John Nyen…let’s call it “Working on New Material…”
Laaaaaaaaadies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Shin Guardian MLS preview. A column in which I will frequently go off the rails on tangents that have absolutely nothing to do with the game, and I may or may not encourage you to check out certain beers, music, website’s that will corrupt your very soul and make your mother/father very upset with me.
To start, let me first dictate the rules to you in reading this mess.
#1 I am probably incorrect about all of this so don’t use it for gambling.
As Marvin Gaye would say…. “Let’s Get It On”
(Format will be home team, visiting team, and all times are East Coast. All music and beer will be quasi-local to the home team this time around)
2:00 pm Montreal v Chicago – Olympic Stadium – Television: TSN RDS
Almost 60,000 people will be in Olympic Stadium in Montreal to take on the “we like to open stadiums” Chicago Fire. Montreal (last week) were dropped by Vancouver 2-0 in a game that pulled in great television ratings in Canada and apathy in Central (but not Western) Germany. Montreal recently held a practice in which 2,000 Impact fans decided to show up, so expect a decent atmosphere…. well… IF you can watch this. See if you are in the United States, you CAN’T watch this (easily) because it isn’t being broadcast unless you have a MLS package.
Rumors are that Joey Saputo and Jesse Marsch will be signing all the unprotected fans from Regina, Saskatchewan and then trying to trade them for fans from Novia Scotia plus a case of roll up cups from Tim Hortons. As reported by Brian Straus of the Sporting News, Chicago have opened up (now) 4 stadiums in MLS (Portland, RBNY, Sporting KC, and Montreal). In those 3 prior games, Chicago is 0-2-1, not entirely confidence inspiring for the Fire supporters.
Music for this game: Arcade Fire, who have done wonders for Montreal by improving the hideous shadow cast by Celine Dion.
Last Game for Montreal: L 0-2
Last Game for Chicago: NONE
Beer for this game: Unibroue – La Fin Du Monde
Language for this game: Parlez vous Francais?
My prediction: I will go with 1-1, which (given their recent record with draws) would be cruelly unfair on the Chicago Fans.
5:00 PM EDT San Jose V Houston – AT&T Park – Television: Local Only
It is the annual classic of two teams with the same origin fighting itself for the right to not be referred to each other any longer. Houston will be featuring the “I never want to leave San Jose” Brian Ching after ransoming him back from Montreal by offering an extra-large size of KFC Poutine. San Jose will be featuring Jon Busch and Chris Wondolowski plus a bunch of other guys in and around the defensive third of the field. Houston (how shall we put this) are a physical team capable of making tackles that Chad Ochocinco would only dream about. This game will be for the purist who enjoys prize fights, beta-max copies of Rocky 2, and assembling Ikea furniture without the instructions.
And…I do predict that any traveling Houston fans will not be carrying any flags or drums as they were prohibited from doing so by the MLS front office.
Music for this game: Chuck “Don’t call me Marvin” Berry
Last Game for San Jose: W 1-0
Last Game for Houston: W 1-0
Website for this game: Zombo.com
My prediction: Houston wins 1-0 and there will be at least ONE kerfuffle during the game which will look like people are going to swing at each other but ends in steely eyed stares and people separating.
8:30PM FC Dallas V Portland – FC Dallas Stadium (NOT Pizza Hut Park) – Television: Local Only
The Portland “we only won twice on the road last year” Timbers go to Frisco, TX to take on a team from Dallas. After the pain in the rain game against the Union, the Timbers are prematurely riding high on their double frame bicycle (parked out in front of Annex bar), while Dallas nervously (in the second half) took down Red Bull and their new attacking mid-fielder Thierry Henry.
FC Dallas may or may not be missing “Le Coq Sportif” Brekhino Shea as well as David “I like walking boots and I cannot lie” Ferreria for this match. Meanwhile, Portland will be missing Futty Danso, Franck Songo’o (probably), Sal Zizzo, David Horst, mass transportation and good coffee.
