Archive | May, 2009

Dynamo spoil DeRo return with 3-0 win

Posted on 31 May 2009 by dbuckholt

The Houston Dynamo exploded for three goals in five first-half minutes Saturday night at Robertson Stadium in a 3-0 win over Toronto FC. Dwayne DeRosario’s return to Houston was overshadowed by a second dominant performance in as many weeks by the Dynamo.

“The first half was fantastic. We came out with a great attitude – the goals were excellent,” Houston coach Dominic Kinnear said.

“We had a really poor, sloppy (five) minutes where they scored the three goals. I’m pretty disappointed. We didn’t play particularly well today, and I think Houston fairly deserved the three points,” Toronto FC interim coach Chris Cummins said.

DeRosario had received a warm welcome from the Houston crowd starting with the pregame warm-ups, and was also greeted by his former teammates before the game, but all the pleasantries were set aside once the game began.

“When the game is going on, you’re playing; you’re just trying to get three points, trying to get your team into the game. After the game, you have a little moment reflecting a little bit on the good memories that I had there. Watching them play in the second half sitting back was a pleasure to watch when a team plays like that. We got beat by a very good team,” DeRosario said.

“As soon as the whistle blows, you really don’t look at personalities or people that you’ve played with. I think you just look at opponents, and I think that’s the way the guys looked at it tonight,” Kinnear said.

Houston had to make an adjustment in midfield after Brian Mullan picked up a hamstring strain in training this week. Corey Ashe, usually a left-sided player, came into the lineup at Mullan’s spot on right wing.

Cummins made changes from last week as well, bringing in Nana Attakora at right back and pushing Marvell Wynne into midfield. DeRosario, who always professed his discomfort at playing forward during his time with Houston, played up top with Chad Barrett.

In two previous matches in Houston between these two sides, there had only been one goal overall. The question was whether Toronto would resort to the negative tactics of their previous visits.

After a slow first 10 minutes, the Dynamo began to impose their will on the game. Davis whipped in a vicious shot from right wing on a free kick in the 14th minute that Stefan Frei just managed to tip over the bar.

Then Adrian Serioux fouled Ashe just outside the box in the 20th minute, and Davis slipped the free kick under a jumping TFC wall into the open right side of goal.

“It’s a tough ball to get up and down on top of the box there. I just wanted to strike it hard and low. You know they’re most likely going to jump and turn a little bit. When you put it on target, good things happen,” Davis said.

In a rare dangerous moment for DeRosario, his shot from the right side of goal nearly crept under Pat Onstad to tie the game in the 21st minute. But Houston came right back down the field for a great goal by Kei Kamara to put the Reds in free fall. Brian Ching struck a cross from right wing that Kamara redirected to the left of Frei.

“It was a beautiful pass by Ching. We had eye contact, and I decided to run to the right post. I got the touch that I needed,” Kamara said.

The goal stampede was topped off in the 24th minute when Holden blasted in from 20 yards out on another set piece. Davis ran over a free kick, touching the ball into Holden’s path for a shot that glanced in off the left post.

“I just feel like I’ve been so close, it was a bit of a relief for that one to go in. I’ve been shooting well in practice, but the last touch in games hasn’t been going my way sometimes,” Holden said.

“I don’t think we’ve done that (play) yet this year. We’ve practiced it a lot. When I step up there, I think they figure I’m most likely to hit it. They bit on me running up to the ball. Stewie’s got a great shot, and all he needs to do is hit the target,” Davis said after picking up an assist for the sixth straight game.

Houston was running rampant at this point, and Frei was fortunate to get his foot on Ching’s unmarked header in the 44th minute. Serioux then headed in a deflected free kick in first half stoppage time, but was called by referee Yader Reyes for fouling Onstad.

“I’m not sure why he disallowed it, to be honest with you, but he’s made that decision.
Maybe if you’re in 3-1, you get a different game, but we can’t use the referee as an excuse and we didn’t play well enough today,” Cummins said.

Cummins replaced defender Marco Velez with Rohan Ricketts and pulled Barrett for Pablo Vitti at halftime, but the three-striker attack made little difference against an efficient Dynamo defense.

“The second half was just a professional attitude from us. The game’s won at halftime as long as you don’t mess it up, and we held it to zero and that makes the difference,” Houston defender Craig Waibel said.

