Li’l Nuggets from MLS, 04.08: Blessed by Bruce

Now, cynics might think this is me trying to revive the Daily Sweeper on the sly. No! It is so much more…and less. The concept is similar – e.g. it’s just me flagging crap I find – but, rather than direct you to entire posts and/or articles, I’m mainly interested at lifting quotes and specific concepts, notions, etc. from said posts and/or articles. The thinking is that you’re more likely to miss something like that than an entire article.

That said, I’ll still pass on entire pieces from time to time – like plugging The Offside Rules’ new Goal of the Weak feature – very clever – or flagging’s United Soccer Leagues-1 season primer/preview.

Anyway, here’s some good stuff that might have slipped through the cracks.

– I plan on doing a proper preview for the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal second legs tomorrow, but found a good omen in Soccer y Futbol’s preview post:

“I will contact the team once training is over to ask about the condition of the FieldTurf, which, if I’m not mistaken, last month survived a 50,000 crowd that saw Iron Maiden rock it out.”

To hell with the condition of the field. Here’s what each of the Dynamo’s starting XI need to do: find the exact spot inside the stadium where the roadies set up Bruce Dickinson’s mike; stand there and pray. Bruce will see that you win as your reward.

-Speaking of Houston, the guys at Nutmegged inform me that I might have found the “five black eyes” that eluded me while writing up the as-yet-unnamed feature I kicked off yesterday. By general consensus there and elsewhere, Dynamo ‘keeper Tony Caig had a howler (“appalling?” ouch!). Thanks for the tip, guys, I imagine it’ll take me a week or two to get used to scaring up the right material for that….it could also be Monday is too early for me.

– One last CONCACAF-Champs’-related item: Soccer Insider notices a kind of “unfunded mandate” in play during an increasingly crowded Major League Soccer season:

“MLS should be commended for lining up international tournaments for its clubs; now it needs to provide the means to succeed. Just my take. Your thoughts.”

Yes. I do agree.

It’s possible others out there believe I revived a knock-off version of the Daily Sweeper so that I can pass on the random crap I love so dearly…they are also wrong! Though I have to say, it’s a nice fringe benefit.

– I don’t watch this Battlestar Galactica, but I still like this set-up.

Boing Boing reminds us what a work-station looked like a couple decades back. Awesome.

– Hat-tip to on this, welcome to the most poop-inducing hiking trail on planet earth. Somewhere in Spain if memory serves.

– Finally, some days, a body gets on a site and keeps finding little points of interest. That happened on a site called Ploomy sometime last week. I came to it through and it looks like a site with the purpose of making goofy boys into young men – e.g. a cheap version of GQ. Anyway, I started with their “table-manner tips every guy should know.” I knew all those, but a couple other things caught the corner of my eye, so on I went to 10 first date conversation tips and 30 ways “to get your swagger back” – going into that first date, I suppose. Being a married man, these can’t help me – except maybe the table tips (didn’t know that drinking out of bowls wasn’t kosher)

UEFA Champions League: A Quarterfinal Do-or-Die

The fate of three EPL squads will be decided, with at least one going through to the next round.

Chelsea vs. Fenerbahce (aggregate 1-2)

Fenerbahce is confident they can survive in England and move on to the semi-finals. With clutch players like Deivid and Alex, coach and former Brazilian star Zico has assembled himself a team full of Turkish work ethic, determination and Brazilian poise and vision. The blend often clashes, however, as it has in the domestic league since their 2-1 win over Chelsea in the first leg. They have still managed to get their results and now await the return of former Real Madrid fullback Roberto Carlos to help solidify the backline. Avram Grant is still positive in both race for the EPL and UCL Championship. I can’t see the Blues being forced out of this one. It’s going to take another out-of-their-mind game to survive an offensive onslaught at Stamford Bridge.

