Archive | March, 2009

United splits halves and points with the Fire

Posted on 30 March 2009 by Chris Snear

It’s as overused a cliché as there is-“It was a tale of two halves” – but often it’s apropos and the 1-1 draw between DC United and Chicago Fire played at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC certainly fits that description.

United squandered another lead and the Fire came from behind on the road for the second consecutive week, earning four of a possible six points in their first two matches as the guests of two home openers.

United dominated the first half taking the lead in the seventh minute on a fantastic goal by Luciano Emilio, his first of the season. The Fire allowed a sensational 9th minute goal to Kenny Cooper at FC Dallas in their first match before taking over on their way to a dominating 3-1 result.

“We started the game very well. I thought we put a heck of a lot into it and then denied them all over the place,” said D.C. coach Tom Soehn. “I wish we would have come out with a little bit more in the first half because we put so much into it and it showed, because our legs were a little heavy coming out in the second half.

“The tide changed and then we were on the defensive end. And you know any time we play each other that it’s going to be a battle, and they’re going to compete right down to the wire.”

However, after a stern talking to and some tactical adjustments by coach Denis Hamlett, the Fire completely swung the momentum to their side in the second half, equalizing the match in the 53rd minute on a classy finish by Patrick Nyarko that was aided by a poor decision by United goalkeeper Josh Wicks.

“I’m not sure I can tell you,” said a smiling Hamlett, referring to the actual words he said he used during his halftime talk. “We put it out on the table. It was an honest talk as far as ‘look we need to step our game up’ we knew we didn’t play well.

“We didn’t pass the ball well, we didn’t move well but sometimes you are going to have that but the most important thing is that you still have to compete; you still got to want to win and the 50/50’s and the second balls that is what was disturbing about the first half because we talked about it prior to the game. When you play DC that is what is what this game is always about; two teams that are always competing.”

In the first half, United won nearly every 50-50 ball and held most of the possession despite Christian Gomez’ getting few quality attacking touches and needing to be a critical factor. Both coaches concurred that the difference was winning the second balls was the primary difference in the two halves.

“I think it was a lot tougher. The first half we were first to every second ball and 60-30 balls we were winning,” said Soehn. “The second half it went more to their side. I think we put a lot into it. Overall, I don’t think the structure of things changed as much as what we had at the start.”

“The first half was not a particularly good half for us,” agreed Hamlet. “But we talked about a few things at halftime and each guy as a group we needed to step up the intensity and competing and the will to want to win the game.”

“He said 50/50 balls, pick up your energy, they are beating us to every loose ball, just make it hard on them. If they have time and space, they are tough,” said Justin Mapp, giving a synopsis of Hamlet’s pleas at the break. “We were losing all the second balls in the first half and we brought more energy which made it harder on them and that is what got us back in the game.”

“DC came out with a great mentality in the first half. We knew they were going to do that for their home opener and it’s always tough to play here,” added goalkeeper Jon Busch. “We didn’t do good enough with that in the first half and we were fortunate to only be down one. In the second half our mentality was fantastic. We started picking up all of the second balls, started winning tackles and those were things we were missing in the first half.”

A soggy field after two straight days of rain didn’t help either team with good possession but United was definitively the more commanding side through the first stanza. The extra man in the midfield within United’s 3-5-2 formation caused significant marking problems for the Fire.

Emilio collected the ball around 20-yards from goal with open space directly into the Fire penalty area. He let a strong low, left footed shot go from 17-yards before the Fire’s Wilman Conde could close him down, beating an extended Busch just inside the right post to make the score 1-0.

Then matters got worse for the Fire when defender C.J. Brown injured his right quadriceps forcing him to come off in the 14th minute. Dasan Robinson came on for Brown in central defense, himself nursing a hamstring injury.

Brown and Daniel Woolard started on the back line in the absence of both Gonzalo Segares and Bakare Soumare who are away on international duty. Segares suited up for Costa Rica in their World Cup qualifier against rival Mexico at Estadio Azteca while Soumare was with Mali’s side for their qualifier against Sudan.

“We knew missing Bake and Gonzalo, they are two important guys on our team but at the same time we feel with the roster that we have it was an opportunity for other guys to step up and tonight I think Daniel (Woolard) stepped up and held his own and I’m disappointed for C.J. but he is a warrior and he’ll continue to work hard to get himself back up and running again,” Hamlett said. “We have a deep team and guys know that and that is what makes us a team that will compete.”

