SuperDraft Scouting: The Columbus Crew’s Many Moving Parts

This is the second of today’s pre-SuperDraft posts on the two Major League Soccer (MLS) teams I adopted for the 2008 season: I’ll cover the Crew’s drafty-day prospects in this post; the Colorado Rapid’s appears below. Consider this a stab at figuring what each team can or should do ahead of and/or during Friday’s SuperDraft.

MLSnet.com hasn’t yet updated the order on the SuperDraft to reflect the latest (at least not that I know of), but the press release/article they sent out Monday showed Columbus with picks #6, 20, and 48. Something posted on the Crew’s official site confirms I’m not crazy. They could get great value from that #6 pick and could come up with something for #20 as well. #48…well, it ain’t nothing. So, let the record show the Crew have options. On top of that, they have a fair amount of other activity in the hopper, a detail that complicates figuring out what they want out of the draft.

For all that, I think Steve Davis is on to something with his casual mention that the Crew are thinking defenders first (it’s a needle-in-a-haystack, but it’s in there). Based on reports from other, non-SuperDraft-related sources, they’re looking abroad for attacking talent. This makes sense to a fair degree: not to knock defenders or their art (and it is an art, something you’d know if you’ve seen me defend), but you can take a college-quality midfielder and teach him to defend; happens all the time in MLS – and you get a defender who can pass out of the deal. Add to that Buzz Carrick’s high opinion of the pool of defenders and it appears the Crew have a great shot at filling this specific need. They might even do it twice over.

But Davis’ quick comment is just one view on what the Crew need. Again, I’ll turn to Jeff Carlisle’s ESPN piece on each MLS teams’ needs and my review of Columbus’ 2007. And, again, let’s start with Carlisle: Continue reading

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SuperDraft Scouting: The Colorado Rapids’ Weak Hand

As anyone watching this space knows, I adopted two of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) original teams for the 2008 season: the Columbus Crew and the Colorado Rapids. Today, I’m going to make a stab at figuring what each team can or should do ahead of and/or during Friday’s SuperDraft. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll start with the Rapids.

And why would that be simpler? It could be down to the seeming absence of trading news coming out of Denver; the contrast with the comparatively hopping Ohio scene rather nicely sets up my planned narrative for the season. It could also be that I don’t see them getting up to much between here and Friday evening. I’m not alone in that: read through Steve Davis’ article for MLSnet.com about how unpredictable the smart set expects the ’08 SuperDraft to be and look for Colorado’s name; I know I didn’t find it, not even in the refuse heap acknowledged as “other teams?”

MLSnet.com hasn’t yet updated the order on the SuperDraft to reflect the latest (at least not that I know of), but the press release/article they sent out Monday showed Colorado with picks #5, 36, 47, and 49. That, however, may no longer hold: a somewhat stealthy aside on Soccer by Ives mentioned the Kansas City Wizards sending Jose Burciaga Jr. to Colorado in exchange for a pick. And, as I speculated in an earlier post, I’m guessing – or, rather, hoping for the sake of Burciaga’s ego – that the Rapids coughed up that #5 pick. So…assuming the Rapids did give up the #5 pick, that leaves them with picks #36, 47, and 49 – e.g. short of finding the Hope friggin’ Diamond in the rough, that’s not a lot to work with.

(UPDATE: In the comments, J Five passes on word that Colorado traded for a 2009 draft pick; further, arguably more direct, confirmation appears here.  Thanks to him for that. Given that, pay more attention to the stuff below that assumes the Rapids held on to the #5 pick. Don’t think that changes the big picture all that much, but, as they say, it beats a kick in the head.)

The next question is, what are they needs? Here, we have a couple things with which to work. First, there’s a “Murphy’s Law” column written by Rapids assistant coach John Murphy, a piece in which he gives away little more than a stripped-down draft-day philosophy. Other, more detailed thoughts on team-by-team needs come from an ESPN piece by Jeff Carlisle and, well, me in the form of my review of Colorado’s 2007. Here’s what we have/had to say, starting with Carlisle (who, y’know, pays more attention and takes less license with content, so do lend him your ear): Continue reading

EPL Daily 1.16: Capello to be probed?, Diarra finds a home, and Avram Grant makes his second signing (plus FA Cup replay round-ups!)

FABIO CAPELLO: The new coach of the Three Lions has had to assure people that he will not be joining Joey Barton behinds bars due to tax issues. The claims of a full-scale investigation into Capello’s tax history are coming out of Italy and regarding his time as manager of AS Roma and Juventus. Capello assures his tax affairs are in order.

LASSANA DIARRA: 22-years old and he’s already been to two world-class clubs. In order to get proper playing time, Diarra has now moved on – in a reported $10 million move – to Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth. Kind of seems Diarra’s request for more playing time will come with much competition still as Pompey’s midfield is pretty damn good. Niko Kranjcar, Papa Bouba Diop, and Sully Ali Muntari man the middle – he’s got a chance to Redknapp he deserves it though as both Diop and Muntari are at the African Nation’s Cup.