Houston Player Ratings

Onstad 7 – nearly let DeRo’s shot squirt through
Waibel 7.5 – clearly more comfortable this week
Boswell 7.5 – typically strong in the middle
Cameron 7 – had a giveaway or two
Hainault 7.5 – fitting in well with Davis
Ashe 7 – so left-footed that it’s tough for him to provide service on the right (Wondolowski 67’ 6 – hasn’t played in midfield for a while, it showed)
Clark 7.5 – Guevara was neutralized all night
Holden 8 – was energetic from the opening whistle, a thumping finish on his goal
Davis 8 – on a great streak lately
Kamara 7.5 – nice finish on the goal, has had better overall showings (Oduro 89’ NR)
Ching 8 – unfortunate on Frei’s miracle save, tremendous assist (Akinbiyi 81’ 6 – no opportunities)

MATCH FACTS

Toronto FC at Houston Dynamo, May 30, 2009
Robertson Stadium, Attendance: 16,037

Scoring Summary:
HOU – Brad Davis (unassisted) 20
HOU – Kei Kamara (Brian Ching, Corey Ashe) 22
HOU – Stuart Holden (Brad Davis) 24

Misconduct Summary:
TOR – Adrian Serioux (caution; Dissent) 19
HOU – Andrew Hainault (caution; Dissent) 39
TOR – Amado Guevara (caution; Reckless Tackle) 92

Lineups:
Houston
G – Pat Onstad
D – Craig Waibel, Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Andrew Hainault
M – Corey Ashe (Chris Wondolowski 67), Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Brad Davis
F – Kei Kamara (Dominic Oduro 89), Brian Ching (c) (Ade Akinbiyi 81)

Substitutes not used – Tally Hall, Wade Barrett, Mike Chabala, Richard Mulrooney

Toronto FC
G – Stefan Frei
D – Nana Attakora, Adrian Serioux, Marco Velez (Rohan Ricketts 46), Jim Brennan (c)
M – Marvell Wynne, Carl Robinson (Kevin Harmse 65), Amado Guevara, Sam Cronin
F- Dwayne DeRosario, Chad Barrett (Pablo Vitti 46)

Substitutes not used – Greg Sutton, Danny Dichio, Emmanuel Gomez, Johann Smith

Shots: Houston 11, Toronto FC 11. Shots on goal: Houston 6, Toronto FC 5. Fouls: Houston 12, Toronto FC 13. Offsides: Houston 2, Toronto FC 3. Corners: Houston 3, Toronto FC 4. Saves: Houston 5, Toronto FC 3.

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Another match, another draw for Sounders

Posted on 31 May 2009 by nschiffler

Seattle Sounders FC extended their unbeaten run to six games on Saturday night, but they surely won’t be happy with the result. For the fifth match in a row, they ended the game in a draw – this time with a 1-1 tie at home against the Columbus Crew.

Nate Jaqua’s spectacular strike early in the second half leveled the score, after Alejandro Moreno scored for the Crew very early into the match on an equally impressive header. Despite the match only containing the two goals, there was plenty of action at both ends, including yet another Seattle red card and a very poorly taken penalty by Sounders Swedish superstar Freddy Ljungberg.

It was the visiting Crew who started off with the better of the play, getting their first opportunity just two minutes in on a long, powerful shot that sailed wide. It would only take 12 minutes for Columbus to make their impact on the scoreboard. Pat Noonan, starting in place of reigning MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, ran onto a long through-ball and whipped in a cross. The ball just eluded the outstretched leg of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, but not Moreno, whose excellent diving header left Kasey Keller with no chance at a save. The sold-out Qwest Field crowd was in shock, and the Crew were in the lead.

The stunning goal seemed to galvanize the Sounders, who began to have the better of the possession. They could only create half-chances until the 31st minute, when Ljungberg and Steve Zakuani played a give-and-go that freed the Swede, only to be clearly taken down in the box by Crew defender Jed Zaynor. The referee pointed to the spot, and Ljungberg stepped up to take the chance himself. But his curling penalty missed to the left by a couple of feet. It was a very poorly taken penalty, and was a missed opportunity the Sounders would come to rue.

Columbus nearly doubled their lead before the halftime interval. In the 40th minute, after a wasted corner kick, Emmanuel Ekpo hit a low strike from the top of the 18 that required Keller to make a fine reaction save. The keeper got a palm to the shot, and Seattle was able to clear the danger. Shortly after, Fredy Montero worked hard to set up a shot, but he didn’t test Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum with his tame effort. And so Seattle walked into the locker room at the half, 45 minutes away from what would have been a devastating loss.

But this possibility was averted 10 minutes into the second half when the Sounders drew level. After a Zakuani run, Ljungberg hit what looked like a misplayed pass that lobbed high into the air on the right side of the penalty area. But Jaqua ran onto it and, in full stride, volleyed it with his first touch past a frozen Gruenebaum and perfectly into the far upper corner of the net. It was a world class finish from a player not necessarily known for his finishing ability. And it leveled the score, bringing the capacity crowd jubilantly to life.

