A Series of Questions…Answers, Please

I am, officially, going nucking futs in the other space, finally coming good on a concept I’ve wanted to try for a while.   Don’t count on it sticking around, though…I have a lousy record with such things.

What am I doing?  Posing a series of questions that came to me as I watched DC United fail to solve the ever-shifting riddle that was the Crew’s defense.  Rather than excerpt these, I’ll just post a title(-esque thingy; I’ll just say what it is I’m asking on the other side of the link….briefly) and let those so inclined click through.

– Was trading Alejandro Moreno the worst decision in the Houston Dynamo’s generally happy existence (e.g. not a lot of competition, there).

– Do DPs make us all look like rubes and yokels when they bust?

– Think ESPN’s broadcasts of MLS suck?  Too bad.  It’s not going to change anytime soon.

All righty, then.  I hope to get some answers or replies to those…but I’ll take insults…I guess.  But I am a wilting flower…

Advertisements

DCU 1-2 Crew: Adam Moffat’s One-Minute to Redemption

(NOTE: To help people to find our new space, we’ll be cross-posting for a few days.  Below, you’ll see an excerpt to the post I wrote about the Columbus Crew’s shocking – shock…ing – win over DC United.  And I say “shocking” mainly from DC’s perspective.)

“If you’ve ever scored an own-goal – even a play that can be loosely interpreted as an own-goal – you’ve got to envy the Columbus Crew’s Adam Moffat this morning. Just one minute after deflecting DC United’s equalizer into his own net, Moffat broke through their back-line and lofted a cross over the DC ‘keeper Zach Wells; Alejandro Moreno bundled the ball over the line and the Crew held on for the win. Goat to hero inside 60 seconds: end of story, at least for last night, but it also continues the troubled beginning for DC United.”

Click here to keep reading…and do be patient with this excerpting bullshit.  It’ll end soon.

MLS Week 3: Black Eyes and Big Ideas

(NOTE: Because the week got off the a god-awful start – and because I further handicapped this young week by drowning it in beer – I have to forgo posting the feature I advertised this morning, “MLS Week #___: Let the Record Show.”  I’ll get this stuff down shortly…promise.  I lieu of that one, I’ll be posting a feature I attempted to start last week, but that I feel much, much better about this week.  That’s below.)

Welcome to my kinda/sorta counter-point to my colleague Breton’s 10 Bright Spots posts: Black Eyes and Big Ideas.  I’ll start with a rundown of all the personal and general disasters from the games from the previous weekend.  After those, I’ll touch on the striking trends that come to me – e.g. the Big Ideas lurking out there.

As always, feel free to add your own black eyes and big ideas in the comments.  And do bear with me: this feature, along with the others, will improve once I get used to the new rhythms of my week.

BLACK EYES
Greg Vanney…
LA’s loss to Toronto FC (TFC) raised plenty of issues, but the one man who drew plenty of notice in the loss was Greg Vanney.  Involved and, tragically, burned on all three TFC goals, I can’t imagine he’s forwarding video from this week’s loss to friends and relatives. Continue reading

10 Bright Spots of Week 3: A Different Becks and A Good Weekend to Have a Keeper

BIGSOCCER: 10 Bright Spots of Week 3

1. Kyle Beckerman

Someone pinch this guy. Two goals, one a possible goal of the week, against a revamped D.C. United squad that looked helpless at the machinations of a fluid RSL attack. Beckerman was overwhelmingly the reason for that. He won balls in the midfield, showed near-perfect passing abilities, and never let up. Let’s not forget his long range shooting. Beckerman’s second goal was brilliant…Findley laid the ball off after posting up in the penalty box, Beckerman took a field goal’s three steps and fired a shot that powered past the flailing Jose Carvallo.

2. Arturo Alvarez

Alvarez gave RBNY a taste of their own medicine in a 2-0 shutout at home. He mirrored Dave van den Bergh, who scored the fastest goal in RBNY history in last week’s home opener – a 2-0 win over Columbus. Alvarez showed poise, blazing speed, and a general lack of respect for a fumbling New York backline. New York showed most of the attacking prowess, but Alvarez made his contributions count, scoring that quick goal and taking a lot of pressure off of big-man Kenny Cooper, who was able to grab his third of the young season.

3. Bouna Coundoul

Easily, save of the week and game of the week for the Colorado keeper. Coundoul weathered a storm of Revolution shots, 9 on goal total, to help Colorado to a 1-0 shutout. His goal line saver on Kenny Mansally was the most entertaining of the bunch, but Coundoul kept the Rapids from another Kansas City let down. The Revs almost found their equalizer late but it was Bouna time and he embraced it, parrying away a late free kick and a breakaway from rookie speedster Kheli Dube. 

4. Robbie Rogers

First this game made me dizzy. Secondly, Rogers exploits on the wing made me harken back to the U-20 World Cup when Zizzo and Rogers ruled the touchline. His industrious work on the left almost went unrewarded until he received a nice through ball from Schelloto (one they had been trying to get to work all game). Rogers made the most of it, feigning a shot to the far post and firing near. His second shot was a product of gasp! – a mistake on Brad Guzan’s part! – but his decision to shoot early threw last year’s MLS Keeper of the Year for a loop. Best game of the weekend… 

5. Landon Donovan

If Donovan had put some earlier chances in (turn your body, Landon, turn your body), the Galaxy might have overcome their defensive mishaps. He did however manage to score both of LA’s goals which was pissed all away after Greg Vanney decided to forget about Jeff Cunningham on the game-winning goal. I like him in the Galaxy’s offense this year and I see only a career year for him – if he stays healthy and Beckham too.

