Tag Archive | "United"

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“New Quakes” look to maintain momentum against United

Posted on 04 September 2008 by mdiamond

As the San Jose Earthquakes suit up for their game this Saturday against D.C. United, the players and coaches will be dealing with a kind of pressure they have not had to face yet this season: a serious expectation to win. Since the franchise’s revival earlier this year, the Earthquakes organization and their faithful fans have relished the “baby steps,” as captain and center back Nick Garcia put it in a February interview, that have snowballed into the team’s current seat at 4th place in the Western Division. Now, with a newly and somewhat suddenly productive offense that has offered 14 goals in its last 7 games (as opposed to the 12 tallies it managed in the 16 games before that), the Earthquakes are as offensively potent and as fun to watch as they were before their departure from Spartan Stadium in 2004, and have maintained a defensive stinginess that is most exemplified in Joe Cannon’s fantastic goals-against average of just 1.18.

The last match these teams played means exactly as much as the four stars atop United’s crest will mean come 7 p.m. Saturday – nothing. The June 22 matchup between these two squads (which D.C. won 3-1) should be neither a source of apprehension nor a spring of revenge-fueled motivation for San Jose. They are a different squad entirely, sporting a midfield and front line that contain few of the players that took the field at RFK stadium. The addition of Darren Huckerby on the left flank, Artruro Alvarez and Scott Sealy in the forward slots and Ronnie O’Brien’s consistent hard work up and down the right sideline have given every other team in the MLS something to think about.

San Jose’s defense should have their hands full this Saturday matching up against Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno, who have combined for 20 goals already this season. Captain Nick Garcia and central defender Jason Hernandez, both solid ball-winners, should be able to contain D.C.’s deadly duo one-on-one, but when combination play at the top of the penalty area ensues the Quakes need to maintain their composure and double their work rate in order to prevent disaster. Without the settling presence of injured Ramiro Corrales in the midfield, San Jose must be wary of through-balls and quick counterattacks in the middle of the park. Ned Grabavoy slid into Corrales’ vacant position in the Quakes’ match against Kansas City last Saturday and looks to build his confidence and establish greater chemistry with the rest of the starting 11 this weekend. Grabavoy must maintain the blistering end-to-end pace that makes San Jose dangerous, but if his performance against the Wizards was a preview of what he will do against United, the Earthquakes midfield looks to be in good shape. For a team that lives and dies on momentum (only 10 of their games this season have seen a goal from both sides) the Quakes must look to score early, control the pitch with crisp passing and physical tackles, and manage the center of the park even without Corrales’ guidance.

D.C., on the other hand, enters this game a statistical favorite and with a well-established track record. They have scored 15 more goals than San Jose so far this season and, though not on a hot streak like their 6-win tear that spanned all of June and half of July, they are an opponent not easily held scoreless. Captain Jaime Moreno will be especially goal-hungry after missing an 81st-minute penalty kick that would have given his team a much-needed win at home over New York on Saturday. United is enjoying a boost between the pipes at the moment in Liberian-born Louis Crayton, the recent acquisition who has allowed just 2 goals in his 4 games. United’s defense has aided Crayton in securing shutouts in 3 of its last 4 games despite concerns over a relatively shallow bench caused by the absences of Dominic Mediate and Gonzalo Peralta, both of whom are currently sidelined by injuries.

As San Jose continues to emerge from their goal-anemic formative period that was its first 16 games, the team needs to play with confidence in the fact that they are a team good enough to win plenty of their remaining games and even, dare I say it, make the playoffs. The underdog image has been shattered and in its place stands the imposing and familiar silhouette of a team that can dump 4 goals on New England, hold Houston and Columbus scoreless and play the fast-paced, physical, electric soccer that their home city remembers, loves and deserves. Instead of being a conventional expansion franchise, one which lurks at the bottom of the standings for several years until some stroke of magic turns them into a viable championship contender, the Earthquakes are playing with the kind of precision, flair, and motivation that rekindles memories of the championship squads of ’01 and ’03. In short, if the Earthquakes play Saturday like they have in their last 6 games, they should continue their climb up the standings.

