Daily Sweeper*, 08.21: Dynamo Revival, Soccer Pics (or links to ’em)

* With the low, low premium I put on being timely, I’m in the process of readjusting how I work the daily dump I used to call MLS Newswire. I figure it’s what you know, not when you know it, right? (This isn’t the freakin’ stock market, after all.) So, look for this feature/item toward the end of the day. The hope is to catch some detail items that others might have missed (though probably not).

Where to begin? With wonderful, disturbing photos of David Beckham’s warm-up routine (at least that’s what I think it is)? The latest from Diego Maradona (holy shit! Elvis is back in the building and he ate the table under the buffet!  Sorry…cruel, cruel joke.  Still…) The apparent resurrection/reworking of MLSnet.com’s Newsstand (’bout time, guys).

All of that and none of that, really.

– Tucked into the middle of his ever-useful analysis of the past weekend’s action, Steve Davis says without saying that the Houston Dynamo has, once again, retained “El Capitan” (he also gets in a bang-up point that the injured left side of the Dynamo midfield is hurting offensive production, among other items). One take-away from this could be that Houston simply has FC Dallas’ number. Or do they? The FC Dallas Offside looks at the reasons why Dallas fans don’t need to pray that they miss the Dynamo in the post-season. On a related note, expect a well-rested Houston for the playoffs…dammit.

– While we’re all still recovering from, and carefully dissecting this past weekend’s “instant classic” (it’s OK; we can say this) between Red Bull New York and the Los Angeles Galaxy, a couple under-mentioned details deserve notice. First, it’s not often a ref deserves credit for blowing a call, but, as Paul Gardner pointed out in his review for the New York Sun:

“[Referee Kevin] Stott should have ejected Harden, but chose only to caution him. A wrong call, but perversely the right call, as it avoided an unbalanced 11-player vs. 10-player game for the next 87 minutes.”

Another good bit appeared in Ives Galarcep’s near-plea for Red Bull management to build on the event:

“The crowd had its Beckham fans, and yes, it did have some people who had no clue what they were watching, but the majority of the fans in attendance were real soccer fans. All you had to do was listen to the crowd during the match. It wasn’t just the stunning goals that drew the roars and cheers. Whether it was a quality through-pass, clutch tackle or good save, the crowd appreciated every good play, and you heard it each time. That was a by-product of soccer-savvy fans watching a good game.”

I heard ’em Ives. I heard ’em.

– Finally, and, so far as I’m concerned, we don’t get things like this often enough, Frank Dell’Appa deconstructed the goal that gave New England the win over KC:

“A lot went into Twellman’s goal. Andy Dorman made a tough challenge to win the ball from Jimmy Conrad in the center circle. Shalrie Joseph had to very quickly and deftly thread the ball with the outside of his foot into the space Conrad had occupied. Khano Smith had to read Joseph’s pass, then choose to attempt to shoot past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman or send the ball from the left side of the penalty area across the goal area. And Twellman had to make a 30-yard run, timing it to be able to make a full-stretch slide onto a ball bouncing at about 60 miles per hour and with a narrow margin for error as Hartman and defender Nick Garcia took away angles.”

That gave me a little greater appreciation for the moment, anyway. All for today.

Why LA Has to Start Winning

Short as this post will be, the subject matter demands the attention only a stand-alone post can provide.

As the title says, LA needs to start winning – and not to spare Major League Soccer’s (MLS) reputation against assaults by mysteriously smug English pundits; I mean, I’ve seen the Premier League and, yeah, it’s better, but in terms of quality…refer to the line about throwing stones in glass houses. This has more to do with the subtle mechanics of sporting antipathy, something I’ll need Climbing the Ladder’s (CtL) entirely excellent MLS Overall Positions Table to fully explain.

I hate two MLS teams above all others: DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy.  If you turn to CtL’s table, something out to jump out about both teams: DC has finished in the top half of the regular season standings seven of eleven times, while LA has done so eight of eleven times.  Put another way, both teams are good more often than not.  The trouble is, LA is, for the second (if not the third; 2005 was hardly an annus mirabilis) straight year underachieving.