6. Maurice Edu

The man called for goals and he got them. Wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Edu covering every inch of the field like a madman. He was everywhere, winning balls, breaking up Galaxy advances, and giving new acquisitions Guevara and Robert the freedom to move with the ball. The Galaxy should have probably still won that game, but Edu delivered on his promise of a win and goals. And they did it in Los Angeles… 

7. Nick LaBrocca

Why not give #7 to the man from New Jersey who has “graduated” from the Colorado reserves and embraced his role in the Rapids midfield. Between LaBrocca and DiRaimondo, scrappy might describe both of them but when you have Gomez (let’s remember the Argentinian had to leave the field this weekend with a knee injury) in front of them, winning challenges and distribution is the name of the game. LaBrocca grabbed the winner for Colorado over a New England team that was putting a lot of pressure on Colorado offensively. Scrappy can win games though and Colorado came away with three.

8. Shea Salinas

Yep, along with #10, you’ll see two pity picks in this week’s Bright Spots. Salinas was the perfect injection for San Jose in the second half against Chicago and it almost paid off. Almost. He worked his ass off on the wing, getting open consistently, and finding himself in the right place at the right time…but he couldn’t convert. Most noticably from 2 yards out. A deflection off the post fell right to his feet and all Salinas had to do was beat Jon Busch far post, but instead he tried to slot over the sprawling Busch and into the upper corner. Didn’t work, he skied it, and that was that…win for Chicago. Great stuff from a rookie though…look for him to get better and better.

9. Jon Busch

San Jose had the offensive edge at home but Busch made it look the other way around. Saved by the post and only really threatened with shots that were a bit manageable, Busch has proven already that he can be the first team keeper that the Fire desperately need this year. It’s clear some defensive issues are going to need to be worked out, but Chicago still sits at the top of the table with Blanco already poised to surpass his output from last year.

10. Tony Caig

I know, I know…most of you are saying no way to this pick. This guy had a terrible showing in his first two matches only to come back this weekend and shut out a prolific Kansas City attack. The Wizards have been caught on a bit of a downturn in form, but Caig held his own. Basically, this is a pity pick.

MLS Week 2 Collective Power Rankings

The real pisser about the Major League Soccer (MLS) schedule is the fact that, by the time I get around to posting these on Thursday, some of these calls look silly. I’m thinking here of that #1 ranking for the Kansas City Wizards; I’m guessing that the 8 of 11 pundits who placed KC on top would reconsider after last night’s loss at home to the New England Revolution. Hardly matters, as this is just meant to be a snapshot in time – e.g. how 11 pundits (or more, given that some sites involved take a collective approach to ranking) stack(ed) up MLS’s 14 teams in the week of the prior week’s action.

So…what to say, generally, about how said 11 pundits stacked up these teams? It’s fair to say they’re not all speaking with one voice. In some cases, they’re barely harmonizing. Teams like DC United, the Houston Dynamo, the Colorado Rapids…well, suffice to say the list goes on. It’s not all muddy water: for instance, 8 of 11 pegged KC at #1 – however dubious that looks after last night – and everyone agrees that the league’s worst team is either Toronto FC or the San Jose Earthquakes.

And who were these 11 pundits? Here ya go (and, again, feel free to post your rankings in the comments after mine, to email me rankings, etc.):

Center Holds It (me)
Goal.com (Kyle McCarthy)
Orlando Sentinel (Brant Parsons)
Fullback Files (um…Fullback?)
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno)
AYL Soccer (Jacob Hart writes, but it looks collective)
WVHooligan (Drew Epperley)
Blue Blooded Journo (a collective)
3rd Degree (Parrish Glover)
ESPN.com (collective)
Fox Soccer Channel (Keith Costigan)

For those wondering what happened with Soccer By Ives rankings, he’s part of ESPN.com’s collective; that’s also why Andrea Canales’ rankings don’t show. Don’t want to double-count anyone…

(UPDATE: My apologies to On Soccer’s pate.  He forwarded his Week 2 “scariness rankings” for inclusion this post; I had to put it in an update because I couldn’t figure out how to work it into the text.  Anyway, it’s a pretty nifty concept pate has; it’s another way of looking at all this if nothing else.)

I’ll work into some details after the jump, but will start with the how I organized the data. Copy/pasting directions from previous entry: each team will be listed by rank and with their average, collective score following. To provide some perspective, the most common score(s) assigned to each team by the individual members of the collective will appear in parentheses after that, followed by the previous week’s ranking and average. Und, jetzt, der data: Continue reading

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

MLS: ___(#) of _____(s) for Week ___

So…in some background chatter, I decided to work a concept similar to Breton’s “10 Bright Spots” posts – check out his latest entry from today. Originally, it was going to be “5 Black Eyes from Week ____,” – e.g. five bad performances, bad decisions, or instances of bad behavior – and it was intended to give the flipside to Breton’s posts. But when the time came to name names, I couldn’t quite nail down 5 black-eye-worthy items; three didn’t feel too bad, mind, but it ain’t five. Given that I decided to add a couple secondary concepts to the mix: talking points and minor mysteries. This may change next week – hence the blank-laden title – but I will get this concept nailed down by Week 5…promise.

Without further ado, here are four black eyes plus one point of interest for Major League Soccer’s Week 2:

1) Parkhurst’s Howling Thursday: I didn’t see the Chicago Fire run straight over the New England Revolution, but I saw enough in the highlights and read enough stray comments – though Lord only knows where – to believe the typically steady Michael Parkhurst suffered a fit of the horrors late last week. Can’t see a repeat happening…but what if it does? Continue reading