Houston 3-0 Sydney + a Big, Blog-Link Semifinal Wrap

Was that a first half to savor or who?  Houston was everything the Los Angeles Galaxy was not.  While LA looked collectively confused, even panicked, not only did Houston look sharp and organized collectively, every player on orange looked comfortable and switched on to their roles.  I gave up watching around the 80th minute, but that was mainly down to Houston appearing so clearly in command.   Sydney FC, to their credit, set up a couple scrambles and  forced Houston ‘keep Pat Onstad into a save or two, including at least one tough one.  But the night was Houston’s without question.

In LA’s defense, they’re just in a different place than Houston right now.  Houston had every motivation to start a strong line-up; “real” competition is just around the corner for them and it’s big – the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.  They have the title of best club team in the region to spur them on and the possibility of December games against the best in the world as a kicker.  More to the point, the Dynamo returned so much of last year’s MLS Cup squad that the players already know one another.  That the players look ready to roll going into a heavy March warms the heart.

LA, on the other hand, can politely be called “in transition.”  Their situation showed in who they fielded – plenty of rookies and trialists.  LA has the luxury of time that Houston doesn’t.  And, even with a manifestly improved second half, the clearly need that time.  It’s hard to say what should cause LA fans more worry in last night’s performance – the confused, even appalling static performance or signs that several players they took with them looked unprepared for prime time.

To wrap it all up, we got a look at the current pecking order in Major League Soccer (MLS).  I can’t say I expected the gap between the two MLS teams to yawn so wide.

Some other random notes on players and happenings: Continue reading

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MLS Philly: CONFIRMATION!!

Ives has been wrong before, but let’s be honest, he rarely is…and is easily one of the most credible places to go for news in the US soccer world.

But if you don’t believe Ives – the Philadelphia Inquirer works too.  We will know the details on February 28th…and this will be your place to go for all news MLS Philly.

MLS PHILLY is on it’s way!

PPC: I Have to Say…

It’s only three minutes into the Houston Dynamo v. Sydney FC game, but I have to say, thank God.  At least Houston looks like a professional team…you know where I’m going with this….

Gamba 1-0 LA: A Better Feeling

Which is to say, it feels nice to feel something other than shame…

A much-improved second half by the Los Angeles Galaxy, though I always wonder how much of that has to do with one team as much as the other – e.g. did Gamba Osaka lay back a little bit? I can’t answer that, but what I can say is the LA’s defensive set featuring – and it’s worth emphasizing these are rookies – Sean Franklin and, um, Valentin (Julian, I think) looked several orders of magnitude better that the Greg Vanney-led set LA played in the first half.

On the attack – hey, hey – LA had a chance or two. If ____ MacDonald (OK, I checked; it’s Brandon) could shoot for shit, we might have watched a tie and a penalty shoot-out. Hell, even Edson Buddle had a late crack at salvaging some pride for Major League Soccer (MLS), but it wasn’t to be. And, perhaps, that was just.

I won’t bore you with much – this is pre-season after all – but I thought I’d close out with a series of unconnected, yet still related, thoughts. Continue reading

At the Half: LA 0-1 Gamba Osaka…could have been much, much more

That, my friends, is rust, leg-locked, bumbling rust. No nice way to say this, the Los Angeles Galaxy looks like crap. Surrendering possession like the French surrendered half their country, miscuing one pass after the next like a drunk on the tenth round, and defending like….holy shit, the right words elude me.

Osaka has outplayed LA in every facet of the game – quicker brains, smarter movement, better touches, and sharper passing. If LA ‘keeper, Steve Cronin, hadn’t readjusted his gloves, the half-time score would read something closer to 3-0…and that’s giving Cronin more credit than he deserves. LA has too few answers for Osaka’s two Brazilians – Bare, especially. Against that, the Japanese team keeps pouring forward over an LA defense that looks painfully like they met for the first time tonight.

OK. I think I’ve stretched plenty of metaphors and expressed due horror. Now, some general thoughts…

– All is not lost for LA. Alvaro looks pretty good – as in, sign him. Josh Tudela has his moments, as does um…um…David Beckwell? Seriously, Beckham has provided good service, but his energy and short passing haven’t been the best. Alvaro – the dude wearing the “Pires” jersey – looks sharp as anyone for LA. I haven’t seen Kelly Gray do too many things wrong, either, but only a doting, drunken mother could applaud the collective effort.

– The turf sucks. Even if Osaka has coped pretty well, that turf looks hard as it does ugly. But LA’s guys look flustered and overwhelmed at every touch.

– Cronin has the tools, his basic shot-stopping looked sound (enough), but does he need the confidence to command his penalty area. An early headed near-miss said it all: Cronin has to come out and he hesitated.

– You want a horrifying thought? Edson Buddle looks the likeliest offensive threat. Ely Allen, who probably came closest for LA, seemed choked up and hesitant on his one clear chance…too much time around Buddle, perhaps?

OK, all for now. I’m going to go wash out my eyes and pray they don’t get defiled again in the second half.

MLS Philly: Sons of Ben getting more foreign press

“Tim Timminy, Tim Timminy,Tim Tim Teroo / We’ve got Tim Howard and he says fuck you!”

The Guardian UK’s Steven Wells profiled the Sons of Ben as they await the announcement – which could come any day now (coughendofthemonthcough…).  Hell of a good read…

Membership is now 1,200 strong and over 2,500 season ticket ‘intentions’ have been counted. Wells’ points out that there is already an undeniable hatred brewing between the Mid-Atlantic teams and almost-team…

And in New York Red Bull fan chatrooms, the Sons are routinely dissed as “scum”, “infected douches”, “fucking retards”, “Philthadelphia” and “the Daughters of Betsy”.

My ‘cough cough’ moment above alludes to – from an anonymous but very credible source and piggybacking off the MLS Rumors’ timeline – a potential “Meet the Owners” event being held at a location TBA early next week. If the owners are going to meet the Sons of Ben, they are clearly going to have something to talk about.

Champions League-La Liga Edition: A Tale of 3-2’s

Le Sigh. =(

Fenerbahçe 3 – Sevilla 2

A Sevilla side with no excuses couldn’t defend worth a damn and still almost came out of Turkey with a win. Three Fenerbahçe goals scored on TERRIBLE defending by Sevilla.

I’ll spare a recap of the game since everyone knows how much I hate doing them. But I’ll still give my two cents.

Continue reading