Archive | June, 2011

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Revs lose possession, and game, in Seattle

Posted on 30 June 2011 by Hank Alexandre

Sainey Nyassi’s 3 minute strike to give his team an early lead was wasted in Seattle as the struggling New England Revolution fell to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.  The Sounders dominated the run of play for the majority of the match, scoring twice in the first half to take the lead.

Tyson Wahl notched the equalizer and his first career MLS goal with a stunning free kick that caught the left corner which could be goal of the week.  The Sounders then went ahead on a strike from Alvaro Fernandez, taking advantage of a defensive lapse from Revs defender Kevin Alston, who was busy attending to his defective cleats.

Despite the return of Benny Feilhaber and the addition of Ryan Guy into the line-up, the Revs were disjointed at best.  The Sounders were missing 6 key starters and lost a player early on to injury and New England could not muster any form of sustainable attack.

For a team that focused on maintaining possession in the preseason, the Revolution seem to be regressing and are now struggling in the midfield as well as in the final third.

Overall the Revolution had few shining stars. Pat Phelan’s overall performance in the middle of the field was left wanting, and his slide tackle in the 23rd minute was atrocious.  Rajko Lekic seems to struggle with his first touch, often resulting in a giveaway or a miskick.  Benny Feilhaber was not involved in any meaningful way and Shalrie Joseph was playing too far back to orchestrate any kind of attack.

But the formation is the fault of head coach Steve Nicol.   After seeing some modicum of success with a 4-4-2, Nicol opted to return to his preferred 4-5-1.  His insistence on two holding midfielders at the expense of meaningful attack, and playing Benny Feilhaber out of position as a forward where he was ineffective, has in fact hindered the Revolution more than it has helped.

A glimmer of hope for the team was when Steve Nicol moved to a 3-5-2 in the final minutes, subbing off Ryan Cochrane for Zack Schilawski.  Schilawski had a great impact on the game, unleashing a rocket of a shot in the 85th minute that deflected off the wrongside of the crossbar, and the quality of the Revolution’s overall play improved as they looked for the equalizer. But in the end it was just not enough, and the Revolution were once again on the wrong end of the scoresheet.

If the Revolution hope to make a push to the playoffs, they need to start winning yesterday.  However, that is not going to happen under Steve Nicol’s current system.  Nicol has to find a way to get Benny Feilhaber involved quickly, so he can generate more offense.  Furthermore, he must shelf his lone striker tactics permanently and give Lekic a true striking partner. Kenny Mansally and Zak Boggs have both shown tremendous energy over the last few weeks and have just missed on a number of chances, but a consistent striking partner will help Lekic develop a true rapport with his teammates, allowing him to anticipate and react more efficiently, and less emotionally.

Lastly, Nicol must find a designated player THIS SEASON that can have an immediate impact on the team’s overall performance.  So far Nicol’s big signings (Lekic, Domi, Dabo, and even Feilhaber) have had little impact on the team.  Granted Domi and Dabo have been injured more often than not, but that would have to be expected considering their age.  Rumors have circulated over the last few months that the team has their eye on a designated player, and Nicol himself has flown across the Atlantic to talk to him on numerous occassions.  One can only hope that the player Nicol has in mind, if he should sign with the Revs, has the fitness level where he can not only contribute right away, but contribute on a regular basis.

Steve Nicol has proven throughout his career that given the right players, he can produce results.  However, time is running out on Nicol to find the players that can save the season, and maybe his job.

Seattle Sounders FC 2, New England Revolution 1

Scoring Summary:

NE – Sainey Nyassi (Benny Feilhaber) 3

SEA – Tyson Wahl (unassisted) 34

SEA – Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque, Mauro Rosales) 40

 

New England Revolution: Matt Reis, Darrius Barnes, A.J. Soares, Ryan Cochrane (Zack Schilawski 81), Kevin Alston, Ryan Guy (Kenny Mansally 62), Benny Feilhaber, Shalrie Joseph ©, Pat Phelan, Sainey Nyassi (Zak Boggs 62), Rajko Lekic

 

Substitutes Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Franco Coria, Otto Loewy

 

STATS*: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 1; Corner Kicks: 5; Offside: 1; Fouls Committed: 13

 

Seattle Sounders FC: Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 17), Tyson Wahl, Lamar Neagle, Servando Carrasco, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez (Pat Noonan 69), Mauro Rosales (Nate Jaqua 89), Roger Levesque

 

Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Mike Fucito, Michael Tetteh, Zach Scott

 

STATS*: Shots: 9; Shots on Goal: 3; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 7

* Note that all statistics are unofficial

 

Misconduct Summary:

NE – Pat Phelan (caution) 23

SEA – Servando Carrasco (caution) 26

NE – Ryan Cochrane (caution) 72

NE – Rajko Lekic (caution) 78

SEA – Tyson Wahl (caution) 87

NE – A.J. Soares (caution) 90

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Galaxy Survive, Advance in US Open Cup

Posted on 29 June 2011 by iyeo

It wasn’t the Honda Superclasico, but Tuesday night’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matchup between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Los Angeles Blues still packed quite a bit of emotion.

