DS, 10.16: US v. Swiss, Rosters and Previews; Onstad: Am I Crazy?; Ives Eyes Some Scalps

– Tomorrow’s friendly against Switzerland sucks up ever more copy and ether as we get closer to it. Among the highlights: Jeff Carlisle’s preview for ESPN, because it contains good stuff on the Swiss…of whom I’m more or less ignorant; USSoccerplayers.com answers the inevitable “Who’s that now?” about four new faces on the U.S. roster; and Ives Galarcep unrolled his regular post on who Bob Bradley should start…so, check out the (updated) roster and see what you think. Speaking for myself, I don’t care who we start so long as we field an experimental line-up; the obvious adjunct to that is that I don’t care so much if we lose either. I just want to sound our depth a little bit; we’ve got two years to mold a roster – and before you point out that World Cup qualifying starts well before then, let me me just say, dude, it’s CONCACAF and there are 3 1/2 spots up for grabs…we’ll make it.

– After posting an angry rant against all things Pat Onstad this morning, I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m the only one who saw what I saw. So, what did I see? Pat Onstad watching Yura Movsisyan out of one corner of his eye while RSL players cleared the area; when Movsisyan got close, Onstad stopped, stood in his way, and then collapsed when the Armenian shoved him; that’s when Onstad bolted up, eyed the ref, then flailed his arms wildly as two Houston players barged into Movsisyan. In other words, that’s all Onstad in my book. But here are excerpts on the incident from two Salt Lake City papers:

(Deseret News) “Two minutes later RSL was reduced to 10 men as well when Yura Movsisyan was sent off for apparently trying to take a swing at Houston keeper Pat Onstad.”

(Salt Lake Tribune) But Beckerman couldn’t convert the ensuing free kick – Houston’s Richard Mulrooney cleared it from the left post – and moments later, RSL’s Yura Movsisyan appeared to throw a punch at Dynamo goalkeeper Pat Onstad after a scramble in front of the goal. At some point amid the pushing and shoving that ensued, Onstad was knocked to the ground, and an infuriated Movsisyan had to be restrained by his teammates.”

Now, I’ll grant that Movsisyan had to be restrained, but he was probably incensed about getting attacked by Houston players after Onstad played him as the chump. Well, I’ll have to review the video later today when I have a machine that groks MLSnet.com’s feed.

Whoops. One more thing: the pre-game ceremony for Jason Kreis and Eddie Pope was a really nice touch. Both men seem the decent sort to me and I wish ’em both the best.

– Getting back to Mr. Galarcep, he’s doing a little reputation busting over on Soccer by Ives, posing two career-defining questions in one day: 1) is Denilson a bust? 2) should Sigi Schmid keep his job? Answers:

1) Yes. The Brazilian suffers horrible from comparison to young American Arturo Alvarez, so, yeah, do the math and swap their salaries.

2) How long has Schmid been in Columbus? Two years. OK. While this is by no means an easy call, I’m with Ives: let Schmid stick around. I think they’re a better team to watch than in 2006 and expect more in 2007, now that I’ve decided to be a Crew fan…we’ll see how long that lasts.

MLS: Prematurely Final Power Rankings

Having ridden my high horse a little too long down below (curse you, Pat Onstad!), I’ll try to keep this brief.  Then again, the relevance of these rankings ain’t what it once was – and even that assumes basic accuracy.  The reality is, how these teams stack up generally doesn’t matter with only one game remaining; it’s how this team stacks up against that one, the essentials of post-season mathematics, that matter now – and that’s taken into consideration below….allowing for personal hang-ups.  Also, a couple specific items below do matter, at least when it comes to predicting which two teams will join the three already on the wrong side of the playoff equation.

Moving to the business side of this, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses after this week’s ranking and each team’s remaining game(s) (drawn from here) follows the commentary.

1. (1) DC United
Still the best: concerns about peaking early don’t mean so much when the same seems to apply no less to everyone else.
Columbus Crew, 10/20

2. (3) Houston Dynamo
I hate them right now, but think they’ll win the West.
@ Chivas USA, 10/20

3. (4) Chicago Fire
The more I read about their draw with DC, the more menacing Chicago becomes.  It is possible Osorio – a coach – brought as much to the table as it appears?
Los Angeles Galaxy, 10/21

4. (2) Chivas USA
Running out of steam and key, healthy players (see: Razov, Ante).
Houston Dynamo, 10/20

5. (5) New England Revolution
A fundamentally solid team that looks, for lack of a better word, bored.  Normally, they hit the playoffs rolling; not this time.
@ Toronto FC, 10/20

6. (6) FC Dallas
A win against KC would be huge, possibly the difference between a first-round exit and….dare they dream?
Kansas City Wizards, 10/20

