Saturday, July 29, 2006

Latest Polls Show United #1

ESPN and Mid-Atlantic Soccer Report keep DC United on top after their tie in Chicago. RBNY moves up in both polls as they begin to show signs of life. Columbus and RSL, still DOA.
Preview of Game 21 - DC United at Real Salt Lake

DC United is riding a 15 game unbeaten streak. They are plus 20 in goal differential, far and away the best in the league. United is twenty points clear of second New England in the Eastern Conference and nine points clear of FC Dallas in the Supporter"s Shield race. United hasn't been shutout all season and has seven shutouts of the opposition this year.

Real Salt Lake is currently in last place in the Western Conference, three behind Los Angeles and also last in the Supporter's Shield race. Salt Lake have two wins and three losses at home along with five ties. Real Salt Lake has only one win in their last nine league matches.

This is the first meeting this season between Real Salt Lake and DC United.


DC United 3:0 Real Salt Lake
Game 20 - DC United 1-1 Chicago Fire

The Good:

  • DC United absorbed the attack and was able to find a way to earn a point on the road
  • Eskandarian scores a nifty turnaround goal in traffic and looked very dangerous throughout the second half

The Bad:

  • Textbook game by Chicago to disrupt what United does best, possess the ball.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Game 20 - DC United at Chicago Fire

United begins their long road trip against the Fire. DC is currently on a six game winning streak and a thirteen game unbeaten streak. They are twenty points clear of second place New England in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago is tied for third in the Eastern Conference with twenty points, two clear of last place Columbus.


Dc United 2:1 Chicago Fire

Thursday, July 20, 2006

United Continues Atop Both Polls

DC Untied remains at #1 in the ESPN and Mid-Atlantic Soccer Report polls.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bruce Arena Joins the Dark Side

Okay, this may sound crazy, but this reminds me of pro wrestling. Remember when Hulk Hogan went bad and changed from the yellow jersey and bandana to the black? In the space of less than 6 weeks, Bruce Arena has gone from savior of American soccer to Sith Lord. I can't get over this. This is Joe Gibbs coaching Dallas. Michael Jordan playing for the Pistons. This is Marcus Allen playing for Kansas City. Oh, wait, that actually happened.

And you know what? I love it.

Long live the rivalry. Long live DC United.
Game 19 - DC United 3:2 Columbus Crew

After the first 15 minutes or so, my friend Joe started talking about how confident he was. He broke all kinds of rules about daring the soccer gods and such. Of course, DC United scored their first goal about 30 seconds later. However, the goal at the end of the first half I completely lay at his feet. the soccer gods have spoken. On any given Saturday, even know the rest.

A word about that first Crew goal. The reaction by the crowd was pretty cool. Dead silence. Almost as if to say, "Huh." It's the first time in months a team has come into RFK and tied up United. Made for a fun second half though.

The Good:

  • Josh Gros was amazing in the first half. He was everywhere. Best game in a month for him.
  • Nice save by Perkins when he made himself big and stopped a great chance by Columbus to tie the game at three.
  • Great shot by Carroll the Elder. Excellent way to score the first of the year.

The Bad:

  • First time in a while the defense wasn't great. Just average. Losing Erpen didn't help matters.
  • Adu clearly wasn't happy being subbed out. It's fine to be disappointed, Freddy. Just don't show up your coach.


Forwards (Adu, Moreno) B

They were fine. Nothing spectacular.

Midfielders (Gomez, Gros, Carroll the Elder, Olsen, and Simms) A-

We finally got to see the triple defensive midfielder lineup. Sure, on paper Olsen lined up outside. But he played most of the game towards the middle. Gomez, Benny and Carroll the Elder all tally. Benny steals his from Gomez who was having a little trouble pulling the trigger in the box. Wonder if anything was said in the locker room about that.

Defense (Erpen, Boswell, Namoff, and Perkins) B-

Two goals at home is not their best effort, but the first one was kind of a fluke.

Subs (Wilson, McTavish, Walker) B

Not sure why Walker was hanging back and Moreno was up front. I'd much rather have Moreno in the midfield than Walker. His first touch leaves a bit to be desired. Wilson was fine replacing Erpen. McTavish must be very impressive in practices because he keeps getting minutes over Moose.

Overheard in Section M-32:

We were sure we saw McTavish sitting with his parents in the mezzanine. Then he was on the field. Maybe he has a twin brother, or at least one who looks just like him.

