Archive | April, 2009

2009 Rocky Mountain Cup, Round I

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Jeff Cann

What they're fighting for ©ASN/Mike Murphy

Let’s face it, Real Salt Lake has done the Rapids three times in the past two seasons, winning the Rocky Mountain Cup twice and knocking Colorado out of the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs in the 90th minute of last season’s regular season finale. So despite the pleasantries given to RSL by Rapids skipper Gary Smith in last week’s press conference, the Rapids are looking to prove to fans that they are, in fact, the best fútbol team in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S.

The Rocky Mountain rivalry begins its fifth installment this Saturday at 7:30 PM local time when RSL travels to Commerce City, Colo. It will be the only Rocky Mountain Cup match played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this year. The other two matches will take place at the lovely new Rio Tinto stadium in Sandy Utah.

In addition to the lack of love between the two clubs, there have been a number of players who have moved between teams. Most notable are Clint Mathis, Nate Borchers and Kyle Beckerman, who moved from the Rapids to RSL and Medhi Ballouchy who did the trip in the opposite direction.

The Rapids started out the season scoring goals in bunches, led by striker Conor Casey who has four so far this season. But scoring has slowed to less than one goal per game for the past three matches and the results have predictably been more pedestrian (two ties and one loss). With an even 2-2-2 record, Colorado sit one point below RSL (3-2-0; 9 points)

In last week’s games, the Rapids dropped two points against an inferior LA Galaxy side when a defensive lapse allowed Landon Donovan an easy redirect in the 82nd minute. RSL poured six goals onto a struggling New England team at Rio Tinto, with all six coming in the second half.

Rapids coach Gary Smith said, “We’ll look forward to them coming in and as a local derby, we have plenty of points to prove.”

The Rapids definitely need to collect three points as three of their next four matches are on the road and their next home match (in two weeks’ time) will be against Seattle Sounders FC who are four points ahead of the Rapids in the MLS Western Conference.

After a run of disappointing ties that could have been wins, Gary Smith’s young team will need to show mental toughness to forget about recent results and focus on attacking RSL.

After humiliating New England on Saturday, RSL was humbled by Seattle 4-1 on Tuesday night in Seattle.  So, this will be a tough travel week for their squad.  If the Rapids can assert their attacking style early, they will score goals.  The key to victory for the Rapids is a cohesive midfield attack.

ASN Prediction:  2-1 Rapids

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N.Y. natives rally Red Bulls into U.S. Open Cup

Posted on 30 April 2009 by ASN Staff

Full disclosure: No ASN staff watched the game. What follows is the team’s official press report. We invite fans to post their views and reactions as comments in the field below.

Woly got the winner in minute 80

A John Wolyniec 80th minute goal lifted the New York Red Bulls to a 2-1 road win over the San Jose Earthquakes in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Play-In Game at Buck Shaw Stadium. With the victory, the Red Bulls advanced in MLS Open Cup qualifying and will face D.C. United on a date and location to be determined in May for the right to compete in the tournament’s Round of 16.

The Red Bulls went ahead just two minutes into the contest. After they won their first corner of the match, Danleigh Borman swung the ball into the box. San Jose’s Davide Somma tried to clear it but it bounced off Wolyniec to Mike Petke, who slammed it into the back of the net from six yards out.

New York almost doubled its lead 12 minutes later. Borman took a 25-yard shot that was punched away by goalkeeper Andrew Weber. Wolyniec was able to rush in and get a touch on the rebound but Weber held onto the attempt. Soon after, Wolyniec leaped over his defender and nodded a Carlos Johnson cross past the left post.

San Jose almost tied the game in the 26th minute. After a Shea Salinas cross was cleared by the Red Bulls defense, forward Quincy Amarikwa gathered it on the right wing and lofted a ball that floated over goalkeeper Danny Cepero and bounced off the far post before being cleared. A minute later, Red Bulls forward Macoumba Kandji was slipped through on goal and his ensuing shot went past an on-rushing Weber and the right post.

Ten minutes before the break, Amarikwa ran towards goal, took on defender Andrew Boyens and fired a blast that Cepero dove to block away. Then, in the last play before halftime, Amarikwa found Salinas near the penalty spot and his left-footed shot zipped over the crossbar.

San Jose tied the game in the 71st minute. Off a quick Chris Leitch throw-in, substitute Pablo Campos, who came on at halftime for Davide Somma, raced into the Red Bulls’ penalty box and fired a low shot past Cepero and into the lower left corner of the goal.

Red Bulls forward Dominic Oduro could have given New York the lead back moments later when he gathered a Luke Sassano pass and volleyed it over the top right corner.