In addition for the opportunity to lift American Soccer’s oldest trophy, Four players on the Blues’ current roster; defenders’ Leonard Griffin, Mike Randolph and midfielders’ Israel Sesay and Josh Tudela, had recent but brief,  stints with the Galaxy. Three of the four; Randolph, Sesay and Tudela were among the Blues’ starting 11 and Griffin was the Blues’ first substitute in the 40th minute.

“You never like playing there games,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “You have nothing to gain and everything to lose.”

Well the Blues, competing in its first year in USL – Pro, certainly gave the Galaxy everything to lose on Tuesday night, staying toe to toe with its more famous and more prestigious opponent and even taking the lead against the Galaxy well into the second half.

In the end however, the Galaxy awakened, and two goals late in the half, set up by midfielder Juninho, who had entered as a substitute, helped Los Angeles avert a potential head-scratching loss with a 2-1 win at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Stadium.

“I thought the L.A. Blues played quite well,” Arena said. “They really got after us and stepped up and pressed us a good part of the evening.”

After 61 scoreless minutes, the Blues struck in the 62nd minute. Forward Chukwudi Chijindu had the ball on the left side, sliced his way into the penalty area and laid a ball for Carlos Borja. Borja attempted a shot on frame, but his touch was way heavy, but the ball found its way onto the foot of Cesar Rivera, who stayed onside and successfully sent a point-blank attempt past Galaxy keeper Brian Perk into the back net at the near post area.

Arena immediately inserted Juninho into the match two minutes after the Blues’ goal. The move paid off starting in the 76th minute when Juninho curled a free kick into the box and defender Omar Gonzalez did the rest, heading the ball past Blues keeper Oscar Duatt, beating him to back post.

“Juni just put the ball in the air and I just went for it,” Gonzalez said.

The Galaxy in general and Juninho in particular weren’t done yet. Six minutes after the equalizer, Juninho sent another free kick into the box, Gonzalez again headed the ball, only this time, to prevent the ball from crossing the end line, and Mike Magee, who had earned MLS player of the week honors for his performance as keeper back on Saturday, pounced on the loose ball and buried the shot past Duatt near post to put the Galaxy ahead.

“I knew the ball was coming down, so it was a pretty easy attempt,” Magee said.

Perk, warming up for his first starting role between the pipes for the Galaxy’s Fourth of July match against the Seattle Sounders next Monday, got the start in goal for Tuesday’s match. The second-year keeper out of UCLA is expected to fill in for the Galaxy next Monday night after starting keeper Donovan Ricketts was ruled out six weeks with a broken arm suffered in Saturday’s matchup against the San Jose Earthquakes and backup keeper Josh Saunders was red-carded for a elbowing the Quakes’ Steve Lenhart in the 43rd minute of Saturday’s match. Perk’s first moment of action occurred in the 22nd minute, when he easily collected a free kick by midfielder Josh Tudela.

 “I’ve had three reserve games recently, the first one I was jittery, but by the third game, I felt good,” Perk said. “Tonight I felt fine, and I expect more of the same on Monday.”

The Galaxy had the best of the chances by either side in the first half, none more dangerous than in the 41st minute. Jovan Kirovski headed a Paolo Cardozo free kick on frame, but Blues keeper Oscar Duatt re-directed the ball away. The ball ended up at the foot of Gregg Berhalter, who immediately attempted a rebound, but was denied at the goal line by defender Nelson Akwari.

The Galaxy jump back into MLS play on the Fourth of July, as they host the Seattle Sounders next Monday night. The Galaxy are expected to have Landon Donovan, back from U.S. National Team duty, back in the lineup and possibly David Beckham, who had sat out the Galaxy’s last two matches due to back spasms.

Los Angeles Galaxy 2, Los Angeles Blues 1

2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup; June 28, 2011; Titan Stadium

Scoring Summary

LAB – Cesar Rivera (Carlos Borja) 62

LAG – Omar Gonzalez (Juninho) 76

LAG  – Mike Magee (Omar Gonzalez, Juninho) 82

Misconduct Summary

LAB – Josh Tudela (Reckless Foul) 1

LAG – Gregg Berhalter (Reckless Tackle) 8

LAB – Mehrshad Momeni (Delaying a restart) 70

LAG – Adam Cristman (Fails to respect distance) 88

LAB – Israel Sesay (Dissent) 90

LAB – Israel Sesay (Dissent; Second Caution) 90

Los Angeles Blues – Oscar Duatt, Cameron Dunn (Leonard Griffin 40), Nelson Akwari, Erlys Garcia, Mike Randolph, Mehrshad Momemi (Akeem Priestly 87), Josh Tudela, Edwin Miranda (Cesar Rivera 45), Israel Sesay, Carlos Borja, Chukwudi Chijimdu.