As reported by John Strong, Portland were not good last year (on the road) when the temperature was over 85 degrees (0-4-0) and fortunately for them, there is cool-ish weather in the forecast. Dallas, last year, absolutely spanked Portland in Frisco and would be looking to continue the trend, however they will have to contend with an improved offense (Kris Boyd, Alhassan actually scoring) and what appears to be a more congealed defense. Areas of concern to watch for Portland are the left side with Rodney Wallace getting the start there in the last game and Eric Alexander playing in front of him (presumably to cover Rodney’s defense). The Timbers are currently a more right-sided offensive team and it will remain to be seen if they can kick-start their offense from that position in this game.
For Dallas, Blas Perez paid dividends immediately by sliding a great pass in for a score in his first MLS game. Perez is the kind of player that will make you very angry if you are a fan of staying on your feet. However, his talent cannot be denied. It will be interesting to see the Dallas offense if Shea is not available as there will be less of a driving force, particularly on the left.
[RANT] A word here for the front office of Portland… Having an official viewing party on St Pattys Day AT Kells Irish Pub is one of the daftest things I have seen you do recently. Many people would rather avoid the insane lines at the bar, the bro-fest party atmosphere of way too much imbibing, the sticky floors, and the stale smell of the porta-poties that dot the outside of the tented Irish dancing area. Don’t get me wrong here, despite my Norwegian heritage I like me some fiddle, pipe and bodhran music; and I love beer and whiskey (non-green please). However, Kells (at times) can be an absolute nightmare on St Patty’s day… ESPECIALLY when it falls on a weekend. [/Rant]
Music for this game: Tripping Daisy
Last game for Dallas: W 2-1
Last game for Portland: W 3-1
Beer for this game: Austin has the breweries in Texas, to be honest. So instead of suggesting you drink Shiner, I suggest you grab something from Deep Ellum Brewing Co.
My Prediction: 1-1
8:30PM Sporting KC V New England – Livestrong Sporting Park – Television: Local Only
Oh New England… What to say these days. Seemingly stuck within the certain hell of disinterested ownership they plow forward in an attempt at relevancy in the tough Boston sports market. From 2007 on, it has been a slow slide down the table; but it begs remembering that, at one point, the Revolution were one of the top teams in MLS.
With Benny Feilhaber and Diego Fagundez (DNP in the game) there might be hope in New England, as the Revolution went undefeated in the pre-season. However, a missed-connection by Sharlie Joseph and A.J. Soares cost the Revolution the game against San Jose and Jay Heaps debut as coach went down in defeat. One of the Rev’s biggest problem is the issue of having a forward duo of Fernando Cardenas and Blake Brettschneider which (all due respect to any fantastic professional athlete) doesn’t scare anyone except the person doing the lettering for Brettschneider on the back of the Revolution kit.
Meanwhile in Sporting Kanasas City… Late goals abide with immediate effect as Kansas City grabbed the win off a C.J. Sapong header. It has to be said that Teal Bunbury may return from his call up to the u-23 side to find a tenuous grip on his already tenuous starting place with the first team. For club and country Teal hasn’t exactly been burning up the scene. The “Bobby Convey Experience” had their first album release party on Saturday and I heard they covered a Blind Melon song… (because he is blind in one eye… get it…?) Ok fine… Carrying on…
It will pay to watch the midfield here as the defense of the Revolution will have their hands full with the attacking 4-3-3/4-5-1 of KC. I would expect KC to dictate the pace of the game and Kei Kamara/Grahm Zusi to make a menace of themselves in and around the back four.
Music for this game: Charlie Parker… What? You don’t like Jazz? TOUGH. Jazz is one of the musical forms of Soccer, where improvisation is paramount, there doesn’t have to be a set flow and (in the case of Bebop) there are staccato punctuations of vagabond excitement interspersed with rhythm.