montoy (his first game of the season), John Brackmann, and Brandon Bonnette. The field, as most could tell, was keeping even the simplest of passes from being completed. The midfield trio coupled with strong outside performances from Kevin Murphy and workhorse Adam Evans allowed the only goal of the game to be scored. Murphy received South Jersey FC's first card of the season starting the run to beat 7 bookings by the end of the season. Problem is, the card was for nothing. The goal was scored by John Brackmann, who picked up a loose ball about 30 yards, dribbled unopposed the top of the penalty box and with finesse placed a shot to the far post.

The way the attack was producing chances, it seemed SJFC could have been up by 2 or 3 at the half, but strong play from West Philly's backline and SJFC's inability to string more than a couple of passes together kept that from happening. South Jersey's defense was captained once again by Brendan Oakes, whose Fall season was cut short after four games by a broken collarbone sustained against Toten Hosen 3. His play was certainly inspiring and representative of one who has not missed a step despite 5 months off. Tim Green, Devin Oakes, and Chris Gercke dealt efficiently with the West Philly threat of Martin Kerin and their other speedy forwards. In the end, SJFC hung on and moved to 2-0 which will keep them at the top of the table. West Philly has dropped two straight 1-0 decisions and it looks as if they will fight again next week. Brendan Oakes grabs the game MVP for his valiant comeback with little skill or fight lost.

SJFC plays next vs. the McCrossen Cosmos, Saturday, April 21st at 5:00pm.

I will have recap of all the MLS games going on this weekend, but no real time for previews. Instead, I have predictions.

Saturday, April 14th

Columbus 1, RSL 2
Toronto FC 0, New England 1
Chivas USA 1, Houston 0
Kansas City 1 , D.C. United 1

Sunday, April 15th

Chicago 2, Colorado 2
FC Dallas 2, RBNY 3