Archive | October, 2010

Now and then: Blended player ratings

Posted on 30 October 2010 by pshea

The Rapids beat the Columbus Crew 1-0 on June 5 and again in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday night (October 28, 2010). The following player ratings for both games range from 1-10 (with 10 being highest).

Colorado Rapids

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Matt Pickens (7): Pickens came out punching in the second half and withstood the shooting gallery in the closing minutes.

JUNE 5, 2010: Matt Pickens (7): Pickens organized his back line again to secure the shutout. At one point in the first half, Pickens, Moor, and Julien Baudet were very vocal and combative with their organization.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Drew Moor (8): Moor ruled the air on Thursday, including a nail-biting head clearance after a goal-line save from Pickens and before a boot to the face from Andy Iro.

JUNE 5, 2010: Drew Moor (8): “I think it went right over Scotty’s head,” Moor said of the free kick for the goal. “He had a couple bigger guys on him, and I was with one of their smaller guys, which benefited me. And Jamie put it into the perfect spot.”

Moor explained the first-half dispute with Baudet and Pickens. “When we’re on the field,” Moor said. “it’s a war. We’re in battle. It’s important that we keep each other on our toes. We’re a competitive bunch.”

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Julien Baudet, one minute (NR)

JUNE 5, 2010: Julien Baudet, 76 minutes (6): Baudet played solid at the back, crunching tackles and only handling the ball loosely once in the second half instead of finding Marvell Wynne on the wing.

JUNE 5, 2010: Scott Palguta, 15 minutes (5): Palguta maintained the shutout, and he attracted attention for the goal.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Marvell Wynne (6): Wynne stayed close to home on Thursday and helped limit the primary Crew attackers to four shots.

JUNE 5, 2010: Marvell Wynne (6): Wynne didn’t attack much, pushing the ball too far on one dribble to the endline in the box. But he didn’t let the Crew get behind him (except for Schelotto’s golden opportunity later in the game).

JUNE 5, 2010: Danny Earls (6): Earls bobbled the ball at different times throughout the game, but overall he was steady.

JUNE 5, 2010: Mehdi Ballouchy, (6): Ballouchy had creative touches all night.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Pablo Mastroeni (8): Mastroeni scored the game-winner and made more than a dozen runs beyond the strikers’ position to catch the Crew off-guard and open space for teammates.

“If we can get players beyond midfield, it throws them on their heels,” Mastroeni explained. “Once we got back there, our wing play gave us possession and allowed us to get further into the attack. That’s what we tried to do in the first half. But unfortunately we were unable to capitalize on all the chances we created.”

Cummings leaked free on successive plays early in the game, sending a number of passes on a silver platter for Casey and others. In the 23rd minute, Cummings found himself streaking down the right side again, and Casey snaked through the defenders’ blindsides and crashed to the ball at the near post. With a half-dummy, half-flick, Casey distracted the defense and allowed the ball to roll across the goalmouth for a sliding Mastroeni to put away.

JUNE 5, 2010: Pablo Mastroeni (5): The captain lashed out at Lenhart and created a hole in the Rapids midfield for their midweek visit to Chicago. Other than a sloppy square ball that could have easily turned into a goal, Mastroeni paired with Larentowics to dominate central midfield. (Red card, however).

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Jeff Larentowicz (7): Larentowicz took more shots than anyone on the field, and he paired again with Mastroeni to deny easy passage up the middle.

JUNE 5, 2010: Jeff Larentowicz (6): Larentowicz stabilized midfield and maintained possession. For much of the game, the Rapids worked the ball laterally through midfield and along the back line. But it was hard to penetrate.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Wells Thompson, 75 minutes (7): Thompson placed all the corner kicks well, and worked hard on the flanks to penetrate while keeping Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers from attacking much. Thompson and Brian Mullan switched frequently and fluidly.

JUNE 5, 2010: Wells Thompson, 60 minutes (7): Thompson cleverly collected a slip pass from Jamie Smith in the box and then cut it back to Omar Cummings in front of the net. But Cummings pinged the post.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Brian Mullan (8): From the opening play to the final whistle, Mullan had a complete performance. Like Thompson, he limited the Crew flank players, yet he also cut inside frequently to take shots and slip passes to a darting Omar Cummings.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Macoumba Kandji, 15 minutes (5): The ball didn’t bounce Kandji’s way much as the visitors pressed for the final half-hour.

JUNE 5, 2010: Colin Clark, (5): “I thought he put in a fabulous shift,” Smith said.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Conor Casey (6): When Macoumba Kandji replaced Wells Thompson, the Crew increased attacking pressure and tackled the ball with more success. Casey and Omar faded for most of this time period, although they pushed appropriately in the final minutes to secure the shutout. Casey cleared three free kicks with his head on defense, in addition to three shots for the night.

JUNE 5, 2010: Conor Casey (5): “I just didn’t think it was working,” Smith said of substituting Conor Casey. “For the first time in a long time, they had him bottled up. It was really difficult for him.”

“It’s a quick turnaround,” Casey said of the upcoming match in Chicago on June 9. “We want to keep our momentum.”

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Omar Cummings (8): Cummings raced behind the Crew defense in regular waves throughout the first half, particularly past Shaun Francis on the right wing. The goal was one of many occasions for Cummings on the flank early in the game. But Cummings didn’t see much of the ball toward the end of the game.

JUNE 5, 2010: Omar Cummings (6): Cummings had defenders on edge, but other than his first-half blast that Hesmer saved, his attacks and shots were not threatening. He hit the right post off a Wells Thompson pass in front of the goal, stepping ahead of defensive pressure.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Coach Gary Smith (6): “We took the game to them. You’ve seen a group of players that emptied the kitchen sink and played a good 45 minutes of football. And disappointingly didn’t get their just desserts. I thought we deserved more. Wells came in and did a fabulous job [for Jamie Smith]. The midfield in general was so competitive. They’ve given us such a good foundation to work from. They [Crew] are a talented, deep squad. There are players in that group that are very capable.”

