Gomez to Colorado: “It’s Going to Happen” (and Houston gets a ‘keeper…)

Tucked in a bunch of other player movement items, Goff effectively buries the lead…at least so far as Colorado Rapids fans are concerned. Citing a “source with knowledge of a possible trade” Goff reports now-former DC United midfielder Christian Gomez’s move to the Colorado Rapids only waits on the blessing.

So, what will this do for Colorado? Well, here’s the team Gomez will join. Suppose the first question is, who’s he going to feed? Conor Casey and Herculez Gomez? Omar Cummings and Nico Hernandez? Some other permutation of those players? What happens to Jovan Kirovski, who has set up on the field where I’d expect the Rapids to use Gomez?

Waiting on the answer, at least through preseason, seems wiser right now than guessing. At the same time, Gomez’s arrival seems likely to kick one of last year’s regulars down to the bench, if not off the roster; Hernandez, who labored through 2007, seems a likely candidate.

Obviously, that’s a load of speculation. The one thing I know: things look like they’re getting interesting in Colorado…finally.

One last related point – and this one is for DC United fans. I’ve seen some fans/bloggers play out an upcoming game on one of the FIFA video game systems. Last night, my wife and I did a variation on that in a rummy (cards) game we call “Olkatana”…because we can’t remember whether Hoyle calls the game Oklahoma or Montana. I played as Marcelo Gallardo and she as Gomez. “Gallardo” started strong on the first hand before Gomez took over the game in a most relentless fashion; “lopsided” only begins to describe the final score. If you’re disposed to believe such things, that’s one grim omen for DC’s 2008.

– Elsewhere, the Houston Dynamo signed a backup ‘keeper this morning: Tony Caig. The noise you hear, which sounds like a gentle breeze blowing, is actually the tail-end of the sigh of relief issuing from Martek over on Nutmegged.

OK, one last order of business. I’ve mentioned finding/receiving weird/funny/gross crap on the Web. I’ve decided to just add it as a find it…like this “ode” to our first president George Washington. I’ve seen this enough times that I’ve almost committed it to memory and the bit with the bear still makes me laugh.

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Player Movements, Some Obstructed, Some Rumored; Memo to Foreign Coaches re: Houston

Time to check around the league, to make sure the movement has generally been normal and regular.

– May as well start with the problem: the blockage keeping Taylor Twellman from leaving the New England Revolution for England’s Preston North End. And, here I was, all set to bang out a “Free Taylor” post, only to discover that someone else – namely, Longshoe over at Who Ate All the Cupcakes – beat me to it. To his further credit, he even laid out a more thorough argument than I would have. But, to add to the excellent point that the time to rebuild in New England is now, here’s something else: I’d argue that Major League Soccer (MLS) has maxed out Twellman’s marketing potential; worse, barring some changes to the Revs make up – and none seem upcoming – the odds for Twellman doing something eye-catching (e.g. win MLS Cup) any time soon don’t look so hot. Given that, all the Revs (and, to whatever extent, MLS) are doing now is pissing off Twellman and giving future talents reasons against signing a long-term contract with New England.

Right. The rest of these are rumors and trades-in-progress to varying degrees. I’ll start with those filed under “outgoing” and conclude with “incoming”…which is where the real stretches lurk. Continue reading

A Trade that MUST Happen…plus a round-up of some others…

MLSRumors, god bless ’em – and do note the title, people – posted the coolest damn rumor today about a delicious mega-deal in the works between DC United and the Colorado Rapids. Here are the details and, so far as I’ve seen, they’re posted only on MLSRumors:

“The buzz now is that there may be a trade involving Christian Gomez and the Rapids’s Terry Cooke, Pablo Maestroeni or another player.”

Please, god, let this happen. With Cooke, DC fans would finally have the width they (or at least The DCenters) believe they need and, with Mastroeni, they should get valuable leadership and grit (and, yeah, the occasional unhinged, ejectable attack on an opposition player). For the Rapids, bringing Gomez to Colorado provides hope, if only of the slimmest kind, that fans at The Dick will witness something remotely resembling attractive soccer; add Pat Noonan from New England, perhaps even Ecuador’s Agustin Delgado (for the record, Black Panther seems cool to this one), and things get a little less remote….until they all pick up injuries and take Fernando Clavijo’s job with them to rot on the physio’s table (along with what’s left of his self-respect and his hair).

Most important of all, god, this trade needs to happen because we’ll have no way of knowing what all this would look like if it doesn’t. And I really want to know. Just passing on a wish, sir. The seemingly imminent influx of South American players is nice and all (according to Goff, who cites “sources and reports”: Jose Carvallo, Gonzalo Martinez, Franco Niell, and, possibly, Gonzalo Peralta), but the “Gomez Deal” just seems that little bit more special.

