Daily Sweeper, 09.13: DC v. RSL (links); Red Bull Curses and Reyna

A couple things before getting under way. First, as I’ve said in the past, I understand why Brucio from du Nord runs his site the way he does (having never corresponded with him, I actually don’t, but bear with me); it’s hard to know what to run and what to spike. The point of all that is I’m starting to lose control of the number of subjects I’m posting – very naughty. Will endeavor to do better. Second…was there a second…dammit…all the chemicals…

[Y’know, I had something here and, the more I thought about it, the less it made sense for me to stick my nose into it.  So…I deleted this portion.]

– I don’t do this nearly enough – mainly ’cause I’m lazy – but I really should acknowledge games after they’ve been played. I can’t do this every time, but, dang, I should when I can. As all y’all know, DC United beat Real Salt Lake last night, but it sounds closer than most of us expected. Reports: Deseret News, Washington Times, Washington Post, USSoccerplayers.com – who, by the way, raised some interesting issues about on-field leadership for RSL.

– In an artfully over-the-top piece about the “curse of Caricola,” Clemente Lisi raised an interesting question about what’s happening with Red Bull New York. Specifically, he slips in a line about the team “peaking early.” Without seeking to blow up this point – I think Lisi used the term loosely and certainly didn’t build the essay around it – I don’t know that Red Bull ever peaked, never mind early, but their season has been fascinating. They started strong, to be sure, but I don’t think this was ever an instance of “peaking.” Moreover, if you look back at their results, you’ll see little streaks here and there – the latest of them running from late-ish July to mid-August (and note the opposition). I think it’s fairer to say Bruce Arena simply didn’t build a team up for the grind of an MLS season. If you want a team that peaked too early, I’d say look at they Houston Dynamo.

– Speaking of Red Bull, Ives Galarcep had a fun debate with his readers and message board dwellers about Claudio Reyna. Part One sets the stage and Part Two defends his points. My take: Galarcep has it basically right.

– Finally, if you live anywhere near Dallas, Texas, do make the effort to get to the U.S. Open Cup final. They’re doing some advertising, but, seriously, just go.

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MLS Week 23 Collective Rankings: Subtle Erosion of Tiers

The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC) has spoken – this time with what I perceive as a greater sense of certainty and unanimity. That’s a little surprising because we lost three contributors from last week (late again, Ryan Hunt? Tsk, tsk, tsk), while gaining one. Getting back to seeming signs of harmony, the devil is in the details there, but the SDPC agreed on some noteworthy trends by and large. I’ll get to those after running the numbers.

The usual stuff applies: in parentheses after the current week’s ranking and average, you’ll see the most common ranking for each team (e.g. three #1 votes, which will show below as “#1 X 3”) and the previous week’s ranking and average.

Here are the participants for Week 20’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
MLS Underground/American Soccer Daily
On Soccer (who combined USL-1 teams with MLS teams in a separate set of rankings)
My Soccer Blog
WVHooligan
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)

And…drumroll, please….here are the collective rankings: Continue reading

10 Bright Spots of Week 23: things got weird when Jaqua hit for hat-trick

1. Nate Jaqua – it seems every time Luciano Emilio has a great week, someone has an even better one; Jaqua scoring a hat-trick was certainly not something I was expecting from the big man; he scored one in the first half and added a brace in the second to help Houston squeak by Real Salt Lake 4-3 – kind of an odd game

2. Luciano Emilio – four goals in two games for the machine as his rate is skyrocketing and he now sits solely at the top of the scoring tables with 18; none of this would be possible without the service of Gomez, Fred, Olsen, and recently Brian Carroll

3. Maykel Galindo – are defenders worse this year or are the new additions of Angel, Galindo, and Emilio just enough to outclass a plateaued level of defensive talent? after being kept quiet against DC United, the Cuban struck for two against a tired and undermanned Red Bull squad

4. Wilman Conde – a really inspiring first game for the Colombian as it looks like everyone of their summer signings have started strong; he added an assist in Chicago’s 1-0 win over Columbus; I think Conde is the guy that’s gonna put the Fire through to that last playoff spot

5. Marc Burch – this guy has become D.C. United’s most consistent performer day-in and day-out and a damn-good defender at that; the 23-year old former Terp has certainly proven to be a bargain (3rd Round Supp. Pick) plucked from Columbus

6. Corey Ashe – had himself a phenomenal weekend and introduced RSL to his newfangled partnership with Nate Jaqua as he provided the target man with everyone of his services; between Ashe (a rookie) and Stuart Holden (2nd year) Houston looks to have a promising corps of youth for the future

7. Pete Vagenas – he must have been channeling the injured Beckham as his passes were accurate and good enough for two assists – one to Alan Gordon and another to Edson Buddle: hopefully he can channel Goldenballs for the rest of the 10-game stretch they have as it might be helpful to end the year on a good note

8. Brad Guzan – a 3-0 shutout of the Red Bulls made up allowing 2 goals against D.C. United; Guzan has also been Chivas’ MVP all season, even more so than Galindo

9. Cobi Jones – he seems to really help out when the Galaxy are otherwise in dire straits but it would probably be better if the veteran had evened the ship before it hit rock bottom

10. Christian Gomez – two assists and a smidgen of his former self showed this past week; if Gomez wakes up to the tune of last year’s performances, we could see ourselves one hell of a postseason