Archive | June, 2009

Photo gallery: Rapids 1, FC Dallas 1

Posted on 26 June 2009 by ASN Staff

ASN’s ace photographers Mike Murphy and Nick Murphy were at DSGP Wednesday night gathering photographic evidence of the Rapids match with FC Dallas (read the match report here). Here are some of their favorite shots:

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Rapids claw back to 1-1 tie with FCD

Posted on 25 June 2009 by ASN Staff

A late goal by Omar Cummings brought the Colorado Rapids back from the brink of defeat to rescue a point from their encounter with FC Dallas Wednesday night–and with it, the team’s unbeaten run, which is now at eight games and counting. Cummings has three goals in the Rapids last two games. Pat Shea reports from DSGP and provides player ratings for both FC Dallas and the home side.

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Rapids claw back to 1-1 against FC Dallas

Posted on 25 June 2009 by pshea

It’s easy to give MLS Player of the Week honors to a striker who scores two goals and assists a third in a shutout, but Omar Cummings deserves some credit again four days later for overcoming an 84-minute scoreless hex to earn a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night against FC Dallas at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Cummings took a total of seven shots in 90 minutes, and teammate Nick LaBrocca had a higher shot-per-minute ratio by firing off five before Jacob Peterson replaced him in the 62nd minute.

When the Rapids blanked DC United on Saturday, they had a horrible first half and went into intermission with a two-goal lead. On Wednesday, they dominated the visitors from Dallas and took 10 shots, only to find themselves down 1-0 at halftime. At the end of both games, Cummings was the difference.

“We were two-nil up at halftime on Saturday,” Rapids head Gary Smith said. “But I thought we were poor. What we had was an individual who inspired the group: Omar. Tonight, he made some strange decisions in the first half, and his finishing wasn’t as clinical. And we paid the price for that. Still, I’m delighted that he scored again.”

Colorado dominated the flow in the first half, but FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman was happy with his team’s goal in the 37th minute. “It was a counterattack, a surprise,” Hyndman said. “Then we were able to hold on for quite a while. Obviously, Colorado is a very fit team, very technical. They had 19 shots. For us, we were happy that only five were on-goal. I give them a lot of credit for fighting down to the end.”

Spreading kudos for his own squad, “We come in here against a team that hasn’t lost at home,” Hyndman said. “And to keep them that close shows a lot of character. It’s not easy to play here. At the same time, we have five guys who are normally starters for us who are out with injuries.”

Goals and gist

In the 37th minute, Pablo Mastroeni tracked back to cover FC Dallas forward David Ferreira, but he had to let him go to pick up Jeff Cunningham cutting inside with the ball. Cunningham pushed a pass on the ground, and Kenny Cooper one-timed a curling chip to Ferreira, who continued his run to the right side of the box.

“I thought Jordan [Harvey] pressed the ball well” on the play, noted Smith. “That’s my first thought. And there was a tad indecision. The back three squeezed, when maybe they should have shuffled. Somewhere amongst tracking runners and shuffling instead of squeezing, we missed out. And his [Ferriera’s] touch invites Matt [Pickens] to come out. To be fair, he finished it well,” chipping it over Pickens.

Following the goal, the Rapids continued to dominate, creating more chances. LaBrocca said, “It’s a long game. You gotta keep chipping away.”

“The important thing for us was how dynamic we were in the attack,” Mastroeni said. “We kind of mixed it up, and that was good to see. With Conor [Casey], sometimes we’re one dimensional. Today, we found different ways to get through. It’s the sign of a good attacking team if you keep the defenders on their toes.”

Pat Noonan started again up front for Colorado, and he provided energy and creativity for 71 minutes.

“After about 20 minutes,” Noonan said, “I could tell I was getting over the hump. I was able to find the ball and get some touches.”

“I thought he was more creative going forward,” Smith said of his newly acquired forward. “He looked as though he was in a much better physical position. On another day, he may have had more effort toward goal. I thought his movement was terrific. He creates space for himself in and around the area.”

Pablo Ricchetti cleared a ball into the stands in the 84th minute, and Harvey took a quick throw-in to Mehdi Ballouchy, who settled the ball and pushed it to the feet of a cutting Cummings. Cummings snaked between Ricchetti and Anthony Wallace to get into the box and then turned a left-footed shot to the far post to tie the game.

U.S. win over Spain

Colorado’s players and coaches took different approaches to having important games to watch and play in one day.

“It was a great result,” noted LaBrocca, who recorded the game to watch later. “I wanted to block it out so I could focus on this game.”

Mastroeni also recorded the game and planned to watch it after finishing a nap, but Noonan called him after the first U.S. goal.

