FOOTBALLS ARE ROUND!

Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things


June 20, 2005

MLS NOTES: WEEK 12


by @ 10:57 am.
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• The midweek matchups were entertaining and surprising. The DC v Chicago game was a seven goal barn burner (the entertaining part), while Colorado defeated Los Angeles 1-nil (yes, that would be the surprising part).

• The two least likely scorers in the Chicago v KC game were Jim Curtin and Preki, and they both scored. Jim Curtin, well, because he’s Jim Curtin (no disrespect to Jim, who is a fine professional, but he’s not the guy you want spearheading your attack), and Preki, because he’s 73 years old and destroyed his leg just over a year ago. Preki is awesome. Okay, he’s not really 73, but he’s older than me, for pity’s sake, and he’s still got it.

• I thought the PK call in the first half of the Metros v Crew game was bogus. Cornell Glen went down like a late 90s dotcom stock. You could actually see him drag his left foot across Zach Wells’ body rather than try to play his own (poorly played) ball.

• But having said that, why not let him take the penalty kick he himself ‘earned’? Chris Henderson didn’t even come close. I don’t get either part of that whole transaction.

• I’ll just go ahead now and eat crow for my criticism of the Wolyniec-for-Razov trade. Razov scored twice for the Metros, and Woly set up the second Columbus goal. I can’t always be right, okay?

• The Metros/Crew game gets at least a 6 on the newbie scale. Good energy, loud crowd, three goals in the first half. Pretty entertaining stuff. A few points deducted for artificial turf; I don’t know if that’s fair, but hey, it’s my scale, and I hate plastic grass.

• How can the match between the top two teams in the Western Conference NOT BE TELEVISED? That’s insane. I cut MLS a lot of slack, I know they can’t do everything, but come awwwn. If you’re going to be Major League, you can’t allow this kind of thing to happen. Can you imagine the NFL allowing this? I understand the vagaries of local television contracts and scheduling and all that, but still.

• So, anyway, I hear that FC Dallas beat LA Galaxy 1-nil. At least that’s the word on the street. I have no, you know, visual PROOF or anything. If true, it’s a famous victory, considering FCD are without Carlos Ruiz and Eddie Johnson. Nobody at the start of the season, not the most starry-eyed optimist, would have guessed how deep the Dallas bench is. The recent run of form would be impressive enough at full strength, but given the facts, it is stupendous.

• The league-leading Revs had nothing for DC United. It took a span of about two minutes for the Champs to put two goals on New England, and that was that. Well, the Revs are good, but they ain’t Arsenal, I guess. Just as well; if those guys had gone undefeated, surely the end of Western Civilization couldn’t have been too long in following.

• Kelly Gray is making the most of his move out west to San Jose. He had a very well taken goal early in the San Jose v Real Salt Lake match. I mean really well taken. He got the good through ball, dribbled into the box and calmly beat DJ Countess far post. It always amazes me what a change of scenery can do for a guy’s career.

• All three SJ goals in the first half were well taken. Chung and Barrett scoring in addition to Gray. Barrett played a ball to the wing while about 40 yards from goal, then sprinted to the box just in time to personally finish the resulting corss. Very smart, very hustling goal by Barrett.

• Speaking of the reborative effects of a change of scenery, how about Jeff Cunningham and his hat trick? There must be something about getting out of Columbus that frees these guys from some sort of enchantment-like torpor, kind of like when the White Witch put Narnia in a permanent state of winter. Obscure literary references aside, Jeff is scoring again, and boy can’t the Rapids use that?

• Let’s be honest though, shall we? Cunningham’s flop in the penalty box was absolutely shameful. Terry Vaughan will be kicking himself when he watches the tape.

• Memo to Christian Miles: unless he himself has told you differently, why don’t you just go ahead and pronounce Cunningham as ‘cunning-ham’ rather than ‘cunningum’, okay? In fact, even if he did tell you to say it like that, he was teasing you, just to see if you’d actually pronounce it like that on TV. In the future, if you are going to say ‘Cunningham’, go ahead and think Richie from “Happy Days”.

June 14, 2005

MLS NOTES: WEEK 11


by @ 12:00 am.
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· In my view the most exciting thing about the Columbus/Colorado match was the news from Waldo and Stoner that Conor Casey may be coming to MLS. He’d be a good fit for his hometown Rapids, and apparently the manager at his German club, Mainz, is threatening to cut him if he plays in the Gold Cup for the USMNT. Welcome home, I say.

