Red Bulls: Goodbye de Grandpre, Angel to sit Saturday?

Michael Lewis over at Big Apple Soccer reports that Juan Pablo Angel is questionable for this Saturday’s match-up vs. FC Dallas.

Ives Galarcep finally got Juan Carlos Osorio to admit his interest in Jorge Alberto Rojas, the second most-capped player in Venezualan history. He also mentions that Chris Innes should be signed. He organizes well, holds the line, and is dominant in the air.

Marc de Grandpre has officially resigned as Red Bull New York’s Managing Director. He is one of few that survived the Red Bull takeover and spent 9 years with the team. Why now? Apparently, a offer to good to refuse was tabled for some other position in the business community.

26-year old defender Alex Yi – who has been a staple in the back four for Dallas over the past couple of seasons – has retired due to continuous hamstring injuries. Moor, Davino, Wagenfuhr, Wagner, Rhine are all healthy so it’s not like Dallas will be really hurting on Saturday.

Kevin Goldthwaite is honored with The Offside Rules’ first-ever “Goal of the Weak”. It showcases the week’s goal lacking the most aesthetically. I can’t argue. A goal’s a goal though…right?

 

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Red Bull 2-0 Crew: Water the Field, Men…Skinning Cats

Tough loss for the Columbus Crew, though not so much because it wasn’t deserved. I’d only argue Red Bull New York isn’t that much better in the attack. Let’s just say they ought to keep watering that field before every home game. That’s not the same as saying they were lucky – I credit them the win, no question – but that Columbus made about one quarter of the luck they needed.

Again, I’m going to assume all of you are like Dear President Bush and would prefer your summaries/analyses short and bulleted. Here goes:

Columbus Overall: The bitch here is, these guys know what they’re doing. It’s the distance between knowing what you’re doing and being able to that scuttles the Crew. Again, I don’t think Schmid is the problem. They’re playing a good style – and I believe the results can come, given a correction* – but just lacking that little sumpin’ sumpin’.

Red Bull Overall: A solid performance, but not where generally expected: the defense impressed me most. Since I’m not going to go into Red Bull as much after the jump, may as well do it here: yeah, Oscar Echeverry had a good game, Juan Pablo Angel can make the telling pass up top like few others, etc.; the most impressive thing about Red Bull was their organization and the way they limited the chances to those of the half-or-less variety. In the big picture, Red Bull looks stronger than I expected.

Now, some details…with a Crew orientation. Continue reading

Red Bulls: A New Player?, Kassel to MLS?, and VDB fires RBNY into the new season…

Busy weekend in world soccer and before we get to all that, I figured why not focus on the team that didn’t play a competitive match this weekend.  

– Haven’t seen much in the way of written press on this, but there isn’t anything to refute. During FSC’s broadcast of the MLS openers yesterday, there was talk of Gretna’s demise over in Scotland. 22 players have left the club and apparently captain Chris Innes is on his way to trial with New York. If that’s the case, that’s leadership and depth added in defense as well as a deep midfield role. Innes is 31 years old and was a vital part of Gretna’s quick three tiered rise to the SPL. Since then, things have gone bad and RBNY as well as First Division squad Morton has shown interest. Innes has stated as recent as 3/26 that his goal is to stay within the SPL.

UPenn graduate and rising goalkeeper Danny Cepero has been sent out on loan to USL-2’s Harrisburg City Islanders. The Islanders won the second division last year and Cepero looks to get the starting nod, preparing him for a bright future with RBNY. Harrisburg has yet to confirm it on their website.
– Ives Galarcep has stated that youth academy star Matt Kassel is in preliminary negotiations with RBNY. If signed, he could become the first real product of the newly implemented youth academies. It’s college or pros for the youngster. I still would expect him to head to college. He held his own though when invited to camp in late January, so who knows?

Dave Van den Bergh scored on a rocket to wrap up the Red Bulls’ preseason with a 1-0 win over the Carolina Railhawks. Odd to see Angel and Altidore being snuffed out in almost every preseason game…should RBNY faithful be worried???

2008 MLS Pre-Season Power Rankings: Science!

I’ll begin by apologizing for the constant need to explain my posts and myself. Sorry.

Welcome to the first, and first-ever, Major League Soccer (MLS) pre-season power rankings I have ever compiled. In the past, too few teams playing meaningful games equaled too many unknowns, so I didn’t see the point. I don’t really now….good times, aside. Oh, how we’ll laugh when we look back. That confessed, I’m going to embrace this form wholeheartedly and dress it in the available trappings of science.

I’ll begin with methods, a problem I never resolved during 2007 (mainly because I caught the issue too late in the game). By judging teams on different criteria at different points in the season, I tarnished the results. I started, if memory serves, by ranking MLS clubs based on form – e.g. a broad-brush impression of which team would beat which on the Saturday ahead. By the end of the season, however, I altered the formula to address something that seemed more important: the teams I believed would make the playoffs took the top 8 spots and I placed the teams I thought would go deeper in the post-season nearer the top, regardless of form. I move that the last organizing principle be branded as stupid and relegated to the Hole of Non- and Never-Existence.

With that in mind, the methods employed in the season ahead will adhere closely and permanently to those that first guided me – that is, I expect the team above to beat the team below 6 games out of 10 at a minimum; a brief explanation of my thinking will follow each team listed and each post will close with a discussion of trends and points of interest – assuming any come to me. With consistent methods in place, sound results, analysis, and conclusions should follow – if only logically…and internal logic at that. And – voilà! – we have science…of a sort.

