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Revolution Friday Update: 8/13/2010

Posted on 13 August 2010 by sstoehrst

This week’s hot news item is the first visit to Foxboro from Steve Ralston after he took over the assistant coaching job in Houston. An “MLS Original,” Ralston wore the captain’s armband for two years in New England and owns an array of MLS and team records. He will be honored in a pre-kickoff ceremony on Saturday night.

During the Revolution’s historic run of success in the last decade, including eight straight MLS Cup playoff appearances, four MLS Cup Finals, a SuperLiga title and a US Open Cup title, Steve was an essential cog in a talented New England midfield. His almost telepathic understanding with Shalrie Joseph and Taylor Twellman created scores of great memories for the fans in the Fort, and despite the fact that he’s now coaching with the enemy he will always be a loved and respected member of the Revolution family.

New England reached a mutual agreement to terminate the contract of Senegalese midfielder Joseph Niouky on Wednesday. They didn’t cite any specific reasoning behind the deal, but did stress that this move was not made with the intention of opening up a roster spot for player acquisition.

This is a puzzling move at best. It can be lauded in a simple sense, as Niouky was rarely more than a waste of space on the pitch despite starting eleven of the Revs’ first twelve matches this season. His composure was horrible, calling his passes “erratic” could have been complimentary and he accumulated cards and suspensions with reckless abandon. When examined from the pure standpoint of what he brings to the table, cutting Niouky is a move that should have been made months ago.

That said, cutting him after the guaranteed contract deadline and apparently deciding not to utilize the roster spot opened by his departure is baffling. By week three everyone and their mother already knew signing him was a disaster; would it not have been a much better idea to cut him loose before July 1st and avoid having to buy him out? Furthermore, the Revolution have failed to name a full eighteen-man squad for numerous matches this campaign, so removing a body from the roster without some form of replacement seems like an unnecessary gamble.

The injury report released today indicates that Marko Perovic will be fit to start against Houston, which is phenomenal news. Revolution fans should be very interested to see how he interacts with new signing Ilija Stolica in his first MLS start; developing some chemistry between the pair could prove crucial to New England’s hopes of a playoff push.

Kevin Alston may also be available, though he suffered a setback on Thursday that must have Nicol worried. Jason Griffiths should also be available for the first time in a month after suffering a hamstring strain back on July 10th. Despite participating in drills and full-speed training again, Zak Boggs still isn’t allowed to head the ball and won’t be featuring on Saturday as he continues to recover from a concussion.

Kheli Dube, Nico Colaluca, and Edgaras Jankauskas will not be available.

Kick-off for the Revolution versus the Houston Dynamo is scheduled for 8 PM at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

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Lackluster U.S. Fall to Brazil, 2-0

Posted on 11 August 2010 by ASN Staff

A Brazilian national team missing several starters from the World Cup easily defeated a “B+” U.S. side on Tuesday night at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Teenage phenom Neymar and Alexandre Pato scored first half goals for the visitors, whose victory never really seemed in doubt outside of a chance by Landon Donovan in the opening minutes. The U.S. looked rusty and seemed uninspired, if not wholly uninterested in the proceedings on the pitch. Few Yanks outside of Maurice Edu and Benny Feilhaber showed any real workrate.

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Wizards Host Salt Lake, Hope to Extend Unbeaten Streak

Posted on 06 August 2010 by Nate Brinson

After a disappointing first half of the season, a three game unbeaten run has put the Kansas City Wizards within shouting distance of the playoffs, and they will hope to make it four when they host Real Salt Lake Saturday at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

Last week, Kansas City hosted Toronto FC, and unlike their win against Manchester United the previous Sunday, the home side had difficulty producing scoring chances. The Wizards nearly found themselves trailing at halftime when Toronto’s new signing Mista broke in alone on goal just before the break, but Jimmy Nielsen’s excellent kept the game scoreless. The game’s only goal came from a defensive mistake by Toronto’s Adrian Cann in the 62nd minute. Under pressure from Kei Kamara, Cann’s headed the ball into the path of Teal Bunbury. The Wizards rookie striker headed the ball over goalkeeper Stefan Frei for the goal.