· Columbus won the game on a PK, off of a verrrrrry questionable call. Looked like an all-ball makeup-call to moi. Mario Rodriguez, who ‘suffered’ the foul, caused trouble all day for the Rapids defense, it must said, so it wasn’t completely unfair or unexpected for the Crew to score.

· Whenever the Crew did something good, the crowd could muster no more noise than you might hear from a polite PGA gallery when some guy who’s way out of the lead finishes the 18th hole. Sad.

· In another game in which the crowd sounded less like a soccer crowd and more like an enthusiastic Little League crowd, the Wizards and the Revs faced off at cavernous Arrowhead Stadium. A KC own-goal was the highlight of the first half, apart from watching Nick Garcia and Diego Gutierrez foul and get fouled.

· Perhaps I’ll start a new rating scale called the Newbie Factor. Occasionally I’ll rate games based on the likelihood that a first time soccer watcher would ever watch again. Quality of play and crowd atmosphere will enter into the equation. The first half of the game gets a 3 on the Newbie Factor scale of 1-10.

· The second half started off fast, almost a six. But then the Revs scored the second goal and it got boring very quickly.

· Oh, and the Crew/Rapids match gets a four. It almost got a five, and had the Raps managed to score at the end of injury time, it may well have done so.

· Clint Mathis looked old and tired for RSL against the Galaxy. Has he been hurt, or sick lately? He’s not all that old at 28. What’s the story?

· Landon picked up right where he left off before going off with the Nats. There’s no way you can say it wasn’t a good move coming back to America. He needs minutes to stay sharp for the World Cup, and he wasn’t going to get them in Germany. Case closed on that one.

· Yet another #99 in the league, with Ante Razov taking that number with the Metrostars. Ugh. This ain’t the NFL, kids, and Ante ain’t Mark Gastineau. Enough already.

· Zach Wells earned his pay against DC, and there’s no two ways about it. He wasn’t getting a great deal of help defensively either. Even Shep Messing, who was no slouch between the pipes in his day, was impressed.

· Speaking of which, here’s a memo for all you Metros fans. You’re missing a great drinking game opportunity with Shep. Every time he says Wowwwww”, take a shot. You’ll be feeling no pain by halftime.

· You underage Metros fans, however . . . just say no, all right? Underage drinking is bad, m’kay?

· I was going to give props to the Metros fans for sounding so loud and enthusiastic on the MSG broadcast, but it turns out the sound was really coming from the DC fans behind the right-side-of-the-screen goal. Wow. Much props, again, to the Barra Brava and Screaming Eagles.

· Chicago’s Samuel Caballero does a Steve Lyon impersonation and drops trou on the sidelines during the game with FC Dallas. He suffered a wardrobe malfunction of some sort and had to change shorts on the fly. So to speak. Michael Powell, call your office.

· Carlos Ruiz came down on another player’s foot and twisted his ankle so badly that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the replay. His foot was pointing at an angle God never intended feet to point to. My ankle actually started hurting.

· So, Thomas Rongen is already in the booth calling Chivas games? I mean, if it wasn’t him, it was one of those Thomas Rongen impersonators, like you might see in Vegas.

· I was very happy to see young Brad Guzan back in goal for Chivas. Hans Westerhof knows goalkeeping, if nothing else. He played terrifically, as well (Brad, not Hans). The only goal he gave up was on a breakaway. The kid’s going to be huge in this league. Or maybe some other league.

· Shame nobody saw the game live, though. No, I don’t mean on television, I mean at the Home Depot Center. Was this one of those FIFA-mandated play-behind-closed-doors games, or what?

· Do you think it irks Mr. Vergara that for all the talent he brought from Mexico, it’s good old Easy Ezra Hendrickson that scored the tying goal? Just a thought.

June 13, 2005

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: CHICAGO v FC DALLAS


by @ 10:32 pm.
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The Football Club are wearing the silver road kits, and Brian Haynes is in the booth with Brad Sham. Both these things are pretty cool, in my book. Dave Dir, Brad’s usual partner, is in Holland helping Sigi Schmid with the U20 National Team, who got off to a grand start, beating Argentina 1-0 in their first match.