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Beckhamania hits Toronto

Posted on 25 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

David Beckham and the MLS All-Stars beat West Ham United 3-2 last night at BMO Field, marking the midfielder’s first game in Toronto and improving the league’s All-Star record against foreign opposition to 5 and 0. Chivas, Fulham, Chelsea and Celtic have all fallen to the All-Stars in recent years.

West Ham came out strong in the early minutes, with Carlton Cole showing the preseason form that saw him start the last Premier League campaign on fire.

FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper had the first real chance of the game, however, turning and firing in the 19th minute. The attentions of Hammers defender Joe Widdowson kept him from getting the shot on target towards Robert Green’s goal.

The game was quickly developing into a back-and-forth tug-of-war. The visitors opened the scoring in the 26th minute when Dean Ashton found himself free of the last defender and fired low into the far post.

The lead wouldn’t last, however, and with entertainment value the number one priority at BMO Field this week, Christian Gomez gave the fan’s their money’s worth with a quickfire equalizer. Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco set up the Colorado Rapids midfielder, and Gomez coolly slotted home with West Ham having barely finished their goal celebrations.

The All-Stars kept up the attack and struck again just before half-time. Blanco collected a pass inside the area, cut inside onto his right foot and sent a curling effort past Green into the top corner.

Canadians and Houston Dynamo players Dwayne DeRosario and Pat Onstad entered the game in the second half to the delight of the Toronto crowd, but the fans were only truly placated when Toronto FC Captain Jim Brennan made his entrance close to the hour-mark.

Having played 90 minutes against Montreal on Tuesday, the full All-Star game would have been asking a lot from the Canadian international, but an extended run-out in front of his hometown fans was always on the cards.

The All-Stars looked capable of scoring again, but it was Ashton once again who quieted the crowd at BMO in the 67th minute. The former Norwich striker found space outside the area and struck a powerful shot that deflected off of Kansas City Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad and into the net.

Just as in the aftermath of Ashton’s first goal, the All-Stars responded quickly. Red Bull New York forward Juan Pablo Angel sprung DeRosario with a perfectly-weighted through ball, and with the Canadian bearing down on goal, West Ham captain Lucas Neill had little choice but to hall down DeRo.

Referee Mauricio Navarro awarded the penalty for the All-Stars but was perhaps reluctant to hand out a red card in what is ultimately an exhibition match. Having drawn the foul, DeRosario was given the chance to score a penalty in front of his hometown crowd ahead of Beckham and game MVP Blanco.

The Canadian ace blasted his penalty off the crossbar and in to make it 3-2 amid the roars of the crowd, who had to wait for the ball to rebound into the netting before they were sure it was a goal. Angel “scored” a goal of his own just a minute later with a curling right-footed shot, but the linesman’s flag was up. Replays showed that Calum Davenport may have played the Colombian onside.

The game marked the first major showpiece at BMO Field, a ground that has been slated to host the MLS Cup final in 2009 and CONCACAF Gold Cup games the same year. Black t-shirts were in abundance but a proposed sit-down fan protest was largely muted.

“MLS showed that they can compete,” West Ham manager Alan Curbishley told reporters after the game. “It was a great game for MLS. It showed off their talents and when we go home it will be a big memory.”

Beckham was, as usual, the center of attention in Toronto, but the Englishman was full of praise for his teammates.

“Everybody knows the quality of player [Blanco] is,” Beckham said of the Chicago Fire forward and game MVP. “He is a great player, winning the award shows that.”

Earlier this week, Toronto FC lost out on the chance to represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League by drawing Montreal Impact 1-1 at home on Tuesday. Montreal needed only a draw to win the Canadian Championship and their seventh straight Voyageurs Cup and will play Nicaraguan side Real Estelí in a two-legged qualifier to determine entry into the potentially lucrative Champions League group stages.