Columbus Crew

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Andy Gruenebaum (5): The Rapids put only two shots on goal, and Gruenebaum’s defenders were especially diligent, blocking five attempts all night. Experiencing his first MLS minutes of 2010, Gruenebaum’s games in other competitions seemed to rust-proof him somewhat. He bobbled only once. He handled all the high balls and didn’t do any Santa Claus distribution.

JUNE 5, 2010: William Hesmer (6): Moor’s goal would challenge any goalkeeper, and Hesmer saved a blast from Omar Cummings in the 36th minute (a lefty from the top of the box).

JUNE 5, 2010: Eric Brunner, 55 (5): Brunner had one mistouch that forced him to clear the ball in the first half, but for the most part he helped neutralize Colin Clark and keep the scoreline knotted at nothing.

JUNE 5, 2010: Jeb Zayner, 45 (4): Zayner replaced Brunner shortly after halftime, and he was rumored to be more of an attacking back. But he didn’t push forward, and he didn’t attack the ball when Drew Moor scored the game-winner.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Andy Iro (7): Iro limited Casey’s chances and helped sequester the striker during the Crew’s closing minutes.

JUNE 5, 2010: Andy Iro (7): Iro dominated the air, and he joined with Marshall to muscle Casey out of his game.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Chad Marshall (7): Marshall forced Pickens to make a save in the 77th minute, and he spent the rest of the game preventing similar chances on the other end.

JUNE 5, 2010: Chad Marshall (7): Working with Iro, Marshall cooled off one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the league. Marshall was tough in the air and on the ground.

JUNE 5, 2010: Gino Padula (5): Padula managed Cummings and stepped up into the attack.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Eddie Gaven (6): Gaven again sparked the most attacks for the Crew, although Schelotto delivered a number of well-weighted passes. Perhaps the Crew defenders deserve the credit, but Gaven never slowed down a quick counterattack from Columbus.

JUNE 5, 2010: Eddie Gaven (7): Gaven was the most creative midfielder for the Crew, spinning strawlike situations into golden opportunities. Gaven stole Mastroeni’s square ball and orchestrated the visitors’ best chance of the night.

JUNE 5, 2010: Adam Moffat (5): Moffat kept shape for the Crew in midfield, but his contributions were limited.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Robbie Rogers (5): Rogers didn’t have chances (no delivery and no dominance over his defenders).

JUNE 5, 2010: Robbie Rogers (6): Rogers shows the speed and spark to be dangerous, but he didn’t find opportunity against a well-positioned Colorado defense.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Guillermo Barros Schelotto, 68 minutes (5): Some of Schelotto’s passes were picture-perfect, but every challenge for the ball went the way of the Rapids. Warzycha replaced his engine and transmission when the warranty seemed about to run out in the 68th minute.

JUNE 5, 2010: Guillermo Barros Schelotto (5): Creative one-touches and attacks, but Schelotto missed a golden opportunity late in the game. Mastroeni slid a sloppy square ball through midfield, and Eddie Gaven stole the ball and sprinted toward goal. Gaven cut the ball to Steve Lenhart, who rolled it to Schelotto left of center but deep in the box. Schelotto fired the shot high over the bar.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Andres Mendoza, 22 minutes (5): Mendoza didn’t shoot or touch the ball very much, but his arrival on the field coincided with the Crew resurgence.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Steven Lenhart (4): Lenhart pushed hard to create chances out of limited chances, committing two fouls and failing to shoot at all.

JUNE 5, 2010: Steven Lenhart (6): Lenhart worked for opportunities, but he didn’t get a lot of service.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Jason Garey, 22 minutes (5): Like Mendoza, Garey didn’t take a shot, but he wasn’t one of the victims when Jair Marrufo’s whistle started to take on a hurricane-like shrillness for Rapids fans in the closing minutes.

JUNE 5, 2010: Emilio Renteria, minutes (4): Fouled Colin Clark moments after a hand-of-god attempt in the box.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Emmanuel Ekpo (4): Ekpo was involved in a lot of plays early in the game, usually on the losing end of the duels. He ran the full 90, but not effectively.

JUNE 5, 2010: Emmanuel Ekpo (6): Ekpo sparked the Crew attack when he came on, pressuring Danny Earls and creating fan anxiety.

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Brian Carroll, 84 minutes (4): Carroll uncorked a couple shots, but otherwise his foul on Kosuke Kimura on the flank was the only notable contribution.

OCTOBER 28, 2010:Kevin Burns, six minutes (NR):

JUNE 5, 2010: Mike Lapper, NR: “It came down to individual duels,” Lapper said. “I thought we did well tonight, but sometimes it’s a cruel game.” “We’re passing the ball well, but we need to work on finishing.”

OCTOBER 28, 2010: Rob Warzycha (NR): He didn’t expect to see any more from Lenhart and Schelotto for the night, and Mendoza and Garey didn’t contribute much individually, but they helped increased the intensity and create chances.

JUNE 5, 2010: Rob Warzycha, NR: The coach stayed home to celebrate a high school gradation, but he kept in touch on the phone throughout the game, including halftime.

Comments (0)

Rapids captain surges forward

Posted on 29 October 2010 by pshea

The pregame calculus for the visiting Columbus Crew at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Thursday night required special surveillance for Colorado’s Omar Cummings and Conor Casey. But relentless attacking from Pablo Mastroeni gave the Rapids a 1-0 victory and altered the equation in the two-game series.

Mastroeni scored the game-winner and made more than a dozen runs beyond the strikers’ position to catch the Crew off-guard and open space for teammates.

“If we can get players beyond midfield, it throws them on their heels,” Mastroeni explained. “Once we got back there, our wing play gave us possession and allowed us to get further into the attack. That’s what we tried to do in the first half. But unfortunately we were unable to capitalize on all the chances we created.”