Substitutes not used: Amir Abezadeh, Gerardo Bravo, Tomislav Colic, Shahryar Datsan.

Los Angeles Galaxy – Brian Perk, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, AJ DeLaGarza, Bryan Jordan (Miguel Lopez 45), Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski (Juninho 64), Mike Magee, Chad Barrett (Adam Cristman 87) , Paolo Cardozo.

Substitutes not used: Josh Saunders, Kyle Davies, Hector Jimenez, Dan Keat.

Referee: Alejandro Mariscal

Assistants: Apolinar Mariscal, Eduardo Mariscal

Fourth Official: Felisha Mariscal

Weather: Clear and 69 Degrees

Time of match: 1:56

Attendance: 3,627

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The Midnight Ride Podcast – New Episode

Posted on 29 June 2011 by Hank Alexandre

In this episode, ASN Revolution beat-writer Hank Alexandre is joined by New England Soccer Today Correspondent Sean Donahue and RevsPress author Julian Cardillo to discuss the Revs loss in seattle as well as what to expect in Real Salt Lake.
Click here to listen

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TMR Episode 35 – The Midnight Ride vs The West Coast Road Trip

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Hank Alexandre

In this episode Hank is joined by New England Soccer Today Correspondent Sean Donahue and RevsPress author Julian Cardillo to discuss the Revs loss in seattle as well as what to expect in Real Salt Lake.

TMR Episode 35 – The Midnight Ride vs The West Coast Road Trip

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Union Defeat Chivas, Come Away With 3 Huge Points

Posted on 26 June 2011 by stoma

As the Union approach midseason, they find themselves ensconced in the doldrums of what folks in baseball commonly call the “dog days of summer”.  Since erupting for 6 goals in Toronto on May 28, Philadelphia was winless in its last 4 matches coming into this game, with 3 ties and a loss.  Worse, they have scored 2 goals over that stretch.  Worst of all, they have been in the midst of what should have been the easy part of their schedule, facing off against the cellar dwellers in the Western and Eastern Conferences (Vancouver and Kansas City, respectively) with the mid-table Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake mixed in.

The good news is that there is still time to get fat off of the competition as Chivas USA come calling with little to write home about in their season to date.  With only 1 win in their last 6 matches and fresh off of 2 straight losses, Chivas in entrenched in 8th place in a loaded Western Conference, their playoff hopes dashed before the return matches even begin.  However, the Union’s recent struggles show that no opponent can be taken lightly.  If they were to earn 3 points against Chivas, they would have to take them.

Coming out in the same 4-3-1-2 formation as against Kansas City, Philadelphia looked for much better production and, from early on, it seemed as though they would rather lose than go scoreless once again.  From the start, the match picked up a wide open pace, with both squads playing fast and loose with their formations.  The momentum began to swing towards the Union around the 10th minute, as the home team put together several chances in a row.  As has been the trend, however, they were not able to find that last necessary touch that would spring them for a goal.  Jack McInerney, growing more comfortable with his 2nd consecutive start, boldly took on Michael Umana in the 25th minute, turning the defender around badly.  Not so boldly, he passed up the shot in favor of a lay-off to Sebastien Le Toux, who took the shot on with his weaker left foot that never even found its way to Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kenedy.

Union captain and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon was tested for the first time in 2 matches in the 27th minute, when Nick LaBrocca ripped a shot from the top of the area that appeared ticketed for the back of the net when Mondragon dove left and upwards, parrying the shot up and over the bar, bailing out his defense in the process.  This was not the case following the subsequent corner kick, when a deflection and then a headed pass from Ben Zemanski landed on the head of Umana, who nodded it past an already beaten Mondragon for the game’s opening tally.

The Union threatened to respond immediately, when Sebastien Le Toux sprung free after the restart only to have his shot deflected wide of the right post.  Philadelphia at that point recaptured the early momentum, yet were still unable to turn that momentum into a goal despite several excellent chances.  Halftime arrived and the home team was facing a 1-0 deficit.  This had the feel of a moment that could be one of several key turning points in a team’s season.  Either the Union could rejuvenate their campaign and solidify themselves as a team to be counted, or they could ride this tailspin into MLS irrelevancy.