Chicago briefly got some quality attacking time midway through the half but after Wicks worked his way into traffic to knock away a John Thorrington free kick, the rebound fell directly to Marco Pappa whose shot sailed just over the top in the 24th minute.

United should have extended the lead three minutes later but Chris Pontius’ open attempt from 12-yards sailed harmlessly over the top. The rookie was set up by 40-yards of creative and crisp combination play down the right flank from Jaime Moreno and Bryan Namoff, with Namoff making the final ball off the touch line to Pontius standing alone near the penalty spot.

Gomez made his most significant and direct impact four minutes later floating a perfect diagonal ball from the right flank to Ben Olsen near the 6-yard box but Busch was equal to the task, flicking the header with a sharp reflex save diving to his right.

The subtle tactical adjustment of moving Logan Pause closer to Gomez, further limited the crafty and aggressive Argentine’s time and space. Outside of the Emilio goal and the occasional thrust forward by Moreno, the other two of United’s attacking threesome were also limited.

“That is simply all down to Logan Pause,” said Thorrington. “The way we went out in the second half he was able to be closer to Gomez rather than have multiple responsibilities and I think he showed why he is the best defensive midfielder in our league.”

“In the first half they were able to take advantage of their extra man in midfield,” Thorrington added. “We went out there and positioned ourselves in such a way that they didn’t have as much time to play. In the first half, we worked so hard to get the ball and then we gave it away a bit too easily.”

“I think we should have pumped the ball down the field a little right at the beginning. That’s what we did in the first half, got it into their half and pressured them;” said United defender Marc Burch. “As soon as they started knocking the ball around us on our home field, I felt like we dropped a little bit when we should have got stuck in a couple tackles early in the second to get the crowd back into it. Instead they got a couple shots, a couple breaks, we had some turnovers, and all of a sudden it’s swinging their way.”

“They came out with some intensity,” added rookie midfielder Rodney Wallace. “I don’t know if we were ready to match it. I think we should have been prepared, we knew they were going to come out hard. They had three chances and they capitalized on one of them. We just got to move on and get the next three points we need.”

Pappa’s ball down the right channel set up Nyarko’s superb equalizer with the slick young forward slipping around Dejan Jakovic, gathering the ball and firing past a charging Wicks from 17-yards, who inexplicably came out of his goal and made a poor effort as well against the low shot in the 53rd minute.

Moments earlier, Wicks let a harmlessly slow rolling cross from close in on the right touch line slip between his legs and tantalizingly near the goal line, scooping it up before Brian McBride could get a foot on it.

“The goal that they scored, you know, he should’ve stayed in his goal. But he did a lot of positives for us too, especially that save at the end on Chris [Rolfe],” said Soehn about his young goalkeeper. “Chris has a quick trigger and put it where he wanted to and Josh got across the goal very well. Unfortunately, the one time that he comes out, he gets punished.”

Rolfe had two significant opportunities after coming on for Mapp in the 81st minute. Wicks made his best save of the night fully extending high and hard to his left to get a hand on Rolfe’s blast from the top of the penalty arc. That was preceded by another Wicks bobble before any of the shocked Fire attackers could pounce on the loose ball in the 89th minute

The energetic, University of Dayton graduate nearly stole the full three points for the visitors just seconds before the final whistle but Wicks got down nicely to gather in his left footed shot from 22-yards out.

Scoring Summary:

DC — Luciano Emilio 1 (unassisted) 7
CHI — Patrick Nyarko 1 (Marco Pappa 1) 53

Chicago Fire — Jon Busch, Tim Ward, C.J. Brown (Dasan Robinson 14), Wilman Conde, Daniel Woolard, Marco Pappa (Cuauhtemoc Blanco 70), Logan Pause, John Thorrington, Justin Mapp (Chris Rolfe 80), Brian McBride, Patrick Nyarko,

Substitutes Not Used: Mike Banner, Stefan Dimitrov, Nick Noble, Brandon Prideaux

D.C. United — Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Dejan Jakovic, Marc Burch, Chris Pontius, Christian Gomez (Brandon Barklage 86), Ben Olsen, Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Luciano Emilio, Jaime Moreno (Francis Doe 65),