7. (7) Red Bull New York
Looked more lucky than good against KC, which makes me think they’re not going to end their season on a high, badly as I want them to.
@ Los Angeles, 10/18

8. (9) Kansas City Wizards
Ranked at #8 because I think they’ll make the playoffs in spite of themselves.
@ FC Dallas, 10/20

9. (8) Los Angeles Galaxy
That which will not die winds up dead by Sunday one way or the other.
Red Bull New York, 10/18; @ Chicago Fire, 10/21

10. (12) Colorado Rapids
In with a whimper; they need too many breaks.  And Clavijo really needs canning, so, no, let ‘em rot.
Real Salt Lake, 10/20

11. (10) Real Salt Lake
They have a last shot at relevance; I’d love to see them take it.
@ Colorado Rapids, 10/20

12. (13) Toronto FC
That’s right, I bumped ‘em up.  They’re going to come out swinging against New England as a thank you for a great inaugural year.  The Revs had better be ready.
New England Revolution, 10/20

13. (11) Columbus Crew
Tragic and meaningless final weekend; at least they won’t be playing at home.
@ DC United, 10/20

RSL 0-1 Houston: Fine Pat Onstad

To the Powers that Be:

Fine that cheating geezer, Pat Onstad.  Do it for the integrity of the game and for the dignity of regional theater – and introduce your referees to those giant digital video boards most stadiums seem to have these days before they find themselves both embarrassed and obsolete.

What had been a half-decent contest between quality (Houston Dynamo) and pride (Real Salt Lake) unraveled during the second half into a cynical sham.  First came the decision to eject Eddie Robinson: hopefully, referee Tim Weyland knew beyond doubting that Robinson ran across Kyle Beckerman’s trailing leg, because absent perfect knowledge, a red card to Robinson shouldn’t happen.  On the other hand, Robinson might have thought he could get away with it given Weyland’s indulgence of a series of early, rough challenges from Craig Waibel and a string of cynical fouls by Ryan Cochrane that also went unpunished.  Maybe Robinson ran off the field as a scapegoat for Houston.

It’s a little bizarre to be writing this because one talking point that occurred to me as I watched last night amounted to dubbing Houston’s backline one of the best  in Major League Soccer (MLS).  There’s no question in my mind it’s effective, but every time I see them, I’m struck by the low-blow thuggishness with which Cochrane and Robinson, in particular, play the game.  This doesn’t quite reach the realm of, “kids, don’t try this at home,” but it’s hardly something to be encouraged either for reasons of player development or sportsmanship. Continue reading

Kanouté ‘injured’ in Mali soccer riot

Ahh my good ol’ days as a Buckeye

Today while wasting a bit of time before class I was wandering through the ebays and quickly read a story that said that Freddy Kanouté was injured during a riot after Mali lost in an African World Cup qualifier 2-1 to Togo. It says in the article that he was ‘kicked in the leg’. Really? Kicked in the leg? That sounds terrible! I’m sure Kanouté has never been kicked in the leg during a game. WOW!

All kidding aside, for those of you who have never been a riot, they are a scary place. I was in the riots at Ohio State when we beat Michigan in 2002. I literally witnessed a car set on fire and tipped over, a newspaper box thrown through the bookstore window, and more mattresses thrown out of windows then I believed to be humanly possible. I wasn’t ever in danger of being killed or anything, but it is an impressive, albeit scary, site when you see how crazy a mob of angry human beings can be.

It made CBC’s website and even made the USA Today paper. Which I found to be interesting since soccer related news never makes it too far.

The article can be summed up by this quip from the fans.

“Give us Frederic Kanoute and Mamadou Bakayoko. We’re going to kill them!”

What is more interesting is that the President of Mali, Osumane Issoufi Maiga didn’t even support his players during this time.

Mali Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufi Maiga went on national radio Monday to congratulate Togo on its victory, and said his government would work to repair the damage caused by his nation’s “unsporting behavior.”

Later Monday, Maiga indicated the players would be punished for the costly loss, saying “all the consequences of the players’ acts will backfire.” He did not elaborate.

Government ministers berated the Mali players, who looked down silently in humiliation, during a state television broadcast on Monday night.

Government spokesman Ousmane Thiam told them they were “a disappointment” and “did not perform to expectations” after the government had spent $775,500 on their transport and lodging.

So wait a second. Mali has a bad game and they lose. The fan’s riot. And the President basically says ‘Our team sucks, you all are a disappointment and a disgrace to our country. And why didn’t you kick Kanouté harder. (whispers) Whats that? (whispers) Oh yeah, you bad rioters you. Don’t NOT stop rioting´

As a plea to the Mali fans, please don’t kill Kanouté, Sevilla desperately need him back. Thanks.

Never a dull moment in football.