U-23s: Adu’s Second, an Artist’s Rendering

Here’s a little sketch I made of Freddy Adu’s second goal for the U.S. u-23s…and, yes, that’s Sacha Kljestan in the foreground celebrating with the big ol’ thumbs-up…and do note Canada’s Josh Wagenaar’s complete paralysis.

Anyway, I’ll be posting these throughout the year as a substitute for photos. In spite of making Adu’s jersey look like the Canadians…and Wagenaar’s somewhat stubby legs…um, there’s the absence of the crowd…um…I think that’s it…I find the likeness uncanny. Especially Klejstan. Yeah, he looks a little heavy, but you know what they say about the camera adding 20 lbs.

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Having Watched My First U.S. U-23 Game…

…and knowing said game isn’t over, here’s a couple things that come to mind:

– Tell me we don’t usually play so fitfully. A couple players have “it” – and I’ll get to that below – but the general vibe I’m getting is damned sloppy. So, tell me this is fatigue. Because, if it’s not, I fear for our future (not literally; all these players will age and, most, improve, but this was ugly…mo-fugly in some places).

I know Breton is live-blogging as we speak, so I’ll keep this brief. I didn’t watch the whole game, but, of the parts I watched, I’ll list the players who stood out – for good or for ill – below…starting with “for ill”…because I’m a bastard.

For Ill
Chad Barrett: I want to like you. Really. But how can I with all those leaden touches, mis-hit passes, and, on the one good chance I saw, limp shooting?

Sacha Kljestan: I understand you were the high-point of the Cuba game, so don’t take this personal, but…you’re passing to the guys in white, son. White jerseys. I’m only saying because you didn’t seem to know that going in.

Dominic Cervi: Not really bad, but shaky moments are shaky moments and you’ve had a couple. Maybe your central defenders played a role?

Sal Zizzo: Either he is tired tonight or 1) he’s playing miles out of position, or 2) he’s just not very good. I’m betting this is an off-night…or rather hoping. Clumsy feet, too static, mental mistakes….I could go on. Suffice to say it wasn’t his best night.

For Good
Orozco (first name, please?): I like him. He’s looking a little more composed than Patrick Ianni and comes forward smartly. Seeing how he grows seems a worthwhile experiment.

Charlie Davies: This cat got ripped after the Cuba game for diving, but he looked the most dangerous U.S. forward tonight. Too few clear chances for my liking, but he’s good enough and fast enough to make his own openings. Why isn’t he being paired with Altidore in a two-forward set-up? I mean if he loses the diving. I think we could do worse than try that experiment.

Dax McCarty: Second half sub, I know, but he’s looked the most composed and intelligent in midfield of all the U.S. players; it’s the composure that really stands out because, had he kept his shit tighter, I’d be listing Eddie Gaven here; he’s having good moments, but he’s spazzing just as often.

Kamani Hill: Good general anticipation, decent forays forward. A solid night and, for tonight, that’s enough.

Stuart Holden: All right, I’ll list him. He’s everywhere, and that’s good, but he’s a little ragged. It’s a marginal call, but he sneaks in.

That’s it. And I acknowledge that the gaps in my viewing may have caused me to put someone in the wrong spot or to omit someone else from one category or another. But, for purposes of this post, anyone not listed neither impressed or disappointed in particular.

Chivas USA 2007 Review: Stalking Horses…with a Limp

Chivas USA
Record (W-L-T): 15-7-8; 46 GF, 28 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster (whoa…updated already)

Overview
It can’t possibly be so simple, can it?  Surely, the reasons for Chivas USA’s first-round exit from the playoffs don’t begin and end with the absence of starting forwards Maykel Galindo and Ante Razov.  There has to be something else.  Right?

The truth is, I don’t really know.  On some unconscious level, Chivas USA has taken over the role that the Kansas City Wizards had held previously – e.g. they’re the team I’m most likely to forget.  The funny thing about that is the impression that I’m not alone.  For those unfamiliar with the regular season practices of this space, I compiled something called Collective Power Rankings, which amounted to averaging all the independently compiled power rankings I could find and averaging the numbers.  Somewhere way back – further back than the oldest collective rankings I could find (well, that used Chivas USA as a tag) – I, along with everyone except Sideline Views’ Luis Bueno, suddenly noticed a couple things about Chivas USA.