The Impact will have taken heart from MLS Commissioner Don Garber’s media address during All-Star week, in which the Don stated that the league was looking to expand to two more teams by 2011. Montreal and Vancouver were mentioned on a shortlist of expansion candidates.

Match Facts

West Ham United vs. MLS All-Stars
July 24, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:

WHU — Dean Ashton 1 (Carlton Cole 1) 26
MLS — Christian Gomez 1 (Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1, David Beckham 1) 27
MLS — Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1 (Juan Toja ) 43
WHU — Dean Ashton 2 (Luis Boa Morte ) 67
MLS — Dwayne De Rosario 1 (penalty kick) 69

Lineups:
West Ham United — Robert Green, Lucas Neill, Calum Davenport, Anton Ferdinand, Joe Widdowson, Julien Faubert (Junior Stanislas 75), Hayden Mullins (Jack Collison 65), Scott Parker, Matthew Etherington (Luis Boa Morte 46), Dean Ashton (Kyel Reid 80), Carlton Cole (Tony Stokes 91+),

Substitutes Not Used: Jordan Spence, James Walker

MLS All-Stars — Matt Reis (Pat Onstad 70), Jonathan Bornstein (Edson Buddle 88), Frankie Hejduk (Steve Ralston 88), Jimmy Conrad, Pablo Mastroeni, David Beckham, Christian Gomez (Jim Brennan 59), Shalrie Joseph, Juan Toja (Dwayne De Rosario 59), Kenny Cooper (Juan Pablo Angel 46), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Landon Donovan 46).

Substitutes Not Used:

Misconduct Summary:
WHU — Scott Parker (caution; Delaying a Restart) 46+
MLS — Jonathan Bornstein (caution; Pushing, Holding) 52
MLS — Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Foul) 56
MLS — Jimmy Conrad (caution; Reckless Foul) 82

Referee: Mauricio Navarro
Referee’s Assistants: Hector Vergara; Greg Barkey
4th official: Mark Geiger
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 20,844
weather: Partly Cloudy -and- 72 degrees

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Reeling from D.C. trip, TFC travel to Montreal

Posted on 26 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Just three days after twice giving up the lead in a 3-2 loss in Washington, Toronto FC will visit Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Tuesday night to kick off the 2008 Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

In the 13th minute at RFK Stadium, Danny Dichio scored with a close-range header from Jim Brennan’s cross, grabbing a goal from TFC’s first shot on target. D.C. struck back just four minutes before the half, with Gonzalo Peralta getting on the end of Devon McTavish’s flick-on at the far post. Peralta stooped low and headed in from close range to seemingly settle things up before halftime.

Dichio had other ideas, however, and just minutes later he played a give-and-go with Amado Guevara before sending a low shot into the bottom left corner of Zach Wells’ goal to stun the home crowd.

Toronto held on in the second half until the 70th minute, when a marauding Santino Quaranta was felled by a clumsy shove in the area by Marvell Wynne. Jaime Moreno stepped up to take the resulting penalty and calmly slotted past Greg Sutton, a familiar sight for TFC fans who saw the Bolivian tie the MLS all-time scoring charts with a penalty at BMO Field last season.

Quaranta would be credited with another assist just two minutes later as D.C. finally took the lead. Quaranta, who played with D.C. earlier in his career before returning for the 2008 season, unleashed a blast from outside the area that Greg Sutton couldn’t hold onto. The ball fell to the feet of the onrushing Luciano Emilio and the 2007 Golden Boot winner wasted no time in finishing past Sutton.

Tom Soehn and the United bench erupted in a mixture of relief and excitement, while it was difficult to see Toronto getting anything from the match. Dichio’s positional play and cool finishing were not as effective when TFC had to fight a side trying to preserve a lead, with Jeff Cunningham and Jarrod Smith making late cameos to try and rescue a point.

It was not to be, and the club’s six-match unbeaten run, coupled with Sutton’s clean sheet streak, came to an end. The stadium has so far proved unwelcoming for Toronto, as the young side have yet gain a point from RFK in their history.