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Jacobson, Thabiso Khumalo, Milos Kocic, Ange N’Silu, Anthony Peters

D.C. United Chicago Fire

Total shots: 9 (Ben Olsen 3) 10 (Brian McBride 3)
Shots on goal: 3 (3 tied with 1) 7 (3 tied with 2)
Fouls: 13 (Ben Olsen 5) 6 (Wilman Conde 2,
Logan Pause 2)
Offsides: 4 (Francis Doe 2) 0
Corner kicks: 3 (Christian Gomez 3) 2 (Marco Pappa 1,
Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1)
Saves: 6 (Josh Wicks 6) 2 (Jon Busch 2)

Misconduct Summary:

DC — Ben Olsen (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
DC — Dejan Jakovic (caution; Reckless Tackle) 79
DC — Marc Burch (caution; Dissent) 91+

Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee’s Assistants: Thomas Supple; Bill Dittmar
4th official: Andrew Chapin
Time of game: 1:50
Attendance: 15,895
Weather: Cloudy -and- 51 degrees

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Quakes survive first half slugfest to outlast Dynamo

Posted on 30 March 2009 by mdiamond

Johnson opened the scoring on minute 30

In a wild and woolly first half that saw all five goals scored within a fifteen minute span, the San Jose Earthquakes outlasted the Houston Dynamo, 3-2, for their first win of the season. Cam Weaver earned his first MLS goal with the game winner that came a minute before half time.

The Dynamo were without their two starting strikers. Brian Ching was with the US National Team, and Kei Kamara remains on suspension after a pre-season altercation. The Dynamo remain winless after two starts.

The Quakes opened the scoring in the 30th minute when striker Ryan Johnson scored the team’s first goal of the season. The play developed off a header by Arturo Alvarez into the middle to Cam Weaver drawing central defenders Geoff Cameron and Bobby Boswell. Weaver one-touched it forward to the unmarked Johnson charging into the box who slotted it off the left post.

“Coach Yallop was stressing all week about our ability to finish,” Johnson said. “That’s one thing that let us down last week, we had the chances, but we didn’t put it away. Today the final touch was there, we capitalized on our opportunities to score, and we could have had even more if we wanted to.”

Three minutes later Alvarez put on a one-man show, intercepting a pass, working down the right, turning into the middle, and unleashing a furious left-footed strike from inside the arc that beat Pat Onstad on the right.

“I saw Brian Mullan trying to attempt a pass, and I read the play,” Alvarez said about his goal. “This gave me the opportunity to steal the ball, and a tunnel opened up, and I took advantage. I also had a good shot giving me the goal.”

“I thought Arturo played well again,” Quake’s coach Frank Yallop said of his winger. “Good goal, but I thought his general play was really good. He looks sharp, glued in, and he looks dangerous when he gets the ball.”

The Dynamo said enough is enough and on the ensuing kick-off put themselves on the board. The speedy Stuart Holden ran down the right and put a perfect service to the head of Chris Wondolowski who was flanked by defenders Chris Leitch and Kelly Gray. Wondolowski easily ripped the net with his header swiftly changing the game’s momentum.

Cannon, warming up. He would need the work

Houston shocked the home crowd in the 36th when Brad Davis tied the game. Wondolowski, in the box and surrounded by defenders, tried to pass outside to Holden, but the ball deflected off Eric Denton to Davis above the arc. Davis, a poor man’s Beckham known for his pin-point accuracy, moved a little left and drilled a curving shot that eluded keeper Joe Cannon inside the left post.

“Brad Davis’s goal was a terrific goal,” Yallop conceded about the Dynamo turnaround. “Great finish. He bent it outside the post, and it bends in. No chance to do anything about it. You’ve got to give credit to Houston; two very good goals.”

Center defender Nick Garcia took responsibility. “It was a mental lapse for us. We’re plenty capable of not conceding those two goals. We should have done better; we know we can do better.”

The Dynamo attack rattled the Quakes back line. Defenders panicked and kicked the ball out needlessly quickly. In the 42nd minute, the Dynamo came close to taking the lead when Ricardo Clark drove a shot that Cannon had to go parallel to tip away.

Cannon, who had no saves in last week’s 1-0 loss to New England, had several game-savers against Houston.

“Joe was huge for us tonight,” Garcia said. “If I had to choose a player of the match, it was Joe, hands down.”