“I watched it from 27 minutes on,” Mastroeni said. “They [the U.S. team] had nothing to lose at this point. They were already thrown out of the tournament, as far as everyone else was concerned. They brought the team spirit and the fight for one another that had been missing in the first two games. Like I’ve said before, that is the element of the U.S. national team that they need. They pressed the game, found a way to score, and then kept Spain at bay. It was the most exciting game I’ve seen in a long time, probably one of the best victories in U.S. soccer history.”

“I didn’t see the U.S. game,” Smith said. “Everyone tells me that Spain was dominant. And somebody parked a bus in front of the U.S. goal, and they couldn’t find the corners. But the U.S. won two-nil.” Noting the similarities between the U.S. squad and his Rapids, Smith said, “Your form is what takes you through the season and gives you consistency.”

Seattle

The Rapids travel to Washington for an afternoon game against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday (2:00 kickoff, MT). Noonan has already played at Qwest Field this season.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Noonan said. “It will be a fun matchup and be a test to see how we react in a tough environment.”

“It’s going to be a good crowd,” captain Mastroeni said. “It wakes you up, especially after three games in a week. If you go to a place we’re they’re over the top of you, you’re playing in a different league, so to speak, as far as atmosphere goes and the passion of the fans. I think it’ll be good for us, wake us up a bit.”

Noting how he has no injuries, Smith said his players have “tired legs. The lads have put a lot of effort into the games lately. I know that you will get every ounce and breath out of them in Seattle this weekend.”

Player ratings

FC Dallas
Ray Burse, 6. Burse saved four of five shots on goal, and his positioning was better than the Rapids’ aim. His distribution was effective.

Drew Moor, 5. Captain Moor shored up the back line, but the Rapids generated plenty of chances nonetheless (19 total shots).

Kyle Davies, 5. Davies partnered with Moor to frustrate most Colorado attacks, although he benefited from Colorado’s inaccuracy.

Pablo Ricchetti, 6. Ricchetti intercepted a lot of passes and broke up plays early, and he worked the ball well when he got it.

Anthony Wallace, 4. Wallace looked nervous on the ball and didn’t get forward much, but he didn’t leave an open flank for Colorado either.

Jeff Cunningham, 45 minutes, 5. Cunningham was often isolated out of position (literally). He played on the right wing and had to beat Colin Clark and Jordan Harvey. Still, he managed to put one shot on goal in the 36th minute. And his cunning cut inside in the 37th minute forced Colorado’s defenders to adjust, which ultimately freed up Ferreira for the goal.

Brek Shea, 45 minutes, 5. With Shea’s introduction at halftime, Cooper and and Shea paired up with a different kind of running off the ball than the first half with Jeff Cunningham. Shea took a blow to the skull early in the half, but he avoided a stretcher ride and finished the game with some deft touches and vaguely threatening attacks. He didn’t shoot the ball.

Dax McCarty, 5. Although he gave the ball away a few times, McCarty was the workhouse of a visiting midfield that survived the altitude and pressure through good shape and athletic retreats.

Andre Rocha, 71 minutes, 5. Although he took three shots and created chances, Rocha’s effectiveness waned as the game wore on, so Avila came on.

Eric Avila, 19 minutes, 5. Avila maintained defensive shape, but he (wisely) didn’t push forward to stretch the lead.

Dave van den Bergh, 4. van den Bergh neither shot nor penetrated the penalty box all night, and he didn’t step up to be a big part of the game.

Kenny Cooper, 6. Cooper put two of his three shots on goal, and the third was deflected. His first-time chip for Ferreira’s goal was perfect, and he held the ball well on his feet (but didn’t fare so well in the aerial game).

David Ferreira, 7. Ferreira made a clever run into a scoring position when the Rapids defenders adjusted to Cunningham’s cunning cut inside with the ball.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens, 6. Pickens broke up plays, saved four of five shots on goal, and got the ball to his teammates.

Cory Gibbs, 6. Gibbs battled well in the air and on the ground, and he wasn’t a principal player in the FC Dallas goal.

Scott Palguta, 6. Solid tackling and head clears, and he didn’t cough up the ball.

Jordan Harvey, 5. Although Cunningham snuck through a couple times, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said he replaced Cunningham because it looked like Harvey had his number (and he said that Cunningham isn’t a true flank player.)

Ugo Ihemelu, 6. Ihemelu was monstrous in the air, but he also pushed into the attack and headed a Terry Cooke corner kick wide left in the 81st minute. Along with the rest of the Rapids (and FC Dallas, for that matter), Ihemelu didn’t get a yellow card. The total foul count was 11 on Wednesday, eight less than the total against DC United on Saturday. When games continue to flow, it benefits Colorado because the visitors don’t get as many chances to catch their breath.

Pablo Mastroeni, 6. The captain closed down the midfield, and you can’t blame him for the FC Dallas goal. He didn’t play Santa Claus for FC Dallas like he did for DC United.