Philadelphia took all of two and a half minutes into the 2nd half to make certain their intentions, as Justin Mapp sent a cross in front of the net that newcomer Veljko Paunovic drove into the net, reclaiming the crowd and, perhaps, the season. But they still needed that second goal; without the win, the team would stay stuck in neutral.  Chance after chance went by the wayside as the Philadelphia forwards seemingly had forgotten the offsides rule altogether, with Carlos Ruiz in particular garnering 5 calls against him.  All told, the Union had 9 plays called back for offsides, most notably what could have been a second goal when Ruiz slotted home a hard through ball from Sheanon Williams only to find that he had been standing approximately 5 yards beyond the closest defender when the ball was struck.

Finally, sweet release for the team and the 18,139 in attendance, who had spent the initial 68 minutes in a mixture of trepidation and disbelief, when Ruiz took a long ball in the air from Paunovic, settled it, took two touches to his right, and beat Kennedy on his short side.  Instead of opting for his shark’s fin celebration, El Pescadito stared into the crowd as if to announce that he would not be going anywhere, as had been the rumor the last couple of weeks.

But pulling themselves out a hole this deep would not be so simple.  Following a Philadelphia giveaway at midfield in the 77th minute, Jorge Flores sent a through ball into the air that did not appear destined for anything in particular, until Justin Braun materialized all by himself, having gotten behind Carlos Valdes and beaten Danny Califf.   All that was left to finish the equalizer was for Braun to poke it beyond the reach of Mondragon, who had come of his line when he saw his defense beaten so badly.

It would take something truly special to win this game.  An extraordinary play from an exemplary player.  The Union got such a play from such a player in the 82nd minute when Le Toux sent a ball across to Danny Mwanga, who had replaced McInerney at halftime, about 5 yards above the penalty area.  The second-year striker settled, took one touch to his right, then let loose an absolute laser beam across his body and across the goal mouth, beating Kennedy on his right.  As the crowd erupted, Mwanga knelt, as though expelling the spirits that had plagued the team over their stretch of poor play, and the crowd knew their home side had secured the win and 3 points.

And a much needed win it was, as Philadelphia will not see the inside of PPL Park again until their July 20 friendly against Tim Howard and Everton FC.  This three-game road stretch will see the Union against Eastern Conference rival D.C. United before heading out west to San Jose and finally trekking back east to face New England.  The team badly needed a shot in the arm to sustain them; if, in fact, the Union did find themselves on the right end of a season-defining turning point, the next three opponents had better watch out.

 

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————Mondragon—————————————

Williams————-Califf——————–Valdes——————-Harvey

———————————–Carroll——————————————-

Le Toux————————-Paunovic————————————–Mapp

—————————Ruiz—————-McInerney—————————-

 

Chivas USA Starting XI

———————————–Kennedy—————————————-

Valentin——————-Umana————-Pearce———————–Jazic

Zemanski—————————Nagamura——————————–Flores

——————LaBrocca———————————-Mondaini—————

————————————–Braun——————————————–

 

Scoring Summary:

28’ CHVMichael Umana 1 (Ben Zemanski 3)
48’ PHI — Veljko Paunovic 1 (Justin Mapp 1)
69’ PHI — Carlos Ruiz 4 (Paunovic 1)
77’ CHV — Justin Braun 4 (Jorge Flores 2)
82’ PHI — Danny Mwanga 5 (Sebastien Le Toux 5)

Misconduct Summary:

64’ Carlos Valdes  (Tactical Foul)

Lineups:
Chivas USA-
Dan Kennedy, Zarek Valentin, Michael Umana (Andrew Boyens 45), Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic, Paulo Nagamura, Ben Zemanski (Blair Gavin 77), Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores, Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini (Chris Cortez 71)

Substitutes Not Used: Zach Thornton, Victor Estupinan, Michael Lahoud, Mariano Trujillo

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Keon Daniel 45), Brian Carroll,), Veljiko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 73), Justin Mapp, Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Danny Mwanga 45), Carlos Ruiz

Substitutes Not Used: Zac MacMath, Roger Torres, Amobi Okugo, Michael Farfan

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivera
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 80 degrees
Attendance: 18,139

Time of Game: 1:50

 

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RSL gets critical win over Toronto

Posted on 26 June 2011 by kali

Real Salt Lake’s return to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night was a success on several fronts.

Not only did RSL defeat Toronto FC 3-1 in a dominating display, but Alvaro Saborio scored two of those goals in his first start in over a month after returning from Gold Cup duty with Costa Rica.  Nat Borchers also scored for Real, earning the team’s first goal in the 39th minute on a header from a Kyle Beckerman corner kick.  Saborio scored in the 42nd minute, assisted by Robbie Russell, then earned his second of the match in the 60th minute, again assisted by Russell.