Prediction: 3-1 (Chelsea 3-2 on aggregate)

Liverpool vs. Arsenal (1-1 on aggregate)

One thing is for sure. This will not be a goal-less game. Between the two talismans – Gerrard and Fabregas – you have 11 goals in this competition alone. But if you’re talking momentum, Liverpool has the nod…not by much, though. In-house rumblings of discontent have managed to surface, while Arsenal has had to deal with a pretty sad run of form as of late. Liverpool has their 12th man at Anfield, while Arsenal has a playing style that lends itself to these kind of tense deciders. The difference will be with how Rafa Benitez decides to handle Arsenal’s torrid offense…will he sit back and build a fortress and try and steal a goal on the counter? Or will he let Gerrard, Torres, and Babel fight Arsenal fire with Liverpool’s own potent attack?

Prediction: 1-1 (aggregate 2-2, Liverpool wins 5-4 on penalties) 


MLS Week 2 Power Rankings: Breaking Hearts and Molding Clay

To the teams sending seriously mixed signals – I’m looking at you New England Revolution; you too Columbus Crew – shame on you! People devote large (if kinda irrational) chunks of their lives to the team of their choosing; you owe them honesty about exactly who you are at the very least.

OK, feeling like we all have a little more with which to work this week – even if things remain a little early and a lot misshapen. At the top and the bottom of the rankings, I’m feeling a little more confident about who goes where; the middle remains a lump of clay waiting to be caressed into coherence, set in the clarifying fires of the pitched battle, glazed in defeat or victory – by the Shield of Galadiel, huzzah! (Sorry…reading Lord of the Rings…please, Mr. Tolkein (and I know you’re long departed) do I have to read about each and every hill those little midgets climb?)

Where was I? Right. The one thing to keep in mind: teams are ranked on the assumption that those above will beat those below right now. Strength over the long haul, well, that’s something else again. When we get closer to the “real season” – i.e. the playoffs, the bit that counts – I’ll probably through an addendum to the rankings about who I think will or will not make the playoffs. But we’re a long way from that; for now, it’s who beat who.

Enough about baffled lovers, broken hearts…my geeky reading list; this week’s rankings follow, with last week’s rankings placed in parentheses right after. As always, feel free to post power rankings of your own in the comments and I’ll include them in the collective rankings I compile every Thursday. Here’s my take on the MLS Stack-Up: Continue reading

La Liga: De La Red Back Home at Real Madrid

(First off, I’d like to give a big middle finger to Time Warner who, thanks to their love for their customers, has rendered me and most of my friends without the internet for the last 6 hours, allowing me to miss the Offside Podcast taping.  Now, It’s 2:45am and I’m sitting in my Office trying to finish up work.  Thanks Time Warner!)

Anyway, to get back to the news. Arturo Sisó, the most annoying man in football according to La Liga Loca, will now have a new name to announce at the Bernabeu come next season.

Now starting for Real Madrid, Number 10 in your programs, but Number 1 in your hearts…Ruben de La Red!!

That’s right, the former Madrid player who was shipped off to Getafe this season with an all so lovely ‘buyback’ clause attached to him, is back for a cool 4.5 million € Why?

Well, the defensive midfielder shined with Geta and was one of Laudrup’s most important pieces of the puzzle this season.

Based on this year’s preformance, as AS puts it, he passed the test (with flying colors I may add) and will become part of Madrid’s team effective June 1.

According to Madrid gaffer, Bernrd Schuster ”

Rubén ha demostrado en el Getafe que se puede confiar en él. Eso sí, debe saber que aquí no tiene la titularidad garantizada porque el Madrid exige siempre el máximo a los que defienden su escudo”.

At Getafe Ruben has shown that we can believe in him.  With that, he should know that here we don’t guarantee anyone playing time because Madrid always brings out the best in the players who defend it’s crest.

De La Red recently received his first callup into the Spanish National Side against Italy (he didn’t play but it was quite an honor for the youngster.

Look for De La Red to give a challenge against Guti or Diarra next season.