The 1-0 victory brought the Wizards to within 4 points of a playoff spot, but Peter Vermes’ team received bad news when winger Ryan Smith was forced to leave the game with a hamstring strain. Smith could be available Saturday, but Vermes may not want to rush a player back from a hamstring injury. Josh Wolff, one of Smith’s potential replacements, has picked up a quadriceps strain and is also listed as questionable.

Salt Lake enter the game after 3-0 home win over DC United. Goals from Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley, and Nelson Gonzalez helped end a two game winless streak and brought Real to within six points of the first place LA Galaxy.

The Wizards will be hoping to avenge their first meeting of the season with Real, a 4-1 defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium. Goals from Fabian Espindola and Saborio put the hosts up 2-0 in the first half before Wolff pulled one back for Kansas City before the half. The Wizards hope for a comeback ended when Davy Arnaud was sent off in the 82nd minute, and Salt Lake took advantage with goals from Robbie Russell and Ned Grabavoy.

If Kansas City is to get the victory, they must do a much better job of controlling the midfield. Vermes tried playing Arnaud and Jack Jewsbury playing behind Wolff against Salt Lake in late May, but the Wizards boss has seemingly found an effective midfield trio in Arnaud, Craig Rocastle, and Stephane Auvray. Auvray’s return to the starting lineup after recovering from knee surgery has been key in the team’s turnaround as the Guadaloupean excels in protecting the back four as well as distributing the ball through the midfield. He will be called upon to help contain Salt Lake’s dangerous playmaker Javier Morales.

Salt Lake will provide a stern test for Kansas City, but if this team has any chance of making the playoffs, they cannot afford to drop points at home, regardless of the opposition.

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WPS: Red Stars spoil Branam’s Sky Blue return

Posted on 02 August 2010 by lbarker

Some 18 weeks after breaking a bone in her knee in Sky Blue FC’s final preseason match (way back on April 5th), goalkeeper Jenni Branam returned between the posts for the defending champs, but the visiting Chicago Red Stars put a damper on her first game back. A fourth minute tally from Ella Masar and a little insurance care of Karen Carney were all the Red Stars needed to hand Sky Blue their fourth consecutive loss. Brittany Taylor netted Sky Blue’s lone goal, but her stoppage time tally was too little, too late for the Blue and Orange.

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Weekend MLS roundup: Fire upset Galaxy in Ljungberg debut

Posted on 01 August 2010 by jtobin

A three goal first half by the Chicago Fire sparked the visiting team to a 3-2 victory over the struggling LA Galaxy on Sunday night. It was the highest number of goals the Fire have scored all season. Recent designated player signing Freddie Ljungberg replaced Marco Pappa in the 57th minute, but didn’t make much of an impact as the Fire decided to absorb the Galaxy’s pressure and relied on the counter-attack.

Since returning from the World Cup break, the Galaxy have hit a wall of sorts. Los Angeles is 2-2-2 in its last six MLS matches and has been bounced out of the US Open Cup and is in danger of sealing a similar fate in the CONCACAF Champions League Tournament. Los Angeles, which had only allowed four goals in its first 15 games, has conceded nine goals in its last three matches. “It’s a concern,” Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter told ASN’s Ivan Yeo. “We have to take a look at it and get back to the basics.”

Jeff Tobin has the happier recap from Chicago.

Ljungberg’s old team, the Seattle Sounders, also had a successful weekend, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday 1-0 in a game greatly disappointing Quakes fans. It was the kind of poor showing that had Yallop publicly criticizing his team and Quakes fans talking about wishing they had not come. Eric Pederson reports from San Jose, Calif.

The New England Revolution and the Philadelphia Union fought to a 1-1 draw Saturday afternoo. Sebastien Le Toux continued his MVP form with a wonderfully-taken goal in the first half but the Revs hit back through the red-hot Marko Perovic, his fourth league goal this season.

The Revs picked up a much-needed road point to continue their league resurgence. Steven Stoehr provides the New England reaction. But the Union feel hard-done by the result, as Breton Bonnette reports from Philadelphia.