Cummings leaked free on successive plays early in the game, sending a number of passes on a silver platter for Casey and others. In the 23rd minute, Cummings found himself streaking down the right side again, and Casey snaked through the defenders’ blindsides and crashed to the ball at the near post. With a half-dummy, half-flick, Casey distracted the defense and allowed the ball to roll across the goalmouth for a sliding Mastroeni to put away.

Noting how the momentum shifted when Robert Warzycha replaced Steven Lenhart and Guillermo Barros Schelotto with Jason Garey and Andres Mendoza in the 68th minute, Mastroeni said, “They had their opportunities late in the second half.”

In fact, the visitors took six of their nine shots after the Rapids had taken their fifteenth and final shot of the night in the 63rd minute. The end of the game looked like a tide-shifting march toward the aggregate goal total to determine who advances to the Eastern Conference finals. The teams face again next Saturday afternoon in Columbus.

Comments (0)

Moreno scores as DC United loses finale 3-2

Posted on 24 October 2010 by Chris Snear

He did the best he could to make it off the field without his emotions taking over and getting the best of him, the emotions of playing the last game on this field for this club that has been his home and family for basically 15-years.

“When I left the field and I saw my kids crying, that’s when it hit me, I realized it’s now over and I also realize how much they care and suffer in every game. I broke down when I saw that,” said Moreno about the culmination of his brilliant and record setting career with DC United.

Moreno’s son James, after leaving the field, sat quietly, crying at his father’s locker stall waiting for him to come back and take that black DC United uniform off for the last time.

“I never thought it was going to be this hard and I didn’t know what to expect to be honest,” said Moreno. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a family because this is pretty devastating but I wasn’t prepared for this moment and I didn’t know what to expect.”

The 3-2 loss, even after taking the lead just 2-minutes into the match on a goal by his friend Santino Quaranta, was an afterthought. But perhaps most fittingly, Moreno later created and then scored the final goal of his career on a penalty kick to regain the lead in the 39th minute.

With that goal (133), Moreno jumped ahead of Jeff Cunningham for the all time league scoring mark and his 44 penalty kicks are by far the most in league history.

“Hittin’ into a hand for a PK, people think ‘lucky’ uh-no, not with him,” said United coach and Moreno’s former teammate Ben Olsen. “He does that stuff and he’s been doing that stuff for years and it’s a beautiful ending for him but I just wish we could have put it together.”

United goalkeeper Troy Perkins sent an immediate long ball down the left side aimed directly at Moreno for a quick counter. After collecting the ball with his typical fluidity and with a bit of perfect irony Moreno’s cross to Pablo Hernandez was inexplicably intercepted by the arm of Toronto Midfielder Julian de Guzman for the obvious penalty kick.

With very little to show for and justify his $1.7 million contract, de Guzman is exactly what Moreno never was-unproductive.

After picking up the ball and walking to the penalty spot, Moreno was met by goalkeeper Milos Kocic, who played with United a year ago.

“He was asking me where I was going to kick it. And I said you are going to have to guess,” said Moreno, managing a quick smile.

Kocic guessed right, extending hard to his left but still couldn’t get to another perfectly placed penalty from Moreno.

“He said he was going to chip him but I guess he had to shoot that one. He goes out on top again,” said a laughing Quaranta referring to the scoring title. “It’s important to me and I think it’s important to him but the way Jaime is, probably not.”

Though 10-years his junior, Quaranta formed a close relationship with Moreno who helped the young talent get through issues with drugs, alcohol and subsequent depression. So when Quaranta scored that first, he made a bee line to his friend.

“I love him. He’s like a brother to me. We’ve spent a lot of time (together) and he has done so many things for me and there is nobody else I wanted to see but him,” said Quaranta.

“We have seen this over and over and over. There is nobody like him; he turns, he cuts and I was watching him in the beginning and I was forgetting to run sometimes. He is the best player I have ever played with.”

United giving up the lead twice and subsequently losing was par for the year for this team but did not diminish the moment. And scoring that goal was no consolation for arguably the best player in the history of Major League Soccer.

“You guys know me I would have preferred to walk away with a win,” Moreno said. “Unfortunately we continue to make mistakes and we get punished and that has been our luck all year. It’s hard to explain the frustration that we have; we fall asleep 2-seconds and they always score so we never get the breaks.”

“It felt like it but in a lot of ways it sums up the season,” Olsen added. “Look, we are not good enough but saying that it’s important to put that aside and appreciate Jaime and once again he saves a little bit of magic for the last night and several times he looked the Jaime that we all know and love and has treated us to so many good memories, classy stuff.”

Speaking for Moreno’s teammates Olsen added, “They are gutted because they wanted to send Jaime out with a win, the goal helps, but certainly they wanted to send Jaime out.”

Comments (0)

RSL = Rapids Sorry Late

Posted on 23 October 2010 by pshea

Many reporters had their stories written five or 10 minutes before the final whistle at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night, but Real Salt Lake scored twice in stoppage time to turn an impending shutout loss into a 2-2 tie.

If you want to read a mythical story line scripted eight hours before kickoff*, scroll below the Player Ratings. In the meantime, here’s the “Real” story.

The Rocky Mountain Cup heads back to Salt Lake City for another year, despite a subpar showing. Head coach Jason Kreis, defender Nat Borchers, and captain Kyle Beckerman didn’t hesitate to denigrate their performance overall.

“We didn’t come out with enough energy,” Borchers said, “and we lost the ball a lot. Frankly, this was one of our worst performances of the year.”

“I thought the effort was not there in the first half,” Kreis said, noting how he thought his players had a “tremendous reaction” to his halftime request for more committed defending and taking care of the ball.

“We have to play better in the playoffs,” captain Beckerman explained.

Although he was disappointed with the turn of events at the close of the game, Colorado head coach Gary Smith was quick to praise his top two goal-scorers (Omar Cummings and Conor Casey).

Player Ratings

Colorado Rapids

Rapids player ratings on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best:

Matt Pickens (3): Despite three saves and a solid performance overall, Pickens was too casual with the ball when Alvaro Saborio blocked his clearance and scored the first goal for the visitors in the closing moments of stoppage time.