Now, the rest of the trading business for the day…including some I’ve neglected to mention in the past: Continue reading

Ives “F-Bomb” for Rapids’ Draft Day

And “F-Bomb” refers to the “F” Ives Galarcep awarded the Colorado Rapids for their SuperDraft decisions. Let’s go to the text:

“Fernando Clavijo has always been regarded as a good judge of talent, but that didn’t stop many from scratching their heads at the Rapids’ two picks Friday. Clavijo passed on a top forward (Nyarko) and can’t-miss defender (James) to draft a young and undersized defensive midfielder (O’Brien) who doesn’t really fill a need…Colorado’s second pick, Chevannes, is forgettable. O’Brien has talent, but the Rapids earn the worst possible grade for passing on so many players who could have made more of an impact.”

For those who didn’t see it, this contrasts rather sharply from my assessment of Colorado’s draft, which I’ll edit in this space to read, ” So, where Colorado is concerned, it’s arguable they worked with what they had.”

Whom should you believe? Well, Ives attended the Combine, probably watched a few college games last year, um, he gets paid to write about soccer, while I do it in my spare time…I dunno. It’s close. You be the judge.

Then again, maybe Clavijo is stupid…like a fox. Maybe he slept-walked through the SuperDraft by necessity, what with all the other fish he’s got in the fire (whoops, rumored “fish,” let’s be clear on that). There’s talk of Pat Noonan joining from New England, perhaps Christian Gomez coming from DC United on a Kee-Razy swap deal (more on this one later), and some defender named Chase Hilgenbrinkenschwarzwilderstein (sorry to dick around, but I love names that just seem to go on forever; they sound like the accountant alter-ego for a superhero).

The point is, maybe Clavijo knows something Galarcep doesn’t…which is not to suggest I knew what Clavijo knew when I wrote my more generous assessment of the Rapids’ SuperDraft. That’s also not to say you should trust Clavijo over Galarcep. I mean, we’ve established that Ives is, at the very least, paying attention. With Clavijo…I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, count this as part of the record Rapids’ fans.

DC United 2007 Season Review: Consolation Kings

DC United
Record (W-L-T): 16-7-7; 56 GF, 34 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

Overview
Somewhere down in the mid-summer recesses of this blog, I dubbed DC United the best team in Major League Soccer (MLS).  Just to suggest, at least, that I’m not a lazy sack, I tried to find that post…and discovered there are several.  The first time it happened came after their August 22 win over Red Bull New York, but the affirmation of that opinion grew and grew.  By the time I wrote the post behind that second “grew,” I was preoccupied with figuring out not so much who could stop them, but where; between winning Eastern Conference title and how strong they were at home, the conference semifinals seemed the place to stop them.

And, of course, that’s precisely what happened: the DC defense’s penchant for getting flustered as virgins on their first date let in Chicago’s forwards for a pair of goals that were easy as they were well-taken and lethal.  Thus it was the same story for the past two seasons: DC gets the Supporters’ Shield, an award that, at this point, everyone at least acknowledges before dubbing the MLS Cup-winning Houston Dynamo as league champions.  Picking through the comments of a post-loss post (probably on the incomparable DCenters), the refrain that the Supporters’ Shield wasn’t enough repeated pretty often.

So what’s the story for DC United’s 2007?  They played more meaningful games than any team but the Houston Dynamo.  They won a bunch of them, too, all except the three semifinals they reached (e.g. conference, CONCACAF Champions Cup, and Superliga; they lost the last one, incredibly, to the Los Angeles Galaxy).  So, again, what is that?  “Really good,  but not good enough”?  A “beautiful failure”?  Or is it just a failure? Continue reading

DC Goes Home: Thank You, Mr Simms.

A lot happened in the final 30 of the Chicago Fire’s tighter-than-a-preacher’s-butt win over DC United – as much as the game as I caught after getting home from work, picking up the kids, feeding the kids, etc. While that shortened viewing time limits my ability to speak to big concepts like Justice (upper-case? oh yeah), I can at least speak to the Justice of the last 30.On that score, it’s a wash: referee Jair Marrufo didn’t call a penalty when DC ‘keep Troy Perkins fouled Calen Carr just inside DC’s area, but he also caught a tricky one when Christian Gomez nudged the ball with his left arm with what, for all the world, looked like the DC’s series equalizer. As for the rest, Marrufo might have missed some calls against Cuauhtemoc Blanco – though that serves the bastard right for going down easy as he does often as he does – and he overreacted by sending off Rod Dyachenko at the death, but, fortunately, the ref didn’t turn this game in a meaningful way…at least not that I saw.