Seattle would continue to have the majority of the possession and chances, although there were some for both sides. In the 65th minute, Jaqua headed inside the box to a moderately open Montero, but his first touch let him down and his resulting shot was blocked with a last-ditch Crew tackle. Columbus responded by inserting Schelotto into the lineup, who immediately tested Keller with a long shot that forced a decent save. The best remaining chance came in the 71st minute, when an intentional back-pass was picked up by Gruenebaum, gifting Seattle an indirect free kick from six yards out. But Columbus packed the goalmouth, and Ljungberg’s close range attempt smashed into the mass of players and harmlessly out of play. An audacious bicycle kick attempt by Montero in the 80th minute did not come close.

It was fitting that a match with several unusual plays would end in confusing fashion. Shortly into stoppage time, Sounders defender Tyrone Marshall was shown a direct red card for what was judged to be either an elbow or a punch to the head of Stephen Lenhart. The foul was off the ball, so few were sure of what exactly happened. Although Seattle was able to close out the remainder of stoppage time a man down and get the point, the fifth successive draw – coupled with the red card suspension of Marshall for next week – made the final result feel more like a loss.

Sounders Player Ratings (scale of 1-10 with 10 being best)

Nate Jaqua – 7 Was the official man of the match, and it’s probably fair. He worked incredibly hard, and was even able to pull off some of the technical maneuvers that normally trouble him. Plus his goal was pure class.

Fredy Montero – 6 He is still not completely able to adjust to the physical defending MLS defenders are sending at him, but he did better today. Was more active winning balls in the air and in creating chances for himself.

Freddy Ljungberg – 6 It didn’t look like he missed a beat after missing two games due to migranes, as he was making runs and roaming the whole pitch to ignite the offense. He has to be marked down, though, for a very bad penalty.

Brad Evans – 5 Often when Evans is effective he isn’t noticed much, but today he was more or less invisible. Lost the midfield battle against the Crew’s Danny O’Rourke, a much more physical player.

Pete Vagenas – 4.5 There’s a reason fans of Vagenas’s former club, the LA Galaxy, called him “Back-pass Pete.” He didn’t come close to starting the attack like normal starter Osvaldo Alonso does. Really ineffective in central midfield, allowed Ekpo to be dangerous.
Steve Zakuani – 6.5 His excellent runs and passes led to both the penalty opportunity and the goal. And he was fit to play the full 90 minutes, which is a nice improvement to see.

Tyson Wahl – 6 Playing out of position, he might have had the best performance by a Sounders left back all year. Didn’t distribute the ball great, but he was never burned, rarely (if ever) caught out of position, and even crossed the ball well.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado – 5 Not his best game ever. He was a little overaggressive at times, and probably lost more balls in the air than he won.

Tyrone Marshall – 6 Thought he played really solidly. Had a decent chance on a header off a corner kick, and made one excellent 1-on-1 sliding tackle late in the game to break up a potential goal chance. Have to dock him for the red card, though I’d really like to know exactly what happened there.

James Riley – 4.5 This might be harsh, but he didn’t play well. He gave the ball away, killing potential attacks, a frustratingly large number of times. He also was over-aggressive in his tackles, often coming up empty and allowing the opponent to go by with ease.

Kasey Keller – 7 No keeper in the world could have stopped the goal. Few would have pulled off the save he made on Ekpo. Another great performance by Captain Kasey. Don’t be surprised if he’s the MLS All-Star game starter in July.

(Sub) Patrick Ianni – 6.5 When he came on for Vagenas around the 64th minute, Seattle began having noticeably more possession in the midfield. Ianni made a very good case for more playing time.

(Sub) Sebastien Le Toux – 5.5 On for 10 minutes, gave his customary all-out effort and didn’t have a lot to show for it.

(Sub) Nathan Sturgis Not on for long enough to grade.

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Ten-man Galaxy battle back to draw again

Posted on 31 May 2009 by iyeo

Another week, another draw for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

However, considering what the Galaxy were facing early in the second half, the Galaxy are probably fortunate to be splitting points with the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night.

Down a man after defender Gregg Berhalter was red-carded in the 59th minute and down a goal after Davy Arnaud scored in the 84th minute, the Galaxy somehow managed to fight back, as forward Edson Buddle scored his first goal of the season to help Los Angeles salvage a 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center.

“When you’re winning 1-0 up a man, you gotta to close the game, and we didn’t do that,” Wizards head coach Curt Onalfo said.
Kansas City stands at 4-4-4, but the draw prevented the Wizards from seizing sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference The draw is the Galaxy’s ninth of the season, one short of the season record and is also Los Angeles’ fifth straight, leaving them with a record of 1-1-9.

“It beats losing,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said.

Berhalter was given a straight red card after fouling Claudio Lopez from behind. Kansas City had to wait, but finally capitalized on the man advantage as Arnaud headed in a rebound shot past Donovan Ricketts to the left post.