Though RSL had a brief letdown in the second half, resulting in Toronto’s only goal of the match from a Maicon Santos strike in the 66th minute, coach Jason Kreis was optimistic about his team’s performance.

“I’m hopeful,” Kreis said after the match.  “I feel like the last three matches we’ve started to gain some momentum. Even though we haven’t gained all the points we would have won along the way, I feel like we’re started to gain momentum and I’m hoping this is the one that will put us over the top and give everybody a ton of confidence going forward.”

Saborio’s return gave Real a boost after several games in which the team struggled to score during the run of play; prior to Saturday’s victory, RSL hadn’t scored more than one goal in a match since the June 4 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Despite struggling to score before leaving for the Gold Cup, Saborio tried to take a pragmatic view of his form this season.  “I wasn’t frustrated, but I just tried to work hard and make something happen and now I’m scoring,” he said.

More importantly, the win was critical for Real as the team tries to keep pace with the Western Conference leaders, despite having played just 15 league games so far this season.  In addition, the victory should give RSL momentum as it hosts the Wilmington Hammerheads in a U.S. Open Cup match on Tuesday and the New England Revolution in league play on July 4.

“I think we labeled this one as a must win game, and it definitely was,” noted Borchers.  “If we came out of this game with a tie or a loss, we would really have to look at ourselves in the mirror and question ourselves. I think we’re very, very happy with this result and we can move forward with some confidence.”

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PREVIEW: Revolution @ Seattle Sounders

Posted on 25 June 2011 by Matty Jollie

CenturyLink Field is ALWAYS a tough environment

The New England Revolution (3-7-6, 15pts) travel to newly re-named CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Sunday afternoon to take on the Seattle Sounders (7-4-7, 28pts) for the fifth time in MLS history. Despite their early success in MLS, Seattle has seemingly always had trouble with the Revolution, amassing a 1-3-0 record, splitting the two meetings in Seattle.  New England is heading out west for the fifth time this season after their brief two game homestand last week that saw them earn two points from their matches with Chicago and Toronto FC.  New England has always had trouble with the difficult cross-country trip, and this season has been no different, going 0-2-2 thus far, with the two draws coming at the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps earlier in the year.  Seattle is coming off a wild affair on Thursday night, defeating New York Red Bulls in a six goal thriller, 4-2.  Seattle has once again proven that they are an incredibly tough out at home, losing only twice in nine games at CenturyLink Field thus far in 2011, and if the Revolution are to earn a result on Sunday, it certainly won’t come easy.

 

*************************

 

GOALKEEPER: You cannot find a better head to head match up at this position than you will experience in this one. Two of the most decorated and veteran goalkeepers face off on Sunday, as Matt Reis mans the net for New England, and he will be staring across the field at one of the most celebrated keepers in American soccer history, Kasey Keller.  Keller’s pedigree is incredibly well documented, playing all over Europe, captaining his German club for an entire season, leading the United States in World Cup play, and of course, his impressive streak of 59 straight MLS matches played as the team’s captain and leader.  Seattle has been solidly defensively, amassing a 1.00 goals against average in their last 7 matches, with most of the credit going to Keller, whose positioning and command of his back four is second to none.  While New England has struggled in the first half of this season, it certainly can’t fall upon the shoulders of ‘keeper Matt Reis. Reis, finally healthy, has found a great run of form of late, leading the Revolution to a 1.19 GAA this season, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.  Reis has shown great command of his back line, and has always been an imposing force in the box.  Both goalkeepers are playing well coming into Sunday, which will make for a great match. ADVANTAGE: Push. Hard to believe when you’re dealing with Keller, but while the Seattle man may be far more decorated, there may not be a hotter hand in MLS than Matt Reis.

DEFENDERS: Both sides have found their stride defensively of late, and both boat their share of youth and experience. Throughout their struggles this season, the New England Revolution have been solid defensively (the Revs have played 10 matches in which they’ve surrendered 1 goal or fewer), and as the season progresses and young players like A.J. Soares and Franco Coria gain more experience, the defense is only poised to continue to improve.  New England will once again be without Didier Domi, so it will be Darrius Barnes once again assuming the role of left back, a position Barnes has begun to adapt well to, as he has had plenty of opportunity to earn minutes at that position.  Kevin Alston will man the right back spot, and as the Revs’ spark plug continues to remain healthy, his run of form continues to improve.  Seattle is anchored by veteran presence, with former Revolution pick James Riley, as well as Jeff Parke. The two have been the more visible influences on the Seattle back line, often joined by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, a strong, physical presence in the center of defense. Seattle are giving up just a shade under a goal a game this season, but are always tough at home in front of their great support and atmosphere.  With their full compliment of defenders at their disposal, it will be up to Head Coach Sigi Schmid after a quick turnaround from Thursday night’s match on who will defend the Sounders’ net, but look for mainstays Riley and Parke to be a part of the match.  ADVANTAGE: Seattle. The Rave Green outfit are incredibly tough at home, and with the struggles of New England offensively still ongoing, it’s easy to see the advantage at the back.