But the really amazing thing about this one was the 180 change in tone from the time I started watching to the end of the game. When I tuned in, DC’s body language whimpered “beaten.” The thing of beauty that Clyde Simms knocked into Chicago’s net more than changed the mood, it reminded DC of who they were: the best team in Major League Soccer. From that goal forward, DC piled on 20 minutes of non-stop hurt and pressure – until they finally, and almost invisibly, petered out somewhere between the 88th and 92nd minute. The way I figure it, Clyde Simms’ teammates owe him a pint for every minute of that short life.

Fluky as DC’s in-game equalizer proved to be, the moment I thought they’d clawed back came with a gorgeous one-two that played Christian Gomez in on Chicago’s left; with him behind the defense and a tie on the aggregate seemingly seconds away, it looked like overtime at least. Instead, things wound up as it seemed they would when Chicago was up three goals on aggregate.

Getting back to the notion of what turned this game, I did see something in the highlights from before I tuned in: what looked an awful lot like the wrenching defensive lapses that have killed DC United time and again. As well as Chad Barrett and Chris Rolfe took their goals, the shitty thing for DC fans is that both players barreled into the area facing goal and with no one on their backs. It’s like the definition of insanity, those lapses, and I can’t believe that DC won’t focus on correcting the defensive problem between now and the 2008 season instead of, again, bringing in still more offensive ringers. The latter look prettier, but the defensive problem is like a cancer.

Over the course of the season, I’ve seen the notion that there are no moral victories pop up a couple times on DC fan sites. I suspect we’ll see some of that tonight and tomorrow. Even if I wasn’t pulling for DC (no, not remotely), their team turned in something special tonight, the kind of passion on the field that keeps all of us watching the game. I don’t so much expect DC fans to find solace in that, as I would hope they’d appreciate the pride their team showed in fighting back from what looked a lot like a state of beat-down death.

As for Chicago, who I managed to almost completely ignore in this narrative (so what? they’ll be back), I’m guessing they’re looking at each other in the locker room right around now and, with a quick exchange of glances, acknowledging they just walked out of a war zone. They don’t get closer than tonight very often. Matt Perkins, among others, won’t sleep soundly tonight.

Fire 1-0 DC: Rugby Meets Soccer

At its worst, last night’s Eastern Conference semifinal between DC United and the Chicago Fire looked like a pugnacious midfield scrum in which every ball seemed 50-50, not unlike an endless series of drop-balls put in play by an angry god. Think a lower-tier game in the English Premier League, but without the skill. At its best, the game pitted a DC team moving the ball slickly up to Chicago’s attacking third against a Fire team hunting for DC’s defensive mistakes.

The final score – 1-0 to Chicago – signals one successful kill, but the echoes from a couple other shots were heard around Bridgeview.

Call ‘keeper Troy Perkins DC’s man of the match. His defense left him for dead on the goal, but he saved two other dead-certain goals at least, most notably his brave challenge when Calen Carr broke through late. Given the way DC essentially controlled two-thirds of the field, that one goal disadvantage keeps them well within the margin for recovery for the home leg; emphasis belongs on the word “essentially,” though, because the brittleness of Black and Red’s defense wound up gifting Chicago more clear-cut chances than DC created at the other end. That’s a worrying sign because those breaks came under minimal pressure.

Against that, Chicago’s advantage doesn’t feel all that safe. Their collective struggle to generally connect left them facing relentless pressure, too often close to their own goal. To their credit, though, they limited DC’s chances to a near-range header here (Christian Gomez should have done better) to long-range efforts there; Fred took a number of these and Ben Olsen lashed in low crosses from the right, but neither approach really threatened Matt Pickens’ goal. DC had the rhythm, while Chicago’s rare moments came from smart dribbles out of danger by Wilman Conde, Chad Barrett’s energetic chasing, and Chris Rolfe’s tight control. Speaking of Barrett, losing him for the second game strikes me as a significant loss; who can see Paulo Wanchope causing the stir Barrett did in DC’s back line?

It says plenty about this game that Chicago looked the more menacing side in spite of being hemmed in for long stretches. The rare occasion when things opened up in front of goal, it happened in front of Perkins; when DC reached the Fire’s defensive third, players in red shirts looked so thick on the ground one might think the Fire fielded 15 defenders; Dasan Robinson, in particular, played like two men. And he had to due to Chicago’s repeated problems with playing out of the back.

The second leg should look roughly the same – a somewhat dreary notion that we should all hope doesn’t pan out. About the only escape from a second game of rugby posing as soccer (or is it soccer posing as rugby?) comes with DC scoring – and more than once. I don’t see Chicago leaving its shell for anything less than two unanswered goals. But if the second leg winds up fighting last night’s war a second time, that’s fine too; last night made up in tension what it lacked in grace.

The weekend should be good.

I don’t know how many DC or Chicago fans visit this site, but I’m curious as to how last night’s game looked to you. What do expect for the second leg? Are you approaching with a knot in the stomach or the sun on your back?