And, later today, I’m going to up the science a little more by roping in all the pre-season power rankings I have seen so far in order to revive the Collective Power Rankings from last season. But, after the jump, I’ll lay out how I see all 14 MLS teams entering this deeply fascinating 2008 season. It promises to be a wild one, (but, c’mon, we all know deep down it’s going to peter out into a dogfight involving the usual suspects…I mean, how many people are rating Red Bull New York…pssh). Continue reading

MLS 2008 Eastern Conference Preview: Contenders, Dark Horses, Filler, and C.H.U.D.s

(It looks like I got a little ahead of myself down below…if only by implication. Expect the Western Conference Preview tomorrow and pre-season power rankings Friday. Which is how god intended it.)

Between the super-abundance of variables – some directly inter-related, some not – and the parade of blind-spots steadily unspooling behind me, any attempt on my part to provide a detailed and precise run-down of what will happen to each of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 14 teams between now and MLS Cup 2008 seems either silly, pompous, or slated for failure – or all the above. Given that, I’ll keep things loose. Rather than exactly predicting who will finish where in the standings, this preview, and the one to follow, stops short of ranking teams in the order they will finish, but instead places them into four broad categories. To make things still more vague, I list more than eight “playoff-capable” teams – and I’ll get to the name for that below – an obvious issue with only eight playoff slots available.

This is intentional…I meant “loose” in the first sentence literally…judge me as you will. But, before charging me with cowardice, consider instead that these are the fruits of parity.

To introduce the categories, each team will be tagged with a label: Contender, Dark Horse, Filler, or C.H.U.D. The first two are pretty obvious – e.g. “Contender” attaches to a team with a clear shot at the title, while “Dark Horse” flags a team with the talent and depth to steal the title, but only provided good form and luck through ‘08. For “Filler” teams, the playoffs are within reach, but the title…well, it ain’t gonna happen. Finally, “C.H.U.D.s” – aka, “Cannabalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers”: these are the teams that will suffer in the confines of MLS’s cellars, only coming out for rare feasts on the flesh of the living.

As for resources, what comes below relies on only a few: WVHooligan’s most current list of off-season player movement and Climbing the Ladder’s best guess at starting elevens for the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Finally, if this seems a little weenie, don’t worry: I’ll make an ass of myself tomorrow when I post pre-season power rankings. Odds are I’ll do the same here in any case. Time to get on with the game…for clarity’s sake, teams are listed from Contender to C.H.U.D. Continue reading

MLS Daily Sweeper, 3.18.08: Amado Guevara’s, Obsession; Cramped in CONCACAF; + One More

Knowing I not only buried this feature, but essentially chastised myself for ever creating it, it feels like I should acknowledge that – no links, though. That said, my New Year’s resolutions usually die a quiet death somewhere around January 10 and this one was no different. Well, there was my resolution to go bald…that one is going like gangbusters.

Moving on the stories I liked/that mattered today…

– You’ve all heard by now about Honduran midfielder Amado Guevara’s apparent, looming return to Major League Soccer (MLS). (UPDATE: Soccer Insider reported later today that this deal is in “long-shot” mode. Well…dammit, people.) But I haven’t yet read anything as his motivation. He’s not positioning himself for a hop to Europe, not at his age, and it sounds like things were going well enough in Honduras: so, what is it that keeps Amado coming back? And it’s worth remembering that he made some noises about wanting to return last year, so this isn’t exactly spur of the moment. Anyway, it sounds like he’ll head to Toronto, news that has the locals (somewhat over, perhaps even irrationally) excited. Some call it, desire; Amado calls it….obsession.

– Andrew Dixon, of Gol Noir and a contributor to USSoccerplayers.com, wrote a column this morning about feeling uninspired by the opposition in CONCACAF. He figures we’ve outgrown our small pond. On a coincidental, yet somehow related note, MLS Rumors passed on word (well, it actually appears closer to a comment of dubious context and significance, but let’s run with it) on MLS clubs getting into the Copa Libertadores. Doubt this is anywhere near happening, but count my corner of Center Holds It as four-square behind the (non-existent) proposal. Actually, count me a fan of merging CONCACAF and CONMEBOL for World Cup, and all other, qualifying, having the smaller nations do preliminary qualifying, etc. Does this mean we’d miss out on the World Cup – perhaps even more than from time to time? Yup. But the virtually automatic bid we’re now getting through CONCACAF leaves me feel cheap and dirty. We should earn our bid. It should make us stronger on the occasions we do arrive. Continue reading

MLS Results and Moves: A Soft-Lens Impressions

Having been “underground” when Major League Soccer (MLS) Roster Compliance Day came and went (and, to celebrate, I threw out tons of crap, just like the teams I like!), motivation to soberly analyze all those rosters isn’t coming; besides, fans and fan sites have probably did all this to near-death earlier in the week. Moreover, not knowing much about the players coming in, I’m not really equipped to do a hard-data write-up. As such, a looser approach feels more appropriate – or, as I put it in the title, a soft-lens impression, which I’ll form based on what I recall of each team’s results (I’ll provide links when I have ’em) and the moves each team has made so far. I’ll be using Soccer America’s round-up of off-season moves for this last bit.

And away we go…

Continue reading