Despite holding the lead twice, being up a man for the final 47 minutes of the game, not to mention having Thierry Henry at their disposal, the New York Red Bulls only managed a meager point away to the Houston Dynamo. Daniel Karell has the RBNY reaction.

FC Dallas went up a Mile High and came down with a point. The boys from north Texas remained unbeaten for the eighth straight game, leaving Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO with a 1-1 draw versus the Colorado Rapids Saturday afternoon. Philip Woodruff recaps the match from an FC Dallas viewpoint.

Speaking of excursions to altitude, in Utah Real Salt Lake dismantled DC United 3-1. Patrick McShane has the blow-by-blow of that match, while from the nation’s capital, Steve Long writes that DC United are still poised to exceed the mediocre record they have established for themselves. Though the playoffs still won’t happen.

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After the Dream Week, Wizards Set To Host Toronto

Posted on 31 July 2010 by Nate Brinson

The Kansas City Wizards have experienced a truly magnificent week. Their 2-1 victory over Manchester United last Sunday drew worldwide attention, particularly with the Wizards forced to play the entire second half with ten men after Jimmy Conrad’s red card. The Wizards organization could not possible have imagined that everything would go so well. The 52,000 fans in attendance (a newa Kansas City soccer attendance record) saw Peter Vermes’ team at its best. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made several key saves. The back line remained organized even after Conrad’s expulsion. Stephane Auvray impressed in his holding midfield role. Davy Arnaud’s storming runs forward were rewarded as he bagged the first goal against the Red Devils. Ryan Smith and Kei Kamara gave the United defense fits on the wings, and Sir Alex Ferguson singled out “the big lad up top”, aka rookie striker Teal Bunbury, for his impressive performance.

Perhaps even more vital to the Wizards organization was what happened after the game. In part inspired by the victory over Manchester United, the club sold 700 new tickets alone the day after the game. The club has sold a total of 1,100 new season tickets this past week for the 2011 season when they will open their new stadium.

Now, the team must find a way to put all of the hoopla behind them as they return to league play at CommunityAmerica Ballpark against Toronto FC. Two weeks ago, the club snapped a three game losing streak with a 1-0 road victory over Eastern Conference leading Columbus, and then picked up a point in a 1-1 draw with the Rapids in Colorado.

The turnaround in form is due in part to Vermes finding a successful starting eleven. Shavar Thomas, recently acquired from Philadelphia, has been an improvement in the center of defense. The midfield trio of Auvray, Craig Rocastle, and Arnaud has been able to control the center of field, and Bunbury’s physical presence has opened up space for Smith and Kamara on the flanks. The new starting eleven has finally displayed the type of fast-paced, high pressure, and free flowing game that the team showed in their 4-0 defeat of DC United in the season opener in March.

Meanwhile, Toronto enter the game after a 1-1 draw at home in league play against FC Dallas, and a 1-0 victory over Honduras side CD Motagua in CONCACAF Champions League play.

For both teams, concentration will be a key factor. For Toronto, the game in Kansas City is sandwiched between two continental games as the team will travel to Honduras on Tuesday for the return leg. Toronto would certainly like to atone for previous failures in the competition (including failing to qualify as Canada’s representative in 2008). However, the Reds would also like to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history as they currently occupy the final playoff spot.

For the Wizards, they must find a way to harness all of the positive energy from the past week and not be distracted by it. The attitude in Vermes’ side has certainly skyrocketed, and while the team is on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture, a hot streak can easily vault them back into the hunt similar to the 2008 end of season run.

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Revolution Friday Update

Posted on 30 July 2010 by sstoehrst

I’m going to try and start a new weekly feature where every Friday Hank and/or I give a brief rundown of the week’s interesting news items, with opinion. Once replaced as the lead story, these articles will be available in the “Also Noted” section in the center of the page. Now, onto the news!

The breaking news in Revs camp is the announcement of two new signings from the international free-transfer market. Serbian forward Ilija Stolica and Brazilian attacking midfielder Roberto “Betu” Linck have inked contracts with MLS and will meet up with the Revolution after tomorrow’s trip to Philadelphia.

