Archive for March, 2012

Off The Rails & Only Tangents….It’s Your MLS Preview

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”

SATURDAY GAMES:

(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)

Okay...go...time. (Oduro for the Fire)

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

Wondo: Double "Go" time

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.

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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.

To play or not to play...the Achilles is in question

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.

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MLS: Consider Yourself Challenged: New Season, New Calls

Well, we’re through First Kick weekened and if you had a chance through Direct Kick or MLS Pass to catch a gaggle of game, you heard a generally positive step-up in MLS game calls.

The culmination last night with a well-reheared call from Adrian healy on Kris Boyd’s first MLS Goal:

Healy: “New Country, Same Currency!”

———-

TSG wants to help out the broadcasters–call us the R&D team–looking to improve their breadth of calls so we’ve started a roll call below for player calls–generally or in concert with “a moment.”

Please add more in the comments–I’m challenging expressely you, Brendan Hannan:

in concert with a certain

Sal Zizzo scores, “Zizzo….and That’s A Spicy Meatball!”

Eric Alexander, Portland or Will Bruin, Dynamo: “Alexander bangs it home. HOOSIER DADDY!”

Dax McCarty scores: “Dax the Facts! 1-0 Red Bulls.”

"C'mon man"

Taylor Twellman flubs a line on ESPN:

“Twellman, who’s had a series of concussions, dusts harke’s helmet on for that one.”

“Think TAYLOR DOT ORG….visit it some time!”

Osvaldo Alsono with a crunching tackle, “File that one under things Xabi doesn’t even do.”

Kenny Cooper, “Super Dooper Cooper puts another through hoopa!”

Landon Donovan scores: “Landy Cakes working on his baker’s dozen.”

Conor Casey, “Is he bald? Is he clean? Do you want to sleep with him? It’s Conor Casey with a pristine finish!” (Swingers)

Thierry Henry misses a sitter: “Henry statuesque on the rebound.”

Fabian Espindola slots home for RSL: “Under the keeper downtown…he put that GOAL AWWAAAY!”

Perry Kitchen with a tackle for DC United, “Can’t stand that heat! You know what to do”

Chris Albright skies one out of bounds, “The Old Man….into the sea.”

Richardo Villar, FC DAllas with a tackle: “Oh Lucy! I’m home!”

Chad Barrett, “Wait, I don’t have anything for Chad Barrett…pause”

Zac Boggs, goal, Revolution, “Chicken DINNER!”

Servando Carrasco misses a sitter, “And you just know that Alex wouldn’t’ve hesitated there.”

Gabriel/Michael Farfan makes a boneheaded play, “Let’s call that….a Danny DeVito.”

Luis Gil beats a man 1-on-1: “As easy as yesterday’s gym class.”

Your move…..

 

Live Commentary: Union vs. Timbers

But you knew it would be a Perlazapalooza fest?

What say you Union without Le Toux? Will Boyd knock one home in his debut? The former Gers player certainly accustomed to striking in the rain.

PERLAZA!

Messi Knows No Bounds

Write your caption — or just witness — isn’t there a clause in his contract against this?

Just needed to post: Mr. Messi.

Your U-23 Olympic Squad, Courtesy Caleb Porter

From US Soccer:

Gatt, who has apparently acquired the nickhname, "20-year-old Batman."

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Caleb Porter has named an initial 19-player roster for training camp that will convene March 13 to begin final preparations for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.

The official 20-player roster will be finalized March 20, the due date for all participating teams to submit their rosters to CONCACAF. The U.S. will compete in Group A which kicks off March 22 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

—-

GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)

DEFENDERS (6): Josh Gatt (Molde; Plymouth, Mich.), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)

FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas)

Quick Thoughts On MLS First Flinch & The EPL

No idea why we put flinch in the title.

"Moses"

• There is Moses; then there is David Moyes.

Tottenham might be reeling but it was Davey Moyes’s excellent game management that saw his Toffees snatch a 1-0 victory from the Spurs loose grasp.

That’s right, with the victory Everton took their goal differential up to an impressive goose egg. That’s right again, negative goal differential before Saturday’s affair!

The Goodisonettes now sit in 9th and within shouting distance of the Europa League. There was the parting of the Red Sea and now there is Everton 2011-2012. Amazing.

• Manchester City trip on Swansea City.

Let’s just call the Swansea the new Arsenal already, okay?

• Old Arsenal vs. Newcastle today

Kickoff shortly as Arsenal’s emotional campaign continues. Falling just short against Milan after a digging a whole is the exact oppositve to what Newcastle did to them last year. Someone take away Wenger’s water bottle.

• First kick; first impressions; first flops

Two names stick out for me after week one that bear watching; one TSG has told you about. That one of course is Dan Kennedy, TSG’s pick for best keeper this year AND TSG’s back-up pick for keeper of the year last year.

It was Kennedy (not Chivas USA) versus the Dynamo on Sunday in Carson, CA and the one man vacuum cleaner of goalie was pitching a shutout until he missed a spot in stoppage time. Tremendous effort.

Espinosa for Sporting KC

The other is Sporting KC outfield hoover Roger Espinosa. With Julio Cesar playing a very reactive and sleepy counterpart, the former Ohio State man was just about everywhere on the pitch Sunday, leading to TSG bestowing the nickname of “Norm.”

Espinosa was always around–whether playing a true holding role and keeping the ball in the attacking third or snuffing out a DC United winger gone errant (Matt Besler had a tough opener for the Verminators).

• Backe at it….

And about that flop.

It shouldn’t matter that Thierry Henry–he of the joyous offseason at the Emirates–was his typical curmudgeon himself during an interview after the Red Bulls 2-1 loss to FC Dallas on Sunday.

What should concern the MLS front office and New York fans is the obvious disconnect between Juan Agudelo and Thierry henry and that this is now a second burgeoning conflict what is supposed to be a marquee team for the league.

First henry (being interviewed by MLSSoccer.com’s Simon Borg).

Borg: When Cooper came on, you seemed to tell him go behind the defense…it seemed to work out better…you were able to play-make, he was able to run on balls.

Henry: “That’s what I tried to do all day–feed people.

And now Agudelo:

Agudelo as told to and transcribed by MLSSoccer.com: “I feel it’s tough being by myself at times because Henry likes to check in the middle,” Agudelo told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I felt like it was great when there were actually two forwards and Henry was able to check in the middle.”

So it sounds like both players were pleased with the addition of Kenny Cooper. That either means that they were unhappy in their partnership or unhappy with the game plan. Either way, going to the press with it and having that sniping so early in the season is a major red flag on a New York Red Bulls club that doesn’t need it this year.

• Cream cheese & wood chips

Philadelphia versus Portland tonight. A major statement game early on from Portland if they can manufacture chances for Kris Boyd and see him him finishh them.

Conversely, what look is Peter Nowak and the Union going to show this year? No idea.

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