Barnsley does it again! Beats Chelsea! Bye bye Avram…Man Utd gone as well.

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You know it was meant to be when a guy (Kyote Odejayi) who hasn’t scored in several months, heads home the lone goal by outleaping Carlo Cudicini in the 66th minute. Did anyone else enjoy Cudicini’s 360 degree flail after he realized Odejayi was going to beat him to the ball? Perfect ten.

Barnsley still had to withstand a haphazard Chelsea offense for the last 30 minutes, but it was easy to see that the Blues weren’t up to the challenge. They played like amateurs. Not one person stood out, unless you count disgusting tackles as standing out (Ricardo Carvalho in the last couple minutes).

Both giants were slaughtered today – Manchester United and Chelsea are gone. A ten-men United gone after losing to Portsmouth 1-0 earlier today. Sulley Muntari converted the penalty after Tomasz Kuszczak was sent off for a trip up in the penalty box. Portsmouth and Middlesbrough remain of the EPL clubs and it’s safe to say who the favorites are…

Barnsley (okay, Portsmouth, but still…). They played way above their standards today and Chelsea were forced to play down to them, their tactics, their pace. Brian Howard had another great game and is really making a name for himself. Was this an example of a team not being able to adjust from a smooth technical game to a scrappy heap of raw soccer? Can you really tell me that Joe Cole and Michael Essien really can’t adjust to that!!?

Anyways, that game made my day. Share your thoughts below.

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Crew v. Rapids: The Intra-Conference Situation (And When Did They Change the Playoff Set-up?)

Lately, I’ve poked around the question of where I think both the Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids are with regard to building their rosters for the 2008 season (hint: check the links). Both efforts tend to vagueness, but they’re a starting point for discussion at least. This current post starts the project of pulling together something more concrete – namely, where each team fits within their respective conferences.

To begin, I’m assuming Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Competition Committee hasn’t again changed the….dammit. They did. MLS has, again, changed qualification for the post-season (from the rules of competition posted on the official site):

“The top three teams in each conference qualify and are seeded 1, 2 & 3 in their respective four-team playoff conference brackets.”

“The two MLS teams with the next most points, regardless of conference, receive “wildcard” berths.”

Under last year’s rules – that is, the top two teams from each conference qualifying for the post-season, with the remaining four spots being wild cards – the way any given team stacked up against its intra-conference rivals definitely mattered. Obviously, three qualifying teams makes intra-conference comparisons even more relevant. And that’s what this post will begin examining – i.e. how the Crew and Rapids stack up against conference rivals – i.e. the teams they’ll play more often and who will thus mean the most in determining their separate, yet cosmically-bound post-season fates (are multiple “i.e.’s” allowed?).

That said, it bears noting that several teams are still tinkering – Columbus among them, judging by some unfamiliar names in the line-up that lost today to Everton’s reserves. Also, current results matter and they don’t; by that I mean, some results impress me – for example, it’s not so much that FC Dallas beat Atletico Paranaense’s B-team, as my impression that they did it well – while I’m not sure what to make of others. But these are just caveats, excuses perhaps for when what I write below gets proved very, very wrong by later events.

But, within that frame, where do I peg Columbus and Colorado relative to their rivals in the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively? And what does that mean for their post-season fortunes? Continue reading