Daily Sweeper, 09.04: Ticking Clocks; Lotsa Open Cup (+ Blasphemy); Yallop’s Lifeline(?); St. Louis Update…Gasp!

– I’ll lead with a doozy of a concept. A Houston Chronicle article on the local team’s recent staggers pointed out that said local team has only SIX regular season games remaining. Nah, I said. Then I checked the standings. Holy crap. The same applies to Kansas City. It’s crunch-time, people. Good stuff.

– The semifinals for the Lamar Hunt Head-On/Activ-On U.S. Open Cup (LHH-OA-OUSOC) go down tonight – but all y’all knew that, of course, and planned accordingly. I know what I’m doing tonight (unless the wife says otherwise…yes, dear) and will duly prime myself with previews from both games:

FC Dallas v. Seattle Sounders
MLSnet.com
US Open Cup unofficial site
Nice bit from FC Dallas Updates – especially the crack about Seattle humidity

New England Revolution v. Carolina RailHawks
MLSnet.com
US Open Cup unofficial site

By time of posting, the New England/Carolina game should be close to underway – so I’ll be missing that one – but the Seattle/Dallas Super-Epic-o will air online tonight. Huzzah! I would live blog the game, but…well, I’m not sure how it’s done – on a practical level, I mean. That’s to say, I have an approach in mind – e.g. watch the game and write comments, posting them as they come to me – but that seems like such a pain in the ass. Is that how people do live-blogging when they do it?

Anyway, I’ll probably do my usual thing, wife and kids allowing – e.g. “Brain-Dead Blogging,” where I write down a bunch of crap in a whiskey-juiced haze and foist it on all y’all later. Continue reading

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Open Cup: Revs Win (Hello Dignity!); The Future

Having missed the game, I can’t speak to anything but the final score with a whole lot of confidence, but, suffice to say, the New England Revolution reached the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (LHUSOC) courtesy  of last night’s win at home over the Harrisburg City Islanders.

The local media for each city doesn’t cite refereeing errors or anything of the sort, so it seems we can chalk this one up to superior play trumping heart.  Or, to paraphrase New England head coach Steve Nicol, taking the evening as a whole, the Revs felt comfortable.

For the record, this marks only the second time in club history that the Revs have reached the LHUSOC (or even the USOC) semifinals; the last time came in 2001…and they made the final that year…where they lost…to Los Angeles…again…  (The official U.S. Open Cup site has nifty records of the MLS era, by the way.)

So…with all the LHUSOC quarterfinals wrapped up, who would you (yes, you, the person reading this right now) dub the tournament favorite?  Is it the upstart Seattle Sounders?  The “upstartier” Carolina Railhawks?  Or do the MLS clubs, faith-abusing FC Dallas or the New England Bridesmaids…er, Revolution, hold the upper hand?

My vote: Seattle.  In all seriousness, I’d be crapping my trousers right now if I were either MLS franchise.  And I’m still waiting word on where the final will be played.

Revs v. Islanders: Hello Angst!

And so it was that when the Big Picture about Major League Soccer’s (MLS) dismal run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (LHUSOC) came into focus, the worry that we could witness three United Soccer Leagues (USL) teams in the semifinals really kicked in. Worse still, the omens during my walk on the way to work offered little reassurance: just 200 feet from my place, I came across a freshly dead cat that some (un)kindly motorist had left on the sidewalk; midway between that and the train platform I came across three different splatterings of vomit, left, I believe, by two different pukers. Sadly, having not paid sufficient attention to the physical disposition of all these phenomena, I can’t be sure what they tell me.

What I do know, however, is that the New England Revolution, tonight’s MLS entrants, are “coming to win the game.” Well, thank God for that. Before reading that, I feared the Revs might give higher priority to slacking off just one more tournament to soak up all Harrisburg has to offer. But, no, most Boston media agree that the shame of last weekend’s loss to DC United needs avenging. And, fortunately, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz appears ready and able to serve as native guide. So, that’s reassuring, in its way.

Moving to what isn’t reassuring: the Harrisburg City Islanders’ (hmm…sloppy text; that’s the USL entrant) recent run of form. The local side has gone 12-2-1 in their last 15 leagues, a number that bears an ominous resemblance to the Seattle Sounders’ equally estimable run. Dang it.

What’s left of the silver lining comes with word that the Revs are hosting the quarterfinal…wait…is that good news? Eh, 4-2-4 at home; not great, but not horrid either.

It doesn’t matter now, I suppose. Do the league proud, boys. Don’t pull a Clavijo.  Oh, and who do I call to get the city to clean up a dead cat?

Open Cup: Wrapping It Up (Big Question)

Even if I didn’t pay much attention to it, I feel compelled to mention the remaining quarterfinal in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (LHUSOC): the Carolina Railhawks 1-0 win over the Richmond Kickers.  I know nothing more than what I read in the local papers: the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Cary News.  (TIP: Cary = “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees”; I spent a little time in Raleigh, North Carolina and soaked up a little local lingo.)  Congrats to the Railhawks (if I still lived in NC, hell, I probably would cheer for them).

Since I’ve already noted tonight’s remaining quarterfinal somewhere down below, I’ll end here with a hypothetical leading to a question: so, say, the Seattle Sounders beat FC Dallas in their semifinal tie; and say the New England Revolution wins their next two and, thus, reaches the final; where would they play the LHUSOC final?  Given where I live (Portland, Oregon), and my attachment to New England, my interest in this should be apparent?  Do they play the final at a neutral venue?  What’s the story, here?

Open Cup: In Praise of FC Dallas

I’m happy to say I managed to catch one of last night’s quarterfinals in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the one pitting Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas against the USL-1 Charleston Battery.

