The Daily Sweeper, Personal Problems, and “A-Ha” (read: Oh, S%$*!) Moments; Barely Soccer-Related

Here I was, poised to dig into the reading required to crank out another edition of the Daily Sweeper. It took only as long as needed to come up with my first item for a realization to hit me. But I begin in the middle…that’s no good. Back, back, my friends.

Start with the first item: I was going to chuck out a link to Top Drawer Soccer’s entirely worthy match report for last weekend’s Columbus v. KC game and follow that with the personal revelation that I don’t much like reading match reports. Mainly, they’re prone to being mechanical – e.g. write lead, lay out chronology (this happened; then this happened, then this happened), lard with quotes, the end; not even the best verb usage can salvage reporting on something that is, in all honesty, better seen than described. At the same time, this was a result in which I was intensely interested, and MLSnet.com hadn’t produced so much as a highlight feed to cover it. Even so, I couldn’t sustain interest past the first paragraph.

And I’m sure I’ve already lost a few of you by now…fair trade.

To paraphrase the late, great Admiral John Stockdale, who am I? Why am I here? The answer: I’m not sure, but I know I won’t be able to do what I’m doing for much longer, at least not at the same pace. Without going too deep and too dangerously into detail, let’s just say some unique nexus between my personal and professional situation makes posting sleep-inducing amounts of content not only possible, but entirely sensible. Things have been this way for quite some time. Before working on this site, I found something else to do – at least until it drove me crazy anyway. The hard reality, though, is some day not too far down the road, I expect a change to my general life-situation. And when that comes, a lot will change in what I have time to produce.

There’s this great moment in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas – and, here, I mean the movie – where the photographer attached to Hunter S. Thompson for the Mint 400 looks back at Thompson through the thick desert dust kicked up by the race and, wearing a frenzied look, shouts, “No, we need TOTAL coverage!” At times, I am that photographer. This leads me to do crazy crap like posting constantly and on everything; hell, I can’t even keep control of the number of items I include in the Daily Sweeper.

Given all that, I’m reaching for a sort of off-switch before someone, or something, else does it for me. The Daily Sweeper is dead. From here on out, I’m going to focus on the few features I like: the, um, “interpretive” game summaries for the games I see, the schedule count-down thingy I started last week, power rankings, both collective and my own; I’ll back that with notes and commentary on the “big events” as they happen and, honestly, I think that’s enough. When things change outside this space, it’ll probably be more than enough.

My need to explain such things is, admittedly, weird.  But I also don’t want people to wonder about where the Daily Sweeper got off to.

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MLS: Remaining Schedules, Updated and Analyzed (or, Rather, Pondered)

Ya know…since posting this last week, it occurs to me this would pretty easy to update. And, to think, I used to come across things like this on BigSoccer and whisper to myself, “holy shit, dude, get a life.” Now I’m that dude with no life it doesn’t feel so bad – and it’s a pretty useful resource besides….so, there you go.

It also seems this kind of obviates the need for the Perspecto-Scope, so I think I’ll ditch that for this and future weeks…me and my revolving cast of features…

I’ve updated every teams’ remaining game tally and chucked in fresh analysis taking into account the results from Week 24. Oh, and here are the standings…those help to make sense of all this. Here’s the key I’ll use to shorten team names:

Chicago Fire: CF
Chivas USA: CUSA
Colorado Rapids: CR
Columbus Crew: Crew (don’t ask)
DC United: DCU
FC Dallas: FCD
Houston Dynamo: HD
Kansas City Wizards: KC
Los Angeles Galaxy: LA
New England Revolution: NE
Red Bull New York: RBNY
Real Salt Lake: RSL
Toronto FC: TFC

Right…now, here goes: Continue reading

EPL Daily 9.17: Heskey and Silvestre back to square one; three of the Big Four suffers; Jol vs. Defoe

A fractured metarsal will keep Emile Heskey from his international resurgence (whether it’s a postponement or eventual involuntary retirement, who knows). It will also keep Wigan guessing as to whether or not they can stay up this year. Heskey will be out up to 6 weeks and will most likely miss the England’s qualifiers next month against Russia and Estonia in October. The former Liverpool striker also joins an odd list of those stricken with metatarsal injuries over the recent  years – Stevie Gerrard, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney (a billion times), David Beckham, etc. Even youngster Giles Barnes –  a huge prospect from Derby County – has missed the start of the EPL season due to a metatarsal injury. Heskey will bounce back, he always does but the same might not be true for French international and Man Utd defender Mickael Silvestre. The bald Frenchman suffered cruciate ligament damage against Everton on Saturday and now Fergie has to rely on young defenders Jonny Evans and Gerard Pique to plug the holes on the left as John O’Shea is out and, as we all know, Gabriel Heinze left in a huff. That’s the end of the season for Silvestre, therefore expect a move for a left back come January. But who?