With 10 minutes remaining, the Red Bulls took their second lead of the game. Sinisa Ubiparipovic played a chip over the top to Oduro, who was making a run on the right wing. Oduro went towards the end line and hit a deflected cross that Wolyniec slotted in from close range. The goal was Wolyniec’s third for New York all-time in U.S. Open Cup play.

San Jose pressed for an equalizer with Campos coming close with a bicycle kick in the penalty box three minutes later, however, they could not break the Red Bulls’ defense as New York earned its first road win of 2009. Created in 1914, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the oldest soccer competition in the United States. Last season, the Red Bulls were eliminated in the competition’s third round. Their best showing was in 2003, when they made it all the way to the Open Cup Final.

The Red Bulls’ next match is on Saturday, when they battle the Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center at 10:30 PM ET (TV: MSG; Radio: WADO 1280 AM) in MLS regular season action. After that match, the Red Bulls return home for a four-game homestand at Giants Stadium, starting on Friday, May 8 against the Earthqaukes at 7:30 PM ET (TV: MSG; Radio: WQBU 92.7 FM). For tickets, call the Red Bulls at 1.877.RBSOCCER or log onto www.newyorkredbulls.com.

Match Facts

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play-in game: New York Red Bulls 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1
April 29, 2009 – Buck Shaw Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Scoring Summary:
NY: Petke (unassisted) 2’
SJ: Campos (unassisted) 71’
NY: Wolyniec (Oduro) 80’

Disciplinary Summary:
SJ: Salinas (caution) 39’
SJ: Campos (caution) 47’
SJ: Denton (caution) 67’
NY: Sassano (caution) 76’
NY: Pietravallo (caution) 82’

Lineups:

New York Red Bulls: Danny Cepero, Danleigh Borman, Andrew Boyens, Mike Petke, Carlos Johnson, Juan Pietravallo, Luke Sassano, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Macoumba Kandji (Matthew Mbuta 56’), Dominic Oduro (Jeremy Hall 86’), John Wolyniec

Substitutes not used: Jon Conway, Kevin Goldthwaite, Nick Zimmerman, Seth Stammler, Carlos Mendes

San Jose Earthquakes: Andrew Weber, Eric Denton, Kelly Gray, Mike Zaher, Chris Leitch, Shea Salinas, Brandon McDonald (Arturo Alvarez 84’), Simon Elliott, Ryan Johnson (Bobby Convey 59’), Quincy Amarikwa, Davide Somma (Pablo Campos 46’)

Substitute not used: Mike Graczyk

Referee: Alejandro Mariscal
Referee’s Assistants: Colin Arblaster, Mike Kampmeinert
4th Referee: Andres Pfefferkorn
Attendance: 4,011

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N.Y. natives rally Red Bulls to U.S. Open Cup

Posted on 30 April 2009 by ASN Staff

Woly got the winner

The New York Red Bulls have become a rather exotic bunch since Juan Carlos Osorio took over the coaching reins, with almost as many Latin American players as U.S. ones on the roster. Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., it was two good ol’ boys from New York who did the team’s heavy lifting. Suffolk County native Mike Petke and Staten Island’s John Wolyniec book-ended the match with goals to beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 and get the team to the U.S. Open Cup, where they will face archrival D.C. United.

Full disclosure: No ASN staff watched the game. Here is a transcript of the team’s official press report and an invititation to fans to post their views and reactions as comments.

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Quakes Search for Answers Prior to Chivas USA Tilt

Posted on 30 April 2009 by mdiamond

The 2-0 loss to the expansion Seattle Sounders on Saturday was not a pretty picture for the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders dominated the Quakes from beginning to end. Granted the Sounders have started their season strong unlike any other expansion side in recent memory. The Sounders are the second best team in MLS with twelve points, an aberration for a newly formed squad, so the Quakes might be forgiven for their lackluster performance. The Quakes get no respite, however, as they face the best team in MLS, Chivas USA on Saturday, May 2 at Buck Shaw Stadium.

In between, the Quakes faced the New York Red Bulls Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup preliminary, which they lost 2-1. The Red Bulls move on to face D.C. United in the next round.

Both Chivas and the Sounders have three goals against, by far the best in the league so far. In particular, credit Sounders’ keeper Casey Keller for leading the Seattle defense setting an MLS record by starting the season without allowing a goal in 389 minutes. The Quakes best scoring chance came off a Ryan Johnson header in the 48th minute that Keller knocked away.

