Crew TSII: Wait, what? Make that 4-3-0.

Covering the Crew is telling me that the Columbus Crew lost to the Ventura Co. Fusion, a team whose name I feel compelled to abbreviate for reasons unknown. No word yet (that’s 2:36 p.m. PST) on the official site and I can’t say I blame ’em. I’d had that one like a drunk uncle. This is the team, after all, Real Salt Lake (RSL) fuckin’ shellacked a couple weeks back. Covering the Crew’s makes no mention of the score – though the url for the post hints at a 1-0 loss – so…if you add up the goals, this like losing to RSL 8-0. (What? Don’t you tell me what is and is not mathematically valid. I’m a scientist!)

At any rate, the talk of the Crew’s record in yesterday’s post seems rather cocky in retrospect. I’m not expecting a whole lot this season, but I do expect games like this to spark a little optimism all the same.

UPDATE: With a happy hat-tip to du Nord, I can now pass on a local write-up on the game, though that’s as much a thumbnail sketch of how to build a PDL team than a match report.  There’s also something I forgot to mention: Covering the Crew points out that a few Crew trialists played with the Fusion.  For what it’s worth, this excuses nothing.

Bueno Throws Down Gauntlet: Nostalgia and Questions

I think it was yesterday that Sideline Views’ Luis Bueno posted pre-season power rankings for Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 14 teams. Now, I’m missing the 2007 like a bitch, with its power rankings and the collective power rankings I ran on this site….and will soon run again.

Bueno took a fairly scientific approach, basing his rankings on the rankings he assigned to each position and you can find links to those through Laurie’s post on this subject for the MLS Offside. And, if you go to the comments, you can see that surprisingly deep and persistent love for Toronto FC, a team whose off-season moves (see the bottom) have 1) only just begun, and 2) haven’t been of an order to make me think they’ll rise super far above 2007’s on-field horror-show (again, people, the crowds are cool and nice, but they don’t but anything in the standings). That is to say, I don’t know why people think 11th is such a strange call for Toronto in 2008. Still, the comments – even those Toronto-philic ones (the Crew will beat you this year; the as-yet unnamed (meaningless) trophy will be ours!* You’ll see!) – are worth the gander.

Anyway, getting back to it, what Bueno put down for his rankings appears below (and I’m borrowing this from The Offside’s post, ’cause their copy is cleaner). I was tempted to try to compile rankings of my own, but, if I’m being honest, I can’t get my head around variables like the new players, tested or otherwise. I’ll just post the questions that come to me upon seeing Bueno’s rankings – e.g. a man who has actually gave this some thought. I will only say this: Bueno pulled together his rankings in a way that made each team the sum of its parts. Respectfully – and I say that ’cause he’s killer – I don’t think that’s the correct approach: teams can compensate for weak spots – e.g. a good defense can help a dodgy ‘keeper and route-one play can cover a sub-par midfield. Not every time, of course, but a team can get away with it if the replacement parts are strong enough. So, yeah, I’ll just pose some questions…

…and to show my respect for the difficulty of what Bueno did, I’m going to preserve the crack at power rankings I started, but failed to complete. You’ll see that all the way at the bottom…and – woo! – it’s just non-sensical.

(* Holy crap!  I think I’m pulling for the Crew!  How’d that happen?  No wait.  Why does that happen?)

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Pan-Pacific: Post-Mortem or Obituary (+ Some Silliness)

A number of people have flagged a Los Angeles Times article that contained some surprisingly harsh comments about the recently-concluded Pan-Pacific Challenge (PPC) from Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner Don “The Don” Garber. Now, we all know the field sucked (seriously, I looked like the blue crap I once played on in Moscow, Idaho’s Kibbie ASUI Dome, pictured left; at least the turf used to be blue).

But more than the turf provoked The Don’s wrath: gates unworthy of David Beckham also rankled as, no doubt, did seeing goals getting piled on against MLS’s actual crown jewel, the Houston Dynamo.  The language remains diplomatic – at least where everything but the field is concerned (“We are very disappointed with the field surface,” Garber said. “Our players said it was perhaps the worst surface they had played on.”  oh….that’s what happened…) – but it’s fairly clear that Soccer Marketing United (SUM) wouldn’t have minded had ESPN Classic taken on pass on televising the event.

There’s talk in the article about rotating between sites in Japan, Australia, and the U.S. – and that isn’t a terrible one – but I liked Hawaii because it felt a little closer to neutral ground.  That said, there’s no denying the facility is (cavernously) problematic.  Surely, there’s a field with grass somewhere in Hawaii, one either big enough, or one that could be expanded without too much money and effort? If not, yeah, move the PPC.  Or just kill the thing and televise, I dunno, the Carolina Challenge Cup instead.  Just don’t think about it too hard.  Sure, I liked the thing, but it’s hard to justify agonizing over it.  And there’s no way in Hell to justify a soccer-specific stadium in Hawaii… Continue reading

Yakubu out to prove he’s no Craig Bellamy: Everton 2, Manchester City 0

The big Nigerian striker provided the first goal in a 2-0 shutout of Sven’s sliding Citeh (and his 16th of the still young season). Last month’s CHI Best XI pick Joleon Lescott added another less than 10 minutes later as the Toffees rode their first half efforts into fourth place, surpassing Liverpool no less. Now they stand within a stone’s throw of Chelsea and their momentum is dangerous. Everyone keeps waiting for this team to have a terrible year, but David Moyes has them extremely consistent and that’s with long bouts with injury over the past season for their talisman Tim Cahill and the African Nations Cup absence and subsequent late return of Yakubu. Lee Carsley was the man of the match and is often neglected for many of his performances, which are never particularly pretty. Regardless, his efforts led to the second goal. The bald headed maniac kept his eye on a ball much of the Man City defense thought to be dead. His resulting cross led to Lescott’s nod-in, catching Richard Dunne on the backpedal.

Is it safe to say yet that Tim Howard is the best keeper in the English Premier League right now? Who’s better? Edwin Van der Sar? Brad Friedel? Fabio Capello’s possible pick for new English goalkeeper – Joe Hart – didn’t exactly have the greatest showing but is certainly showing greater upside than an aged David James, errant Paul Robinson, and equally as inconsistent Robert Green.

MLS Philly: Getting Closer, Ives takes a look at Philly

Ives Galarcep does a great piece on the prospects of a Philadelphia Major League Soccer franchise.

I will be heading to a Meet the Owners party tomorrow for it. Hopefully, I’ll bring back some pictures and a few concrete facts……..