Posted on 30 May 2012 by Kyle Alm
Posted on 30 May 2012 by Kyle Alm
Posted on 27 May 2012 by Steve Long
The New England Revolution might seem to have been the dominant team in Saturday’s contest at RFK, but the score line said otherwise at 3-2. Despite being outperformed marginally on the statistics sheet, DC United only seemed uncomfortable for the first ten minutes of the second half. One need only look at Coach Ben Olsen’s excellent personnel decisions to see the reason why.
The fact that he and all the players continue to emphasize correctly that they still have a ways to go to reach the excellence they seek, the team shows a comprehensive maturity that should serve them well throughout the remainder of the season.
The young coach has sharpened his own sense of the roles each of his players should fill on the squad. He has acquired a fine mix of youthful energy and seasoned wisdom and deployed them in the right ways at the right time.
His selection of Josh Wolff as an assistant coach illustrates the process. The veteran not only teaches, but does so by example. When United has a lead late in a game, his insertion adds greatly to DC’s ability to control play.
He brings a steadiness born of wisdom with the skill to lead a group in which he has confidence, “You have 25 guys who are understanding of their role, committed to the group, and we’re all in it together this year. When you start getting good results, they obviously feed the next one. We have a lot of goals we put up on the board before the season and we still have a lot to achieve.”
The role of fatigue was pointed out by Olsen and many of the players. Dwayne DeRosario put it most emphatically, “You can hear it in my voice. I am absolutely tired. It’s been a lot of games in a short period of time.
“We withstand the demand that was put on us, and thankfully we have the depth of every guy that is ready to step in and make a difference. The quality in our depth showed again tonight.”
A primary example of the value of depth was the team’s recovery from a slow start of the second half to score the winning goal after ceding two quick ones to fall into a tie. Olsen inserted Maicon Santos to give the team more physicality up front and was rewarded with the game winner off the Brazilian’s foot.
Once his squad took the lead, Olsen inserted Lewis Neal and Wolff who combined with their teammates to neatly control play and see the game out. Wolff explained the dynamics, “I think you saw in the second half we came out a little lackadaisical, it (fatigue) plays a role. A lot of games in a short period of time.”
A major reason for United’s conference-leading 27 points is the extra games they have played so far. As the season goes on and their opponents try to use their games in hand, they should experience more of a fatigue problem then United.
The return to action of Branko Boskovic contributed an important link to the team’s dynamic. Historically DC United has relied on the Marco Etcheverry model of attacking midfielder and a major reason for the past few years’ failures was the lack of that link.
The acquisition of DeRosario last year brought one player who could do much of the same work, but whose age and determination to lead by example forced him to carry too much of the burden of creativity. He finishes better than Etcheverry did, and holds the ball quite well, but lacks Etcheverry’s magic left foot to serve up assists.
Enter service by committee. For set pieces, Olsen can rely on Boskovic or Neal. Opponents must also respect and cover those two in dynamic play while keeping an eye out for DeRosario to either create or finish. Witness the first goal from Boskovic’s service and the third from DeRosario’s creativity, vision, and service.
The locker room was filled with relieved anticipation of the three weeks “off” before the next MLS game, but there is an important Open Cup match in Richmond on Tuesday night. Given the extremely fit DeRosario’s reference to his own fatigue, Olsen may choose to start him on the bench and hope that the service of Boskovic can be sufficiently supplemented by Neal.
If Emiliano Dudar has indeed returned to full fitness, he should spell McDonald or Jakovic in central defense while Nick DeLeon and Andy Najar could share a wide position and Hamdi Salihi and Santos could carry the attack up front.
Posted on 24 May 2012 by iyeo
It seems the Los Angeles Galaxy can’t catch a single break so far this season.
Not even a two-goal lead was enough for the Galaxy, not on Wednesday night against the San Jose Earthquakes, and while the Galaxy did itself no favors by being forced to play a man down for the remaining 31 minutes of the match, the Quakes rally was still stunning, and fittingly, it was Alan Gordon who capped off the comeback, as his header at the death gave San Jose an improbable 3-2 win over the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Galaxy Left Back Todd Dunivant said. “We had a great performance for the most part, but we let ourselves down again at critical moments and made some big mistakes.”
Wednesday’s winning goal made it the third straight match that Gordon has scored inside the final two minutes to earn points for the Earthquakes, but unlike the two previous matches, where Gordon’s late goals salvaged draws against Chivas USA and Columbus, Gordon’s heroics Wednesday night gave San Jose the full three points and vaulted the Quakes (8-2-3, 27 points) into first place in the Western Conference, even without the services of striker Chris Wondolowski, who is on U.S. National team duty, as is LA Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan.