Zach Thornton, in net for Chivas, brings 12 years of MLS experience and is putting his own stamp on outstanding goalkeeping. He leads MLS in both shutouts with four and saves with 27 this the season. Thornton’s clean sheet against Dallas on Saturday was the 62nd of his career, tying him for third place all-time.

Chivas has gained performances from both veterans and youth. Twenty-year-old Gerson Mayen leads MLS with four assists.

The Chivas youth movement is propitious as several of the seasoned players are out with ailments. Expected to miss the Quakes match are Alecko Eskandarian, Ante Razov, and Sasha Victorine.

Unlike last season when defense was the Quakes’ strong suit, the Quakes have the second worst goals against, 11, as well as the second worst goal differential, -4, along with three other teams. Missing in action are defenders Jason Hernandez with a calf strain and Ryan Cochrane who just this week had ankle surgery. Hernandez in particular was a rock in the back line before his injury going to toe-to-toe with strikers and neutralizing them.

With their defense short of manpower, the Quakes acquired Aaron Pitchkolan on Tuesday from FC Dallas for a conditional pick in the 2011 SuperDraft. Pitchkolan has appeared in only one game for Dallas this season coming in as a sub against Chivas on March 29, but he had 15 starts with the Hoops in 2008 among his 21 appearances overall.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for the Quakes is the lack of midfield presence. The team started the season by playing long ball to their two big strikers, Cam Weaver and Johnson. Hoping to establish a one-two combination off these deliveries proved dicey and largely ineffective. Most goals this season have come off scintillating runs or slotting passes through the defense that an attacker runs onto. To make that strategy stick requires more support from the central midfield, which has been rotating between longtime Quake Ramiro Corrales, and newcomers Bobby Convey and New Zealander Simon Elliot.

On the outside the Quakes rue the absence of Darren Huckerby, who has missed two games with a quad strain. Huckerby almost single-handedly turned around the team last year when he was acquired midseason. While Darren has had occasional flashes akin to last season, so far he’s been relatively quiet in his first four games. He has two assists, second only to Chris Leitch’s three, who has played all six games so far.

If anything positive has come out of the Seattle loss, it’s that the long ball as an offensive strategy has largely been abandoned, and the squad is exploring their midfield form. To boost the center, Quakes coach Frank Yallop has tried several lineups and even ran a 1-5-4 formation at one point rather than the standard 2-4-4. Nevertheless, nothing tried so far has stuck out as the solution, and the effectiveness of the Quakes’ midfield against Seattle was decidedly wanting.

When Bobby Convey was signed in March, there was a lot of anticipation that he would contribute the lacking piece of the midfield puzzle, but Convey has yet to find his stride. It doesn’t help that he has played three positions in six games as part of Yallop’s experimentation. Quake’s fans can take solace in Coach Yallop’s deep experience developing teams that can play the ball control game, but it’s a work in progress. Fans will have to be patient while the players work through the growth stages.

Chivas USA Injury
OUT: Bobby Burling — Sports hernia surgery; Alecko Eskandarian — Right hamstring strain; Ante Jazic – Concussion; Dan Kennedy — Right knee sprain; Ante Razov — Right ankle surgery; Claudio Suárez — Left calf strain; Lawson Vaughn — Left ankle surgery; Sasha Victorine — Left knee surgery
Questionable:?Bojan Stepanovic — Left leg contusion
Probable?Maykel Galindo — Sports hernia surgery; Justin Braun — Right knee sprain

Earthquakes Injury Report
OUT: Jason Hernandez – L calf strain; DF Ryan Cochrane – L ankle surgery
DOUBTFUL: MF Ramiro Corrales – L ankle sprain
QUESTIONABLE: MF Darren Huckerby – R quadriceps strain

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One year ago in American Soccer News…

Posted on 29 April 2009 by ASN Staff

…Chivas USA crashed to defeat in the first SuperClasico of the 2008 campaign, losing to the LA Galaxy by a 5-2 score. Landon Donovan scored a hat trick for the Galaxy, with Alan Gordon contributing a brace (ASN, April 27, 2008).

The two Los Angeles sides would draw their remaining two matches of ’08, on July 10 (1-1) and Aug. 15 (2-2). The trend has continued into ’09, with the first SuperClasico of the young season ending scoreless.

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Oops, they did it again

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Mark Bay

For FC Dallas fans, games are starting to seem repetitive: the attack is strong, but doesn’t seem to be able to score and the defense makes consistent mistakes. As such, the Toros recent away match ended 2-0 in favor of a physical Chivas USA.

Dallas started the game strong, bolstered by a healthy first team which included the recently fit goalkeeper Dario Sala.