Discussion wandered to whether MLS should switch to a September-May schedule. I am in favor if a few things happen. No playing from December 15-February 15. Too damn cold in most of the USA. I know FIFA is pressuring MLS to change the schedule to one more like the rest of the world. As long as the teams have places to play, I think it works. Getting games on TV could be an issue with college football dominating Saturdays. Maybe a weekly game on ABC on Sunday at 4? How about 11 AM, before the 1 PM NFL kickoffs? Or 6 PM Saturday? The good thing about MLS is you know how long the games take to play. You can schedule one 120 minutes before the kickoff of a game and be sure you won't go over in to the next program.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Game 19 - DC United vs Columbus Crew

DC United welcomes, and I mean that sincerely, the Columbus Crew to RFK Stadium for the fourth and last regular season game. Not that we don't have another game scheduled in a few weeks against them. DC are on quite a few streaks. They are unbeaten in the last 12 league matches with 9 wins and 3 ties and 5 shutouts. They are unbeaten at home this season with 7 wins and 2 ties. They are +14 at home and +19 overall. The every other MLS team with a positive +/- combined doesn't add up to United's. United scores the most goals and allows the fewest. They are 17 points clear of second place New England in the Eastern Conference and 11 points clear of FC Dallas in the race for the Supporter's Shield.

Columbus Crew are pretty bad. They are winless in their last 7, with 3 losses and 4 ties. they haven't scored more than one goal in a game since June 3rd. They haven't scored more than two goals in a game all season. Their injury list is long and undistinguished. I think their keeper was signed from the YMCA on Old Georgetown Road.

DC and Columbus have played 3 times this season with DC winning two (5-1 and 1-0) and a 1-1 tie.


DC United 3:1 Columbus Crew
Dempsey Given Time Out Times Two

It seems Clint was a bad boy and needs to go and think about what he did. I'm sure Chicago would have rather he sat out the next two games against them and not reward Real Salt Lake and Houston Dynamo for his foul against the Fire. I've always found that strange. Wouldn't it be more fair if you are given a red for violent conduct that you are forced to sit out the rest of that game and the next game against that team? Maybe it's just me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Spanish Language, European Style, CONCACAF Spin

I found this tidbit while trolling the soccer groups. I am really looking forward to the CONCACAF Champions League with a group stage.
Univision Communications has reached agreements with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) to air 3 products marketed by SUM starting with the 2007 season on the Spanish-language TV network TeleFutura:

1. US Major League Soccer (MLS): 25 matches each season including the MLS All-Star game and the Final, usually on Sundays at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.

2. The Mexican InterLiga: exclusive coverage of all matches each January, featuring 8 Mexican League teams fighting for 2 spots in Copa Libertadores, South America's premier club competition.

3. CONCACAF Champions League: exclusive coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in July through November, featuring a combination of teams from the Mexican League, MLS, Central America, and the Caribbean, with the winner advancing to the FIFA Club World Championship in December.

Formerly known as the CONCACAF Champions Cup (Copa de Campeones), the 2007 CONCACAF Champions League will feature a group stage prior to the elimination rounds.

TeleFutura replaces FOX Sports en Espanol as the exclusive US TV outlet for the exican InterLiga and the CONCACAF Champions League.

TeleFutura reaches about 50 million US TV households via a combination of broadcast TV stations, cable, and satellite

The big question in my house is will it be carried on DirecTV?

United Tops Polls

Both ESPN and Mid-Atlantic Soccer have media polls which rank the MLS teams. United, predictably, are in the number 1 position is both.
United Gets Crew Assignment for US Open Cup

DC United will host the Columbus Crew on Tuesday August 1st at 7:30. The fourth round game will be at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Gaithersburg. You can buy tickets for the match here.
Friendly A - DC United 4:0 Celtic FC

What a great night. The rains ended around kickoff, and then DC United poured it on their Scottish visitors. The lines were long for Guinness and green "hoops" shirts were everywhere. Quite a buzz in the air as excited Celtic fans were anticipating seeing their "bhoys" live and in color, while DC United's faithful were jazzed to see their boys take on another legendary squad from the other side of the pond.

The Good:

  • Adu was brilliant on attack. His stepovers and misdirection had the Celtic defense on their heels throughout the game. He slotted his best chance home bringing the ball from his right to his preferred left and sliding it under the outstretched arm of the keeper.
  • Boswell scores again in a friendly. He seems to really excel in the international games.
  • Walker tallies on the team he tried out for in 2004.
  • Another shutout by the Untied defense.

The Bad:

  • Eskandiarian misses a wide open net in the first half.

This is a review of the match by a Celtic site. Interesting take here on MLS and what Celtic hoped to get out of the game.Thanks to The DCenters for the link. The DCenters also summarized the game here. It was a great night. Next up: Columbus Crew.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Game 18 - DC United 1:0 Columbus Crew

The Good:

  • What a shot by Eskandarian!
  • Defense was steady once again, especially being down a man for the last thirty minutes.

The Bad:

  • What a moronic shove by Eskandarian!
  • Only one goal on the road is an invitation for trouble.


Forwards (Moreno, Eskandarian) B

Eskandarian gets a goal and a red. Moreno looked a little tired. Here's hoping he doesn't play against Celtic this week and rests up.