Stolica, 31, is a tall and strong forward who most recently plied his trade at FC Buducnost in Montenegro. He, like Marko Perovic, is a former Serbian youth international and Olympian, and will be expected to slot in quickly alongside Schilawski and Perovic up front. With Dube out for a couple weeks, Stolica should see action right away. His transfer is pending receipt of his P-1 Visa.

Betu is a younger player at 22 who, interestingly, will not count as an international player for roster purposes. Betu is a veteran of Gremio’s youth system but moved the US in 2002. He played college soccer at Irvine Valley College in California and also in the US Indoor Xtreme Soccer League with the Chicago Storm. He spent last season with Romanian second-division side CSM Râmnicu Vâlcea and is awaiting his international Transfer Certificate.

Both moves seem to be steps in the right direction – since the defense has apparently sorted itself out with the return of Darrius Barnes, the biggest problem facing the Revolution has been in attack. 15 goals in 15 MLS matches simply won’t cut it, and New England can’t rely on flashes of brilliance from Perovic and the occasional goal at home from Schilawski if they want to make a playoff push.

On the other hand, do the Revs really need more unknown international Bosman players? In a summer where New York has grabbed Henry and (apparently) Marquez, Chicago signed Nery Castillo, and Seattle added another DP in the Uruguayan World Cup vet Alvaro Fernández, it doesn’t say much for the organization to continue to deal in nameless players from the dredges of the European leagues. Nothing against the Montenegran top flight or Romania’s division 2, but shouldn’t MLS teams be shooting a little higher?

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The other big news item this week has been the announcement that the New England will be opening both sides of the bowl for seating at Gillette next season. Season tickets will be available at in prime Category I midfield seats and other sections in Category II and Category III areas will also be open.

This is certainly an exciting development but, to be frank, are the Revs really making up the kind of numbers that should encourage this move? The benefits for stadium atmosphere and acoustics are obvious, but unless the real problem of failing attendance numbers is addressed you’re just going to end up spreading 10,000 lonely souls over a larger surface area. In a cavernous place like Gillette that can often have the opposite effect of what the Revs Front Office is looking for.

On the injury front, Kheli Dube will miss the clash with the Union tomorrow with a knee ligament strain. He’ll be staying in Foxboro along with Nico Colaluca (ankle), Zak Boggs (concussion), Jason Griffiths (hamstring) and Edgaras Jankauskas (adductor). Preston Burpo (leg), though on the season-ending injury list, will be traveling with the squad to Philadelphia to watch the game and be among his teammates.

And finally some fun, as Shalrie Joseph joined fellow MLS All-Stars and several Manchester United stars, including Ryan Giggs, for a tour of NASA’s Houston facilities on Tuesday. Jeff Lemieux posted pictures on the Revs official blog, and you can view them here.

Opinions on the new signings? Do you think opening the whole bowl is a good idea? Leave questions and comments below!

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Best team in MLS? Really? LA Galaxy humiliated by USL’s Islanders in a game that actually counts

Posted on 28 July 2010 by iyeo

The Puerto Rico Islanders put a serious dent in the LA Galaxy’s hopes for multiple trophies this season, decisively defeating the Galaxy 4-1 in the opening leg of its preliminary round matchup Tuesday night at the Home Depot Center. “We got beat soundly tonight,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 16

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Week Sixteen (or Week Seventeen, depending how you look at it) confirmed that Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan still deserve their title as best duo in the league but, as it was, the Galaxy looked relatively vulnerable. It was Buddle and Donovan who bailed them out late vs. San Jose. Kasey Keller showed he still has it at 40 and can come back from a bad match to make sure his Sounders gets the three points they need. It was another Sounder, however, that stole the show and deservedly won this week’s ASN Player of the Week honors.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week Fifteen

Posted on 20 July 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Week 15’s Best XI has several new inclusions as we hit the halfway point of what has proven to be a very interesting season. Kansas City, however, looking lost for the past several weeks, rode the quality play of their shotstopper to a much-needed week of results. The Union found more late game dramatics to secure three points at PPL Park, led by a fan favorite who just celebrated an impressive milestone. The battle for Player of the Week in the end went against the grain and to someone that has kept his squad in a match more times than any of us could count. Read on here.

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