In the 11th minute, a Dax McCarthy strike would have found the back of the net if not for a falling one-handed stop by Chivas keeper Zach Thornton. The big keeper was called upon again in the 24th minute when he saved a McCarthy header by way of a David Ferreira chip into the box.

Dallas’ downfall came a minute later when Sala ventured too far from his box and played the ball with his hand to prevent a scoring opportunity from the streaking Chivas striker Chukwudi Chijindu. The mistake earned him a straight red. Schellas Hyndman replaced McCarthy with goalkeeper Ray Burse to man the net.

Dallas’ attack faltered with only ten men and their efforts were easily handled by Thornton and his Chivas teammates.

Burse was solid if not spectacular in relief making a diving save in the 33rd and generally orchestrating the defense.

Chivas controlled the second half and took the lead in the 68th minute off an Atiba Harris header from a driven cross by Mariano Trujillo. The Dallas defense was lax in marking and the header was an example of fine finishing, driven solidly into the corner of the net.

Chivas sealed the deal in the 89th minute as Dallas pushed forward leaving their back exposed. A Gerson Mayen chip gifted Alecko Eskandarian a clear break away that was calmly finished.

The final whistle blew and the hapless Red Stripes dropped yet another result. Of the game Hyndman said, “I’m really proud of our guys.” Hopefully no one forgot the orange slices.

Of note, the local Dallas broadcast of the game did not begin until the second half of the match as the preceding baseball game went into extra innings.

Match Facts

FC Dallas (1-4-1) vs. Chivas USA (5-1-1)
April 25, 2009 — The Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary:
CHV — Atiba Harris 2 (Mariano Trujillo 1, Paulo Nagamura 1) 68
CHV — Alecko Eskandarian 1 (Gerson Mayen 4) 91+

FC Dallas — Dario Sala, Marcelo Saragosa, Drew Moor, Daniel Torres, Blake Wagner, David Ferreira, Dax McCarty (Ray Burse 27), Pablo Ricchetti, Dave van den Bergh, Kenny Cooper, Andre Rocha (Jeff Cunningham 82),

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Avila, Bruno Guarda, Peri Marosevic, Aaron Pitchkolan, Alvaro Sanchez

Chivas USA — Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Carey Talley, Shavar Thomas, Jonathan Bornstein, Sacha Kljestan (Alecko Eskandarian 64), Jesse Marsch, Paulo Nagamura, Atiba Harris, Justin Braun (Maykel Galindo 58), Chukwudi Chijindu (Gerson Mayen 82),

Substitutes Not Used: Jim Curtin, Michael Lahoud, Eduardo Lillingston, Lance Parker

Misconduct Summary:
CHV — Atiba Harris (caution; Reckless Foul) 1
DAL — Dario Sala (ejection; Denied Goal Scoring Opportunity (Handball)) 25
CHV — Chukwudi Chijindu (caution; Reckless Tackle) 32
DAL — Marcelo Saragosa (caution; Tactical Foul) 60
CHV — Atiba Harris (ejection; Second Caution) 89

Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Boles; Corey Rockwell
4th official: Alejandro Mariscal
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 14,611
weather: Clear -and- 67 degrees

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Quote of the week: Randy Levine

Posted on 28 April 2009 by ASN Staff

Who can compete with this?

“Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke. We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously. Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league.”–New York Yankees president Randy Levine, responding to comments by Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber earlier in the week. Garber’s crime? A thinly-veiled critique of Yankee Stadium ticket pricing. “It’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty,” Garber said.

Garber’s comments clearly struck a chord, for whatever reason. ASN of course has its own views on the subject

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Absent Carver, Toronto move forward

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Scott Ferguson

Carver shocked fans with his resignation Saturday

After John Carver’s shock resignation this weekend, reported early on Saturday on ASN’s twitter feed, there was a pessimistic attitude at fortress BMO Field. Toronto’s bosses at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, once seen as providing the support needed for club management to succeed, were suddenly seen as the villains in a saga that saw Carver resign citing “personal reasons” after being fined last week by the league.

Toronto’s head coach had been given the penalty for his outspoken comments regarding the standard of officiating in TFC’s 3-2 loss to FC Dallas two weeks ago, and while the Englishman said his resignation had nothing to do with MLSE, some reports suggested he had been upset with a perceived lack of support by the board.

Carver was in the stands when Toronto defeated Chivas USA last week and handed in his resignation just a day ahead of the home clash with Kansas City Wizards on Sunday. Assistant coach Chris Cummins has stepped in and performed well, leading the side to 1-0 wins on both occasions.