“I kind of gave him a quick grab, but it was nothing,” Berhalter said. “You have to live with a play like that. I’m not sure it was the right decision, but the referee made the decision.”

Los Angeles however capitalized on a giveaway at midfield, forward Landon Donovan led a Galaxy attack, found Buddle in the box and Buddle unleashed a powerful left-footed shot that beat Kevin Hartman to the left post for the equalizer.

“It showed some good character by us coming back, especially being a man down and a goal down,” Buddle said of the comeback.

The Galaxy buzzed around the Wizards net for much of the first half, but couldn’t get anything through. The first chance came in the 22nd minute when Gordon chased down a lead ball even though he appeared to be offside on the play, not that it mattered anyway as Kevin Hartman stopped Gordon’s shot attempt. Five minutes later, midfielder Dema Kovalenko lead a Galaxy fast break and fed the ball to Donovan in the box, but Donovan struggled with two Wizards defenders and by the time he got free, Hartman was able to beat him to the loose ball.

No Galaxy miss however was more painful in the 38th minute. Lewis sent in a shot cross and Alan Gordon headed the ball towards goal, but not only did the ball bounced off the crossbar, but somehow stayed outside the goal line. Donovan attempted to head in the rebound into an open net, but the shot instead went over goal.

Kansas City on the other hand didn’t do much on offense in the first half, but the one good look the Wizards had in the final minute nearly broke the scoring ice. Midfielder Kevin Souter sent in a short cross to midfielder Davy Aurand in the box. Aurand quickly let loose a point-blank shot, but was denied by Galaxy keeper Donovan Ricketts.

The Galaxy continued to create chances in the second half. Kovalenko sent a low cross in the 56th minute of play that founds it way to the box, but Gordon’s shot attempt went over goal. Chris Klein, who came on in the 78th minute, also had a chance, as he ripped a shot towards goal, but Hartman dived to his left and just got enough of the ball to redirect it out of play.

“I thought we played real well,” Arena said. “We just continue to get better and better.”

The Galaxy look to preserve its unbeaten run, which stands at nine matches, next Saturday, though it won’t be easy, it heads to Canada to face Toronto FC at BMO Field. Kansas City will look to rebound when it faces FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park.

Match Facts

Kansas City Wizards (4-4-4) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-9)
March 30, 2009. Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary
KC – Davy Arnaud 4 (Herculez Gomez, Roger Espinoza) 84.
LA – Edson Buddle 1 (Landon Donovan, Dema Kovalenko) 87.

Cautions and Ejections
KC – Jimmy Conrad (caution: reckless foul) 47.
LA – AJ DelaGarza (caution: reckless tackle) 57.
LA – Gregg Berhalter (red card ejection: Denied goal-scoring opportunity) 59.
KC – Davy Arnaud (handball) 78.
KC – Lance Watson (caution: reckless tackle) 92+.

Lineups
Kansas City – Kevin Hartman, Lance Watson, Jimmy Conrad, Aaron Hohlbein, Matt Besler, Davy Arnaud, Jack Jewsbury, Kevin Souter (Roger Espinoza 61), Michael Harrington (Graham Zusi 61), Herculez Gomez (Abe Thompson 88), Claudio Lopez.

Substitutes not used: Boris Prado, Michael Kraus, Raushawn McKenzie, Kurt Morsink.

Los Angeles Galaxy – Donovan Ricketts, AJ DelaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, Mike Magee (Tony Sanneh 61), Dema Kovalenko, Josh Tudela, Eddie Lewis (Chris Klein 78), Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon (Edson Buddle 66).

Substitutes not used: Josh Saunders, Bryan Jordan, Jovan Kirovski, Stefani Miglioranzi,.

Statistical Summary:
KC / LA
Shots 11 13
Shots on goal 3 3
Saves 2 2
Corner Kicks 2 3
Offsides 2 1
Fouls 14 11


Officials

Referee: Terry Vaughn
Asst. Referees: Frank Anderson, Paul Scott
Fourth Official: Balderomo Toledo
Attendance: 19,673

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Abily, Boxx power Sol to 2-0 win over Saint Louis

Posted on 31 May 2009 by iyeo

The Los Angeles Sol and Saint Louis Athletica were riding hot streaks into its Women’s Professional Soccer match at the Home Depot Center on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams had won its last two matches, and in the end, it was the Sol who got to build on its streak, as goals from midfielders Camille Abily and Shannon Boxx provided the difference in Los Angeles’ 2-0 win over Saint Louis.

“We came out here and played very good soccer,” Boxx said. The Sol’s win, its sixth of the season, keeps them in first place in WPS and makes them the first team to 20 points. Los Angeles also widened the gap between them and the second place Boston Breakers by nine points. St. Louis falls to 2-3-2 and stays at eight points.