First, they had a stellar record at home.  More significantly, however, they had an unbelievable defensive record at home: by the time the All-Star break rolled around, Chivas had surrendered just two goals at home on the season (OK, this gets a little silly because when they play the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center – e.g. their home ground – Chivas counts as the home team only half the time).  No less significantly, a weird, early-August layoff from league play had them slowly gaining games in hand over their Western Conference rivals; and all of them – except the Houston Dynamo, who were tearing shit up around the same time – were stumbling. Continue reading

10 Bright Spots of Week 24: Kljestan a leader?, Noonan to the forefront, and Chivas keeps winning

1. Sacha Kljestan – a somewhat surprising first pick – I know – but his sophomore season has not been one of ups and downs; instead the Seton Hall product has already outdone his rookie season of 0 g, 7 a, by striking for 4 g this year and adding 7 assists; he put the Goats ahead against Colorado on Sunday after helping spark the 3-0 shutout of Los Angeles earlier in the week; that 2006 rookie trio of Kljestan, Bornstein, and Vaughan has turned out to be the backbone of the Chivas franchise

2. Pat Noonan – the Revs striker has always been on the fringe of the national team radar but he is one of the most consistent MLS strikers in recent MLS seasons; his versatility and character makes him the heart of the Revs; two goals against FC Dallas helped New England clinch a spot in the playoffs; I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime soon some European club ( most likely English Championship) comes calling for him; always a guy to boost the team when Twellman, Dorman, Joseph go cold

3. Chivas USA defense: they are cohesive to the point that even when you insert a somewhat iffy Jason Hernandez, they coexist and adapt; because of Suarez, Bornstein, Hernandez, Lawson Vaughn, Alex Zotinca (Preki looks brilliant for bringing him along), and big man Shavar Thomas – Chivas USA looks poised to make their second consecutive playoff appearance and this time, they could be heading into it with their first Western Conference championship under their belt. Not bad.

4. Scott Sealy – the Wizards found goals from someone other than Eddie Johnson and especially since super-sub Yuri Movsisyan was shipped on over to Real Salt Lake as the Lakers continue to collect bright young talent; Sealy’s capped a Manchester United over Bayern Munich-like comeback as EJ converted a penalty kick in the 92nd minute and Sealy followed with a goal with less than 30 seconds left in the game; he had also provided the Wizards’ first goal on a beautiful free kick that soundly beat Will Hesmer

5. Colin Clark – his play as of late warrants a higher placing as he never seems to do anything visibly brilliant but he plays his role efficiently and keeps together a questionable Colorado midfield; his late goal earned the Rapids a tie against Chivas USA who looks poised to grab the Western Conference title

6. Christian Gomez – his future is up in the air after this season, especially now that Juan Sebastian Veron rumors have heated up but it certainly seems like Gomez is pleading his case on the field; a goal and an assist against a feisty Real Salt Lake side pushed DC over the top and into the playoffs with a firm hold on the Eastern Conference championship; could Gomez be worth a DP slot?

7. Steve Ralston – the all-time assist record keeps growing as Ralston ; Stevie is one of those guys that can connect with anybody but to have TWO class strikers in the form of Noonan and Twellman, Ralston has been in heaven for years; 2 more assists in a 4-2 win over FC Dallas helped the Revs clinch a post-season berth

8. Blanco – his performance against the Red Bulls was not impressive by any means but somehow he still puts himself on the scoreboard; this time he converted a spot kick and provided the assist on Gonzalo Segares’ game-tying goal late in their 2-2 tie in Chicago

9. Carlos Ruiz – El Pescondito has not been on this Top 10 much at all this season but he has been picking it up as of late; a brace against New England (one a powerful header) was still not enough to help FCD win and most of his goals have – in fact – come in losses; is Ruiz just warming up?

10. Khano Smith – way too inconsistent for my taste but Smith has recently found his stride and was a key figure in helping the Revs find their way to the playoffs yet again; his first goal of the season sealed the deal against Dallas while it was his assist to Pat Noonan that put them ahead in the first place