Archive | March, 2009

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Revs claw out 1-1 draw at Swamp

Posted on 29 March 2009 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Try as they might, the New York Red Bulls just can’t beat the New England Revolution. Since the team’s 2006 reincarnation as “FC Energy Drink,” New York has not managed to defeat their rivals to the north in a regular season game. Saturday night at Giants Stadium, they came about as close as they ever will, surrendering the game-tying goal on a defensive foul-up that brought to life some of the franchise’s most painful memories–and perhaps resurrected demons thought exorcised by last season’s memorable playoff run.

Leading 1-0, the home side was done in by a desperate long ball in the 90th minute that went over defender Kevin Goldthwaite. Red Bulls keeper Danny Cepero had compromised himself by coming out past the penalty spot to challenge the ball, leaving an empty net for New England striker Kenny Mansally to volley the ball into.

The goal was not without some controversy. Red Bulls striker Macoumba Kandji had injured himself on the previous play and was laying by the Revs’ endline. Standard procedure would have been for New England, once it spotted the injured player, to put the ball into touch so Kandji could receive treatment. Instead, Shalrie Joseph launched the “hail Mary pass” that led to Mansally’s equalizer. The Red Bulls, for their part, did not seem to fault New England for playing on as much as they blamed themselves for not making their opponents–and the referees–aware of the situation. “I thought that was naivete,” Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said of the play. “You have to be cleverer than that. It’s the last minute of the game, Mac…when he was down, instead of our official going to look at him, Dominic [Oduro] just rushes back and we just aren’t prepared to defend the long ball.”

Kandji said he should have stayed down rather than try to get back into the play, as the referee was urging him to do. “The ref kinda helped me up fast and the next thing I know, it’s a goal,” he recalled. “I think [New England] should have kicked the ball out of bounds and I think I should have stayed down longer. Even if the ref comes and tries to help me up, I should have stayed down.” The Senegalese forward said he had learned from his mistake. “A tough lesson to learn but those little mistakes we have to make up to make us better,” he said.

While the team’s play as a whole was vastly improved from opening night in Seattle, it still has not scored a goal this season by its own hand; the 35th minute go-ahead goal was an own-goal by Jay Heaps on a cross from his former teammate Khano Smith. Kandji, probably the best Red Bull on the night, made it happen, dribbling free and playing a perfectly-paced ball into the area for Smith to run on to. Smith was looking for Angel but Heaps played the cross into his own net.

Both coaches felt their teams were hard done by the result. “I gotta be honest with ya, I thought we deserved to win the game,” said Revs head coach Steve Nicol. “We created some great chances but never took them.” Osorio, while admitting the Revs “had a couple of good chances in the first half,” nevertheless insisted his team was better in the second and “basically gave that point away.”

Osorio switched from the 4-3-3 formation in the Seattle game to a 4-4-2 with Kandji and Juan Pablo Angel as the strikers. Kandji seemed to prefer being an attacker in the 4-4-2 more than the winger position he played in Seattle. “If they put me up top, I can run back and forth everywhere, I can help defend because it’s a free role,” he said.

The role suits him as well. Kandji is simply not a winger, least of all a left wing. Not only does he have great control on the ball, but his 6’4″ frame makes him a better target for crosses than creator of them. He reads the game extremely well and, once he spots his teammates’ runs, has the passing skills to put the ball into space for them. This was on display several times Saturday night, most notably in the Red Bulls’ first-half goal and in the 75th minute when he found Angel on the right side of the six yard box, where the Colombian’s shot narrowly missed the far post.

So Kandji needs to be in the center of the pitch, where he can see a lot of touches and create chances as well as finish them. Come to think of it, maybe the 24-year old is the creative attacking midfielder the Red Bulls have been searching for?

“He played really well, he held the ball well, he created chances for us,” Osorio said of Kandji. “Perhaps too many back heels to my liking but we’ll sort that out.”

The biggest surprise to Osorio’s starting lineup was the starter at left back, Danleigh Borman. “Because Mansally and Kheli Dube are quick strikers, I wanted a quick defender and a tall defender who can compete in the air,” said Osorio about his decision. While the latter player sounds like it may describe Mike Petke, Osorio seemed to prefer a left-footer for that position, even though it was in central defense. “Kevin is my only left-footer so that was the upper hand for him,” he said of Goldthwaite. “And obviously Carlos Mendes is the quicker of the two.”