It’s good to win,” Sol head coach Abner Rogers said. “We created a lot of opportunities. We worked on not always needing to get forward and possessing the ball in which created the second goal by Boxx.”

The Sol (6-1-2) found the back of the net in the 35th minute. Marta fed a short pass to Boxx. Who charged in and let loose a quick cross to Abily, who waited for Solo to commit to stopping her shot before blasting one past Solo to the upper right net for her third goal of the season. Los Angeles got the insurance goal five minutes into the second half, as a run by Duan drew the Saint Louis defense towards her and Duan flicked a short ball to a wide open Boxx in the box. Boxx then blasted a shot past Solo to the far right post for her first goal of the season.

“(Coach) Abner (Rogers) feels very confident in me going forward,” Boxx, normally a defensive midfielder, said. “Huan played a great ball to me and made it very easy for me.”

Saint Louis Athletica had its own good looks at goal. None as best as the opportunity forward Eniola Aluko had in the first half, when she shot a ball that went past Sol goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and stayed in the box, but no other Athletica player was in position to put home the sitter and defender Allison Falk cleared the ball out of harm’s way. Another shot attempt by Athletica later in the first half was deflected by LeBlanc and again sat in the box, but no Athletica players were around to capitalize, and Sol cleared away another danger.

“Today was one of those games where we couldn’t get things going,” Athletica midfielder Lori Chalupny said. “When you play a team like LA, ou can’t afford to not play your best.”

Though the two teams met back on April 25, Saturday’s match marked the first meeting between the Sol’s three-time FIFA player of the year Marta and Athletica goalkeeper Hope Solo, considered the best goalkeeper in the world. A showdown between the two developed in the second half as Marta chased down a long-ball and broke for goal. Marta unleashed a shot on goal, but Solo got her right hand on the shot and directed it out of play.

The Sol will have little time to savor its win over Athletica, as it prepares for a midweek match against the Chicago Red Stars, who feature its own Brazilian superstar forward, Cristianne, as well as US National Team players Carli Lloyd, midfielder, and forward Lindsay Tarpley. Saint Louis Athletica will host troubled Sky Blue FC on June 7.

Match Facts

Saint Louis Athletica (2-3-2) vs. Los Angeles Sol (6-1-2)

March 30, 2009. Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary
LA – Camille Abily 3 (Marta, Shannon Boxx) 35
LA – Shannon Boxx 1 (Huan Duan) 50

Cautions and Ejections
None

Lineups:
Saint Louis Athletica – Hope Solo, Sara Larsson, Kia McNeill, Tina Ellertson, Angie Woznuk, Lori Chalupny, Francielle (Christie Welsh 75), Kendall Fletcher (Elise Weber 45), Niki Cross (Lisa Stoia 65), Kerri Hanks, Eniola Aluko.

Substitutes not used: Amanda Cinalli, Jillian Loyden.

Los Angeles Sol – Karina LeBlanc, Allison Falk, Martina Franko, Stephanie Cox, Manya Makoski, Shannon Boxx, Aya Miyama, Camille Abily, Brittany Bock (McCall Zerboni 86), Han Duan (Katie Larkin 87), Marta.

Substitutes not used: Val Henderson, Keri Sanchez, Liz Bogus, Johanna Frisk, Greer Barnes.

Statistical Summary:
STL/LA
Shots 8 16
Shots on goal 4 8
Saves 6 4
Corner Kicks 2 6
Offsides 1 3
Fouls 7 3


Officials

Referee: Kari Seitz
Asst. Referees: Veronica Perez; Bing Kongmehbol
Fourth Official: Felisha Mariscal
Attendance: 6288

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Casey Strikes Out Woeful Red Bulls

Posted on 31 May 2009 by arozsa

If there really is no place like home, the New York Red Bulls are in for an awfully long summer.

With seven out of their next nine upcoming games on the road, the Red Bulls finished off a four game home stand with a whimper, dropping a 3-2 decision to the Colorado Rapids at Giants Stadium Saturday night. Conor Casey enhanced his reputation as a Red Bulls killer, notching a goal in each half, with Mehdi Ballouchy slotting home a penalty kick which proved the eventual winner.

Juan Pablo Angel tallied his fourth goal of the season for the home side on a first half penalty kick. It was also his free kick that was cleaned up by second half substitute Danleigh Borman after being spilled by Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens.

It was a typical, hard fought English-style victory for Gary Smith’s side that left New York Red Bulls manager Juan Carlos Osorio more exasperated than impressed.

“There wasn’t too (much) sophistication in the game,” said Osorio after the game. “It was about getting it wide, putting it into our box and compete for the aerial ball.”

“Obviously, we didn’t defend it well…and we were harshly punished for it.”

New York certainly started the match brightly enough, however, and Angel will certainly rue his gilt-edged chance that fell to him in the first minute on a long cross from left back Alfredo Pacheco. Macoumba Kandji was finding room early as well, roaming behind the strikers at will and finding space.