BIG TRANSFERS: Lyon’s Fred looks to be on his way to White Hart Lane to play for the Hotspur; former Chelsea midfielder Maniche got picked up on loan by Inter Milan;  in some sort of a transfer coup 20-year old Argentinian starlet Mauro Zarate – playing with Al-Sadd in Qatar – could be on his way to rescue Birmingham from the Blues; Chelsea have joined in on the Eastern European fun, by signing their own version of Man Utd success story Nemanja Vidic – this central defender, Branko Ivanovic of Lokomotiv Moscow, is also a Serb, already with a work permit, and worth about $20 million. We’ll see if THAT pans out.

FA Cup Round 3 Replays

Bury 2, Norwich 1

The League Two side sparkled against Championship side Norwich. Dion Dublin found the net for the green and yellow, but it was purely consolation. Bury had already ‘buried’ two – Ben Futcher in the 18th and Andy Bishop in the 61st. A whopping 67% scoring percentage.

Tottenham 1, Reading 0

Robbie Keane the hero – again – although it’s been Berbatov’s name on the scoring charts as of late. Tottenham’s newest signing Chris Gunter got the start and did well, while Bobby Convey played all 90 minutes for the Royals making life difficult for Chimbonda on the right. Hahnemann was given the night off along with some other key players and the Royals still were dangerous, but it was the Hotspur who converted their chances and all it took was one.

Millwall 2, Walsall 1
Zak Whitbread’s squad went on and won with out the American back.

Liverpool 5, Luton Town 0

The first half Reds were silent, but once half-time broke, it was all class. Ryan Babel started things off right. Steven Gerrard then promptly stole the show, unleashing his inner frustrations on the Luton Town defense, scoring three over the course of the second half. Only Sami Hyypia could take the spotlight off of Gerrard for more than a minute when he hit home in the 57th minute, confirming the rout was on. Jamie Carragher played in his 500th game for the Reds.

West Brom 2, Charlton 2 (W.B.A. wins 4-3 in penalties)

The Baggies recovered, after giving up a two goal lead, and won 4-3 in penalties. Darren Ambrose and Chris Dickson led the come back charge for Charlton, only to see their FA Cup hopes dashed after Zheng Zhi’s spot-kick was saved by W.B.A.’s Dean Kiely.

Today’s Games
Havant and Waterlooville vs. Swansea
Tranmere vs. Hereford
Newcastle vs. Stoke (save face Magpies, save face)
Manchester City vs. West Ham United

Whoops.

Whoa.  Looks like posted on the wrong site.  Right.  Trying again…

OK, now.  Holy crap!  What’s that green thing up there?  Wasn’t this thing…I dunno, blue this morning?  Crap.  Log out…start over.

Dammit!  Where the HELL am I?  And why do I hear White Rabbit in the background?

La Liga: Crazy Drunk Irish Crown Real Madrid 2008 La Liga Champs

Having dated a hard-core Irish girl for quite some time, I’ve seen some crazy Irish do some crazy things.  But this group of Irish may just take the cake.

Paddy Power the largest Irish Betting Agency claim the La Liga title is already signed, sealed and delivered this season, barely after reaching the half-way point.

Paddy Power has already paid out all of it’s bets for Real Madrid to win La Liga this season,according to Spanish paper 20 minutos (which is Free in Spain and my daily reading while sitting in class).   They assure in the article that they have ‘not lost their head’ but rather ‘Our analysts and statistics know that Real Madrid will win La Liga’.

I agree that the Madridistas are in great position so far, sitting 7 points clear of Barcelona.  That doesn’t mean a collapse isn’t possible, nor that a dangerous Barcelona team can’t finally put together a run and challenge for the title.

Can you really predict a Real Madrid victory this season?  Sure they are playing extremely well, but this is simply insane.  The company also ensures that if Real Madrid do not win the title they will not ask for their pay-outs back.

Chalk up another victory for the crazy Irish.

La Liga: Sevilla Dethrowned as Barca Moves On

It’s been a tough year for Sevilla, and it’s just getting tougher now as the rojiblancos find themselves out of the Copa del Rey with a 0-0 draw today at the Camp Nou.  The draw puts Barcelona through with a 1-1 draw previously at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

The game was not worthy of the two teams in it.  It’s obvious that I’m a Sevilla supporter, but the referee’s for this Copa del Rey series were absolutly terrible.  I’m not one to complain about the ref’s, but seriously, this series took the cake.  It was enough to make my head spin, for both teams.

Sitting in front of my Arabic feed I was disgusted time and time again at the lack of calls for both sides.  I spare everyone from going into a epic rant about refereeing but as I previously said, it went both ways.

Tomorrow’s Copa del Rey games are:

Ida Partido Vuelta
09/01/2008 16/01/2008
0-0 Atlético – Valladolid Previa
2-1 Mallorca – R. Madrid Previa
3-0 Getafe – Levante Previa
1-0 Recreativo – Villarreal Previa
1-1 Athletic – Espanyol Previa
1-1 Sevilla – Barcelona 0-0
1-1 Zaragoza – Racing Previa
1-2 Betis – Valencia Previa

Your biggest game tomorrow is the Mallorca-Real Madrid clash at the Bernabeu.  Real Madrid are currently trailing 2 goals to 1, but only need a 1-0 win as Madrid would go through with the advantage in Away goals.