The game winner came in the 44th. From 30 yards out Chris Leitch passed straight up the middle sneaking the ball between two Houston defenders. Huckerby just slowed it down so Cam Weaver could run onto the ball and pop it over the stranded Onstad charging out.

“I think the goal Cam got really helped,” Yallop said about the Quake’s defensive lapses. “If we’d gone into the half 2-2, [the Dynamo] have their tails up, and they’re ready to go. 3-2 deflated them a bit. I told our guys at half time, ‘Let’s try to kill the game a little bit. Let’s not go helter-skelter—try to get another one and concede a goal.’”

Still, Yallop said the defense has to step up. “The two goals they had, somebody was running with the ball for about 30 or 40 yards unopposed. I told our guys don’t allow that to happen. And we did a way better job of that in the second half.”

The Quakes did exactly that, but it was a nail biter along the way. Fifteen minutes into the second half, the Dynamo had three serious strikes within just a couple of minutes. The Quakes had trouble clearing the ball under attack and kept giving the Dynamo chances while dodging bullet after bullet.

San Jose had their chances, too. In the 58th minute after a Dynamo defender tried unsuccessfully to clear the ball, Ramiro Corrales’ shot from 20 yards was wide right by a foot.

After the 80th minute the Dynamo dominated the attacks, but the Quakes were able to deflect the pressure.

“We did a pretty good job [handling the Dynamo offense],” Yallop said about holding them off the second half. “They had a couple of sniffs. So did we. They’re good soccer players out there today. Both teams were dangerous going forward. For purists, it was a good game.”

“I am obviously very happy scoring three goals at home and getting three points,” Yallop summarized. “Obviously it could have gone either way at times. I think it was an early season game where we looked a little bit disjointed at times as a unit, but three points is three points at this point, and I feel good about that.”

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Quakes outlast first half slugfest to top Dynamo

Posted on 29 March 2009 by ASN Staff

Johnson opened the scoring on minute 30

Ryan Johnson scored San Jose’s first goal of the season a half hour into Saturday night’s match against the Houston Dynamo and the teams were off to the races. Over the next 14 minutes of play, four more goals were scored, with Cam Weaver’s first career MLS goal on the stroke of halftime concluding the festival.


Mitchell Diamond reports from San Jose, Calif.

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Sounders continue dream start with 2-0 victory over RSL

Posted on 29 March 2009 by nschiffler

After you’ve read the report, see the photos here.

A surprising thought is beginning to form in the minds of many MLS fans. Maybe that club in the Northwest, the one in the bright green kits, is doing something right. Maybe the expansion Seattle Sounders FC, who beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday night, might actually be a very good team.

It was the second win in as many games for Seattle, which got goals off of the knee of Nate Jaqua in the 17th minute and the foot of Fredy Montero in the 77th. Salt Lake often had the better of the play in the second half, but they were largely unable to capitalize on their possession in the Seattle half, and what quality attempts they did have were thwarted by Sounders keeper Kasey Keller. The Washington native turned in a sparkling seven save performance and was named the man of the match.

It didn’t start out looking like a victory for Seattle, though, as they struggled to possess the ball from the get-go. RSL controlled the first 10 minutes of the match just as New York had against Seattle in the previous week. Some good interplay down the left led to a Yura Movsisyan shot from a tight angle in the 11th minute, but Keller blocked it away easily. After that the Sounders began to put their imprint on the game, and it led to their first goal 16 minutes later. From the midfield stripe, Osvaldo Alonso picked out Steve Zakuani in the left corner with a superb long ball. Zakuani proceeded to simply abuse RSL defender Tony Beltran, turning him the wrong way before flicking in a cross that an onrushing Nate Jaqua bundled into the net with his knee.

Salt Lake continued to pressure, though Seattle had by now the better of the possession and territory. In particular, the midfield battles were chippy. RSL’s Kyle Beckerman and Javi Morales, along with Alonso, picked up cautions inside of 25 minutes. Salt Lake no doubt had game tape of the magical Montero, as they were playing him extremely physically. The hulking RSL defender (and fellow Colombian) Jamison Olave was tasked with marking the quicker Montero. This led to many fouls and a yellow to Olave just before the halftime whistle. Despite the pressure, Montero was still able to be an influence on the game, and pulled off a few jaw-dropping moves with his superior ball control.