Drew Moor (7): Moor had another solid night, performing his defensive duties and getting forward for set pieces too.

Marvell Wynne (7): Wynne’s speed secured the Rapids defense, and he didn’t give any gifts to the visitors.

Kosuke Kimura (8): Kimura won individual duals (offensively and defensively), and he served a perfect cross for Conor Casey’s goal in the 51st minute. Coach Kreis condemned his players for not handling basic plays like the throw-in on the right side that led to the Rapids’ second goal. Kimura tossed it to Mastroeni and took the one-touch return pass forward before launching a curling cross off Casey’s diving head. In the 71st minute, Kimura raced Morales for the ball not far from midfield. Instead of positioning for a tackle, Kimura ran through the play and rifled a long shot not too far wide of the goal.

Anthony Wallace, 84 minutes (7): Wallace overlapped to receive the ball from Jamie Smith in the 16th minute, firing a low, hard cross into the box for Cummings to caress into the corner with his left foot.

Julien Baudet, 6 minutes (NR): Baudet didn’t get a chance to do much during the final turn of events.

Pablo Mastroeni, (8): The captain teamed with Jeff Larentowicz to give Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales as few opportunities as possible. The two visiting midfielders took one shot apiece, and they didn’t get much time on the ball.

Jeff Larentowicz (7): Larentowicz applied relentless pressure and uncorked a couple shots.

Jamie Smith, 45 minutes (5): Smith said his hamstring felt tight at halftime, forcing coach Smith to insert Wells Thompson early.

Brian Mullan, (3): Before the final play of the game, Mullan was MVP material worthy of a “7” or “8.” He ran down every hopeless cause, and he almost put the Rapids up 3-0 immediately after Casey’s goal. Instead of backing off, Mullan ran through a play and tackled the ball forward, cut past Beckerman, continued running with the ball, and fired a low shot just wide of the left post. But with millimoments to play, he fouled Morales unnecessarily on the flank, ran back into the crowd in the penalty box, and then fouled Jamison Olave with an improbably powerful wrestling move. A stellar performance ended with the game tied off a penalty from Mullan’s mistake.

Wells Thompson (6): Thompson added energy in the second half.

Omar Cummings, (6): You can’t blame Cummings for much. He put one of his four shots in the goal, a deft redirection with his left foot off a cross from Anthony Wallace in the 16th minute. If anything, the Jamaican goal machine held the ball too long in crowded situations, perhaps killing off a few more opportunities.

Conor Casey, 64 minute (7): Casey’s goal was the result of sheer determination and agility. Sandwiched between two defenders, he dove sideways to redirect the ball past Rimando.

Macoumba Kandji (8): Kandji replaced Conor Casey in the 64th minute, and he didn’t get a lot of lucky bounces during his 26 minutes on the field (no shots, and not very many chances on the ball with space and time).

Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake player ratings on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best:

Nick Rimando (6): Rimando snagged a few high balls and finished with one save (Larentowicz in the 85th minute). His defenders blocked four shots on-goal as well.

Robbie Russell (6): Russell played tough on Conor Casey and anyone else who visited his area.

Nat Borchers (7): Borchers cleared the ball to conclude a Halloween-scary sequence for the visitors in the 76th minute. Colorado’s Anthony Wallace completed a clever give-and-go with Omar Cummings on the left wing and pushed the ball to the endline before crossing it on the ground to Brian Mullan. Mullan fired a shot off Chris Wingert, and Borchers cleared Mullan’s ensuing cross in the box.

Jamison Olave (6): Olave matched Casey’s physical presence, and Olave’s positioning in the penalty box (specifically, on his back) was a critical component of the game-tying goal.

Chris Wingert (8): Wingert played tough in the back and saved a sure goal in the 76th minute.

Javier Morales (7): Morales gave the extra edge to Real Salt Lake’s attack, but he didn’t have many opportunities. He forced Pickens to make a save in the closing moments of the first half.

Ned Grabavoy, 29 minutes (5): Other than earning a yellow card for hacking Kosuke Kimura after getting burned on the flank, Grabavoy didn’t do much.

Andy Williams, 61 minutes (6): Williams raced to the endline with the ball on his last play before being subbed, slipping a dangerous pass into the box that might have forced Kreis to reconsider his substitution plan if the visitors had scored.

Kyle Beckerman (7): Although Beckerman didn’t find much space or time on the ball, he played steady in the middle.

Will Johnson, 76 minutes (4): Perhaps too much mileage lately has wilted Will’s legs. He took a shot in the 68th minute, but he was largely ineffective.

Collen Warner, 14 minutes (NR)

Robbie Findley, 61 minutes (4): Findley managed merely one shot during his time on the field.

Alvaro Saborio (8): Seemingly dressed like a ghost for Halloween, Saborio slipped unnoticed all night, putting four of five shots on goal and scoring both tallies in the final moments. “He always gets a sniff,” captain Beckerman said of Saborio, recalling a similar goal against Columbus earlier in the season. Saborio chased a lost cause, deflected a nonchalant clear from Pickens, and followed the play as Pickens raced back to get the bouncing ball. Pickens ended up in the net like a tuna when the ball bounced off the crossbar, and Saborio fired it in from inches out. Saborio calmly scored the tying goal with a penalty kick moments later.

+++++++++

*this is not real. This was written in speculation eight hours before kickoff…

RSL = Rapids Spoil Legacy

With a 7-0 victory, the Colorado Rapids spoiled seven measures of success for Real Salt Lake at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night. To wit:

  1. The Rocky Mountain Cup returns to the east side of the Continental Divide.
  2. The Supporters’ Shield goes to the gaLAxy.
  3. The Houston Dynamo retain the MLS goals-against record of 23 (set in 2007).
  4. The Kansas City Wizards retain the MLS road-goals-against record of 16 (set in 2000).
  5. The Wizards keep their shutout record too (16, also set in 2000)
  6. D.C. United (2007) and the San Jose Earthquakes (2005) will continue to share the MLS best goal-differential of plus-22.
  7. RSL will face a higher-seeded opponent when the playoffs begin.