Against Chivas, it was Amado Guevara who provided the finishing touch with his third goal of the season, while against Curt Onalfo’s wizards, fan favourite Danny Dichio broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.

A cross from the left looked to have resulted in a lost chance for Toronto, but Marvell Wynne, showing remarkable hustle all game (and indeed all season), kept the ball in play and played it across the face of goal. Sam Cronin swept it across to an onside Dichio to poke it in and open his account for the season.

Dichio is the club’s all-time leading scorer and was even mentioned as a potential replacement for Carver as club manager and acquired his Canadian permanent residency (equivalent to a US green card) recently, with some tongue-in-cheek suggestions that Toronto’s all-time leading scorer could suit up for Canada. The Italo-English striker has not been capped at a senior level internationally, leaving him available to play for his adopted nation.

Jim Brennan leads TFC through uncertain times

Both games have shown a new Toronto, working just as hard as in the past but with the added cutting edge that has seen two straight wins. The team looked sloppy in a 2-0 loss to Seattle in the home opener and couldn’t hold a lead one week later against FC Dallas.

Against Kansas City, offensive spark and defensive stability were shown in equal measure by the Reds, and while Carver’s imprint was still very much in evidence on the side, credit has to go to Cummins for moving into the role with minimal fuss.

Marco Vélez was drafted into central defense ahead of Kevin Harmse on Sunday while Cummins opted for three forwards in the absence of the injured Dwayne De Rosario. Guevara slotted into his usual midfield role while Chad Barrett, Dichio and Pablo Vitti combined to torment the Wizards’ defence.

Toronto, oft-criticized for a reliance on American players and British veterans, has shown an increasingly Canadian backbone this season. After the club’s first season in 2007 ended with a wave of home-grown players shipped off after failing to compete at this level, things looked bleak for soccer in Canada. In 2009, however, club captain Jim Brennan and goalkeeper Greg Sutton have been joined by two-time playoff MVP De Rosario and Adrian Serioux, who regularly partners Harmse in defence for Toronto.

Hometown spirit has been matched by the impressive play of draft picks Cronin and Stefan Frei, with young goalkeeper Frei regularly keeping Sutton and Brian Edwards out of the starting lineup.

Cronin is a tireless midfielder in the vein of Carl Robinson, with the duo providing ample cover for Wynne and Brennan to provide marauding runs down the wings. Cummins looks set to count on his full-backs just as much as Carver, with the only down-side (along with the defensive liability it results in) being the increased attention on Wynne.

The wing-back, brought from New York by former coach Mo Johnston in the club’s first season, has been steadily growing into one of the club’s top players over recent seasons. Aston Villa have reportedly been interested in Wynne since their friendly at BMO Field in 2007 and will be keeping a close eye on his development. MLS and its’ salary cap may prove too small a pond for the American international over the summer transfer window.

To DP or no?

Just a few names that have surfaced in DP discussions

Toronto FC general manager Mo Johnston has stated his interest in bringing a designated player to Toronto for 2009, but the recent signing of Dwayne De Rosario may mean that the club’s ambitions of getting DPed will have to wait at least another year.

While no promises have been forthcoming from team management about bringing in a player above the league’s maximum payscale along the lines of LA’s David Beckham or Seattle Sounders’ Fredrik Ljungberg, club brass have been adamant that the club would build a winning side this season.

Swapping young centerback Julius James for attacker De Rosario was a step in the right direction, but may have signalled the peak of Johnston’s ambition for the off-season. De Ro is a proven attacker in this league and will form a potent front line with the likes of Rohan Ricketts, Danny Dichio and Amado Guevara, although his addition leaves precious little cap room for a designated player.

Carlos Ruiz found himself surplus to requirements at the club this season, after zero goals in five games at the tail end of 2008. He’s been replaced with Pablo Vitti, the on-loan Argentinian forward who hasn’t scored in four, but the young striker’s work rate and raw talent should see him get off the mark soon.

One or two odd men out would leave room for a designated player, with only $400 000 of the DP’s wages counting towards the annual salary cap. Toronto FC chiefs have been reluctant to show their hand, but have indicated that a designated player, as the final piece of an MLS Cup-winning puzle, could be in the cards in the coming years.

Several big names have been linked with Canada’s MLS franchise. Most are borne of wishful thinking, but reports have indicated that club management have, at various times, entered negotiations with European stars inthe interest of bringing a designated player to Toronto.

Del Piero has been linked with MLS in the past

Alessandro Del Piero was last the subject of heavy speculation linking him with a North American move in 2008, before he signed a contract until 2010 with Juventus, the team he’s been synonymous with since the 1990s. Top scorer honours in Serie A last season proved he can still compete at the highest level, and any MLS move will likely have to wait until 2010 – when Del Piero will be 35.