After the break Salt Lake seemed like a different team. Movsisyan broke free for a 1-on-1 with Keller, but was denied with a quality save and Clint Mathis, in excellent form on the night, missed with his follow. In the 60th minute more pressure led to a close shot from Morales, blocked only by a sliding Tyrone Marshall. Seattle’s designated player Freddie Ljungberg was brought on moments later to raucous applause, but it couldn’t change the momentum. The best RSL chance would come 6 minutes later. Good buildup led to another Morales shot being blocked by either John Hurtado or Marshall (both were making last-ditch tackles) and the follow fell kindly to Movsisyan, 12 yards out with Keller helpless. But the Salt Lake striker somehow conspired to hit his shot directly into the turf, bouncing and barely going over the crossbar. With so much RSL pressure, including seemingly endless corner kicks, Qwest Field became a nervous buzz. Seattle surely couldn’t hold this one-goal lead the whole game, could they?

As it turned out, they didn’t have to. In the 77th minute, Alonso, who had an outstanding game, won a ball in his own half, collected and eventually gave to Montero. The RSL defenders then made a mistake no MLS team will make again – giving Fredy Montero time and space with the ball. Montero obliged, and from at least 25 yards out, hit a swerving, knuckling shot that completely bamboozled keeper Nick Rimando on its way into the back of the net. Qwest erupted, the Sounders danced in celebration, and all the momentum Salt Lake had been building was completely gone. The remaining 12 minutes passed in relatively quiet fashion, and when the final whistle blew Seattle had a victory, six points in two games, and were for the moment the best team in MLS.

Sounders Player Ratings

Kasey Keller – 8 Came up with some very big saves, but just as important, he dealt ably with all of RSL’s 12 corner kicks. Very impressive.

James Riley – 5 Pretty mediocre defensively. Was good going forward, but gave the ball away in dangerous positions and was beaten multiple times.

Tyrone Marshall – 6.5 Jeff Parke who? Marshall won tons of balls in the air and performed well, although he couldn’t always keep up with Movsisyan.

Jhon Hurtado – 6 Worked well in tandem with Marshall. During the second half he was forced to scramble on defense, but he didn’t make any glaring errors.

Zack Scott – 4 Ick. He gets this rating basically because he made Clint Mathis look like an all-star. He kept getting sucked in to the middle, so when RSL switched the ball they could attack on his flank.

Osvaldo Alonso – 8 Won tons of tackles, started tons of offensive breaks, including those that led to both goals. His relentless physical play largely neutralized Morales in the midfield. For my money, the best player on the pitch.

Brad Evans – 6 Was mostly called on to defend, especially in the second half, but he did have a few good probing runs forward. He influences the game in ways not easily seen.

Steve Zakuani – 7 Surprised me, honestly. Until he got subbed out, he made poor Tony Beltran look silly every time he got the ball.

Sebastien Le Toux – 6.5 Much better than last week. He was frequently making dangerous runs, pressuring the defense. Looked more comfortable when switched to forward late in the second half.

Fredy Montero – 7 A poor game by his incredibly lofty standards. Quality in the first half under pressure. For most of the second half, he did little, tried to make passes that were too tricky and wasn’t really hustling. Right up until his wonder goal, that is.

Nate Jaqua – 5.5 Very good winning balls in the air, as most 6’4” forwards tend to be. His goal was a bit lucky going in off his knee. Played hard but was totally out of gas after about 55 minutes and had to be subbed off.

Freddy Ljungberg (sub) – 6 Didn’t have a huge impact on the game, although his introduction calmed the Sounders down a bit. In his 30 minutes he showed good touches and passing, though… the skill and quality is still there.

Nate Sturgis
(sub) – 5 Played a fairly anonymous 20 minutes. It seemed like he was almost on the wing, maybe not his normal position.

Roger Levesque (sub) – Played about a minute and I don’t think he touched the ball.

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Sol, Freedom to kick off a new era

Posted on 29 March 2009 by iyeo

After five years, women’s professional soccer is back in the United States, figuratively and literally.

A new seven-team league, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), is set to kickoff today. Two teams that figure to receive plenty of attention, the Los Angeles Sol and the Washington Freedom, will face off at the Home Depot Center on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT to kick off the inaugural season.