Now, normally, I’m the type who LOVES upsets; any other year and I would have been root, root, rooting for the Battery, but 2007 is anything but a normal year. Given that, I was fairly anxious that Dallas win this game, if for no better reason than to allow the word “top-flight” to retain any meaning. And that was even before I knew the extent of the violence the Colorado Rapids had visited on the concept.

Happy as I was with the win – and allowing for the double-happiness at seeing my latest man-crush, Arturo Alvarez, score the winner – calling this one an epic doesn’t hold water. I understand about the temperatures and humidity, but there was A LOT of walking. Moreover, the fact this game went to overtime somewhat concealed the lopsided feel of the contest. Over several stretches, Dallas passed around the Battery players at will; they seemed able to attack at leisure and with little in the way of urgency. Pretty as that was to watch at times, the larger feel of the game suggested a scrimmage between varsity and junior varsity – no disrespect intended to the Battery players or fans (ahem).

Still, at least ONE MLS club upheld the dignity of the league…and with a little style; again, in spite of the score, we’re talking different level. So, good stuff, guys. Now put them Seattle Sounders in their place; they’re getting a little uppity (see the bit about “they might as well be part of MLS already”).

Turning now to some random notes:

– With the number of times he’s worked the same move, Alvarez is starting to look at lot like the second coming of Preki. Until someone stops him from cutting in from the left, holding and carrying across the top of the 18…holding, then firing, well, he’s just going to keep doing it, isn’t he?

– Nevermind the lopsided head-to-head record: the USL owns MLS on the online video feeds as well. Not only did the game archive immediately, I could blow up the picture – and it held together pretty well at the expanded size – and suffered fewer interruptions than I ever do with MLSnet.com’s subscription service. They’re getting killed across the board this year. Shit.

– I like that Dax McCarty fella.

– Much has been written about the FC Dallas back line – not least by me – but I think I’m finally cottoning to a Drew Moor, Clarence Goodson, Chris Gbandi, Adrian Serioux back-four…at least till you get to Serioux. He made suspect decisions more than once last night and looks a little shaky in the fundamentals. Maybe central defense isn’t his spot. But whatever improvement has come to the Dallas back-line, I’m no longer certain that Serioux is the cause.

– Regarding Serioux, that’s not a fixed opinion by the way; I’m willing to believe he had an off-night. But I’m definitely going to keep an eye on the Canadian.

So…that’s what I saw. Feel free to add your two cents.

Open Cup: Sounders v. Stupids

A fairly exciting night last night in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (LHUSOC), what with two close games – one of them requiring overtime to resolve matters – and the other, a blow-out goal-fest.

Returning to a theme I hammered on the old site (I even used the same language), I was a little relieved to see that no Major League Soccer (MLS) team lost last night. I mean, think about it: two USL-1 teams in the semifinals – and maybe more, depending on what happens tonight between the New England Revolution and the Harrisburg City Islanders. I mean, that would have been SO embarrassing for the MLS.

So, again, good night last night and no MLS teams lost. I kid, I kid…or am I? In all seriousness, though, do the Colorado Rapids count as an MLS team at this point? I think my colleague, Josh (who live blogged the Sounders/Rapids game; good on ya, lad), whether consciously or not, said what needs saying: “”So is the MLS this bad? Granted Seattle is tied for first place, come on…”

Contrary to the evidence foisted on us by the current edition of the LHUSOC, no. The Rapids, however, are that bad. If, as rumored, the Rapids front office is too cheap to fire him, head coach Fernando Clavijo simply needs to step down. The house is on fire and denying it doesn’t put out the flames. STEP DOWN, FERNANDO. You’re doing the coaching equivalent of walking around with your pants around your ankles with peanut butter smeared all over your ass.

So, how bad was it? “The five-goal deficit was the worst suffered by an MLS team in Open Cup history.” Yes…

Where are the home fans on this (well, except these guys)?  Figuring that the mainstream Denver press would pull its punches (they did their glass half-full best), I ambled over to FC Rocky, the Rocky Mountain News’ soccer blog. Here’s their take: “quite possibly the worst moment in franchise history.” Again, yes…

Jesus, Fernando. What more do you need? Your dignity has already left the building; why don’t you go catch up with it?

LIVE BLOG: Rapids v. Sounders, U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal

Seattle Sounders 5, Colorado Rapids 0 (FINAL)

Final: The Sounders salute their fans. A wonderful day for Seattle soccer. Hopefully future MLS owners get ahold of this tape.

Final: It’s over. A beatdown of epic proportions. A minor-league USL First Division teams thrashes an MLS team 5-nil. I’m tag along with the actual reporters to get some quotes and stuff.

90th minute: The Sounders nearly net a sixth and have now outscored MLS teams 8-1 in the Open Cup. 5-0 tonight and 3-1 in the fourth round against Chivas USA.

87th minute: Does Seattle have an inspirational walk-on to fire the crowd up? Guess not.

85th minute: Sounders playing keep-away now, this one’s almost in the books.

80th minute: I don’t think I can jinx (sp?) it now. Seattle will host F.C. Dallas on September 4th — we have to wait that long? Oh well.

76th minute: I hear Bonds hit his 756th, which means this game will get no play in the media. Unfortunate.

72nd minute: We have to be nearing some sort of record. This is one to remember.

So is the MLS this bad? Granted Seattle is tied for first place, come on…

68th minute: GOOOOOOOOOOAL SEATTLE!!!!!!! 5-0! Are you joking me? The Frenchman on a breakaway, takes a touch past Ihemelu, the last defender, and beats three defenders down the field. Finishes it off with a toe-poke past Thornton.

Le Toux was named Player of the Round for his two-goal performance against Chivas U.S.A. I’m sure the MLS will be calling. Continue reading