MIDFIELDERS: New England will most likely be welcoming back USMNT midfielder Benny Feilhaber on Sunday afternoon (the newly acquired Feilhaber is listed as Probable on Friday’s injury report) and his addition couldn’t come soon enough. Just Feilhaber’s presence and creativity is sure to bolster a struggling Revs’ offense, and he will look to regain the chemistry that was beginning to emerge with Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph.  Sainey Nyassi had arguably his best match against Chicago on Saturday night, and with Zak Boggs still struggling through injury, Nyassi should get the start at right midfield. Left midfield will be a bit of a question, as Chris Tierney is listed as  doubtful for the match, so it may be newcomer Ryan Guy, whose brief cameo on Saturday night showed great promise from the California native, taking over and getting his first start in MLS play.  Seattle’s midfield has an incredible propensity to just continue to fire on all cylinders throughout each match, with Mauro Rosales and Osvaldo Alonso seemingly having tireless energy.  The two have combined for three goals and three assists, but it’s their midfield partner Brad Evans who leads the team in scoring, with four goals and an assist thus far in 2011. Evans has a knack for finding the goal, and his strong presence in the midfield and blue collar approach always make him a formidable foe in the center of the park.  It’s going to fall upon Shalrie Joseph to create and set a tone early in this match, and allow Benny Feilhaber to flow and create in the final third to help with the struggling Revs’ offense.  ADVANTAGE: Seattle. It’s too early to put too much pressure and expectation on Feilhaber, add to that the Sounders’ ability to create and finish through the midfield and you can see where the advantage will lie.

FORWARDS: The lack of offensive firepower in New England has been well-documented, however, since Revolution head coach Steve Nicol switched to a 4-4-2 (effectively giving striker Rajko Lekic a partner in attack instead of being the lone man up top), New England has seen an improvement in the quality and frequency of its’ chances.  Lekic ended a long goal-less drought against Chicago on Saturday night (the Danish international hadn’t scored since April 23rd), and with the addition of Kenny Mansally up top, New England is looking slightly more dangerous and likely to find an offensive breakthrough.  Seattle’s attack is anchored by a very familiar figure in Freddy Montero, and the Colombian international hasn’t disappointed, firing in three goals and four assists in 2011. Montero is the type of player that always needs to be accounted for on the field, and can spring up in attack at any time, so it will fall upon Matt Reis and company to keep track of him at all times.  With Steve Zakuani out for the season, the other forward slot has been manned by committee, with veteran big man Nate Jaqua sharing the minutes with the likes of Mike Fucito and even Alvaro Fernandez as well.  Jaqua provides a strong presence in the air, something New England has struggled with early in the campaign, but it’s been Fucito with a good run of form of late. Expect a balanced attack from Seattle, and it will be quite difficult for a well-traveled Revolution defense to contain a Sounders side coming off of a four goal output just four days prior.

 

PREDICTION: New England has played well defensively, and it is going to take a massive effort to keep this Seattle team off the scoresheet. The addition of Feilhaber will absolutely help, as will the possible inclusion of Ryan Guy.  Signs of improvement are evident throughout the Revolution team as they continue to fight the injury bug and add new pieces, and a breakthrough is certainly coming, but it won’t be on Sunday afternoon.  SCORE: Seattle 2 – New England 1.

 

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Union Stay Unbeaten at Home, Yet Find Scoreless Draw Against Kansas City Disappointing

Posted on 23 June 2011 by stoma

Following a lackluster road loss to Western Conference cellar-dweller Vancouver, the Union returned home for a short week to regroup and prepare to face the bottom-ranked team from the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City.  However, Kansas City has been improving of late, surely buoyed by finally having a home, the picturesque Livestrong Sporting Park.  It was there that Kansas City downed the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 on Friday, their 3rd shutout in the month of June.  Sporting is unbeaten in 5 MLS games, 6 if a 5-0 victory over the New England Revolution in the U.S. Open Cup is counted.  The Union are still unbeaten at home in 7 contests.  Philadelphia again saw their standing in the Eastern Conference table see-saw with New York, with the rival Red Bulls pulling into 1st following an away draw against the Portland Timbers, who have quickly made their home a fortress.