Both teams are big on star power. The Sol may have the brightest of the star power, as the feature standout Brazilian forward Marta Vieira da Silva (simply known as Marta). The dazzling Brazilian has been amongst the best if not the best in women’s soccer the past couple of years, scoring an amazing 111 goals in 103 matches while playing for Swedish club Umea IK. But in wasn’t until the 2007 World Cup that Marta really burst onto the scene. Playing for Brazil in the semifinals, Marta scored two goals, including an incredible highlight reel second goal, as the United States routed Brazil 4-0 to advance to the final. Marta signed a three-year contract with the Sol in January and is expected to be the main drawing card for the Sol and for WPS.

Marta isn’t the only recognizable name on the Sol roster. Los Angeles also features US national team standout Shannon Boxx. The defensive midfielder from Torrance CA has had a marvelous career playing for the United States. Boxx earned 77 caps, won two gold medals and was a finalist for FIFA World Player of the Year honors in 2005. Boxx also holds the distinction of being named to the 2003 US World Cup roster despite having never received a previous cap.

The Sol roster also feature fellow national team members Stephanie Cox (defender) and midfielder Aly Wagner (midfielder). Also in the mix is Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama. Like Marta, Miyama also made a name for herself in the 2007 World Cup, scoring two goals on two free kicks in a match against England, causing the English press to compare to David Beckham. The Sol will be coached by Abner Rogers.

The Washington Freedom also feature its own brand of star power, starting with forward Abby Wambach. Wambach has scored 99 goals in 126 games as a US national team member, including the game-winning goal that clinched the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. Wambach however missed the 2008 Olympics after suffering a broken leg in a friendly, but is expected to be fully recovered and ready to go for Sunday’s opener.

The Freedom also have solid veteran defender Cat Whitehill, who like Wambach missed the 2008 Olympic games due to injury, but Whitehill is also expected to play in Sunday’s match. Ali Kreiger was also sent to the Freedom during the US National team allocation last September, but is still under contract with German club FFC Frankfurt and probably won’t join the Freedom until midseason. Also on the Freedom roster is longtime Japanese international star Homare Sawa.

The Freedom might have a distinct advantage over the other six WPS teams. Five players, including Wambach, have played for the Freedom’s USL team. In fact, Wambach and head coach Jim Gabarra’s tenure with the Freedom date back to the WUSA days.

Game time is slated for Sunday at 3 p.m. PT. The match will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel, with Mark Rogondino and Jenn Hildreth calling the game. You can also follow the match via Twitter.com, with several players from both teams as well as WPS commissioner Tonya Antonucci providing updates.

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Cooke leads Colorado to 2-1 victory over Wizards

Posted on 29 March 2009 by ASN Staff

Cooke celebrates his opening tally

Terry Cooke did not enter the Colorado Rapids home opener until the 63rd minute. Once he did, he made his mark very quickly, scoring the game’s first goal (which he is shown here celebrating) and, after the Wizards leveled the game four minutes later, setting up the eventual game-winner. Patrick Shea reports from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., with Mike Murphy and Nick Murphy providing the photo gallery.

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A new era

Posted on 29 March 2009 by iyeo

After five years, women’s professional soccer is back in the United States, figuratively and literally.
A new seven-team league, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), is set to kick off today. Two teams that figure to receive plenty of attention, the Los Angeles Sol and the Washington Freedom, will take the field at the Home Depot Center on Sunday at 3 p.m. local time to start a new and long overdue era in women’s professional soccer.

ASN’s Ivan Yeo reports from Los Angeles.

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Sounders continue dream start with 2-0 win over RSL

Posted on 29 March 2009 by nschiffler

Fredy Montero scored another, his third in two games in a Sounders uniform and the MLS upstarts from Seattle notched their second win in as many games in the young 2009 campaign. Washington native Kasey Keller turned back seven shots and was named man of the match. ASN’s Nick Schiffler reports from Qwest Field and turns in Sounders player ratings.

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Revs battle Bulls to 1-1 draw

Posted on 29 March 2009 by mclaypool

Mansally and the Revs danced off with the tying goal

The New England Revolution and the New York Red Bulls squared off in another battle in the North East. American Soccer News had a poll on what was the biggest rivalry in the MLS. While New York vs. New England got surprisingly few votes, many die hard Revs and Bulls fans would put this pairing near the top. Both teams have very vocal supporters that make themselves heard despite playing in cavernous, (American) football stadiums (Gillette for NE and Giants for NY). In addition, the geographic proximity of the two teams entice the core supporters to make the 4-hour road trip to root for their team even for away games.