Towards the tail end of last season, it emerged that Johnston had been in contact with Portuguese striker Nuno Gomes, a name that has been linked with Toronto FC since its inception. Club management have been reluctant to pin their fortunes on a big name designed to draw out a particular ethnic group, but Nuno Gomes was evidently thought to be the type of player who could provide the finishing touch to Toronto’s slick build-up play.

32-year old Gomes, who still has the same baby-face he did at Euro 2000, may still have goals in him, but the same might not be true of that tournament’s co-top scorer, Serbian forward Savo Miloševic. The 35-year old was repeatedly linked with TFC and trialled with them ahead of last season but ultimately failed to sign a deal.

Another striker with European experience that could be on the move this summer is Michael Owen. The Newcastle striker has been out of form this season and will likely be shuffled out in the summer if the Magpies are relegated, an increasingly likely proposition. Owen’s most probable destination is a European club, but the striker’s killer instinct would fit in perfectly in Toronto. Unlike former Liverpool teammate Robbie Fowler, a one-time target of MLS, Owen is on the right side of 30, another plus for a league criticized for turning to aging stars.

Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman has been spotted in attendance at BMO Field and lists playing for his hometown side as one of his professional ambitions, albeit one in the future. The Scarborough native has trained with Toronto in the past and will likely suit up for the Reds in the twilight of his career, but at the moment, European sides are closely monitoring his contract situation in Spain.

MLSE speaks

A source high up in MLSE recently spoke informally on the club’s priorities, with a designated player falling behind real grass at BMO Field. Club bosses hope to see grass in Toronto by next season and are currently developing a practice facility that will likely take over BMO Field’s duty as a community field over winter.

Stadium expansion is another aim for MLSE, but nothing concrete has been developed. The organization have also been in contact with the much-maligned Canadian Soccer Association about providing marketing for the men’s national team in much the same vein as their partnership with Basketball Canada.

Soccer in the Forest City

Pro soccer has a new guise in London, Ontario, where Ian Campbell has led a group of investors in launching FC London to compete in the Premier Development League. The PDL is the fourth level of North American soccer behind Toronto FC’s MLS.

Campbell explained to ASN the need to create an avenue for young players to further their playing career at a competitive level. Having coached a group of u-11s over the past several years, Campbell found that his 17 and 18 year olds had few professional avenues open to them, a problem he was used to as president of the Byron Minor Soccer Association.

With an upper age limit of 23, FC London is set to address that problem, with head coach Martin Painter already busy adding to a roster stuffed with young Canadian talent. The majority of the team will be under 23 and university students, with the PDL season running in the NCAA off-season from mid-may until July.

The success of Toronto FC has helped to awaken Canadians to the potential of professional soccer in every corner of this country, and Campbell has been in regular contact with the MLS side in hopes of bringing that success to London.

For Campbell, a PDL playoff match between eventual winners Thunder Bay Chill and Michigan Bucks last summer showed him the growing level of the league, convincing the entrepreneur that professional soccer could thrive in London. FCL calls North London Stadium home and will field a youth team in the OSA under-21 league, providing further opportunities for youngsters in the area.

Trillium Cup continues

Toronto host Columbus Crew on Saturday in the second match of this season’s Trillium Cup, to be decided by the regular-season matches between the rivals. Crowd trouble marred the clubs’ 1-1 draw in Ohio in March, with defending league, cup and Trillium Cup champions the Crew so far struggling to keep up last season’s form.

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An open letter to New York Yankees president Randy Levine

Posted on 27 April 2009 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Dear Mr. Levine,

Speaking on behalf of U.S. soccer fans everywhere, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your considerable efforts in raising the profile of professional soccer in this country.

We are referring, of course, to your comments lambasting Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, who had the gall to compare his pathetic little league to your employer, the mighty New York Yankees baseball club.

To casual observers, your attack on Mr. Garber was a simple matter of you falling for one of the oldest (and cheapest) PR stunts in the book. This trick calls for a small and insignificant entity to compare itself, by way of insult, to one of the leading enterprises in its field in the feint hopes said enterprise takes the bait and returns the favor. If it chooses to do so, the result is a PR bonanza for the small and insignificant entity.

On the surface, this is precisely what happened, as news columnists and bloggers rallied to Garber’s cause. The National Sports Review called you a bully and told you to shut up. The Times Herald-Record said you “looked lower than a preschool limbo stick.” The Hartford Courant said you made a fool of yourself. The New York Post said you looked persnickety. Even The New (Yankee) Stadium Insider said they weren’t sure what you were trying to accomplish with your comments, adding that “for an organization that prides itself on class and success, the Yankees seem to have forgotten the ‘class’ part of that formula.”