Midfielders (Adu, Olsen, Carroll the Elder, Simms, Gros) B-

Solid on the defensive end, still lacking pushing forward after getting the first goal.

Defense (Erpen, Boswell, Namoff, Perkins) A-

Another week, another shutout. The parts may be lacking, but the whole is playing pretty well.

Subs (Wilson, Gomez, Quaranta) B

Maintained the lead. Solid effort.

Overheard in my basement:


I watched the game on delay and fell asleep around minute 55. Watched the rest the next day on fast forward. Looking forward to a friendly and a league match at home this week. Haven't fallen asleep at RFK yet.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Preview of Game 18 - DC United at Columbus Crew

DC United comes into this game riding an eleven game unbeaten streak, a four game winning streak, and allowing only eight goals in the last eleven. United stands atop the Eastern Conference with 38 points, seventeen clear of second place New England.

Columbus crew enters tonight's match having not won a game in their last six, the most recent four all being ties. The Crew are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points, four clear of last place NYRB.

United leads the season series with a win and a tie in two games. The most recent was a 5-1 romp by United at RFK stadium on May 31st.


DC United 2:0 Columbus Crew

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Closer Look at the Roster

Now that DC United's injury list has been reduced significantly, it's time to look at who is on the roster and what the second half may bring in as far as the starting XI.

The top eleven players, in order, regardless of position:

Moreno, Gomez, Adu, Gros, Boswell, Perkins, Eskandarian, Olsen, Carroll the Elder, Erpen, and Namoff

That is two pure forwards (Eskandarian, Moreno) four pure midfielders (Olsen, Gros, Carroll the Elder, Gomez) one forward/midfielder (Adu), three defenders (Erpen, Boswell, Namoff) and one keeper (Perkins).

If Adu plays right wing, the lineup is obvious. However, Adu has been noticeably stronger at forward the last few weeks in individual play. The team has been scoring fewer goals since his move up front. I think the two are related. So move Adu back to right wing and get Eskandarian back in the starting lineup.

Now, the reserves are a bit more interesting. If the above eleven are starting, that leaves the following as reserves:

One forward (Walker), five midfielders (Simms, McTavish, Carroll the Younger, Mediate, and Moose), a forward/midfielder (Quaranta), a defender/midfielder (Wilson) , a defender (Prideaux) and a keeper (Rimando).

With only three subs per game, that is quite a list. Simms, McTavish, Mediate, Moose, Quaranta, and Wilson all have reasons to get them on the field. Simms and McTavish have played well in the absence of Olsen and Eskandarian. Moose is a first round draft pick who should start getting time late in games. Wilson just keeps getting the job done late in games as a defensive sub when DC has a slim lead. Quaranta needs playing time desperately as he was considered for the USMNT World Cup roster until injuries hit again.

An embarrassment of riches on the roster. As well as the defense has played, I credit the midfield for the low number of goals allowed this season. Should DC look to package a few of the younger players for an experienced outside defender? Probably. The MLS Cup is clearly within reach and shoring up the defensive personnel would probably be the best way to handle this roster logjam.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Game 17 - DC United 1:0 FC Dallas


Forwards (Moreno, Adu) A-

Not very dangerous for most of the game, but able to finish the one that counted. Great cutback by Adu to set up Gomez. Excellent awareness by Moreno to let Gomez take the shot.

Midfielders (Gros, McTavish, Simms, Carroll the Elder, Gomez) B+

Unable to keep possession for long stretches, but very capable of short circuiting FC Dallas' ability to generate a consistent attack. Gomez buries the best chance of the night from about 20 yards away.

Defense (Erpen, Boswell, Namoff, Perkins) A-

Another shutout for Perkins and the fullbacks. Other than a few bobbles, Perkins was very solid. Facundo was overly aggressive, but Boswell had his back.

Subs (Wilson, Eskandarian, Olsen) B

Eskandarian should have done better on that breakaway. Nice to see Olsen back in the Black and Red. Wilson made some very aggressive runs and looked good doing so. Having him on the field really gives DC United some options with positioning. He can play on the left wing or he can play left back.

Overheard in my basement:

Scribbling on a pad of paper trying to figure out the depth chart. More on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Preview of Game 17 - DC United at FC Dallas

DC United is on quite a streak. They have swept the season series from Kansas City, currently third in the Eastern Conference. Their road record is a spectacular 3-1-3, with the only loss coming two months ago in Colorado.

DC's offensive production seems to determine the result. Only twice this season have United allowed two goals. If United scores one goal, it usually results in at least a tie. Two goals and with one exception, United wins.

Ben Olsen should rejoin the starting lineup today. I'd like to see United keep Adu up top with Moreno, and have Gomez, Carroll the Elder, Gros, Simms and Olsen. I doubt we'll see that. Maybe we'll see Santino up top with Adu in the midfield for Simms.


DC United 3:1 FC Dallas