How did Borman do in his new role? “In my opinion Danleigh Borman was our best player in the first half,” said Osorio. “So I’m pleased with that decision.”

Where do the Red Bulls go from here? To Chicago, next Sunday, to play the Chicago Fire, unbeaten in their first two games of the season. The last time they played at Toyota Park, New York was embarrassed in a 5-2 beatdown that very nearly ended their season. Next week’s game will be dissected in due time. First, this week’s player ratings:

New York Red Bulls Player Ratings (1-10 with 10 being highest)

Cepero – 6 – Bailed the team out big-time in the first half but shaky on crosses. Also not without fault on the Revs goal.

Borman – 7 – Did well playing an entirely new position, but was not challenged all that much. Still, nice job.

Goldthwaite – 5 – Played better than he did in Seattle (which doesn’t say anything) but still not good–or even average. A few nice headers in the first half but too much ball-watching. And of course the game-tying goal is largely on him.

Mendes – 5.5 – Didn’t always pick up his man quickly enough (or at all, even). Some stupid fouls. Unnecessary yellow card.

Hall – 7 – Another strong showing. This boy’s got skills. Appears to be particularly strong in the air. Was beaten on one ball in the first half but otherwise solid throughout.

Smith – 6.5 – Did well in the first half. Had some nice passes and created problems for the Revs defense. Disappeared after half time.

Ubiparipovic – 6.5 – Several good moves, particularly in the first half. His job duties were mainly defensive, but he can factor in the attack as well. Some of his passes were a little heavy though. Also a bit selfish at times.

Sassano – 6 – Barely noticeable, which is okay seeing as he too was mainly tasked with a defensive assignment. Nearly scored the game-winner in stoppage time.

Richards – 6 – Had a few moments but need to see more of him.

Kandji – 8.5 – In my view the best player on the pitch. Showed great ball control, strength on the ball, vision and creativity, creating nearly all of the team’s chances. Could be a very dangerous player if he is used properly (i.e. not as a left wing) and gains confidence.

Angel – 6 – Didn’t see enough of him in the first half. Did the most of the few chances he got. Is he doing enough to show for balls? Appeared frustrated with Richards at times.

Match Facts

New York Red Bulls 1, New England Revolution 1
March 28, 2009 – Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.

Scoring Summary:
NY- Own Goal (35′)
NE – Kenny Mansally 1 (Shalrie Joseph 1) 90′

New York Red Bulls — Danny Ceparo, Jeremy Hall, Kevin Goldthwaite, Carlos
Mendes, Danliegh Borman, Khano Smith (Doninic Oduro 77′), Luke Sassano,
Sinisi Ubiparipovic, Dane Richards, Macoumba Kandki, Juan Pablo Angel

Substitutes Not Used:Alec Dufty, Mike Petke, Matthew Mbuta, Juan
Pietravallo, Nick Zimmerman, John Wolyniec.

New England — Brad Knighton, Kevin Alston, Chris Tierney, Jay Heaps,
Darrius Barnes, Wells Thompson, Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Sainey
Nyassi (Amaechi Igwe 46′), Kenny Mansally, Kheli Dube.

Substitutes Not Used: Zack Simmons, Rob Valentino, Pat Phelan, Michael
Videira, Argenis Fernandez

Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey, Nate Clement
4th official: Jorge Gonsalez
Time of game: 1:50
Attendance: 12,462
Weather: Cloudy, 50 degrees

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Revs claw out 1-1 draw at the Swamp

Posted on 29 March 2009 by ASN Staff

Led by a stellar performance by Macoumba Kandji, the New York Red Bulls were within stoppage time of defeating the New England Revolution for the first time in four years. Then, as it has so often in the history of the franchise, disaster struck.

Read ASN’s Giants Stadium match report, get the Red Bulls player ratings and vote on who was to blame for the equalizer

Revs fans can read a happier recap as well as get player ratings for their team here.

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USMNT rallies for 2-2 tie at El Salvador

Posted on 29 March 2009 by ASN Staff


Eighteen minutes from time, it looked as though all was lost for the U.S. Men’s National Team. The Yanks had just gone down 2-0 to a pumped up El Salvador side who had the full-throated support of a partisan crowd at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlan. But some shrewd substitutions by Bob Bradley paid off and Frankie Hejduk willed the U.S. to two goals–and an unlikely point.

