Daily Sweeper, 10.4: Where’s the USOC? Seattle, Rumors +, MLS Love

– Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports’ guy, wrote an article wondering – or, rather, explaining – why the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup gets overlooked year after year.  Lots of good points get in – notably, the familiar one about how the Open Cup looks too much like Major League Soccer’s (MLS) playoffs – including one I’ve never yet considered:

“Perhaps the Open Cup’s history is also part of its problem. Whereas MLS is a relatively young product that is confident in its future prospects, the Cup dates back to an era where there was little interest in the game.”

Elsewhere, as if trying to prove Rogers’ point both Sports Illustrated and ESPN ran the same Associated Press article.  Way to celebrate the tradition guys.  At least the bigger, soccer-specific sites came through (or at least  the ones I visit): USSoccerplayers.com and GOAL, especially, turned in swell write-ups.  The little guys – e.g. amateur blogs (like this one!) – did their part as well, but, twit that I am, I didn’t lift the links as I traveled.  My bad.  Still, I’ll link to the FC Dallas Offside’s lamenting write-up ’cause he deserves some sympathy after a tough loss.

– A couple MLS-to-Seattle tidbits to pass on: first, MLS Rumors (GOD!! I LOVE THAT SITE!!!), is doing its normal business of spreading, well, rumors (caveat, caveat) that a Seattle MLS club could start play early as 2008.  Mmmm…not the best idea, as I see it – or at least it’s one that will continue the lopsided conference issue…though that could be fudged by going single-table.  In related news, American Soccer Daily reminds all  of us about the big concern about a Seattle franchise:

“Plans for a soccer-specific stadium, a requirement for any new MLS franchise, have not been mentioned, making 67,000 capacity Qwest Field with its FieldTurf surface the likely home for the club.”

Yeah, that does suck…not getting around that really.  There’s also the issue with jacked-up security dudes at Qwest (NOTE: This comes from the Timbers Blog, which doesn’t mean it’s manufactured or unfair necessarily; it’s just that Timbers’ fans hold all things Seattle and Sounders in the same regard as a herpes rash.)

– Finally, Dan Loney really does Says It All by sharing what makes MLS so darn endearing.  All those precious mistakes…as fun as watching a toddler fall down…

MLS Week 26 Collective Rankings: Harmony Achieved

The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (SDPC) experienced a little shrinkage this weekend: we’re down to 9 pundits from 12…and Sports Illustrated’s Ryan Hunt is back to skipping deadlines (how does he keep his job?).  Though smaller in number, we are more powerful of brain because we’re moving the teams as one.  It’s as if our collective mind makes them move…

I’ll get into this a bit more after the jump, but one of the more surprising things about this week’s collective take comes with the general agreement on the big jumps – e.g. how a lot most pundits decided on an abrupt move up for Chicago and LA or an abrupt move down for Colorado and Columbus.

As for the mechanics, 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 26’s pool:

Center Holds It (Me)
MLS Underground/American Soccer Daily
My Soccer Blog
WVHooligan
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
Fox Soccer (Keith Costigan)
ESPN (another collective)
Fullback Files
Tim (the Enchanter)

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

Revs Break Duck Over Dallas’ Heart

It wasn’t till Taylor Twellman’s post-game interview, when he smiled about seeing “Rally” (Steve Ralston) and “Heapsy” (Jay Heaps) in the first flush of final victory the New England Revolution had ever known, that real contentment about the state of things filtered in. Even if a sprinkling of New England fans made the trip to Frisco to share the moment, trophy ceremonies in disinterested, or even hostile, environments lack for the due fullness of joy. But calm, happy expression on Twellman’s face and the realization that Ralston, Major League Soccer’s (MLS) answer to Cal Ripken Jr., would collect at least trophy in his relentless career bridged the gap between what I hoped to see and what I got. Call it the difference between a cozy little wedding and a drunken tear through a Vegas chapel: both can make you happy, but one is definitely more fun.

As for FC Dallas, it’s something more than there being no joy in Frisco. A suicide watch might be in order.

In practical terms, I caught about 65 uninterrupted minutes, I saw three goals scored, heard the noise that attended the other and caught the replay, and still have no clue how New England scored their third, or who did the scoring. My apartment building – God bless it and the nuts who live there – was evacuated when the fire alarm went off, something that happens way more often than it should. Based on as much of the game as I saw, though, the story line going in held up – e.g. the Dallas’ defense would sabotage their offense. And thinking of that defense only reinforces all the questions about why a team desperately in need of defensive solidity went and bought a circus animal named Denilson.

The Dallas defense committed something worse than sabotage, really – at least where the two New England goals I saw were concerned; we’re talking Rube Goldberg goals, improbable progressions of events concluding with finishes so easy you’re almost willing to buy the mouse-trap. I’m wondering whether Steve Morrow even bothered yelling at his defenders; after all, what would Dallas’ defenders learn from abuse what they don’t already know? What’s the sense of piling pain on top of humiliation?

The real tragedy is one glorious goal the Dallas’ defense canceled out. When Arturo Alvarez picked up the ball on the touch-line near the cameras, you knew something good would follow. But something better still came as Alvarez rushed toward the Revolution goal and launched a shot past Matt Reis that defied centuries old laws of geometry. After pulling that one out of the top drawer, I’m betting Alvarez had the sadly sparse Dallas crowd on its feet when, a few minutes later, he took off on a run straight through New England’s center. That Alvarez enterprising wizardry came up just short typified Dallas’ night: good, but painfully short of good enough.

Getting back to New England, even as they didn’t look so special at any time I watched, I got to wondering about what this win will do to the Revs’ still-live bid for MLS Cup. Even with everyone pointing to DC United and Houston, or even a Chivas USA team that seems to be fading, the prospect that anyone watching had just watched a kind of exorcism occurred to me. What kind of a lift could New England get from this?

Well, that’s me waxing poetic. I had a couple nuts-n-bolts points to pass on in the form of player ratings – though with a little twist. It occurs to me that when a given player turns in an unremarkable performance, it makes sense to not remark upon it. With that in mind, I started writing down the names of people and/or entities that did bear pointing out. Here’s that little role call: Continue reading

Dida gets a 9.5 for the Dive

This is a highlight from the Champions League game Celtic v AC Milan yesterday. Celtic ended up scoring near the end of the match to go up 2-1 which was a HUGE upset in terms of this game. Celtic and AC Milan played an insane game last season in the Champions League in order to go on to the semi-finals. AC Milan won that game in the final minute of play.

However, after the goal is scored and the Celtic fans basically tear the stadium down. Some douchebag decided to jump from the stand and go after Dida. By go after, I mean to barely touch Dida in the neck while running by.

Dida then takes about 5 steps and looks like he was shot, or that fan knew the 5-point exploding heart technique from Kill Bill.

Seriously, this is what I have to deal with when I explain soccer to people.

FIFA will investigate the game and it is possible that Celtic could have the game wiped away and the win given to AC Milan. It has happened before, so it wouldn’t be surprising if it happens again.

Thanks to The Offside