MLS Daily Sweeper, 10.19: Canales Double-Dip (Oh, get your minds out of the gutter…)

Seemed like a slow news day for some damn reason…

– Canales #1: If the LA Galaxy are to have a shot in Hell at a successful season, Carlos Ruiz needs to have a Hell of a year.  In an interview with Canales posted on Soccer365.com, el Pescadito sounds more focused than I’ve heard in a couple years…the FC Dallas years to be precise.  Wonder how FC Dallas fans are taking that… (Hat-tip: USSoccerplayers.com).

Canales #2: The anatomy of Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez’s jam.  Speaking for myself, I hope he’s still around during World Cup qualifying.  As funny things go, Mexico failing to qualify would rank pretty highly.  And I don’t mean that maliciously…it’s more about fun following from things coming out of deep, deep, (deep, deep….I mean, this is CONCACAF) left field.

– About last night: I already posted on DC United’s rout over Harbour View FC, but found a couple other takes I appreciated.  The Offside Rules posted a lovely montage capturing the magnitude of the win (which Soccer By Ives posted already…so all y’all have already seen it; don’t care), but there’s also a collection of photos posted on DC United Offside scaled as if viewed by ants.  Can’t promise this one will be up for long – jon, the author, has vowed to fix it – but I like the super-sized images better.

GREAT OUTDOORS
– Suddenly, my Comcast package sounds more ominous than good.  (HT: Fark.com)

– Have I posted this before?  I only know it’s an oldie, but it’s a topical one: The Easter Bunny Hates You.

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Crew Preview Coming…Followed by Other Junk….Help!

It has been said that the first day of any league’s season feels like Christmas Day.  If that hasn’t been said, well, I’m saying it here.  The thing is, this cuts both ways: much like with Christmas, you find an avalanche of obligations on top of you before you know it, never mind being prepared.

I seriously need to write team-specific previews for both the Columbus Crew (here) and the Colorado Rapids (there) before the season starts.  But I’ve got a couple big items I promised myself I’d do prior to the start of the season as well.  But because I take the verb “need” seriously, I’ll be cranking out the Rapids and Crew previews over the next two days.

By way of format, I’ll break down each team in the two vaguest possible ways: defense and offense.  And I think that’s appropriate: midfield complicates position-by-position reviews because what is a midfielder but a forward playing farther from goal or a defender pushing the bubble of safety further upfield?  Don’t answer that, by the way.  It’s just rhetorical justification.

So, look for previews of both team’s defenses tomorrow and for both team’s offenses on Friday.  The Big Picture stuff – conference previews and the ever-dodgy preseason power rankings – come before Thursday next week, just in time for First Kick.  And there’s more CONCACAF Champs’ Cup stuff to do before this week is over.

One last thing: the Daily Sweeper won’t be daily for the next couple weeks, especially on the days I’m doing Major League Soccer Links for Laurie on The Offside while she’s away.

OK, that’s it.  Daily Sweeper coming later.

GREAT OUTDOORS
– From Fark.com comes this reminder of how geeks shared their geeky obsessions before the Web: fanzines.  The page displays covers from old Sci-fi fanzines inspired by Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, hell, even Quantum Leap (“I am Scott Bacula!  I’ve come to suck your blood!  Bleh!”).  The Star Wars covers are the most, um, out there.

How long do friggin’ Tuataras live?  (Fark.com)

– It seems different cultures count money in different ways.  (haha.nu).

CCC08: Dynamo v. Municipal, A Modest Preview

What’s the balance between the differences and similarities heading into Leg #2 of the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal between the Houston Dynamo and Guatemala’s CSD Municipal? In other words, how much work do I have to do in order to update the information from the mess of a preview I compiled before the first leg?

Well, why not start with that first leg? Municipal proved a better team than I expected certainly. Even before pre-season conditioning and the altitude got the better of the Dynamo, the Guatemalans rather reliably menaced the Dynamo goal; I’d actually argue that, in spite of the increased general pressure, they looked better in the opening half…though, at the same time, they had their best chance early in the second (and I’m still thanking Gonzalo Romero for the nearly implausible shank). The Dynamo held fast in the end and even managed to send a fright or two into Municipal’s defense. Continue reading

CCC08: One More Observation from DC’s Win

Marcelo Gallardo versus Devon McTavish: seems a forced comparison, but I found doing so revealing last night.  Here’s how:

I count McTavish one of those good-for-Major-League-Soccer (MLS) players.  By that I mean he generally makes good decisions, he knows the game, and works plenty hard.  Possessed of just enough swagger – or perhaps feeling a little randy after scoring his second goal in as many games – McTavish also attempted a couple clever passes, but with a higher degree of difficulty.  A lack of precision and/or difficulty with applying just the right weight made his several attempts came up short.