The visitors quickly adjusted, however, as Colorado skipper Pablo Mastroeni and Nick LaBrocca began to occupy the early lanes the Red Bulls were finding. By the 20 minute mark they had wrested control of the midfield and the game, and Colin Clark’s 25th minute cross, a looping, searching far post effort, was superbly headed in the net by an unmarked Casey.

“Casey’s a great player,” said New York defender Kevin Goldthwaite. “You’ve got Brian Ching, Brian McBride…Casey’s one of those guys.”

For all the attention Casey should have been drawing, the Rapids were still looking for him at every opportunity. After initiating a counter attack with excellent hold up play, he nearly got on the end of another Clarke cross in the 38th minute.

The Red Bulls clawed their way back into the game by halftime though, as Corey Gibbs was whistled for what appeared to be a soft penalty on Dane Richards. The Jamaican had been played into the box by Angel and went to the turf to the dismay of players and coaching staff alike.

Angel coolly dispatched the penalty and the Red Bulls went to the locker room certainly feeling like they were in the running for all three points.

Almost beyond belief, it took Casey just under three minutes to get free again and give Colorado a lead they would not relinquish. Omar Cummings lashed in a hard cross across the six yard box, and an unmarked Casey glanced a header to the far post that left Jon Conway flat footed.

The goal was Casey’s 6th in his last two games at the Meadowlands, and even he was at a loss for why he had so much space.

“I can’t tell you why,” said Casey of his Big Apple goalscoring tear. “I just know that both games, I had a lot of opportunities and a good deal of space.”

After Casey’s second tally, Colorado’s physical midfield play and disciplined shape began to squeeze the life out of the game. The climb looked insurmountable after Albert Celades tripped up Cummings at the very corner of the penalty area.

“I personally feel it was a tough decision to swallow,” said Osorio, clearly reflecting the feelings of most of the twelve thousand plus in attendance.

New York did make a game of it eventually, adding Borman to the fray and pushing Kandji to the front line. The Senegalese had spent much of the game roaming in the midfield, but his slashing runs at Colorado defender Scott Palguta troubled the Rapids to the point where the defender was pulled 10 minutes from time.

After Borman’s 73rd minute goal, the Red Bulls had one chance to equalize through the dangerous Kandji, but the Rapids defense, as they were most of the night, were quick to pounce and snuff out the danger.

The loss leaves New York at 2-3-2 and rooted to the bottom of the table in the Eastern Conference They are now in serious danger of completely falling out of the race earlier than is usual in MLS, with a brutal road schedule looming.

“We are in a very difficult situation right now,” said Celades. “We were hoping to to obtain more than four points while we were at home…now we have to get those points away from home.”

Player Ratings (scale of 1-10 with 10 being best)

Conway – 5 – Nobody questions his shot stopping. But a goalkeeper who isn’t confident on crosses is in for a long night against this Rapids side.

Goldthwaite – 6 – Lost Casey on the second goal, but was typically solid most of the night. His inexperience at the position showed through at key times.

Petke – 5 – Fared well against McBride last week, dominated Kamara the week before, but was absolutely abused by Conor Casey tonight. Lost him on the first goal, and was beaten for easily 75% of aerials challenges, and was powerless when Casey had the ball with his back to goal.

Pacheco – 6 – Solid enough on defense, but didn’t have Terry Cooke to deal with. Lacks teeth going forward, and Osorio wasted no time pulling him to spark the attack.

Hall – 5 – The rookie was mostly solid on defense, but was specifically called out by his manager for allowing Colin Clarke the space to deliver several crosses. Gets forward repeated at the right times, only to be ignored by his teammates. Needs to start demanding the ball perhaps?

Celades – 6 – Struggled at times with the physical Rapids midfield. But his class shows at times, and perhaps he’ll take more of an assertive leadership role as the season wears on.

Stammler – 8 – MOTM match for NY in a losing effort. His distribution and comfort on the ball have improved to the point where you don’t even notice his motor…which is still superb.

Ubiparipovich – 6 – Looks quite dangerous, but is sorely lacking the instinct for the final ball. Needs to start getting on the score sheet in support of Angel and Kandji.

Kandji – 7 – Looked lively in the first 15 minutes before Pablo Mastoreni decided to show him the ropes. Pushed higher up the field late in the game, and perhaps should have been there the whole time. How often do you see a central defender get abused to the point where he gets pulled 10 minutes from time while his team nurses a lead?

Richards – 5 – So much speed but so little craft around the net. Was unable to work well in the midfield with Hall, but he’d better learn if he wants to stay in the lineup, because Kandji is far superior attacking the goal.