A host of other EPL stars will be missing their mid-week group stage Champions League clashes. Manchester United – which takes on Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday – will miss Owen Hargreaves, Mickael Silvestre, Park-Ji Sung, John O’Shea, and Darren Fletcher. Chelsea is missing its’ best (as Jose Mourinho has already spouted about) on Tuesday against Rosenborg (Norwegian Champions) – Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, Claudio Pizarro, Wayne Bridge, and Ricardo Carvalho. Liverpool will be ailing as well against Porto on Tuesday as Xabi Alonso will most likely miss alongside Momo Sissoko and Jon Arne Riise. That’s a lot of talent on the sideline (maybe now Gerrard will keep his starting spot instead of being foolishly rotated). Who lost out the most in this one?

Maybe I only digest what the media reports, but it really looks as if Martin Jol has to go. The team – pegged to be a top-four contender this year – are back to their underperforming selves again and Jol is still firmly at the helm. This pushed me overboard as apparently it was overheard that Jol told out-of-favor Jermain Defoe that ‘he would never be sold to a top-four club’ and ‘would rot in the reserves’. Someone fill me in – is Defoe a diva or is Jol a psycho?

La Liga Wrap Up–Jornada 3

Here is the wrap up for Jornada 3 of La Liga. I don’t have much time to write wrap-ups for the games, so I will attempt to link to a report of each game for you to enjoy. Once I have more time on my hands and an opportunity to watch the games this weekend, I will write my own reports.

Also, the reports are in Spanish. If anyone knows where to get a quality review of the game in English (minus The Offside where I get my Valencia, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletic ones, let me know)

As always we’ll start with the best first.

Sevilla 4-Recreativo 1
Sevilla: Kerzhakov 11′ (1) Kanouté 30′ (2) Kanouté 53′ (3) Kerzhakov 74′ (2)
Recreativo: Aitor 54′ (1)

Pushed on by 2 goals by Kanouté and 2 by Kerzhakov, Sevilla pounded Recre into submission. Kerzhakov had a chance on a penalty to score his second, but missed and netted his second of the game later. Recap with goals Recap

Continue reading

MLS Week 24: Four Teams, Two Games, Two Levels

I held true to my viewing schedule for once: my Saturday featured Red Bull New York’s gutsy draw against the Chicago Fire and the New England Revolution’s (at-long-last-hallelujah) sharp win over visiting FC Dallas. By coincidence, both games threw two roughly equal teams into contention. By lesser coincidence, the gap in quality between the respective teams showed in the quality of the games – simply put, FC Dallas and New England look playoff-primed. Chicago and New York…eh, less so.

Dallas and New England went at one another with unrelenting pace and energy. Dallas, in particular, aggressively pressured every ball anywhere inside their half – defenders attached not only to the player on the ball, but the team as a whole shifted quickly to cover any nearby players as well. The amazing thing: quick movement and passing generally allowed the Revs to play out of that pressure, while smart, well-executed dribbling took care of the rest. Dallas, facing similarly intense attention, very nearly managed as well…the final score, of course, speaks to where they failed.

Individual efforts on both teams added still more to the equation. Khano Smith ran the Dallas right side stupid, while Pat Noonan’s general unpredictability in the area sporadically unhinged Dallas defenders. James Riley served as the shaky presence in the Revs’ back-line, which Carlos Ruiz exploited a couple times; bustling efforts by Dax McCarty and Abe Thompson demanded the studied attention of the rest of New England’s defenders. In fact, it’s worth wondering whether the Revs’ defense is their greatest weakness going into the post-season; with Dallas, that’s less a question than a living example of an Achilles’ heel.