Read on, and vote in ASN’s Man of the Match poll

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Cooke leads Rapids to 2-1 win over Wizards

Posted on 29 March 2009 by pshea

As he took off his warmup gear in the 63rd minute, Terry Cooke must have heard the handful of Colorado fans cheering behind the bench at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night. The crowd roared when he ran onto the field, and the volume doubled when he curled a free kick into the upper corner moments later.

Skip right to the photos here

“He’s an extremely valuable member of the group,” Rapids head coach Gary Smith said after the game. “You’ve seen what a good professional he is. He comes on, he attacks the game, and on this occasion he wins it, no two ways about it.”

Before Cooke entered the game, Wizards’ defender Jonathan Leathers chopped down Colin Clark outside the penalty box on the left side. Clark, Cooke, and fellow midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy congregated near the ball. Clark ran over it, and (as if he had seen this movie before) Ballouchy turned and headed back to line up for a kickoff while Cooke curled the ball over the wall off the post in the return address corner.

If Smith looked like a genius for putting in Cooke, Curt Onalfo was the Wizard from Kansas. Onalfo inserted Michael Kraus for Abe Thompson, and Kraus earned the equalizer with an opportunistic dash behind the Colorado defense two minutes after stepping on the field.

Rapids defender Cory Gibbs failed to collect the ball. Kraus pounced and then pounded a shot in off the crossbar as a stunned Matt Pickens retreated to the goal.

“We were flat,” noted Colorado defender Ugo Ihemelu. “You’re always most vulnerable after a goal.”

According to Smith, “Every single time one of our defenders went to attack the ball, the back four was so flat that anything that skipped through or was missed was generally picked up by a forward taking a little bit of a gamble. There wasn’t any anticipation that one of our defenders might mishead or miskick. We just looked vulnerable. That can’t be.”

With the score tied, Cooke continued to add an edge to the Colorado attack. Four minutes after the equalizer, Cooke sent a long cross into the box, and Casey headed it inches wide of the post.

A minute later, Cooke set up the game-winner with a curling pass into Clark’s stride on the left side. Rather than shred his way into the two defenders containing him, Clark held the ball while Omar Cummings raced unmarked up the center of the field. Clark fed Cummings, who banged the ball low into the corner.

From the beginning

The Rapids maintained possession for the first 20 minutes, primarily attacking with Jordan Harvey and Clark on the left side. But when Gibbs got a yellow card for trampling former Rapids forward Herculez Gomez on the wing, the Wizards took control. Claudio Lopez took four shots from that point until halftime, forcing Pickens to make three of his four saves of the night, including a spiked header off a cross from Leathers that Pickens was lucky enough to parry off the line.

Moments before halftime, Nick LaBrocca carried the ball up the center of the field and rifled a low shot, one of six on-goal for the home side.

In the second half, Pickens kept Colorado in the game with one more save, deflections for corner kicks, and decisive clearances. But it was Cooke who secured the game for the Rapids.

Up next

The Rapids will hit the road for about a month, including three games against the Galaxy. In addition to a game at the Home Depot Center on April 4, they’ll play a U.S. Open Cup game on April 7. After visiting Columbus for a game on April 11, they’ll head south to face the Dynamo on April 19, and then return home to host the Galaxy on April 25.

Final thoughts from Colorado’s head coach

“I’m disappointed,” Smith said. “Even though we won the game, there were too many times we looked like we could give the game away. We have to be better than that if we’re going to achieve anything.”

ASN Photo Gallery

ASN’s ace photographers Mike Murphy and Nick Murphy were at DSGP Saturday night and snapped the following photos:

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Chivas hit Big D hoping to maintain momentum

Posted on 27 March 2009 by tbruce

The Red and Whites are confident that they can get wins on the road this season, starting with their Sunday matinee at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex. With the introduction of Mexican stalwarts Mariano Trujillo and Eduardo Lillingston and the return from injury of forward Maykel Galindo last week, the chance of scoring goals away from home has certainly increased. Read on.

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Chivas hit Big D hoping to keep momentum

Posted on 27 March 2009 by tbruce

Trying to continue its winning ways, Chivas USA, will travel to face FC Dallas this Sunday at 12:00 noon PT.

With a win in the first game of the season versus the Colorado Rapids, the Red and Whites are hoping to come home with a winning streak to start the new season.

Away wins are not easy to come by in this league and the game against Dallas will not be easy. Coming off a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Fire in their season opener will push the Texans to fight for the victory in front of their home fans.

The Chivas players know that they will have their hands full in their visit to Texas. “With (Kenny) Cooper and (Jeff) Cunningham together up top you know they will be a handful to stop”, said Chivas defender Carey Talley.