Colin Clark, 3. Clark needs to realize that the word is out. When he gets the ball in isolation, one or two defenders arrive quickly. Before anyone knew any better, Clark would skin all three defenders. But now he gets mugged. It still puts the defenders on their heels, but it’s no longer effective enough. Also, Clark positioned himself well on defense, but he passed up three or four chances to tackle the ball when it was within reach.

Nick LaBrocca, 5. Although only two of LaBrocca’s five shots were on-goal, that was the most of anyone on Colorado’s roster, and they were all in the first half. Give LaBrocca credit for reading the opportunities and giving himself a chance. He also played solid defense, didn’t lose the ball, and made the most effort to find Pat Noonan.

Jacob Peterson, 28 minutes, 5. Peterson replaced LaBrocca in the 62nd minute, and the field of play stretched to the corner flags. Peterson’s quick forward running, coupled with Terry Cooke’s influence nine minutes later, helped Colorado get more chances and eventually score.

Pat Noonan, 71 minutes, 5. Noonan showed a lot more energy than he did in the DC United game, and he created a number of plays out of nothing (blocking clearances to win the ball, running diagonally to pull defenders, and holding the ball well in tight spaces). He also had a few critical flicks to Omar.

Terry Cooke, 19 minutes, 6. Cooke ran down balls to the endline, and while FC Dallas couldn’t sustain chances, the Rapids earned corner kicks and Cooke took four of them. Some corner kicks created good shots (Ihemelu header in the 81st minute), and others turned into re-crosses.

Mehdi Ballouchy, 6. Ballouchy played with ferocity, cleverness, and endurance. He forced Dax McCarty to make uncharacteristic give-aways, and he assisted Cummings for the goal.

Omar Cummings, 6. Although he missed six of seven shots, Cummings pursued persistently and preserved Colorado’s unbeaten streak at home with his goal in the 84th minute.

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Bradley announces Gold Cup roster

Posted on 25 June 2009 by ASN Staff

The day after the U.S. Men’s National Team’s historic upset of Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals, head coach Bob Bradley announced the 23-player roster that will represent the U.S. at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup July 3 to July 26, 2009.

The Gold Cup kicks off July 3, with the Yanks’ first game against Grenada at Seattle’s Qwest Field on Saturday night, July 4. The team then crosses the country to face Honduras on July 8 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., before rounding out group play against Haiti on July 11 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Only four players from the Confederations Cup squad (Freddy Adu, Charlie Davies, Heath Pearce and Luis Robles) are named to the Gold Cup roster, with only one (Davies) having seen regular playing time in South Africa. The roster also includes the return of regular starters Steve Cherundolo and Brian Ching from injury. Cherundolo, sidelined after hip surgery, has not appeared since Oct. 11, 2008, against Cuba, and Ching returns after missing the last two FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup with a hamstring strain.

Overall, just six players on the roster have more than 10 caps, with Cherundolo leading the way at 51 international appearances. Seven players – including Robles – will be looking to make their U.S. National Team debut, while another nine have five or fewer caps. The 23-man roster averages just eight caps against the 27-cap average for the 2009 Confederations Cup roster as Bradley let most of the regular national team players either return to their clubs or have a brief break before starting training camp for the 2009-10 season.

Three goalkeepers on included on the roster, but only two will be with the team to begin the tournament. Troy Perkins joins the U.S. with one career cap, a 90-minute appearance in January’s 3-2 victory against Spain. Luis Robles of FC Kaiserslautern has been training with the team since May 26 and is still in search of his first appearance. Jon Busch will remain with the Chicago Fire unless needed due to suspension or injury.

The U.S. is seeking to become the second team to win three consecutive Gold Cups, having claimed the crown in 2005 and 2007. Mexico won three consecutive titles from 1993 to 1998 and also won in 2003.

U.S. Men’s National Team Roster: 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jon Busch (Chicago Fire), Troy Perkins (IK Start), Luis Robles (FC Kaiserslautern)
DEFENDERS (7): Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Jay Heaps (New England Revolution), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaellands), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Davy Arnaud (Kansas City Wizards), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Colin Clark (Colorado Rapids), Sam Cronin (Toronto FC), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (5): Freddy Adu (AS Monaco), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United)

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Gold Cup roster announced

Posted on 25 June 2009 by ASN Staff

The day after the U.S. Men’s National Team’s historic upset of Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals, head coach Bob Bradley announced the 23-player roster that will represent the U.S. at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup July 3 to July 26, 2009.

Get the full story at ASN’s USMNT page.

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Where does the ‘Spanish shocker’ rank among U.S. soccer upsets?

Posted on 25 June 2009 by ASN Staff

As the minutes counted down to the U.S. Men’s National Team’s shocking upset of Spain in Bloemfontein, South Africa yesterday, the speculation started: How big of an upset was this? Obviously, huge. CONCACAF clubs don’t just beat the reigning European champions (least of all fielding their ‘A’ lineups) in the knockout rounds of major tourneys. Throw in the fact that Spain had won a record-tying 15 straight matches in international competition, was unbeaten in 35 and had not been scored on in eight and it raised the stakes even more.