In the big picture, though, both Dallas and New England appear confident enough with most their players not just singing from the same sheet, but singing a decent song and well. Sure, Dallas would have looked that little bit better with Juan Toja on the field and they’re still figuring Denilson into the attack, but they’re up to beating any given team on the right day…obviously, Saturday wasn’t it for them. As for New England, let’s just say that was something else: a win they fully earned through hustle, smarts and coordination, as opposed to God punishing Carlos Mendes for…I dunno, idolatry or some such… Continue reading

EPL Daily 9.16: Chelski, L-pool falters while Arsenal and Man U push onward

Manchester United 1, Everton 0

A Tim Howard-less Everton lost out to Nemanja Vidic’s first goal of the season as the big Serbian powered home an 83rd minute . New signing and backup Toffee keeper Stefan Wessels performed admirably in net withstanding several offensive onslaughts triggered by Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo. It wasn’t until Vidic with 7 minutes to go that Wessels was beaten. The tone of the game favored the Red Devils as Vidic and Ferdinand had shut down Man U’s half to any Yakubu or AJ advances.

Sunderland 2, Reading 1

Reading can’t buy a win – but Roy Keane has learned from his trials and tribulations early on and has kept Sunderland moving forward. Kenwyne Jones and Scotsman Ross Wallace scored early leaving Dave Kitson to try and pull the Royals back with a late 85th minute consolation strike. Changes are going to have to come (ahem, play Convey more til he is matchfit) if Steve Coppell wants to survive a sophomore season in the EPL.

West Ham United 3, Middlesbrough 0

A thorough lesson for M’boro in finishing as Lee Bowyer (another rare goal!), Dean Ashton , and an unfortunate own goal sunk Southgate’s side. All goals were scored in a 15 minute span right after the start of the second half. It was a bit lopsided as Middlesbrough actually had the brunt of the chances – putting 12 on net compared to 7 for the Hammers. One thing came to the forefront for Southgate today – Jeremie Aliadiere is NOT an answer at striker and is NOT worth the several million paid for him. No Spector to be found again.

Portsmouth 0, Liverpool 0

A draw that saw Crouch in favor of Torres and Nwankwo Kanu miss a penalty kick that would have provided Pompey with a solid morale boost. Sulley Muntari is starting to show signs of his former Serie A self. Gerrard, Torres, and Babel all came on for the Reds with 30 or so minutes to go, but not one of the trio could spark a rather stagnant offense. The only real effective piece was Andriy Voronin who seems to be the industrious workman that Rafa Benitez really needs. Either way, Redknapp and his boys hung in there but have to deal with Kanu’s miss that cost Pompey a very important two points.

Wigan 1, Fulham 1

Clint Dempsey scored his third in his last three appearances but Fulham still gave up the lead. Deuce’s put-back capped off decent early play by the Cottagers. The bubble was eventually burst, however, when Jason Koumas cooly converted an 80th minute PK. Though Wigan pulled out the draw, their future took a hit when in the 9th minute Emile Heskey limped off the pitch and was replaced by newly acquired Marcus Bent. Initially, the injury looked to be minor but now an ankle injury could keep the striker out for 1-2 months (hurting any continuous international chances).

Chelsea 0, Blackburn 0

With Drogba unhealthy, the Blues are having trouble finding production and Shevchenko’s return to the line-up did nothing to remedy that. Blackburn however sit unbeaten in 9 games this year and look refined and with a lot of fight, something that could secure them a UEFA Champions League spot – if a lot of luck goes in their direction.

Birmingham 1, Bolton 0

Bolton’s woes continue as Sammy Lee must be trying to rival Tottenham’s Martin Jol for the hottest seat in the EPL. It was Olivier Kapo who did Lee in, but Arsenal product Sebastian Larsson who orchestrated the whole coup. Anelka was kept quiet for the most part as Bolton tries to find someone who can score with reckless abandon. Question: what happened to Kevin Nolan??

Arsenal 3, Tottenham 1

It started out peachy-keen for the Hotspur when Gareth Bale struck in the 15th (his 2nd of the year), but Emmanuel Adebayor had different plans scoring a brace late in the second half to push the Gunners through the fight-less Spurs and up to the top of the EPL table. Cesc Fabregas provided the game-winner with five minutes to go.

Sunday.

Manchester City 1, Aston Villa 0

Citeh bounced back from recent defeats and overcame the Villans at home with youngster Michael Johnson providing the lone goal in the 48th minute (fitting end to an earlier sitter-miss). Man City got the job done with no real flair or spunk reminiscent of the first couple weeks, instead it was a fast paced, back-and-forth match-up which saw both teams with suspect trouble spots.