+++++++++

Comments (0)

Jaime Moreno wraps up extraordinary career Saturday

Posted on 21 October 2010 by Chris Snear

Jaime Moreno came to DC United from Middlesbrough in England in 1996 fully expecting to return one day to the soccer’s big time. Fifteen years later he is finally leaving.

But he is leaving with an unmatched legacy as perhaps the best player in the history of Major League Soccer and as one of Washington’s most decorated athletes in decades, if not the most decorated.

“It was pretty new, and I just wanted to play,” said Moreno. “I was in England, and I didn’t have a chance to play too many games so I decided to come to this league because I thought, it’s a brand new league, I might have a better chance to play and grow as a person and as a player.

“Always in my mind, it was just stay a couple years, get better and go back to Europe. Obviously, it didn’t happen; definitely, I made a good impression. Every other year, it was signing, and signing longer contracts until I realized it was 15 years later, and I’m still here. That’s how life goes.”

He was just 22-years old when he first caught the eye of then United coach Bruce Arena, making not just one, but two scintillating moves around one of his best defenders and also scoring a goal in the 2nd minute of Bolivia’s 2-0 win against the United States in a U.S. Cup match at RFK Stadium.

“I remember seeing Jaime blow by [former United defender Jeff) Agoos when Bolivia came into town at RFK,” said United assistant coach Mark Simpson, who was the starting goalkeeper for United’s first championship in 1996. “The next thing you know, not even a month later, he was here and making his mark on this team and history and MLS.”

“I do remember. It’s just because Jeff is my friend, and I just don’t want to keep mentioning it over and over,” added a laughing Moreno.

Moreno, 36, despite limited minutes over the last couple of years is still the only player in MLS history to record over 100 goals and 100 assists and is still tied for the league’s all time goal scoring lead (132) with Jeff Cunningham, who caught up with him earlier this month.

He still regrets not returning to England, which is where his wife Louise is from, or some other major European league but in the end he chose responsibility over selfishness and stayed where his overall situation was good.

“I wasn’t good enough,” joked Moreno. “You gotta have good connections and life was good here. My kids were born here, and we just felt comfortable. Later, I kind of fell short in my career, so it was something that I’m always going to regret.

“At the same time, I can’t be ungrateful, because I have a great career, a great family, a good place to live and a lot of friends. I’m pretty blessed. Not everybody has that luxury of staying that many years in one team. I do realize that, and I’m always going to be thankful.”

It’s a rare occurrence in sports where one player stays in one place and has this great an impact on one franchise for so long. Technically, he does not have full “tenure” because as many sometimes forget, he spent the 2003 season in New York. But he is still the symbol of greatness for what this club used to be so it’s no accident that every trophy DC United has won has been with Moreno as a key figure.

“But the league is evolving,” said former teammate and current United coach Ben Olsen. “And it’s tough to tell if this will happen again, a guy like him coming in this league, staying this long and producing as much as he has, and also, holding as much silverware as he has.

‘That’s the thing, to me, we can talk about his goals and his being one of the best players. But to me, this team has only won championships with Jaime. That says a lot.”

Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs comes to mind when Washington Capital’s goaltender Olaf Kolzig and Washington Redskins corner back Darryl Green are the only other local athletes of tenure with only Green’s accolades even coming close to comparing to Moreno’s. Making it even greater is that MLS is now old enough to enjoy a bit of reverence and nostalgia as Moreno, and another great player, Chicago’s Brian McBride, bid farewell.

Green was on two of the Redskins three Super Bowl winning teams, was voted to the Pro Bowl seven times, All Pro four times, was voted onto the NFL’s 1990’s All Decade Team and of course, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008. His 20-years with the Redskins is tied for most seasons with one NFL team.

Kolzig played 12 full seasons with the Capitals, won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in
2000 and was the team’s starting goalkeeper in their only Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1998.

As they have come and gone, so have others. Norv Turner was the coach of the Redskins with Gus Frerotte and Heath Shuler as his quarterbacks when Moreno arrived and they have gone through countless more since. The Capitals and Washington Bullets were still playing at the Capital Center.

The Bullets leading scorer was Chris Webber in a lineup that also included Juwan Howard, Calbert Cheaney, Rod Strickland, Gheroghe Muresan and a guy named Ben Wallace deep on the bench, who left to win four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and a championship with Detroit in 2004…bad personnel decisions seem to follow all of the teams in the city apparently?

If you really break it down, the only Washington stars that really can compare to Moreno’s accomplishments are the Washington Senators Walter “The Big Train” Johnson and more recently, the Capital’s Alexander Ovechkin.

The latter is arguably the best in the world, has won all the individual honors he can win multiple times, is a true mega star but lacks one thing-a championship. Johnson played 21 seasons, all with the Senators from 1907-27, and won 417 games (second all time to Cy Young) with a career 2.17 era and his 110 shutouts are an all time record.

“It’s been kind of fast, actually, when I look back, and where I’m at it’s like, time flies, and I wish I was a little younger so I could still play , but that’s how life is. You gotta move on and see what’s my future.” Moreno said.

But to compare his career to others from another sport, Baltimore Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray and Redskin wider receiver James Arthur Monk, both Hall of Famers, are the best comparisons not necessarily for their statistical production but for their professionalism, standard of excellence and demeanor in this ‘look at me, me, me’, highlight reel seeking world of sports.

Murray garnered the most MVP votes in Major League history without actually winning the award but did what all the great ones do in all sports-he produced when it mattered most, at the critical times of a game or season.

Monk led the league in receptions (940) and also in consecutive games with a reception (183) when he retired in 1995 and was selected to the NFL’s 1980’s All Decade team.