Coming into the game, a low-scoring affair was expected, as Philadelphia has given up a mere 12 goals through its first 14 contests, good for 2nd in the MLS.  Meanwhile, both Kansas City and the Union rank in the bottom third of the league in goals scored.  However, Piotr Nowak and his technical staff attempted to buck that trend with a highly aggressive starting lineup featuring two midfielders, Sebastien Le Toux and newcomer Veljiko Paunovic, who are used to playing up top.  This resulted in a formation that came off as more of a 4-1-3-2, with Brian Carroll buttressing the defense while the other midfielders pushed to attack.  This strategy produced uneven results early; while Philadelphia did have chances in the 1st half, they were also vulnerable defensively, leading to several chances for Kansas City as well.  Neither side put anything away, however, and it was scoreless through halftime, although Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen had to record 4 saves to make it so.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the pace and rhythm of the game slowed considerably after the half as the sticky air grew even heavier.  Before they knew it, the 80th minute had come and past with no serious challenges on the Kansas City goal.  Instead of pressing even further tactically, Nowak retreated to a traditional, conservative mindset with his substitutions.  Keon Daniel for Jack McInerney in the 60th minute did allow Le Toux to move up top, but it also tacitly acknowledged that the original lineup was flawed. Amobi Okugo for Paunovic in the 66th minute did the same, and while Roger Torres made perfect sense, he came on for Justin Mapp in the 79th minute just as Mapp seemed to be hitting his stride and creating chances.  When pressed on the issue after the game, Nowak did fairly iterate that his side had taken 19 shots, 7 of which were on goal, and that there were several near misses, most notably Carlos Ruiz’s header off a Seba cross that struck the crossbar in the 72nd minute and Le Toux’s strike from 20 yards that inched past the left post in the 80th.

More important than the Union’s chances and certainly more decisive in the outcome of the game was Kansas City’s tactical approach.  The visiting side managed only 1 shot on goal and never seemed intent on challenging the Philadelphia goal or opening up in any manner.  Union captain and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon thinks that the club will see this tactic at home with increasing frequency as the season goes on, citing it as a sign of respect for the success the Union have had, especially at home.  Mondragon pointed out that “Last year, teams came here and thought they had 3 points granted; they came and they played open.  No longer, the keeper asserted: “This year, this is not the case. This year, everyone is taking the Union very seriously, with a lot of respect, and coming here to PPL Park to get 1 point as a trophy.  We have to learn how to play in this type of game, because this is the kind of game we are going to have from here until the end of the season.

Regardless of what tactic the opposition has taken, the frustration continues for Philadelphia, which must face the fact that they just played the two worst teams in the MLS in terms of record and came away with just 1 point.  As Danny Califf stated after the game, “It’s a bummer when you dominate and you can’t get anything out of it.”  Fortunately, the relatively easy stretch of competition continues with a short turnaround game against Chivas USA on Saturday at PPL Park.  In addition, they have now pulled back into a tie for the Eastern Conference lead with New York, with each team tallying 23 points in 15 games.   Chivas sits in 8th place in the Western conference and has lost two straight.  The Union hope to avoid further frustration and salvage 3 desperately needed points before heading back out onto the road for three consecutive matches.

* POSTGAME NOTE:  Following the match, there was lengthy meeting involving Stefani Miglioranzi, Piotr Nowak and other members of the technical staff. Neither Miglioranzi nor Nowak would comment on the substance of the meeting, although Miglioranzi certainly did not look pleased when exiting Nowak’s office.  Was Migs simply venting his frustration at his lack of inclusion or is there a roster move on the horizon? Stay tuned, folks.

 

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————Mondragon—————————————

Williams————-Califf——————–Valdes——————-Harvey

———————————–Carroll——————————————-

Le Toux————————-Paunovic————————————–Mapp

—————————Ruiz—————-McInerney—————————-

Sporting Kansas City Starting XI

———————————–Nielsen—————————————-

Sinovic——————-Besler————-Cesar———————–Myers

——————Sassano——————————-Diop———————

Arnaud———————————————————————–Kamara

————————Bravo—————-Bunbury——————————

 

Scoring Summary:

NONE

Misconduct Summary:
29’ Julio Cesar (Reckless Challenge)

31’ Veljiko Paunovic (Reckless Challenge)

61’ Sheanon Williams (Dissent)

90’ Jimmy Nielson (Delaying)

Lineups:
Sporting Kansas City-
Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Julio Cesar, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara, Luke Sassano, Davy Arnaud, Birahim Diop (Stephane Auvray 72), Omar Bravo (Michael Harrington 63), Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 45)

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Korede Aiyegbusi, Milos Stojcev, Shavar Thomas

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Brian Carroll, Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel 60), Veljiko Paunovic (Amobi Okugo 66), Justin Mapp (Roger Torres 79), Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz

Substitutes Not Used: Zac MacMath, Michael Farfan, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Stefani Miglioranzi

Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Jason Cullum
4th Official: Carlos Rivero
Weather: Hazy, Humid and 80 degrees
Attendance: 18,127

 

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Young DC United seeks consistency against Houston

Posted on 23 June 2011 by Chris Snear

There has been very little middle ground for DC United so far this season especially regarding how they have played versus their results. They have rarely been mundane for an entire match and when they have played well they have been as good as any team in the league.