Why is this a problem?  After games and years beyond counting of celebrating every LA loss, the current season – and, more particularly, this latest run of form (e.g. three straight losses in the league) – I’m experiencing a feelings of pity.  Pity!  For LA!!  That ain’t right.  I mean, DC is still doing what I need them to – e.g. winning till the end of the regular season than promptly succumbing in the playoffs….when it’s so, so sweet to seem lose lose (puke and cry, Ben Olsen!  Puke and cry!!) But watching LA these days recalls watching an old alpha slump off, bleeding and tired, into the woods to die.  I know that’s not going to happen, but, damn.  Some primal sensation responds to that and, in spite of myself, some part of me that pulls for just a little relief (Superliga?).  On many levels, I hate this sensation; if I can find the small part of me that quietly pulls for LA, I’m going to cut the fucker out.

Anyway, that’s just my take.  The Offside Rules offered reasons to celebrate the current incarnation of LA – and it’s not a bad one.

MLS Week 20 Power Rankings

To start with a question, is my once-employed “Perspecto-Scope” basically power rankings SANS bullet points? As the originator of that fine, Frank-Castle-esque concept, I’m naturally resistant to the idea. But, by forgoing hard-and-fast numbers, the Perspecto-Scope introduces some welcome flexibility and subtlety in analyzing what’s going on with the each of the 13 teams in Major League Soccer (MLS).

Why do I ask? Due to some practical restraints, the quick turn-around between the Sunday that ended Week 20 and the Wednesday that will kick off Week 21 means that I’ve got to choose either the power rankings OR the Perspecto-Scope. It’s no contest, really: my addiction to collective rankings compels the choice (yes, master). So, no Perspecto-Scope this week, but Week 20’s power rankings will follow. (Enjoy the current standings, as well.)

As always, each team’s ranking from the previous week appears in parentheses after the current week’s. And, if you hit the links, you might get the impression I view the schedule as the ultimate source of wisdom…that’s not far wrong.

1. (1) DC United
Getting consistent in league play (“Superliga!”…cough, cough…) just as the rest of the “contenders” go wobbly to varying degrees. DC is on a three-game winning streak against respectable(-ish) opposition (New England (good), Crew (decent…well, used to be), LA (um….)).

2. (3) New England Revolution
Doing well enough through a busy patch; I like to think of their success as “Baseball-esque” – i.e. they get enough points to remain in the hunt. Too bad they can’t play Kansas City every week.

3. (2)FC Dallas
A tough call to make, especially given this past weekend’s loss to the team below: view this as better success over time trumping one team having the other’s number; Dallas has had the better recent run. Still, they’re going to want to think of a way to beat Houston…or how to get someone else to do it. Continue reading

VIDEO: Blanco’s incredible goal

Apparently there’s another designated player that has skills.

Thanks to The Dennis Green… for the find.

Blackburn next to be taken over by an “American”?

Dan Williams – head of the venture capital business DJW which is based in New Jersey (but he’s originally from the UK) – is the head of a consortium poised to takeover the upstart Blackburn Rovers in a  reported $90-$120 million deal (don’t know why the range is so big).

The plan is to take over the team quickly and clean up the mess later as Williams wants to give Welsh manager Mark Hughes a significant ($50 million) transfer budget for the last week in August before the transfer deadline. Even with the financial limitations as of late, Hughes has brought in one key piece in Roque Santa Cruz and Williams hopes to leapfrog that momentum and help the Rovers make a Champions League push. Most importantly, however, Dan Willams and Co. will erase Blackburn’s $40 million or so in debts paving the way for a financially healthy future and hopefully a spending power comparable to the new and so far…..improved Manchester City.

Daily Mirror’s Story

Lancashire Telegraph’s Story

With all that new money, who would Blackburn go after?? Yakubu? Dimitar Berbatov – who is recently rumoured to be restless at White Hart?