But the one compelling trait of all three of these special players is that they neither enjoyed nor reveled in the spotlight-it was always about production.

Simpson’s fondest memory of Moreno came from that inaugural 1996 MLS Cup match. Lost in the bitter cold conditions and subsequent euphoria of the Eddie Pope game winning goal, was that Moreno drew all three fouls that led to all of United’s goals.

“He’s a very competitive guy, but a lot of those championships, he wanted to win them, but he put his stamp on the game. He’s done it in the games. He’s taken over games in those types of situations,” said Olsen. “There’s been nobody who’s been more valuable at this club, and it’s a sad day to see him go. But these things have to happen eventually, and hopefully, it’s a celebration this weekend and a positive spin on all the great things he’s done for this club.”

Moreno was a 5-time MLS Best XI, 8-time MLS All Star while only leading the league in goal scoring once (1997). But shockingly, he was never voted as the league MVP, despite seeing three of his former teammates win the award along the way-Marco Etcheverry, Christian Gomez, Luciano Emilio-some deserved and some not.

“The true fans understand it but he is not out and about screaming his own name-that’s me,” Olsen said with a chuckle. “If I had Jaime’s talent, I’d be on every commercial in this city. I’d have more Euromotor car commercials.”

“How should he be remembered in this community? Again, he’s been under the radar in the mainstream media in this community, unfortunately,” Olsen continued more seriously. “Now, in the Latin community, I think he’s going to be remembered very fondly, and as the legend he should be.

“But you know how the media is around here – we’re not always front page. He’s never been one to scream his name out loud to people. It’s a credit to him, and I’ve always admired that in him. He did what he did on the field, and he spoke on the field, and it was a beautiful thing.”

His career can be broken down into two segments-pre and post injuries. The 2002 season saw numerous, nagging leg injuries but the most severe were the two herniated discs in his back that nearly forced an early retirement and his trade to New York for Mike Petke and other considerations.

In his first go around, and what most likely attracted the suitors from England, Moreno could run at full speed with the ball, one of the rarest of skills and most difficult to defend. But he was always a savvy decision maker on and off the ball with great vision, which is what carried him through his second act as his legs failed him and the speed diminished.

“He was always a smart player. He didn’t have to be as smart when he had his legs but as he got a little older, the intelligence that he already had was heightened, said Olsen. ““There’s been practices where he’s literally walked through it because he has that sense of soccer that a lot of kids don’t have in this country.

“You think back to guys like [Carlos] Valderrama, and it’s like, how do these guys know there’s someone coming on my back, or how did he know that guy was there? He’s got that sense, and it’s produced magic.”

If he can be criticized for one thing however, even in England to some degree, it is that he often was not in the best of condition upon arriving at training camp which may have contributed to his injuries. “He ate too many fish and chips over there,” joked friend and teammate Santino Quaranta.

In response, he hired a personal trainer back in 2004, who works with many of the Redskins as well, to keep him committed and get his body ready for the interminable MLS season.

His one passion, outside of his family, away from the field is playing golf. He teased the low 80’s several years ago (I was a golf pro in my other life so I kind of know his game!) but gets it around in the low 90’s with the ability to occasionally sneak a round back in the mid-to-high 80’s.

Perhaps his most memorable, or dubious, moment on the golf course was turning the corner and hitting friend, and former United teammate Richie Williams with the cart and cutting him wide open.

All told, Moreno is the symbol of the greatness and what DC United once was but no longer is-an elite team and franchise. Even he could not undo the trail of bad personnel decisions, mediocre talent around him and couldn’t do anything to influence the calamitous stadium situation.

United’s methods and ideas are stale, all based on the past and what used to be for this club and Moreno’s departure may be culmination of this debacle they have created for themselves. Fortunately for Moreno, though he departs at a team low, he will only be remembered for his greatness.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

RSL set numerous records in convincing 2-0 victory over Dallas

Posted on 17 October 2010 by Patrick McShane

Saturday night was a battle between two seemingly unmovable forces, when Real Salt Lake overpowered FC Dallas 2-0 to remain the Supporters’ Shield race and to join the 2005 San Jose Earthquakes as the only two teams in MLS history to go undefeated at home during the regular season. Though the early minutes of the match seemed to be a defensive grudge match, RSL were able to step up the tempo in the second half and pull away from Dallas in front of a record-setting home crowd of 20,236.

“It’s the first time this year that someone’s been that aggressive on our field in the first 15-20 minutes of the match,” noted RSL coach Jason Kreis. “I walk away from this game and probably feel the most proud about shutting out what’s a very, very good and dangerous attacking team.”

Veteran midfielder Ned Grabavoy earned his third goal of the season as he broke the deadlock in the 59th minute with a looping header over the top of Dallas keeper Dario Sala. While RSL created a number of offensive opportunities in the second half, one would be hard-pressed to have guessed that it would be Grabavoy who would score the game winner. Said Grabavoy: “I think I was just in a better spot. It was one of those balls where he is kind of backpedaling and I am seeing it the whole time. So I was kind of in the right spot at the right time.“

Dallas continued to press throughout the second half, but seemed to run out of gas while RSL’s midfield began to get a lock on the run of play and maintained the pressure on the Dallas back line. Things started to look worse for Dallas in the 83rd minute when physical defender Ugo Ihemelu was subbed out for young attacker Ruben Luna. Seeing that Ihemelu was largely responsible for neutralizing the RSL attack up to that point, one had to know that another goal was in the cards.

It took just six minutes for RSL to exploit the substitution when Andy Williams found substitute Robbie Findley open on the left wing for a free run on goal. Rather than try to force a shot from a tough angle, Findley wisely passed the ball to Javier Morales who casually knocked the ball past an onrushing Sala. With the goal, Morales now stands in second place on RSL’s scoring chart for the season with seven goals and he continues to press for MLS MVP consideration.