Angel – 5 – Disappointing for the Colombian. His free kick led to the goal, but he wasted several others late in the game shooting from near impossible angles. A physical centerback can take him out of the game, and Cory Gibbs was more than up to the task.

Substitutes

Sassano – 5 – Anonymous.

Borman – 7 – Quite lively, and is showing improved vision as he approaches goal. Opportunistic goal.

Wolyniec – 6 – Knocked down several balls late, and nearly helped Kandji create an equalizer. Supersub duty seems to suit him.

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Dynamo spoil DeRo return to Robertson

Posted on 31 May 2009 by ASN Staff

Brad Davis had a goal and an assist to pace the Houston Dynamo past Toronto FC at Robertson Stadium on Saturday night. With the victory, the Dynamo spoiled Dwayne DeRosario’s return to the place where he won two MLS titles.

Donald Buckholt reports from Houston and supplies game ratings for the Dynamo players.

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Casey brace sinks woeful Red Bulls

Posted on 31 May 2009 by ASN Staff

A pair of goals by Conor Casey, one in each half, put the visiting Colorado Rapids in the driver’s seat for a victory at Giants Stadium on Saturday night. If Juan Carlos Osorio wasn’t on the hot seat already, this game should put him there.

Adam Rozsa reports from East Rutherford, N.J., with match report and Red Bulls player ratings

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Twellman sparks Revs victory over DC

Posted on 31 May 2009 by mclaypool

This weekend saw the start of a rarity for the New England Revolution thus far this season – the start of two back-to-back home games. The New England Spring weather (often rainy and cold) was clear and in the 60s for a beautiful evening of soccer. Some key Revs starters are slowly emerging from injuries, allowing the Revs to feel, and play, more like the Revs of last season again. Add to the mix the formidable rivals in the DC United, whom the Revs had recently battled to a spirited 1-1 draw early this season, and you had the makings of a great soccer game.

The Revs lineup saw only one change from the previous week – the speedy Sainey Nyassi starting for Wells Thompson at midfield:

Keeper: Matt Reis
Defenders: Emmanuel Osei, Darrius Barnes, Jay Heaps, Kevin Alston
Midfielders: Sainey Nyassi, Jeff Larentowicz, Pat Phelan, Chris Tierney
Forwards: Shalrie Joseph, Steve Ralston

And the Revs-DC teams did not disappoint. Although on the road, DC often pushed the attack in the first half, pouncing on an early opportunity in the 36th minute with goal by Fred. Spirited exchanges took place on and off the ball, with good attacking and defending by both teams.

The complexity of the game changed immensely when an unfortunate soccer ball in the face forced Jeff Larentowicz off in the 25th minute, but saw forward Taylor Twellman make his first appearance since the last game of 2008. This move allowed Shalrie Joseph to shift back to midfield where he is more comfortable, helping lock down the center while still providing pushes forward. Twellman gave the Revs a true striker for the first time in many games (maybe all season), showing his instinct for finding space and attacking the goal early and often. Perhaps most importantly, the appearance of Twellman provided an emotional boost for the Revs, with many of the Revs responding to Twellman’s appearance with confident, forward play.

While the Revs were down 1-0 at half-time, the game had a different feel than previous Revs games. Last night, scoring the two goals needed for a victory seemed possible. And the Revs demonstrated this confidence in the second half, with Kenny Mansally coming in for Chris Tierney and providing some spark in his quick, mid-field runs down the flank. A beautiful cross by Mansally setup Joseph for the Revs first goal, tying the game. After that, although the Revs had more possession and kept the ball largely in the United half, they had few dangerous opportunities until Twellman was brought down in the box in the 91st
minute. This led to a penalty kick, taken and made by Steve Ralston for the go-ahead goal.

Final score: New England Revolution 2, DC United 1

The game provided a much needed victory for the Revs, not having won in six-weeks, much earlier in the season. DC must have felt the one-point for a tie was yanked from their grasp with the goal in stoppage time, especially since it came from a PK rewarded for a somewhat soft foul (but a foul, none-the-less) in the box. Still, this was perhaps the first game this season where the Revs had overall offense at least equivalent to their opponents, and more so in the second half, so coming away with 3 points suited the moment, at least
for Revs fans.

Ratings for the Revolution players on a Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), ranked from best to worst:

Taylor Twellman: 8.5
Phenomenal comeback game, with three early shots (headers) on goal, possession holding the ball with good service upfield. Consistently won the ball in the air. Fearless, despite some hard knocks and having just returned from injury. Only reason for a rating less than 9 is because he did not score, but goals are sure to come if his play continues.

Shalrie Joseph: 8
Started as forward, but back to his comfortable, dominant presence at mid-field for most of the game. Rating gets a boost from the header goal as a classic
finish after a series of exchanges in the attack.