But when they have been bad, well, forget about it, they have been a marginally competitive and for the most part, these bad performances have been at home.

Professional soccer is a results oriented business and in this league especially, there is a fine line between winning and losing, and turning good performances into wins.

“Winning games that we’re tying,” said United coach Ben Olsen about what the next phase is for his young team. “Across the league you are seeing a lot of ties right now and no one is separating themselves and it’s about that time we can start focusing on getting three points both home and away.”

Other than a 4-1 loss at Houston at the end of April they have been remarkably productive on the road in league play, getting points in all but one of the five (2-1-2) other road game this season. United gets a rematch with Houston at home this Saturday.

This team is young. Asked which of his young players had made the most strides so far this year, he rattled off six names in short order; five of which are starters, three are teenagers and two are just twenty.

Compound that with losing their one and only truly creative player, Branko Boskovic, to season ending knee surgery, and it’s no wonder why inconsistency has been the only consistent feature to this season.

They also will be without Fred, their only other semblance of a creative player in the middle of the park, whom they have agreed to let join Melbourne Heart in Australia on a free transfer when the transfer window opens at the end of next month.

“We knew we would have some ups and downs with a young group. That is part of this process this year but it’s about limiting how many bumps we have and when we do put on good performances can we get the three points instead of one, I think that is the first step,” said Olsen.

“I am optimistic with this group and I feel we are making strides and each week our identity is a little bit more secure and hopefully if we get a little bit of a bounce here or there we’ll start getting those three points.

The youth across the back line for a good stretch of the season with Perry Kitchen, Ethan White and Chris Korb has been very productive but has had their fair share of low points, including giving up four goals in a listless performance against San Jose at home two weekends ago.

“They have all kind of been thrown to the wolves. Perry, Ethan, Blake (Brettschneider); all of them have had games where you have been very, very impressed and they all have had games where you haven’t been as impressed and you realize they are young kids,” said Olsen.

“But I am still very, very happy with their attitude and overall performance this year. And Conor (Shanosky) that comes out and works his tail off and we still have Andy (Najar) and Bill (Hamid)…we have a long way to go but it’s an optimistic time I think.”

United have not won consecutive league games this season but have lost back-to-back games only once as well, at New England and at Colorado to end March and start April. However, they have drawn consecutive matches on two different occasions.

“Unfortunately when we (have) played at home we have had a little confidence off a road trip,” Hamid, 20, said. “We went to Toronto and we got a good result there and then we came home and kind of stunk it up and then we got a good home result against Seattle, which is good for us, and then we came back and stunk it up again and then we went on this Portland/LA trip and got a little bit of confidence and then we came back and stunk it up again.”

After bashing Toronto 3-0 at BMO Field in mid-April, United came home to be equally pummeled by New York 4-0. That loss opened the levee and they promptly leaked eight goals in three games to close out April, including a 3-2 loss to a grossly undermanned New England team to be ousted from the U.S. Open Cup.

They played a strong match and beat Seattle at home to open May but were pedestrian and unoriginal in draws with Dallas and Colorado, also at home. So to perplex themselves and Olsen even more, they hand Portland their first ever loss at home, 3-2, and should have had the full six points in a scoreless draw with Los Angeles later that week. And to maintain the status quo, they come back home only to get smacked down by San Jose.

“We can’t keep that mentality of doing well away and then we come home and thinking that it’s easy cause we are at home in front of our fans. We have to come out and have a higher standard that we had against Salt Lake,” said Hamid, also referring to last weekend’s well deserved draw at Real Salt Lake.

“We have mental lapses in different points in the game and I hate the fact that I keep repeating this, but that happens to guys that aren’t really experienced,” Hamid continued. “So that’s when we need to buckle down as young guys; tune in for full a whole 94-minutes, not just the 90 but every single second of the game and extra time and definitely buckle down in our final third.”

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TMR Episode 34 – The Midnight Ride vs The 2-point Home Stand

Posted on 21 June 2011 by Hank Alexandre

Hank resurrects the pod to talk about the Revs recent form, the let down of the home stand, and the upcoming game in Seattle.

Joining the pod are Bob Madaio (Soccersoapbox.com) and Kevin Koczwara (thesoccerguysonline.com).

Click here to listen

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