Such a result seemed unlikely in the 73rd minute when LA was on a counter attack. David Beckham crossed a ball to Mike Magee on the left side, Magee sprinted for the penalty area, made a nifty move to get past Quakes right back Jason Hernandez and fired a shot on goal that beat Busch at the upper netting to put the Galaxy up 2-0.
The one thing the Quakes did have going for them despite the two-goal deficit was that they were playing a man up after the Galaxy’s Hector Jimenez was red-carded in the 59th minute after a studs up tackle on Steve Beitashour. The Quakes got on the board three minutes after Magee’s goal when a corner by Marvin Chavez was headed by Steven Lenhart past Galaxy keeper Brian Perk near post to cut LA’s lead in half. The Quakes then got another break in the 82nd minute when a shot attempt by Jason Hernandez was blocked off the arm of Beckham and referee Jair Marrufo ruled handball and thus whistled for the penalty spot. Khari Stephenson stepped up and buried the penalty shot right post for the equalizer.
Even after all that, the Galaxy (3-7-2, 11 points) were still poised to at least get a point out of the match, but a Galaxy foul in the final minute of stoppage time gave San Jose a restart deep in LA’s half of the field. Hernandez sent the free kick into the 18 and Alan Gordon softly headed the ball over Perk and into the back net to send Gordon’s teammates, the Quakes bench and their fans into a frenzied pitch.
“We played awful well tonight not to get a point out of this match,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “We were positioned to get three points and turned the game over.”
Jimenez’s red card was a bittersweet night for the midfielder. Jimenez was given his first career MLS start in place of Landon Donovan, who is away on national team duty. Jimenez scored the game’s first goal three minutes into the game and acquitted himself very well in the right midfield spot.
“I felt I was doing good, but I put my team in a tough position with the red card,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez wasn’t the only Galaxy player seeing the pitch for the first time on Wednesday night, as Bryan Gaul became the fourth Center Back to start alongside AJ DeLaGarza this season. Gaul went the full 90 minutes against the Quakes on Wednesday night.
“His performance was encouraging,” Arena said of Gaul’s effort.
The Galaxy’s busy week will be capped off with a trip to Houston to face the Dynamo in its brand new BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday. The Earthquakes meanwhile will travel to Kansas City for a huge game against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Posted on 24 May 2012 by Kyle Alm
For Seattle Sounders signing Sigi Schmid was clearly one of the most important parts of their success as an expansion franchise, as was picking Brad Evans from the Columbus roster in the Sounders expansion draft. As much as Sounders have been a model for MLS 2.0, Columbus Crew were a model franchise for the beginning of MLS. They were first with a soccer-specific stadium in 1999, first to sign a designated player, Guillermo Barros Schelotto was signed in Columbus and the Crew won MLS Cup in 2008 with Schmid at the helm. Marc Burch is another former Schmid Crew player who is now with Seattle.
Brad Evans was listed as doubtful before the start of the match, but was found laying back in the deep weeds in central midfield and Osvaldo Alonso was found getting into the attack early. A bit of a switch, although they are both play more of a holding role. Getting forward seemed to suit Alonso, who got forward early and made a couple of dangerous passes in the box.
Columbus put themselves ahead when Adam Johansson let Justin Meram get inside of him on a Dilly Duka cross in the 16th minute to score a header near the 6-yard box. Bryan Meredith didn’t have much of a chance, moving to his left when Meram headed the ball to his right.
David Estrada crossed a ball that had every Columbus defender beat, Eddie Johnson’s run to the inside pulled the defense of off Alvaro Fernandez who had a free header that he put wide of the far post just before the half time whistle. It was certainly the best chance that Sounders had to score in the first half, and they had only managed to get two shots of 10 on target compared to 1 of 3 for Columbus Crew.
To Columbus’ credit they did not sit behind the ball and try and to defend their goal all half. Sounders had the better of possession and shots taken, but it was all bluster. It was another night when Sounders looked dominant, backed up with every stat you can think of but still on the losing end.
The second half was not as entertaining, there was quite a lot of rough play and/or time wasting that prevented the match from developing any free flowing action. Sounders best chance of the second half came early, 51st minute when Fredy Montero hit a low drive to the left of Andy Gruenenbaum who made his best of 6 saves at that moment.
Rookie Bryan Meredith had another solid outing, although he did not make a save, Columbus scored their two goals on two shots on target. Emilio Renteria had the second goal for Columbus Crew in the 76th minute, a high shot that brushed across Meredith’s fingers and into the back of the net.
For Robert Warzycha it would be his first win in seven tries against his old boss Sigi Schmid.