With only one road match remaining, RSL find themselves on the precipice of setting a number team and MLS records by seasons end. Having only given up 18 goals on the season, RSL needs to simply avoid a catastrophic letdown against their Rocky Mountain rivals next Saturday to set the MLS record for fewest goals allowed in a season. Additionally, if the team holds to form and secures a shutout next week, they will also set the MLS record for fewest road goals allowed in a season.

Even though the Colorado Rapids secured a playoff berth with a stunning 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy, they will still have pride and the Rocky Mountain Cup on the line when they meet RSL, meaning both teams will hold nothing back despite their postseason futures already decided. “Every game has been a big game lately and we just keep on going and going and going,” noted Grabavoy. “We still have the Supporters Shield in our reach and that’s obviously a goal of ours, and as long as it is still there we are going to go for it.”

REAL SALT LAKE (15-4-10, 55 pts.) v. FC DALLAS (12-3-14, 50 pts.)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2010 – RIO TINTO STADIUM – SANDY, UTAH

Scoring Summary:
RSL–Grabavoy 3 (Russell 5, Morales 9) 59
RSL–Morales 7 (Findley 4, Williams 7) 89

Misconduct Summary:
RSL — Fabian Espíndola (caution; Reckless Foul) 75
RSL — Andy Williams (caution; Reckless Foul) 80
DAL — Heath Pearce (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 88

FC DALLAS–Dario Sala, Heath Pearce, Jair Benitez, George John, Ugo Ihemelu
(Ruben Luna 83), Jackson Goncalves, David Ferreira, Marvin Chavez, Dax McCarty
(Atiba Harris 71), Daniel Hernandez, Milton Rodriguez (Jeff Cunningham 46).

TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Cunningham 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 7
(Hernandez 4); OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 7;SAVES: Sala 1; CAUTIONS: Pearce
88; EJECTIONS: None.

REAL SALT LAKE–Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat
Borchers, Ned Grabavoy (Andy Williams 71), Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman,
Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborío (Jean Alexandre 90), Fabian Espíndola (Robbie
Findley 78).

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Johnson 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 9 (Espindola 3); OFFSIDE: 5; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: Rimando 3; CAUTIONS: Espindola 75, Williams 80; EJECTIONS: None.

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Bill Dittmar; Greg Barkey
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Attendance: 20,236 (Rio Tinto Stadium record)
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-71-degrees

?All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Home for the Last Time, the Union Defend Their Fortress From NY Invasion

Posted on 17 October 2010 by stoma

Michael Orozco-Fiscal debuted his thumb-sucking celebration against Toronto...on Saturday night, it was back (Terry McLaughlin/ASN Philadelphia)

At home for the final time of their inaugural season in Major League Soccer, the Philadelphia Union looked to leave a positive lasting memory with their fans during the off-season.  The first campaign was definitely a success for the league’s newest franchise.  However, the  majority of the success was not particularly the play of the team, who will finish in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference and solidly out of the playoffs following their final game next Sunday in Columbus, but the success of the franchise as well as the city and region itself.  This year has shown that high-level soccer was badly needed in this area, with supporters showing that they are more than willing to snap up any soccer content offered.  A beautiful new stadium on the waterfront debuted to rave reviews and has been consistently filled near capacity throughout the season.  Philadelphia has launched a viable candidacy to host World Cup matches if and when the event returns to the United States.  All that needs to happen going forward is for the product on the field to match the setting and atmosphere surrounding it.

Early on, it was apparent that the Union came out wanting to put on a good show for the home crowd.  Manager Piotr Nowak set the tone with his lineup, putting his standard XI on the pitch, showing that he would not just be playing out the string on the season while experimenting with youth.  His corps rewarded him with an 8th minute goal off of a Sebastien Le Toux corner sent to the top of the 6-yard box that found the head of Alejandro Moreno.  Ale didn’t get much on it, but it fell to the goal mouth, where Fred cleaned it up, slamming into the back of the net for his 4th goal of the season.

Philadelphia continued to dominate the run of play and a lucky bounce sent them through for their 2nd goal in the 28th minute.  As the ball bounced free in front of New York’s penalty area, Seba raised his hand, calling for the ball.  However, Stefani Miglioranzi thought he saw a slight opening and attempted to fire a shot, which was blocked.  Fortunately for the Union, the ball bounded to Le Toux exactly where he had been signaling for a pass to come, and he easily slotted a pass towards the goal mouth and suddenly Red Bulls keeper Bouna Coundoul found himself staring at Michael Orozco-Fiscal and Danny Mwanga crashing the net unmarked.  It would be Orozco-Fiscal banging an easy one home, his second of the season, followed by his favored thumb-sucking celebration.

From there, it was just a matter of shutting up shop and taking home the win.  But that is not the style of this team nor this manager.  The Union continued to press for more goals, maintaining possession in the New York half for the better part of the 1st half.  The Red Bulls, for their part, seemed to follow the example of legendary French national and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who did not make the trip to Philadelphia.  Despite being locked in a battle for the top seed in the Eastern Conference with Columbus, New York did not show up at all in the first half and certainly paid for it.

Whatever manager Hans Backe said to his team at halftime paid immediate results.  A clean, efficient buildup saw the ball on the foot of striker Mehdi Ballouchy in the 48th minute.  Sheanon Williams, who had been turned inside out by Dane Richards, was left lunging at Ballouchy as he laid the ball off to fullback Danleigh Borman just above the penalty area left of center.  Borman unleashed a pretty left-footer that snaked past a frozen Brad Knighton in the bottom right corner of his goal.

At that point, it was clear that Philadelphia had a game on their hands.  New York was buoyed by their early goal and remained active throughout the 2nd half.  They produced several more scoring chances, but their attack also left the door open for the Union counter-attack.  Neither side was able to punch one in, however, with Salou Ibrahim and Danny Mwanga trading near misses around the 70th minute.  As the game approached the final 10 minutes, the Red Bulls went into full on attack mode, searching for an equalizer.