The Red and Whites are confident that they can get wins on the road. With the introduction of Mexican stalwarts, Mariano Trujillo and Eduardo Lillingston and the return from injury of forward Maykel Galindo, last week, the chance of scoring goals away from home has certainly increased.

Although Gallindo’s strike partner, from last season, Ante Razov, is still out after ankle surgery, Chivas found goals from an unlikely source against the Rapids. Defensive midfielder Paulo Nagamura stepped up last week to score two goals.

“I will still play a defensive role, but (head coach) Preki has given me more freedom to go forward and join the attack”, said Nagamura.

The return of Alecko Eskandarian, from a hip strain, will also give the Red and Whites a legitimate goal scoring threat away from home.

Currently sitting on top of the Western Conference, along with the expansion Seattle Sounders, Chivas, will return home after the game in Texas to play the current MLS champion, Columbus Crew, Sunday, April 5 at the Home Depot Center.

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DC United anticipate hot contest with the Chicago Fire

Posted on 27 March 2009 by Steve Long

When DC United plays the Chicago Fire, the fans are guaranteed to witness a hard-fought struggle. The Fire were among the first MLS teams to realize that United is best defended by shutting down their attacking center and DC, in turn, will make life miserable for Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The game may well be settled by how the referee deals with persistent infringement.

Interestingly enough, MLS has yet to disclose who will control the match. Conspicuously absent from the five top centers already assigned for the weekend is the name of Jair Maruffo, who has only the Sunday match in Dallas as an alternative to covering DC-Chicago.

Both teams will target opposing engines and complaints are sure to flow from both sides. In particular, the Fire will harass Christian Gomez, who has a history with them and United will pester Blanco, who has a worse history with them.

Coach Tom Soehn will probably give the Blanco charter to Ben Olsen, who has learned well from Richie Williams how to get in the pocket of an opponent and drive him to distraction. Olsen never lets a rival forget his presence, using little tugs and nips at the poor target to enrage him while coming up short of drawing a caution.

Blanco has a well-earned reputation for diving and losing his temper. He is often targeted for close attention, and rightly shares a frustration with United’s Jaime Moreno and Gomez with MLS referees’ tendency to let the tactic succeed . Thus, the choice of referee and the choices made by the referee will have a major impact on the conduct and result of the game.

The need to harass Blanco and the potential rewards of unbalancing him should lead to a 3-5-2 formation to allow Olsen to focus on one man while Clyde Simms cuts off the Fire’s alternatives. Since both teams are hurting in the back, defense will inevitably be more focused than usual in midfield.

The Fire are missing both Gonzalo Segares and Boukary Soumare to international duty and United have two large question marks in Devon McTavish and Greg Janicki whose heads continue to heal after last Sunday’s collision.

If the center is mutually denied by hard play, the contest will devolve to the wings where the Fire have a particular strength with the speed of Justin Mapp. In years past, DaMarcus Beasley provided width for the Fire, only to find himself neutralized by the tenacious Josh Gros. Mapp has often been similarly stifled.

DC will very probably be without the veteran services of Santino Quaranta and Fred, and will rely on Rodney Wallace and a player to be determined to perform strong two-way service. Wallace’s collegiate experience in defense should help him to focus on that element as he fronts for Marc Burch. The ability of either to swing into attack should also take the opposing winger out of his rhythm.

On the right side, the strength of Bryan Namoff may allow Soehn to test the impressive Chris Pontius on the wing. His placement there will be a bit of a risk, but would reward his excellent offensive efforts last Sunday while starting the cagey duo of Luciano Emilio and Moreno up front.

Moreno and Gomez will often drift to wide positions and switch front to back. This will present the inexperienced Fire defenders with mental challenges. In turn, Brian McBride will present United’s youth with a veteran’s bag of tricks and a solid aerial presence.

As with so many DC United matches, the contest will focus on midfield with bursts of offense by both sides. The Fire have the solid Jon Busch in their net while United will probably use Louis Crayton. This should be a barn-burner and how the referee/fireman responds to the action may well be the decider.

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Quakes, Dynamo reunite for first clash of the season

Posted on 27 March 2009 by epederson

It’s sibling rivalry unchained this Saturday night when the Quakes face the Houston Dynamo at Buck Shaw stadium in a game where there is always more at stake than meets the eye. The action and atmosphere should be intense.