Steve Ralston: 7.5
Creative, fluid play, with effective combinations with Twellman at forward. clearly positively impacting the Revs attack. Rating gets a small boost for converting his third penalty kick of the season.

Kenny Mansally: 7
A strong performance at left-midfield, showing a better fit for him than his forward positions earlier. Speed provided some dangerous attacks, coupled with some good dribbling. A few errant crosses, but a beauty set up the Joseph goal.

Kevin Alston: 7
Another strong presence at right defense, with a few attacking forays and one providing him a dangerous shot on goal.

Darrius Barnes: 7
Effectively shut down the middle for much of the game. Made a rare error in once allowing the defender behind him and another when awarded a yellow card.

Matt Reis: 7
A few great saves early on in the game. Not tested as much in the second half, but made the plays he needed to.

Jay Heaps: 7
Solid defensive play. Positioning effective for blocking shots, especially in the second half.

Emmanuel Osei: 6
Good at disrupting and challenging central attacks. Aggressive in the air. Turn-over from dribbling in the defensive end almost cost the Revs a goal.

Pat Phelan: 6
Improved performance in the mid-field with a bit of offense in addition to defense.

Chris Tierney: 5
Lost the ball on a few times a mid-field and did not provide particularly effective service. Was not quick enough to put home a throw-in that dropped by his feet in the 6-yard box.

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Galaxy to host Wizards

Posted on 30 May 2009 by iyeo

Another week, another effort by the Los Angeles Galaxy to pick up the full three points.

Following their seventh tie in eight matches last week at FC Dallas, the Galaxy will host the Kansas City Wizards Saturday night in the latter of a busy day for professional soccer at the Home Depot Center.

The Galaxy are actually unbeaten in their last eight matches, but have only won once during that stretch, a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on May 2. Los Angeles sits in a tie for fifth place with 11 points and a 1-1-8 record. The Galaxy’s latest draw in Texas last week actually saw them take the lead three minutes into the match on a Landon Donovan strike, his sixth of the season. FC Dallas however equalized in the 31st minute as Drew Moor successfully headed Dave Van Den Bergh’s corner kick into the back net. The Galaxy had several chances to add to its third-minute goal, but were unsuccessful.

Saturday’s match could perhaps be the last good chance for the Galaxy to get a win, as Donovan will leave the team shortly after the match for national team duty, starting with the Confederations Cup, which begins on June 14. The Galaxy will also have to make do without defender and 2008 MLS rookie of the year Sean Franklin, who was diagnosed with a torn hamstring tendon and is out for the rest of the season.

Kansas City’s 2009 season has produced mixed results. The Wizards lost their first two matches, came back with two straight wins and it’s been up and down ever since. Curt Onalfo’s team are 4-4-3 with 15 points, putting it in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Kansas City did play league-leading Chivas USA to a 1-1 draw at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on May 23. The Wizards are led by Josh Wolff’s six goals and Claudio Lopez’s four goals.

Saturday’s match isn’t the only soccer match to be played at the Home Depot Center. The Los Angeles Sol of Women’s Professional Soccer will host Saint Louis Athletica in the first leg of the doubleheader.

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Sol host Athletica in first leg of WPS-MLS doubleheader

Posted on 30 May 2009 by iyeo

Marta, here in action against Sky Blue, is perhaps the biggest attraction from both games

The Los Angeles Sol host Saint Louis Athletica in the first leg of a WPS/MLS doubleheader Saturday night at Home Depot Center. In the second leg, the LA Galaxy host the Kansas City Wizards (click link for preview of that game).

The Sol still sit atop first place in WPS with 17 points and a 5-1-2. The Sol’s latest win occured last Sunday against FC Gold Pride 2-0. Camille Abily scored the Sol’s first goal in the 27th minute on a penalty kick after midfielder Aya Miyama was fouled in the box on a breakaway. Sol forward Han Duan sealed the win with a strike in the 86th minute for her first goal of the season. The Sol were actually without midfielder Shannon Boxx and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, who were away on international duty, but both will be back in time for today’s match.

Saint Louis Athletica have started to show signs of life after a slow start. Athletica went winless in its first four matches of the season, but has bounced back with two straight wins. St. Louis’ first win came against FC Gold Pride on May 9 and Athletica followed the win with a 2-0 win over regional rival Chicago Red Stars. Athletica currently stands in fifth place with eight points and a 2-2-2 record. St. Louis is led by standout goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Lori Chalupny.

The Sol and Athletica have gotten to know each other quite well during the season’s first two months. The two teams played to a scoreless draw on April 25 at Robert R. Hermann Stadium in St. Louis. Los Angeles was missing Duan and Marta, both of whom were away on International duty. Shortly after the match, Los Angeles and St. Louis made a trade that saw the Sol send forward Chrstie Welsh and defender Kendall Fletcher to Athletica for future draft considerations.

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