Finally, in the 4th minute of stoppage time, they found one.  Following a second consecutive corner, Juan Agudelo slotted a loose ball earmarked for the bottom right corner of the goal.  By all rights, it was the equalizer and a fitting microcosm of the Union’s first season.  That’s when Fred intervened.  Stationed on the goal line at the post, the Brazilian’s lightning-quick reactions allowed him to clear the line and give the home fans the memory the team sought to provide.  The home debut and finale were braced by Sebastien Le Toux’s hat-trick and Fred’s game-saving clearance as time expired, two moments that will linger with supporters through the long off-season.  As the team gathered in the center of the field for a brief ceremony and fireworks display to show their appreciation for their stalwart fans, they offered the promise of an improved team commensurate with their stadium and supporters.  2010 was just the beginning.

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————–Knighton—————————————

Williams———-Califf——————–Orozco Fiscal————-Harvey

—————-Coudet————–Miglioranzi———————————–

Le Toux———————————————————————–Fred

———————-Moreno———————-Mwanga———————

New York Red Bulls Starting XI

———————————Coundoul————————————-

Albright————Mendes————-Ream———————-Borman

Richards——–Marquez———–Tchani———————Lindpere

—–Ballouchy———————–Angel—————-

Scoring Summary:

PHI – Fred 4 (Alejandro Moreno 6) 8′

Michael Orozco-Fiscal 2 (Sebastien Le Toux 11) 28′

NY- Danleigh Borman 1 (Mehdi Ballouchy 1) 48′

Philadelphia Union — Brad Knighton, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Sheanon Williams, Fred, Stefani Miglioranzi, Eduardo Coudet (Andrew Jacobson 66) , Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno (Justin Mapp 62), Danny Mwanga (Shea Salinas 84)

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Juan Diego Gonzalez,  Roger Torres, Nick Zimmerman

New York Red Bulls – Bouna Coundoul, Chris Albright (Jeremy Hall 79), Carlos Mendes, Tim Ream, Danleigh Borman, Dane Richards, Rafael Marquez (Juan Agudelo 79), Tony Tchani (Salou Ibrahim 45), Joel Lindpere, Juan Pablo Angel, Mehdi Ballouchy

Substitutes Not Used:  Greg Sutton, Austin Da Luz, Carl Robinson, Sinisa Ubiparipovic

Misconduct Summary: NY- Danleigh Borman (caution, Reckless Tackle) 18′

NY- Juan Pablo Angel (caution, Reckless Tackle), 55’

PHI- Fred (caution, Tactical Foul), 68′

Referee: Paul Ward

Referee’s Assistants: – Philippe Briere, Cameron Blair

4th Official: Terry Vaughn

Time of Game: 1:58

Comments (1)

Photo Gallery: RSL 2 , FC Dallas 0

Posted on 17 October 2010 by ASN Staff

Real Salt Lake played host to FC Dallas Saturday night. The home team dominated much of the proceedings and came away the victors with a 2-0 win.   The victory continues RSL’s at home undefeated streak and puts them just one point behind the LA Galaxy in the Supporter’s Shield race.   All photos ©Julie Harper/ASN

no images were found

Comments (0)

TMR Episode 25 – The Midnight Ride vs the Pre-Post-Season Blues

Posted on 16 October 2010 by Hank Alexandre

Hank, Sean, and Brian are back to talk about the New England Revolution and their play over the past month as they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

TMR Episode 25 – The Midnight Ride vs the Pre-Post-Season Blues

Comments (0)

An idea and an observation

Posted on 15 October 2010 by Steve Long

With but two games remaining, DC United has precious little time to give its fans a reason to for hope for 2011. I think that they can do it.

As 2010 has seen the team bump along the bottom of a slough of despond, the players have slowly but consistently improved their shape and vision. Despite a lack of results, the team’s play has steadily improved.

The win in Colorado was historic in its own way and the loss last Saturday did reflect a long stretch of dominance in that game by an already depleted DC United which was missing half its starting defense on international duty. With a return to what has become “normal” player health, the side should perform well.

Now is a good time to try a few experiments to see just who can help next year and how. Let’s start with the epitome of mixed results, Branko Boskovic. He arrived with hopes on United’s part that he might be the creative midfield spark the team has lacked. It didn’t happen.

If his international success as the Montenegro Captain is any indicator, he is clearly a wide midfielder. Why not trade his location with rookie sensation Andy Najar? While the pressure of the “number 10” role is ill suited to a youth, there is really no pressure left in this dismal season. Turn the kid loose and tell him to have fun attacking.

The young Honduran clearly deserves Rookie of the Year honors in MLS and got more than a few votes for DC United’s MVP in the Press Box. There is no down side to seeing what else he can bring to the table.

Flank him with Boskovic and Carlos Varela to give him guidance and back him with the steady Clyde Simms or Stephen King. Move Santino Quaranta to forward with Pablo Hernandez and add a bit of speed to that aspect of the attack.

As the flanks become more contemplative and guileful, the front line gains speed. The forwards’ runs should give Najar a chance to use his own aggressiveness and speed to real advantage. Instead of defending against a Quaranta long cross to a speeding Najar, defenses will have more variety to solve.

To cover for the slower wings, keep the wide defenders further back. Ask Devon McTavish and Jed Zayner to overlap only rarely and focus on maintaining shape in a simpler scheme by trailing their wings.

If the wise wide elders tire, energy is available from Junior Carreiro. Danny Allsopp can add strength to the front line from the bench as well.

Like United, the Chicago Fire are out of postseason play and may well be experimenting themselves. Demonstrating the unusual nature of the 2010 season, the usually competent Fire join the Houston Dynamo and DC in disappointment.

The Dynamo are the only team that DC can catch on points, but the Houston side has two of their seven wins against United, guaranteeing the dregs to DC.

In a league where coaching should be at a premium, several historical heroes have experienced poor seasons. In particular, Houston’s Dom Kinnear and New England’s Steve Nicol have felt the sting of failure while Philadelphia’s Peter Novak at least has a new team to cite for lesser performance.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here