Saturday’s game was the home debut for the Red Bulls where they were hoping to shake off their opening day 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Sounders with a victory against their rivals. The Revs had a much more pleasant start to the season, at least points-wise, with a 1-0 away victory against the San Jose Earthquakes. Still, the Revs had not lost to the Red Bulls since 2005 (a record of 6-0-4 in the last 10 games), and certainly didn’t want to hand 3 points to their foes.

Both the Red Bulls and the Revs were missing key starters, with the Revs already looking to their bench due to injuries (Matt Reis, Taylor Twellman and Steve Ralston, most notably, but also Chris Albright, Gabriel Badilla and Mauricio Castro). The Red Bulls had three players called away for international play (Jorge Rojas, Carlos Johnson and Andrew Boyens) to support the World Cup qualifying matches taking place around the world.

The Revs starters were the same as for the opening game versus the Quakes, with the exception of Knighton for Reis:

Keeper: Brad Kighton
Defenders: Kevin Alston, Darrius Barnes, Jay Heaps, Chris Tierney
Midfielders: Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Sainey Nyassi, Wells Thompson
Forwards: Kenny Mansally, Kheli Dube

The game was a battle from both teams, with hard tackles, quick counter attacks, scoring opportunities (and missed opportunities) by both teams. And some sloppy play, exacerbated by a fast turf field, watered before the game, and players on both sides that are still trying to find their rhythm and chemistry with each other.

The first half showed a slight advantage to the Revs, but the lone score game after a build-up by the Red Bulls saw Khano Smith (a Revs starter last year) have his cross deflected into the net by Jay Heaps for an own goal. Despite being down by goal, the second half showed a slight advantage to the Red Bulls, with New England on the defensive for most of the half. However, in the 90th minute a brilliant flick by Shalrie Joseph sprung Kenny Mansally forward to a running header past the Red Bulls keeper.

GAME OVER: REVS 1, RED BULLS 1

Given the lateness of the goal, the Red Bulls must feel like they handed the point to the Revs, while the Revs must feel pleased to have wrested a point out of the game given that defeat looked eminent as
the game drew to a close. Still, overall, a 1-1 scoreline seemed fitting given the relatively equal battle on both sides.

Player Ratings, New England Revolution (1 lowest, 10
highest), ranked from best to worst:

Kevin Alston: 8.5
Another outstanding performance by the rookie. Alston has now gone up against Huckerby (Quakes) and Pablo Angel (Bulls), arguably two of the best attacking players in the MLS, and contained them well. Alston also roamed forward with overlapping runs and even had a hard fought scrum in the Red Bull’s box that nearly resulted in shot.

Shalrie Joseph: 8.5
Another commanding performance in the midfield. Held the ball well, went forward to attack (even if it did not produce any chances himself), and had the final, decisive assist for Mansally.

Brad Knighton: 7.5
A strong game marred only by the own goal. Knighton had 3 saves and commanded his box well.

Jay Heaps: 7
A solid performance, settling into his role as central defense (rather than defensive wing of the past few years). Made key defensive saves when needed.

Kheli Dube: 7
A better performance as forward than last week, even though he did not score.

Jeff Larentowicz: 7
A good defensive midfield performance.

Wells Thompson: 7
Determined runs forward and back. Good crosses.

Amaechi Igwe: 6.5
Showed enough speed and tenacity to cover the Red Bulls forwards. Only played for the second half when he came in for Nyassi.

Darrius Barnes: 6
A quiet night (which can be a good thing for a defender). Held his line well.

Sainey Nyassi: 6
Only played for the first half and didn’t make an overall mark on the game. Pushed forward on offense well and came back for defense.

Kenny Mansally: 6
A fairly mediocre showing, not making enough of the chances given nor holding the ball well enough up front. However, did make the most of a last-minute opportunity with a goal.

Chris Tierney: 5.5
Was at a clear disadvantage speed-wise against the Red Bull forwards when on defense. Was more effective when moved up to mid-field at half-time. Free kicks lacked sting and placement.