Schmid pointed to individual mistakes of people making the wrong reaction and specifically mentioned Adam Johansson getting a bad bounce against Real Salt Lake, against Vancouver not running with Rochat & Parke not sliding out as examples of letting individual mistakes affect the outcome of the match. “Can’t wait 45 minutes before starting to play,” and you have to take advantage of your opportunities were the chosen cliches of the home manager.
There has been a familiar theme in the Sounders home defeats where they dominate possession, fail to generate dangerous chances, and let their opponent score on a limited number of opportunities. Not exactly an inspired strategy, hoping for an opportunistic goal, but it has been working for teams visiting Seattle.
38,311 in attendance tonight
Posted on 23 May 2012 by Kyle Alm
Posted on 20 May 2012 by Steve Long
Flexibility wins games and the best way to get it is to blend energy with savvy. DC United Coach Ben Olsen put out a nicely blended squad against Toronto and its savvy members made the exact right adjustments to a hard working opposing side which had clogged the middle and kept the game mostly in United’s end.
After 20 minutes, the DC on field brain trust simply pulled Josh Wolff back to wide left and moved Branko Boskovic inside where he is most effective. Olsen and company had considered the possible Toronto tactic and were prepared for it.
As Wolff put it, “Benny, myself, DeRo, Boskovic, we’ve discussed those things going in if we have to make something on the fly we can do that. Again, you’ve got guys who’ve played at good levels for a long time and you can use your thought and our brain to help the group.”
It takes a critical mass of experienced players to control a game. In place of Lewis Neal, Olsen had inserted Wolff, an insightful player and assistant coach. “Ben and I talked about, depending on how the first 15 minutes went, as far as how we were able to deal with their wide guys, if [Richard] Eckersley or [Jeremy] Hall was in. I think we were having trouble dealing with them out the right side.”
Perry Kitchen, whose defensive midfield responsibilities forced him to roam all over the field, was grateful for the adjustment, “Their team had a bunch of guys clogging up the middle, so I think it was to our benefit to pull those guys in. It made my job easier…I think it worked for us overall.”
Pulling players into the middle might seem to violate the principle of maintaining width, however, United played a sort of width by committee, as players constantly overlapped and exchanged positions to keep overall shape.
What had started for DC as a game of bunker and counter with lobs over the back line evolved with the switch into a more balanced use of the whole filed and better wing play. Wolff’s experienced partners were right in sync, “I think we started making the adjustment even before Danny [Cruz] went down. Branko went inside, I went out wide, and I think we were able to push Dwayne further up and flatten out the midfield a little bit. We wanted to get more possession, but also take away their right side.”
The team doesn’t just rely on their wits. Olsen blends maturity with youthful energy. The third goal, scored by Hamdi Salihi, demonstrated how a poacher’s clever run would give him positioning to capitalize on Andy Najar’s energy.
The Honduran beat two defenders, spinning around the last of them to reach the end line and unleash a sharp cross for Salihi to finish. It is notable that the youngster showed the vision to find Salihi as well. The synergy is what makes the whole thing work.
Synergy may also be described as rhythm, reading one’s teammates and complementing their moves. Olsen describes the value that Boskovic brings to the team, “He’s done very well in the last two games. His set pieces are very good, and it’s so nice to have a guy like that on the field for corner kicks and balls whipped in.”
He continued, “He’s been good; he’s been active. He’s a rhythm player, and he needs these games. He needs more games, and he’s only going to improve.” He played for Rapid Vienna with Salihi and the pair clearly have a nice understanding.
As DC United continues their season, more and more of the younger players should pick up on the rhythm. An immediate example was the pass that young Chris Korb sent to DeRosario to set up his second goal. It was perfectly placed and weighted to give the Captain an easy finish.
DeRosario provided his own perfect feed to Salihi in the 76th minute, and the” poachman” almost rang twice, but was stopped by the onrushing Milos Kocic.
United showed exemplary discipline as they saw out the final minutes with confidence and solid mutual effort, holding possession and rarely countering, thus leaving few openings for Toronto to exploit.
The New England Revolution come to town for Memorial Day weekend for a 7:30 game on Saturday before United begins a three week MLS rest period, which will include an Open Cup match. They will oppose either the Richmond Kickers or local Washington Premier League (WPL) side Aegean Hawks. Their match will be held Tuesday night at the Maryland Soccerplex.
Saturday will be a busy day for United fans as the Barra Brava Premier team who play in the Washington International Soccer League (WISL) take on Jaime Moreno’s DC United U-23 side at the RFK practice field at 2:00 PM.