The Quakes and the Dynamo will both be fighting for their first win of the season this Saturday, both feeling the sting of not starting their season to plan. The Quakes will be looking for their first goal. Team belief and momentum, or lack thereof is at stake on the pitch, the game is worth more than the three points.

San Jose would be remiss to underestimate the Dynamo line-up even if some of Houston’s best players will not play. Forward Brian Ching is with the US Mens National Team, while defender Eddie Robinson is out injured. Dwayne De Rosario now plays for Toronto FC. Kei Kamara is suspended for, of all things, a comment he made at a preseason game with San Jose. With Ching and Kamara out, the Dynamo will be trying something different up front, probably partnering Chris Wondolowski with Brian Mullan or Geoff Cameron. The Dynamo have depth, quality and a winning mindset.

Last October the Quakes went to Houston with play-off hopes still alive only to have them snuffed out by a reduced Dynamo squad that showed their championship pedigree. The Dynamo started fast and got a scrappy goal in the 6th minute. Kei Kamara was ejected 5 minutes later but the Quakes could not take the lead despite playing for 79 minutes a man up. Houston finished the Quakes off in the 93rd minute with a second Stuart Holden goal in a gritty performance.

Stuart Holden is expected to start again this match, while there is no player on the current Quakes squad who has scored against Houston. The two clubs’ short history against each other is dead even, with each having one draw, one win and four goals to their credit.

Last week the Quakes exhibited attacking intent against the New England Revolution in their first game of the season, lacking only the quality finishes needed to yield goals. A couple moments of poor focus yielding a defensive error and a couple of poor finishes belied the Quakes dominance over most of the 90 minutes.

Darren Huckerby looks, as last year, a real force on attack, and Ryan Johnson looks capable of keeping pace with him. It is simply too soon to judge Bobby Convey’s impact, but this would be a great game for Bobby to turn his promise into points; eyes will be upon him. Quincy Amarikwa and Shea Salinas, coming on as substitutes, have looked hard to contain going forward, fast and dynamic. Starter Arturo Alvarez has been equally dangerous, if more selective in developing opportunities. There is enough attack in the Quakes squad, but better finishing will be required to win Saturday.

The crowd at Buck Shaw will be in full voice Saturday night. Earthquakes fans recall how their team was taken from them and moved to Houston in 2006 and how, renamed the Dynamo, their team won two straight MLS Cups for Houston, 2006-2007. The fans know this adversary; 10 members of the 2005 Earthquakes team still play for the Dynamo. Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear has been both an Earthquakes player and coach. Every mention of Houston brings back the San Jose fans’ pain of losing their MLS team.

Quakes fans will always demand victory over the Dynamo to make things right but the Dynamo are a championship capable side. The Dynamo are not going to lose the game, instead the Quakes will have to win it.

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DC United anticipate hot contest with Chicago Fire

Posted on 27 March 2009 by Steve Long

When DC United plays the Chicago Fire, the fans are guaranteed to witness a hard-fought struggle. The Fire were among the first MLS teams to realize that United is best defended by shutting down their attacking center and DC, in turn, will make life miserable for Chicago’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco. The game may well be settled by how the referee deals with persistent infringement.

Interestingly enough, MLS has yet to disclose who will control the match. Conspicuously absent from the five top centers already assigned for the weekend is the name of Jair Maruffo, who has only the Sunday match in Dallas as an alternative to covering DC-Chicago.

Read on here.

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Quakes vs. Quakes, Season 2 Edition 1

Posted on 27 March 2009 by ASN Staff

The team formerly known as the San Jose Earthquakes will face off against the team currently known as the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night in San Jose. If you think that’s confusing, wait until you read about some of the myriad of other developments with the Houston Dynamo this week. Of course, with the wounds of the team’s move to Houston in 2005 still fresh in the minds of many Quakes fans, there is more at stake than three simple points. Eric Pederson previews the game from San Jose’s perspective.

Elsewhere, Real Salt Lake travel to Seattle for their season opener (RSL’s that is. The Sounders obviously had theirs last week, as any North American soccer fan not hiding in a cave can attest). Will it be a perfect 2-0 start for Seattle? Freddie Ljungberg is expected to see action, so Jason Kreis’ men can expect to have their hands full. Then again, the New York Red Bulls did not play well at all in their season opening loss at Qwest Field, so assuming RSL put up a halfway decent fight there’s no telling what will happen. This is still MLS and parity is the order of the day.

What do you expect from these two games? Share your thoughts below.

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