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Altidore, Hejduk rally Yanks to 2-2 tie with El Salvador

Posted on 29 March 2009 by ASN Staff

After surrendering goals in the 15th and 72nd minutes, the U.S. rallied when El Salvador was forced to change goalkeepers after starter Miguel Montes went down for the second time with cramps in his legs. Two minutes after reserve goalkeeper Juan Jose Gomez came on, the U.S. struck for the first time in the 77th minute.

Defender Frankie Hejduk scored a header from three yards out in the 88th as the U.S. came from two goals down to tie El Salvador 2-2 in a wild match at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador.

“El Salvador played with a tremendous about of energy, and it was our challenge to match it,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “We found ourselves behind, and that was not part of the plan, and at that point the team spirit and mentality paid off.”

The tie gives the U.S. four points through two games of the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, putting them in sole possession of first place in the hexagonal table. The focus now shifts immediately to Trinidad & Tobago, whom the U.S. will host Wednesday, April 1, at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., at 7:45 p.m. EDT on ESPN2 and Galavision.

Hejduk’s goal was his second-ever in a FIFA World Cup qualifier and first in more than 12 years. Although he now has seven career goals, his last in a qualifier came in his first career start on Dec. 21, 1996, in a 2-2 tie with Guatemala, which also was played in San Salvador. The drought of 12 years and 97 days is the longest span in U.S. history, with Tab Ramos previously going eight years and 130 days between qualifying goals between 1989 and 1997.

The goals scored by El Salvador were the first against the U.S. since Raul Diaz Arce tallied twice on Nov. 16, 1997, in a 4-2 U.S. victory in Foxborough, Mass. The U.S. is now 4-0-3 in qualifying and 13-1-5 overall against El Salvador.

The match was the second of 10 games in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Elsewhere on Saturday, Mexico topped Costa Rica 2-0 in Mexico City, and Trinidad & Tobago scored a 90th minute goal to tie Honduras 1-1. The U.S. leads the six-team group with four points while Mexico and Costa Rica are right behind with three each. The top three teams in the six-team group qualify for the 2010 World Cup, while the fourth place team enters a playoff with the fifth place team from South America.

The U.S. played the match without first choice goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was serving a yellow card suspension. Onyewu was also a scratch after spraining his knee in training last Wednesday. He could have played with the injury, but was held out with the hope of being 100 percent fit for Wednesday’s match vs. Trinidad & Tobago.

Match Facts

United States vs. El Salvador, March 28, 2009, FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Final Round
Venue: Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador
Kickoff: 7 p.m. MT
Attendance: 30,500
Weather: 73 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:

SLV – Eliseo Quintanilla (Osael Romero) 15th minute
SLV – Cristian Castillo (Rodolfo Zelaya) 72
USA – Jozy Altidore (Frankie Hejduk) 77
USA – Frankie Hejduk 88

Lineups:
USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 2-Frankie Hejduk, 14-Danny Califf, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 15-Heath Pearce (9-Jozy Altidore, 61); 16-Sacha Kljestan (6-José Francisco Torres, 72), 12-Michael Bradley (13-Maurice Edu, 95+), 10-Landon Donovan, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Brian Ching, 8-Clint Dempsey
Subs not used: 1-Marcus Hahnemann, 5-Jay DeMerit, 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 17-Jonathan Spector
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

SLV: 18-Miguel Montes (1-Juan Jose Gomez, 75), 12-Manuel Salazar, 3-Marvin González, 2-Mardoqueo Henríquez, 15-Alfredo Pacheco, 6-Julio Martínez, 7-Ramon Sánchez, 17-Cristian Castillo, 8-Osael Romero, 10-Eliseo Quintanilla (4-Dennis Alas, 82), 11-Rodolfo Zelaya (16-Carlos Ayala, 80)
Subs not used: 5-Luis Hernandez, 13-Deris Umanazor, 14-William Torres, 9-Rudis Corrales
Head Coach: Carlos de los Cobos

Stats Summary:
USA / SLV
Shots: 13 / 8
Shots on Goal: 8 / 3
Saves: 1 / 6
Corner Kicks: 4 / 6

Fouls: 12 / 8
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Michael Bradley (caution) 56th minute
SLV – Cristian Castillo (caution) 57
SLV – Eliseo Quintanilla (caution) 82

Officials:
Referee: Benito Archundia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Fourth Official: Walter Lopez (MEX)

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