The folks in Section 8 sound great, giving the match a very European feel. Loud chanting, drumming; very nice. I hope they get quieted down without delay, but I still like to hear it at any MLS match. All partisanship aside, this is a wonderful group of fans.

This is the last scheduled Brimstone match this season, although if things work out, we conceivably could meet the Fire again in both the US Open Cup, and, dare I say it, the MLS Cup. Either or both would be fine with me. So even with a win today, we couldn’t quite say the Cup was decided.

Five minutes haven’t gone by and Scott Garlick has already made a terrific save off the header by . . . someone. That was not by any means a garden variety save. Diving to the left, getting a hand on the ball, and getting enough on it to keep it from Ivan Guerrero, who was standing on the doorstep.

Ronnie just tried to to chip Zach Thornton from about 40 yards, and did. Only the left goalpost kept him from a GOTY candidate. Or, I should say, another GOTY candidate.

Owwwwwwwwww! Carlos Ruiz, who already had a sore ankle, just came down on Gonzalo Segares’ foot and twisted his right ankle horribly. It made me cringe just watching it. If you’ve ever had one of those really severe ankle sprains (and I’ve had a few), you know how bad that is.
Even if he comes back in the game, that had to hurt terribly. I couldn’t even watch the replay; I literally turned my head away from the screen. Suffice to say he came down so that his foot pointed on an angle that God never intended.

He’s not coming back. Abe Thompson comes on for El Pescadito.

[expletive deleted]

Well . . . hasn’t this been an eventful first 10 minutes? Excuse me while I go to the fridge for an adult beverage . . .

Okay, I’m back. I have a lot of confidence in Abe Thompson, and for that matter in every player on the bench, but this still isn’t good. When the story of this season is written, it may well revolve around the strength of Colin Clarke’s bench.

Roberto Mina gets a yellow card for shoving Justin Mapp to the ground. Mapp should get a yellow for bad acting.
Well . . . now they’re saying Mapp did indeed get the yellow card.
Heh heh heh.

Bobby Rhine is sporting the GBFHAC this week (Great Big Frankie Hejduk Arm Cast, for you kids not in the know). Frankie’s been wearing his so long I’m starting to think he’s just decided it’s cool having a blunt instrument attached to his arm.

Nate Jaqua scores at the 20 minute mark. He manages to head in a looping, deflected ball from Justin Mapp, even though he was surrounded by both Gbandi and Gvanney. There really wasn’t much Scotty could do; he also sees his road shutout streak come to an end, adding insult to injury.

The redoubtable Brad Sham tells us the Fire are 6-1 this season when scoring first.

[expletive deleted]
[again]

Chicago’s Samuel Caballero does a Steve Lyon impersonation and drops trou on the sidelines. He suffered a wardrobe malfunction of some sort and had to change shorts on the fly. So to speak.
Michael Powell, call your office.

Simo Valakari gets a yellow card for dropping Segares. This is not a cause for alarm, but rather a sign that the universe is unfolding as it should.

Brian Haynes is dong a great job as an analyst, by the way. Stellar.

There are thunderstorms in the area around the Steam Of Consciousness world headquarters here in central Oklahoma, and I’m experiencing, once again, one of the few drawbacks of Satellite TV. The picture is going in and out. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I can’t complain too much, because I live in a truly wonderful time of televised soccer. Even with weather related interruptions, it is miraculous, really, when you consider the advances in technology in our lifetime, as well as the history of soccer in this country. What the folks did during the days of the Land Run without DirecTV and air-conditioning, I’ll never know.

Go ahead, click the link, learn some history; this is a full-service column and we like to educate as well as entertain and inform.

But I digress.

Aaron Pitchkolan takes a shot at chipping Thornton. It doesn’t work, but I like the awareness he showed in taking it. I’m a bit concerned that chipping the keeper is about all the offense we’ve mustered in the first half, but I’m not yet worried.

Yet.

Vanney almost scores on a corner, but his header drops to his own feet and he can’t pop it in from that angle.

We’re a playing a bit more on our heels than I’m used to seeing in the last few weeks. But then again, the Fire are on a good run of form lately. They hung five goals on Chivas last week. Jaqua had a hat trick; this being one of the few times that particular combination of words has ever been written in the history of the internet, I’m sure.

I’ll be happy to get to halftime only a goal down. We need some coaching magic from Coach Colin to get us on track. In other years, being a goal behind, at the half, on the road, would cause me great consternation and trepidation. This season is different however. We’re in this. I shan’t say we’ve got them right where we want them, but we’re in this thing, no doubt.