The game is an annual charity event which has usually seen the Barra take on the Screaming Eagles. A few years back it supported Nadine Namoff’s charity and will support United for DC this year. It should be a great lead-in to the tailgate where sharing is also a great tradition. Check out the Barra Facebook page for more details.
Posted on 20 May 2012 by iyeo
Five years was long enough for Chivas USA.
After years and years of domination by the Los Angeles Galaxy against its co-tenants of the Home Depot Center, a stretch which even included a playoff series win over the Goats in 2009, Chivas USA emerged victorious against its more established rivals for the first time since September of 2007. A handball in the penalty box, which resulted in a goal from the spot by Jose Correa enabled Chivas USA to finally celebrate at its neighbors expense with a 1-0 win on Saturday night.
“It’s big,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said of the win. “The only way you get respect is to go out there and earn it, and I thought they did a good job of doing that tonight.”
It had been a busy week for Chivas USA, which spent all of Thursday attempting to turn around the fortunes of a season that was looking dismal every week. First came the trade for veteran Center Back Danny Califf, which was then followed by the trade for promising striker Juan Agudelo from New York. Both players were in the starting lineup, Agudelo played 76 minutes before giving way to Juan Pablo Angel while Califf played the entire match.
“It’s huge confidence wise and huge for this club,” Agudelo said of the win. “Some people underestimate us, but its two teams that fight for the same stadium.”
This time around, it was Chivas USA’s turn to get the breaks, it started in the 70th minute, when Oswaldo Minda played a long ball into the penalty area, Galaxy keeper Brian Perk came out to punch it away, which he did, but also collided with Agudelo, leaving an open net. Striker Jose Correa looked to bury the open netter, but LA Center Back David Junior Lopes handled the ball at the goal line, leaving referee Mark Geiger with no other choice but to whistle for the penalty spot and eventually end Lopes’ night early with a straight red card. Even the penalty shot had its moments, as Corea buried the initially penalty shot, but was called back due to apparent encroachment, but that didn’t stop Corea from burying the second try to put Chivas in front. The Galaxy fought on, but being a man short eventually wore down the Galaxy in the end.
“I thought that was a pretty good game,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “The difference in the game was that we did poorly with the chances we created.”
The first half was even, with Chivas USA outshooting the Galaxy 8-7 during the first 45 minutes. The Galaxy’s best chance came in the opening minutes when a Chivas turnover enabled Marcelo Sarvas to collect a loose ball well inside Chivas territory and shoot for goal, but missed wide left. Chivas USA though came the closest to getting on the scoreboard when Miller Bonalos stole a ball from near midfield and broke for goal. Bolanos then unleashed a laser that beat Brian Perk, but did not beat the near post, instead, bouncing off that post and harmlessly back into play.
“I was really pleased with the way we started out the game,” Fraser said. “We were able to make ourselves pretty dangerous early and for most of the time, it seemed we were on the verge of being very dangerous.”
Both teams have a busy week, as Chivas USA will travel to New York for a showdown with the Red Bulls on Wednesday in a homecoming for Juan Agudelo, while the Galaxy will try to bounce back as the home team, also on Wednesday when they face the San Jose Earthquakes.
Posted on 19 May 2012 by iyeo
In search of a much-needed spark to its roster, Chivas USA spent all of Thursday delivering some much-neeeded help on both sides of the ball just in time for the Honda SuperClasico.
First came the long-rumored acquisiton of Center Back Danny Califf from the Philadelphia Union, but then came the stunner, which was the acquisition of promising striker Juan Agudelo from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for defender Heath Pearce and allocation money.
Agudelo has long been regarded as a future superstar, both in MLS and on the U.S. National Team, since 2010, but has struggle for playing time in New York while playing behind the likes of Thierry Henry, Kenny Cooper and Luke Rodgers last season. The move out west for the teenage prodigy should afford him more playing time as well as the opportunity to pair up with Juan Pablo Angel and form one of the most dangerous striker tandems in the league, even if it meant giving up a versatile defenders in Heath Pearce, who split time between his natural Left Back spot and the Center Back position.
Califf’s potential move to Chivas USA had been rumored for about a week. In fact, Califf’s potential departure from Philadelphia all together has been basically a forgone conclusion since a falling out with head coach Piotr Novak early in the season. the longtime MLS veteran spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning an MLS Cup title in 2002 before stints with San Jose and later in Europe before joining Philadelphia in 2010. Calif was exchanged for Michael Lahoud and allocation money.
Both players are expected to jumpstart a 2012 season that hasn’t started out well so far. Chivas USA is currently eighth in the Western Conference and have only scored six goals all season while letting in 12 goals themselves. Agudelo and Califf are expected to be on the field for Saturday’s SuperClasico matchup against the Galaxy.