“They have had a good result tonight,” TFC head coach John Carver told MLSNet. “I can see them going on a run now. Tom [Soehn] is a good coach, a good manager, and [runs] a good organization. People have to be patient with him… he has too many good players for him to be at the bottom of the league.”

Carver refused to blame Sutton for the mistake. “Greg has been outstanding for our football club,” he told reporters. “He has been one of the reasons why we have so many points and have won so many games lately… take the mistake away from it, he still had a great night. I said to him as soon as the final whistle blew, ‘don’t let that worry you, it’s about us picking ourselves up. We have a great run…’ we have now got to go on another run and we have a huge game on Tuesday.”

TFC will have picked themselves up for the trip to Montreal, where they’ll play l’Impact in the first match of the inaugural Canadian Championship. Fellow United Soccer Leagues Division One side Vancouver Whitecaps will join them in the three-team round robin tournament.

Last week’s stadium opener, a regular-season USL clash between Montreal and Vancouver, ended 0-0 in a result that will not affect Canadian Championship standings. The draw means that Toronto enter Saputo knowing that the game’s opening goal will be the first in stadium history. Having conceded that honour at BMO Field to Kansas City’s Eddie Johnson last season, entering the history books at Saputo would be a welcome tonic for TFC fans.

The two sides have started the season with contrasting fortunes, as Toronto have racked up four wins while Montreal are sitting at just 7 points from six games. Don’t let their early season form fool you into thinking TFC will have it easy — the club have never won against USL opposition, having drawn or lost in pre- and post-season friendlies against the likes of Charleston Battery and Portland Timbers.

For their part, Montreal have yet to play an MLS side, having been left out of the U.S. Open Cup along with Canadian USL sides from Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton throughout the last decade.

The winner of the Canadian Championship will gain entry into the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League and be awarded the Voyageurs Cup, the trophy handed to the top professional Canadian soccer franchise since 2002. Traditionally, Canadian supporters the Voyageurs used USL-1 regular season results to determine the winner, a format that has seen Montreal win all six titles to date. The Canadian Soccer Association has since been loaned the prize and will award it to the Canadian champions, a label Montreal that will be desperate to keep, especially if it means getting one over on their traditional sporting rivals in Toronto.

The motivation will be high because it’s a different championship for us,” Montreal head coach Nick De Santis told MontrealImpact.com. “There is also a pride factor for us to play an MLS team and to do so at home.”

Two former TFC players are a part of the Impact roster for 2008, with right back Adam Braz joined by Cristian Nuñez, the young midfielder who didn’t see any first team action in Toronto’s expansion season last year.

For his part, Braz was looking forward to Tuesday’s match. “It’s always special when you play your former team, but more importantly, it’s a big game for our club,” he said in an interview with the club’s website. “It’s a huge event for the Impact, and we want to represent Canada at the CONCACAF Champions League. You always want to be the best, so that should give everyone added incentive to show that we are capable to beat [TFC].”

Greg Sutton came the other way ahead of the 2007 season after protracted negotiations between TFC and the Impact but only played eight games last season before suffering a concussion at Gold Cup training with Canada. He’s since been in fine form for Toronto in 2008 and should relish the chance to notch a clean sheet against his former club.

Midfielders Maurice Edu and Amado Guevara will not travel with TFC, having been called up to national team duty this week. Edu will play with the United States in a friendly at Wembley Stadium against host side England and LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.

With international call-ups and the upcoming spate of games in a short time, Toronto’s depth will be tested. Carver has expressed his reservations about a squad rotation system, but the likes of Cunningham and midfielders Tyler Rosenlund and Kevin Harmse will likely be called into action at some point in the coming weeks.

Following the Montreal trip, Toronto welcome a Beckham-less Galaxy to BMO Field on Saturday. Their next Canadian Championship matches come in a home-and-away series against Vancouver on Canada Day and July 8th, respectively. Toronto will close out the tournament, and hope to lift the trophy, in front of their home fans on July 22nd against Montreal.

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