Ronnie gets a yellow card for a foul, but Jesse Marsch gets no card for retaliating. Mr. Jones, the referee, is calling only his second MLS match. The kid’s gotta learn sometime, I suppose, but that was a bit of a dodgy call.

So it is indeed 1-0 at the half, in favor of the Fire. No sweat. It’s the way a half of soccer goes sometimes. I’m sure Coach will have some words of wisdom at the half (high-volume though they be), and we’ll come out swinging after the break.

I hate to see Carlos injured though. He’s been so good lately.
I can’t tell you how much my respect for this man has increased since he came to Dallas. Not just because I’m an insufferable homer, either (though I clearly am).

He’s grown as a player; he’s become more of a leader and less of a diver. It’s been great to watch. When he goes to ground this season, he does so because he’s earned it with a hard foul, and he doesn’t make a meal of it.

I loves that Little Fish (as always, in a very manly, soccer-specific manner).

I just watched the replay of Ronnie’s off-the-post chip of Thornton. Zach’s body language showed total and complete surprise. It was entertaining to see. Moreover, the ball came fairly close to rebounding off his body and into the goal. That would have been oh-so-good to see. I like Zach Thornton, mind you, but he is with the Fire, after all.

Game on for the second half. The very creditable box of California Merlot (sorry Miles) is kicking in. It is soothing my nerves and making me feel like the guy in the old UB40 song (red red wine you make me feel so fine, you keep me rockin’ all of the time).

Life, for all its problems, is good when you can sit around in a free country, drinking wine, watching futbol on the satellite, tapping away on the laptop, and rooting for your favorite team.

Again, though, I digress.

Thompson gets an early chance, and just misses by inches. Good job by Thornton making himself big(ger).

I love the way Brian Haynes continually rags the Fire players for staying on the ground a bit too long when they’ve been (ostensibly) fouled. I like Dave Dir, but Haynes is really quite enjoyable in the on-air analyst role. He’s also an exceptional assistant coach, so I doubt he’ll be changing jobs anytime soon. Speaking of which, if you missed the recent Sports Illustrated article on Eddie Johnson, go check it out. It speaks very highly of both Eddie and Brian.

Abe Thompson pressures Thornton on a back-pass and very nearly causes Zach to give up the goods. I’m liking Abe more and more every minute.

Whoa. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than to be good. In the 68th minute, Rhine gets beat around the corner by Mapp, who gets the ball to Chris Rolfe, who taps it in for a goal. Nearly. But in an incredibly good call by Assistant Referee, the whistle blows; the ball just barely got over the end line as Mapp made the pass; the score remains the same.
Give that man a raise, MLS.

The picture is breaking up again, as the thunderstorms get worse here in God’s own country. Either that or I’ve had too much wine.

Nope, it’s definitely not the wine. To be sure, I went to the front door; it’s raining and thundering to beat the band. It’s clearly the satellite.

Now I’ve lost the feed completely.

Well, this is unprecedented. I can’t watch the end of the match.
Hmmm…..

Let us go to MLSnet.com and hope to get the video there.

This, of course, is a very tricky proposition, because one must click on the link, avoid seeing the headlines (by very cleverly covering most of the screen with the right hand), and find one’s way to the ’sights and sounds’ link.

Then one must find the link for the appropriate match, click it, and hope the completed game is online. This will take both patience, and a willingness to ignore the reality of the space/time continuum as one watches the remainder of the game, ex post facto.

I don’t think that will be too much of a challenge, however, as I am a Tivo user, and was probably a bit behind the live action anyway, what with replays, and trips to the refrigerator, and such.

But still, I can’t bear the thought of watching the rest of the game while already knowing the result. It’s like . . . like . . . well, I can’t think of what it’s like, but it’s terribly unsatisfying.
Not to mention the fact that such a thing is clearly against the whole “Steam Of Consciousness” ethos.

Well, let’s see what we can get . . .

As it turns out, nothing. I couldn’t catch the end of the match on either video or audio, try as I might.

I learn from MLSnet.com (good for results, but not for aforementioned video or audio), that we lost 2-nil. The second goal coming from Lubos Whoeverimov.

Well, you can’t win EVERY game on a road trip, now, can you?