Gallardo, on the other hand, overcame the higher degree of difficulty time and again, squeezing passes into places where you’d think it couldn’t go and finding a run that seemed irrelevant only second ago.

Whenever I question the wisdom of signing designated players, I’ll have to remind myself to make this seemingly forced comparison.  Gallardo, along with guys like David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, do possess that little extra something.  They’re not a cure-all – not least because they’re playing on a team full of people without that “little something extra” – and talent doesn’t always equate with effectiveness.  Still, having the talent explains their allure because, even when American players can pull off the same moves, the can’t with the same consistency.

We’ll get there – at least I think we will – but only when our players work on this, or are taught it, from a young enough age.

GREAT OUTDOORS
– A list of real-life inventions seen on Star Trek…I’m most excited about hyperdrive…which, it seems, some people believe can actually come together.

– Ever wonder what happens when a fire breaks out at a gas station?  Now you know.

CCC08: DC 5-0 HVFC, The McTavish Scoring Machine

“The game is opening up. Harbour is getting their chances.”

I wrote that into my notes sometime in the late 50’s, thinking it spelled the beginning of a period when Jamaica’s Harbour View FC (HVFC) would threaten DC United’s lead and survival in the CONCACAF Champions Cup (CCC) quarterfinal. Instead, not much more than 10 minutes later, DC had extended their lead by three goals – not the prettiest things, but they all count – leaving the Jamaicans completely demoralized. I turned off the game before DC scored their fifth, but saw plenty ahead of it. HVFC had actually lost their way just before the half, but, finding themselves four goals down in abrupt fashion, they hesitated to go forward for fear of suffering another dizzy spell in front of their own net.

And, to think, DC owed so much to Devon McTavish. Without his first half goal – a goal allowed by fundamental errors that don’t belong at the professional level – HVFC would have had less need to compress the field and send players forward. Once exposed, they defended desperately and, unfortunately, not so well. A fortunate bounce here – I mean, how often does a back-heel carom off a defender directly into the path of your star forward? – and defenders chasing the play everywhere, it took only well-placed finishes to put the game to bed.

Mark Rogondino said sometime after the fourth goal that DC’s performance put the rest of Major League Soccer (MLS) on notice. I don’t buy that. They played well, but also benefited from HVFC’s struggles with possession and their players’ preference for too clever play; I can’t count the number of times, when, presented with an easy pass, HVFC’s players opted for another slick, individual maneuver; this threw a wrench into the team’s rhythm and stranded players – the wide ones who proved effective in the first leg, especially – when they made useful runs. At any rate, the analogy rings false because I don’t think many MLS teams, organized and energetic as they tend to be, will shower them with so many give-aways. Continue reading

EPL Daily 3.19: Figo says no to QPR, surprise?, Blues are raided

FIGO: Reports in England and Figo himself quashed the rumor of 35-year old Figo to Matt Pickens’ Queens Park Rangers. Yep, QPR. Either way, Figo has decided one thing for sure – that he’s definitely leaving.  

NOT LORD STEVENS: Another club – this time Birmingham City – has been raided by police. Same tune, different measure – the police are searching for signs of corruption, transfer policy violations, Martin Taylor perhaps? All of this is supposedly NOT a part of the Lord Stevens inquiry which landed Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp a while back in connection with illegal payments to to agents. Instead, the force conducting the raid has said it’s a completely separate matter. Is that a good thing?

THE RETURN: In other Birmingham news, defender Martin Taylor and Eduardo’s least favorite person returned to action in a reserve match after serving a 3-match ban for breaking the Arsenal striker’s leg.

SHAY GIVEN: If there is one guy who has been through thick and thin with the frustration that is Newcastle United, it is goalkeeper Shay Given. Starting keeper for the Magpies since he was 20, Given has amassed over 330 caps Tyneside. But in a sure sign of how Newcastle’s season is going, Given has been sidelined for 6 weeks now after finding out he needs surgery to repair a nagging groin injury. Steve Harper has done well as back-up, but the Magpies still find themselves in the thick of the relegation battle. Looking back at the 1997 season when he won over the starting position, it was a former-MLS guy he beat – Shaka Hislop. Still only 31, Given is 5 years removed from having become Newcastle’s most-capped player – so you can imagine the lead he holds on the second-most capped Magpie. It’s a shame loyalty doesn’t buy victories.