No surprise, then, that the BBC immediately called it “one of the biggest upsets in world football.”. But what about other great upsets in U.S. Men’s National Team history? How does yesterday’s triumph compare to those exploits? Grant Wahl, in his excellent postgame reaction piece, ranks the Spanish Shocker (a.k.a. The Beatdown in Bloemfontein) in the top five of all-time USMNT victories. His others:

  • U.S. 2, Mexico 0, 2002 World Cup, second round.
  • U.S. 1, England 0, 1950 World Cup, first round.
  • U.S. 3, Portugal 2, 2002 World Cup, first round.
  • U.S. 2, Colombia 1, 1994 World Cup, first round.

With apologies (and thanks) to Mr. Wahl, we will add one more to the list: the 1-0 defeat of Brazil at the 1998 Gold Cup. These six matches, then, form our choices in the poll of all-time U.S. Men’s National Team soccer upsets. Cast your vote and defend your choice in the comment fields below.

[polldaddy poll=”1734909″]

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U.S. shocks Spain 2-0 to advance to Confederations Cup final

Posted on 24 June 2009 by ASN Staff

This was not supposed to happen. The U.S. Men’s National Team was not even supposed to be here, for starters. And it certainly wasn’t supposed to put up much resistance against the defending European champions. The Spanish national team, lest we forget, had won 15 straight games coming into today’s match and was unbeaten in its last 35. It had not yielded a goal in something like 400-plus minutes. It was, by all accounts, the best team in the world. Better than Brazil, which had made short work of the U.S. in their group stage match. Probably better than world champions Italy (ditto). Certainly, positively, 100 percent better than the U.S. That did not even bear mentioning.

U.S. soccer fans appeared resigned to their fate in the days and hours leading up to the match. According to an ASN poll, 79% did not give their team a chance. And why should they? Bob Bradley’s side had only made the semifinals by a quirk in the tournament’s tie-breaking hierarchy. They were supposed to be back home, preparing for the Gold Cup, not shivering out the South African winter and taking on the best team in the world. If the Yanks even managed to make the game at all interesting it would be a massive accomplishment.

They made it interesting all right. The U.S. came out firing on all cylinders, pushing upfield at a blistering pace that must have had the Spaniards wondering who exactly they were facing. The opening goal, scored by Villareal outcast Jozy Altidore, was no fluke but a reflection of what had transpired on the pitch the first 26 minutes. This was no lucky victory by the Yanks. True, Spain probably underestimated their opponents, but considering the U.S.’ play in two of three group stage matches, they had good reason to do so. But the U.S. outplayed and outhustled their opponents. They had more passion, more espirit de corps. They were the better team. And they deserved to win.

Eventually, U.S. soccer pundits who had been calling for Bob Bradley’s head a few short days ago will attempt to put this victory in perspective. So too will our European counterparts. Then there will be the inevitable comparisons to other great upsets in U.S. sports history. Make no mistake: This was nothing close to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” but it was quite possibly the biggest U.S. soccer upset since the 1950 World Cup. It means that on a good day, the U.S. Men’s National Team is a force to be reckoned with. Even by the best team in the world.

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U.S. shocks Spain to gain Confederations Cup final

Posted on 24 June 2009 by ASN Staff

Jozy Altidore gave the U.S. a first-half lead it would never relinquish in its Confederations Cup semifinal match with Spain at Bloemfontein, South Africa. The defending European champions, fielding an “A” side and unbeaten in 35 games entering the match, huffed and puffed but could not blow the Yanks’ house down. Clint Dempsey added a second goal late in the second half and the U.S. went on to book arguably its biggest soccer victory in nearly 60 years.

Read on at ASN’s USMNT page.

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ASN photo gallery: Quakes 2, Galaxy 1

Posted on 24 June 2009 by ASN Staff

ASN’s Damon Tarver was at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Saturday night gathering photographic evidence of the second California Clasico of the 2009 campaign. (Check out Eric Pederson’s match report and player, intangible ratings here).

Here are some of his favorites.

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One year ago in American Soccer News

Posted on 24 June 2009 by ASN Staff

U.S. Women’s National Team coach Pia Sundhage named her 18-woman roster for the Olympic tournament in Beijing (ASN, June 23, 2009).

Nine players on the roster were members of the U.S. team that won the gold medal four years ago in Athens, Greece, including team co-captains Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf. Abby Wambach, who had hoped to reach 100 goals in the Olympics, was on Sundhage’s original list but would be injured in the friendly win over Brazil and forced to miss the tournament. The U.S. went on to win Olympic gold.

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