The great winner, in all this, is soccer. Not only did everybody rally to back Garber and tell you to pick on somebody your own size (see above), but maybe, just maybe baseball fans will lose interest in an event that takes over four hours and costs hundreds of dollars (and that’s for the cheap seats) and check out something that is over in two hours and a fraction the cost. Of course, your comments that MLS is “not in the same time zone” as Major League Baseball in general and the New York Yankees in particular, is beyond question. Major League Baseball teams have payrolls literally 10 times the size of MLS clubs. Baseball is an American institution. Soccer is a foreign invention that appeals to immigrants, communists and young girls. Or something. Why point out the obvious?

But after looking at the events a little deeper, a different reality emerges: your comments were a coolly-calculated move to help soccer at your–and the Yankees’–expense. Mr. Levine, you are a soccer fan. Not only that, your love of the game runs so deep that you are willing to sacrifice the public perception of yourself and of your employer to advance its cause. That you dressed this up as an ignorant comment may have fooled most of the U.S. press, including institutions such as The Sporting News. But it didn’t fool us.

For one, Garber never mentioned the Yankees by name! All he said was “it’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty.” We have searched at great length for the full text of Garber’s April 22 speech to the MLS Board of Governors, in an attempt to put those words into context. Having come up empty (and if anybody has the full speech, please let us know or post it in the comments) we are left with a general statement that just as easily could have been about any MLS team other than Seattle. Or, for that matter, any event (not just sporting events) where there are empty seats.

Only later (after Levine’s statement) did Garber “admit” his comment was about the Yankees, though he also said they “were part of a larger assertion that all businesses — even the most successful sports entities — are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn.” He then blew some smoke up the Yankees’ arse, calling them “one of the world’s strongest brands,” before reiterating that his comments were about the economic challenges “we are all facing.”

Cryptic? You bet. Which is exactly what you need to be when covering up a larger truth. In this instance, the truth is that you and Mr. Garber likely made an arrangement to make these “public” comments about each other, hiding behind a general statement Garber may (or may not. We don’t know who was there or if it even happened) have said at the MLS meeting. By keeping the original statement general and out of the public domain, you guarantee nobody will ever know exactly what happened.

Which is entirely secondary at this point. The larger truth, that you are willing to sacrifice your public image solely to advance the sport of soccer in this country, is one that has not been lost on us. And for this, we are forever grateful.

Thank you again for your efforts.

Sincerely,
AmericanSoccerNews.net

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RSL set records in 6-0 blowout of New England

Posted on 26 April 2009 by kali

Real Salt Lake cruised to a 6-0 over the New England Revolution on Saturday night, preserving the team’s perfect 2009 home record.

Skip right to the player assessments or the photo gallery.

While the Revs had been battered by injuries before they arrived in Salt Lake, RSL delivered the final blow as the rainy weather at Rio Tinto Stadium broke just in time for Real to score six second-half goals.  RSL set club records for total goals scored and shots taken in one match, and tied MLS records for goals scored in one half and games in which six different players scored.

Playing against a young New England team which was missing stalwarts Taylor Twellman, Matt Reis, Steve Ralston, and Chris Albright, Real dominated the first half but was unable to score.  Although RSL took 12 shots, only four were on goal, with most of the attempts going high or wide of Brad Knighton’s goal.  At the half, it seemed like the previously undefeated Revs might be able to take a result out of Utah.

However, the second half was a much different story.  Jamison Olave scored his second goal of the season on a Javier Morales corner kick, and Clint Mathis put up a Goal of the Year candidate on a volley on another Morales delivery shortly thereafter.  Yura Movsisyan then scored his first goal of 2009, while Luis Miguel Escalada, Andy Williams, and Robbie Findley also scored in the waning moments of the match.

RSL coach Jason Kreis was impressed with his team’s performance after the match, noting that it was “awesome”.

I think it’s very rare in a professional athlete’s or a professional soccer player’s life to be part of a match like that. Where really almost everything that happens on our end was flawless for our team,” he said.

Mathis added, “I thought every guy was on top of their game. As far as the way we were organized and the way we played, it was one of those games where you can’t come in here and complain about anything. Everybody was really working hard, getting back on defense, our wing backs were getting forward and getting balls in. The train was definitely rolling today.”

