Daily Sweeper, 10.3: Copa Losses, Cup Finals, LA Rising

Yes, it’s back.  Yes, I’m weak.  What can I say?  My feature ideas are like zombies.

– In the wake of DC United’s loss last night in the Copa Sudamericana, The DCenters compiled a list of off-the-shelf coping mechanisms to help with yet another loss to a Mexican club…the same damn one, in fact.  Other commentaries – and they’re pretty sharp – look at the state of U.S.-Mexico relations at the club level (Sideline Views and FanNation).

– Writing for ESPN, Steve Davis tries to make official the idea that Denilson stands proudly as the first Total DP* Bust.  (* for the untutored, “DP” = Designated Player.)  It has been said before, but this is ESPN, people.

– Damn it all, but the Stars [May Yet] Align; Nick Green explains.  Let’s just say if LA makes the playoffs, I’ll be surly for a month.  If LA wins MLS Cup, I’ll attend the next MLS Competition Committee in person and conduct a sit-down/no-bathing strike till MLS brings sanity to the playoff format.

US Open Cup Primer: Predictions from Alternate Reality

In the world in which we walk and work, no one, but no one, knows the Lamar Hunt Krispy Kreme U.S. Open Cup (LHKKUSOC) Final takes place tonight. But in this crazy little niche existence that is the soccer blogosphere it’s the event of the day and previews of the game abound. Don’t believe me? Check out the Fiesta del Links posted on 3rd Degree. I tell you, it’s a veritable orgy of previews.

As we all know – or, as you will have found out after wading through all those previews – this year’s final pits an imploding FC Dallas side against a New England Revolution team made up of talented players serving life sentences in Steve Nicol’s system (wow, am I doing a lousy job of selling this one). In all seriousness, there’s something to love in almost every game and Dallas’ state of free-fall provides a pretty good story-line for this one.  With enough skill between them, the teams should put on a decent final – and at least Dallas should be  either willing, or compelled by their fans, to open up the game.  The wild card – and it’s about as “wild” as a seven of clubs – is the extent to which New England will go along.

But the most immediate question is, who will win? I found a couple people calling this one during my rounds on the Web:

Dan Loney Says It All: picks FC Dallas.

USSoccerplayers.com: picks FC Dallas (after reviewing DC’s loss to Chivas).

3rd Degree: picks New England…and it’s a Dallas outfit; go figure.

I invite anyone else out there to make a call, but here’s mine. I’m going with New England. Why? With Dallas’ confidence curled up at the bottom of the shitter, I trust New England’s organization and physical style to bully the Dallas attack – and that’s even with Shalrie Joseph sitting this one out.  In the end, New England only needs to buy enough time either Khano Smith, Steve Ralston, Taylor Twellman, Pat Noonan, or, hell, even Adam Cristman to find a way through Dallas’ six-directions-at-once back four. Put another way, I think Nicol has at last found an opponent in a final that fits his coaching methods through an unlucky accidents of circumstance (horrible run of form) and personnel (green, and as 3rd Degree points out, leaderless defense).

What am I hoping for? Good question. Nice as it would be to see the home team win, it is New England after all. You yell loudest at the ones you love most…or at least I do…and random strangers who harass cyclists…shit, that’s going to get me killed one day…

Unfortunately, that leaves the extremely small panel represented on this post divided 2-2 on who’s going to win. Anyone out there care to break the deadlock?

The High-5 for Wednesday October 3rd

What to read when you are really pondering if John Terry was on Star Wars…

1.) Silvio Berlusconi was interviewed by Marca on Tuesday. Why? To put to rest the rumors that Kaka was going to sign or was close to signing for Madrid. He basically said Kaka is AC Milan and that he wouldn’t ever be leaving. The best quote of the piece was when Berlusconi went on to recommend that former Prime Minister of Spain, José Maria Aznar should become president of Real Madrid if Calderón ever steps down.

“Aznar has shown great personality, charisma and political sense. If he decided to run for Real Madrid president, he’d be sure to win. And he’d do just as well as when he governed Spain.”

Let me assure you I’m not going to take advice from Berlusconi, ever.

2.) Barcelona defender Rafael Márquez will be out for 1 month after an injury suffered in the Champions League tie with Stuttgart yesterday. Puyol may be questionable for the game this weekend against Atlético.

3.) The La Liga Loca famous quotes of the week are out. And the first one is a doozy.

4.) Real Madrid is going to open up a training ground on the island of Bali by 2008, and then another in Jakarta in 2009. Real Murcia have opened up a new one at the cervecería down the street.

5.) Betis is coming the Argentinian and Brazilian markets for great players, according to Manuel Ruiz de Lopera. But Betis will have to be weary of the 3 non EU player rule in La Liga when looking for players.

Post YOUR MLS Power Rankings

Whoops.  A day late on this.

This is a call for all comers to post, or link to, their Major League Soccer power rankings.

UEFA Champions League: Gunners keep firing; Rangers surprise the hell out of Lyon

Group E 

Rangers 3, Lyon 0

A definitive win for the Gers as they dispatched the French champions without so much of a whimper of disapproval. DaMarcus Beasley had the clincher and also provided the assist on the first goal from former Wigan man Lee McCulloch. The Rangers now control their destiny sitting atop the table with an undefeated and tough-looking Barca side.

Barcelona 2, VfB Stuttgart 0

Not quite domination, but the air of the game never felt like Barca were threatened. The German champs couldn’t deal with Henry and Messi, who put in the second goal.

Group F 

Sporting Lisbon 2, Dynamo Kiev 1

A good recovery win over Ukraine’s strongest squad. Yannick Djalo stood out above the rest……..again.

Manchester United 1, AS Roma 0

Despite receiving the news that Owen Hargreaves would be out another month, United handled Roma well amidst questionable finishing and a less fluid style of play. It was Wayne Rooney who took matters into his own hands by clanging the only goal off the post and giving the Devils their second European win in Group F.

Group G 

CSKA Moscow 2, Fenerbahce 2

A last-gasp put back from Brazilian Deivid gave the Turkish giants a key tie against Moscow, leaving them atop the Group G standings. It was the Brazilians who drove the game in this Eastern European clash. Vagner Love scored the go-ahead goal for CSKA after fellow Brazilian Edu Dracena took him down in the box (one of his most forgettable performances). Alex provided the first strike in the 9th minute.

Inter Milan 2, PSV Eindhoven 0

Despite two ejections late in the game, Inter had already put themselves clear of a somewhat disjointed PSV squad. Zlatan Ibrahimovic put in two by the 31st minute, making the ejection of defender Chivu and Honduran David Suazo a ho-hum. Inter will not have Suazo and Chivu as they take on CSKA Moscow sitting right in the thick of the table.

Group H 

Sevilla 4, Slavia Prague 2

A host of goalscorers stepped up for Sevilla but it was talisman Frederic Kanoute that opened the scoring and jumpstarted the Sevilla offense. After questionable results within La Liga the past couple weeks, last year’s Spanish surprises were looking for an encouraging win and got it. Slavia Prague did leave without a fight though – cancelling out Kanoute’s opening goal and grabbing another in the waning minutes of the match.

Arsenal 1, Steaua Bucharest 0

The Gunners only needed one and it came late and in this year’s Arsenal-fashion. Both Van Persie and Adebayor have refined their game this year and transformed these Gunners into a multi-weapon team.