Meanwhile, New England found little positive to take away from the defeat.  “Things caught up with us tonight. We’re banged up, we’re inexperienced, and we made mistakes all the way up the field,” said coach Steve Nicol.

Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said simply, “All we can do is go up from here right? I mean, nobody has ever lost a championship in the sixth week.”

Match facts

New England Revolution (2-1-2) vs. Real Salt Lake (3-2-0)
April 25, 2009 — Rio Tinto Stadium

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Jamison Olave 2 (Javier Morales 1) 53
RSL — Clint Mathis 1 (Javier Morales 2) 55
RSL — Yura Movsisyan 1 (Clint Mathis 3) 70
RSL — Luis Miguel Escalada 1 (Robbie Russell 1, Ned Grabavoy 1) 81
RSL — Andy Williams 1 (unassisted) 85
RSL — Robbie Findley 4 (Andy Williams 1) 89
New England Revolution — Brad Knighton, Amaechi Igwe, Darrius Barnes, Jay Heaps, Chris Tierney, Sainey Nyassi, Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Kheli Dube (Michael Videira 64), Kenny Mansally.

Substitutes Not Used: Stephane Assengue, Pat Phelan, Matt Reis, Zack Simmons, Rob Valentino

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Will Johnson, Clint Mathis (Andy Williams 74), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Ned Grabavoy 68), Robbie Findley, Yura Movsisyan (Luis Miguel Escalada 72).

Substitutes Not Used: Jean Alexandre, Tony Beltran, David Horst, Chris Seitz

Misconduct Summary:
NE — Wells Thompson (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
RSL — Javier Morales (caution; Dissent) 43
NE — Jay Heaps (caution; Dissent) 45
NE — Kenny Mansally (caution; Reckless Foul) 57

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Fabio Tovar, Adam Garner
4th official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of game: 1:49
Attendance: 14,051
Weather: Cloudy-and-49-degrees

RSL Player Assessments

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Nick Rimando didn’t have much to do, quite frankly, but preserved the shutout.

Robbie Russell had a breakout match after his 2009 debut last week.  Russell’s runs forward brought a welcome spark to the RSL attack, and he could have easily scored another goal himself.  His first touches were often impressive, especially on a wet pitch, and his speed and positioning kept New England from taking much advantage of his forays up the field.

Nat Borchers was solid in central defense, repelling New England’s attempts to go over the top and keeping RSL organized.

Jamison Olave scored another key goal and frustrated the Revs repeatedly.  Someone should put together a YouTube montage of him running into and over opponents.

Chris Wingert got forward with frequency on the left flank and had several shots from distance, but leaned back and put most of them over the top of Knighton’s goal.  He also kept Nyassi from being particularly dangerous for New England, notably in the second half.

Will Johnson also could have done better with his shooting, putting several chances over the top.  However, his work rate and mobility in the diamond midfield kept the Revs quite busy.

Clint Mathis‘ goal was worthy of every superlative in the proverbial book, and his service on the assist to Movsisyan was also great.  His defensive efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed though — even his teammates trust him to cover back when they venture forward.  His comeback  clearly isn’t a fluke.

Kyle Beckerman was relatively quiet but efficient, letting his teammates take most of the attention last night.  The much-hyped Beckerman vs. Joseph deathmatch didn’t prove to be much of a showdown at all, thanks in part to Beckerman’s efforts.

Javier Morales‘ service on corner kicks was excellent (in years past, most RSL fans would have expected pigs to fly before Real scored twice on corner kicks in one match).  Picking up a yellow card for dissent just before halftime wasn’t a particularly shining moment though, especially since he’ll be on yellow-card warning next match.

Robbie Findley and Yura Movsisyan often play like they’re in bubbles, not knowing where the other is on the pitch and subsequently having difficulty playing with each other.  Their individual strengths (Findley’s speed and Movsisyan’s intensity), however, give opponents trouble and they each scored a goal against the Revs, which should help their confidence going into the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup series at Denver next week.

Ned Grabavoy came on for Morales, and although he’s more of a defensive-minded player, he earned an assist on Escalada’s goal and had a decent chance of his own.  Although the Revs were mentally devastated by the time he (or any of the substitutes) reached the pitch, he helped maintain the intensity for the late goal-scoring flurry.

Luis Miguel Escalada‘s goal was well-taken and he appears to run the angles well.  He’ll need to work on playing with his back to the goal, however, if Kreis plans to play him with Findley often.

Andy Williams scored on a beautiful free kick and notched an assist with a perfect through ball.  You can’t really ask for much more for the few minutes he was on the pitch.

Photo Gallery


All photos © Julia Fizer/AmericanSoccerNews.net

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