I’m far too tired to wait for the video to show up on MLSnet.com, and I’m far too unworried about this result to fret about it.

Besides, I have bigger worries on my horizon, as I must report at 8:00 am tomorrow morning for jury duty.
I should get some sleep. I mean, the last time this happened, I ended up on a TWO MONTH LONG murder trial. I can’t begin to tell you how awful that was.

Although, with the mood I’m in right this second, I doubt any lawyer would accept me, prosecution or defense, as I plan on going into the courtroom feigning insanity; drooling, chewing on my fingers, and chanting “Chicago rules, Chicago rules, guilty, guilty, guilty, die, die, die !”

What attorney worth their salt wouldn’t dismiss me for insanity right then and there?

See you next week for the Dirty Dirty Galaxy game; unless I’m sequestered, that is.

June 7, 2005

GREAT ARTICLE ON MODERN GOALKEEPING


by @ 3:38 pm.
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Sir Alex Ferguson needs to read this, understand this, and live this.

You can just enjoy it.

June 6, 2005

KASEY!


by @ 11:21 am.
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USSOCCER.COM COVERAGE OF US/COSTA RICA


by @ 11:10 am.
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Good video and good articles about the Costa Rica match on ussoccer.com. Do check it out.

June 5, 2005

NEW BLOG


by @ 3:52 am.
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I’m adding the Hexagonal Blog to the links list. Mr. Hamilton is following the CONCACAF quest for Germany, and doing it in fine fashion. Dave sez: Check it out.

MLS NOTES: WEEK 10


by @ 3:39 am.
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• Things didn’t look good early on for the Westerhof era at Chivas. It took 1:30 for the goats to give up their 25th goal of the year. The Fire are tough to beat this season when they score first. Martin Zuniga wasn’t at fault, but I’m going to blame him anyway, because I want to see Guzan get his spot back.

• But before Mr. Vergara could fire his 2nd Dutchman of the year, Antonio Martinez (whose nickname, oddly enough, is Chivas) leveled the score in the 5th minute. Should be an interesting run for Hans. They went into halftime up 2-1 and before too much of the second half was gone, they were down 3-2; it only got worse. Did I mention I want to see Guzan back?

• What a discouraging beating to take in front of the new gaffer. Cabezas will roll, now that Rongen isn’t around to take the blame.

• Five goals for the Fire. No comment, other than . . . wow. Okay, one comment. Nat Jaqua scored a hat trick. And I repeat . . . wow.

• Has anybody ever won the “Radio Shack MLS Magic Minute”? The odds seem lottery-like to me. I’ll have to have the boys down at NASA crunch the numbers, but it seems like a pretty big long shot. What do you win, anyway? It’s a Radio Shack promotion; a four-way gold-plated bi-directional splitter, perhaps?

• FC Dallas got a break when Bruce Arena left Greg Vanney off the game day roster for the Costa Rica match. Since FCD were already in Salt Lake for their match up with ReAL, Vanney started for Dallas and played well, saving a goal off the line, among other things.

• Abe Thompson scored his first goal as a professional. Oddly, he set up the first goal by firing a shot off DJ Countess, who gave up a rebound that Ronnie O’Brien slotted home. On Abe’s goal, Ronnie fired the shot, DJ gave up another rebound, and Abe slotted it home. Crazy stuff.

• The grass at Rice-Eccles Stadium looked good, and the games were good as well. Forty thousand fans for the USA/CR match, and most of those stayed for the beginning of the RSL/FCD game; though to be honest it looked like a lot of them packed it in and went home at halftime. Still, congratulations to the people of SLC for putting on a good show.

• Back in April, I ripped the staff at Gillette stadium, home of the Revolution, for the horrible grass the team had to play on at their home opener. Not that they noticed then and not that they’ll notice now, but today, I give them kudos. They managed to mow the field in a wavy pattern which, on television, gives the optical illusion of having a hilly field. It looked for all the world like guys were running up and then down as they traversed the pitch. Maybe some thought this was annoying, but it amused me to no end. Then again, I’m easily amused. Optical illusions, shiny objects, you name it.

• This particular round of World Cup Qualifying was NOT kind to New England. They were without Dempsey, Noonan, Ralston, and Avery John, who was with Trinidad and Tobago. That’s roughly half the team’s scoring output for this season. And Twellman went out in the second half with a hamstring injury. AND THEY MANAGED A DRAW! Scary. Very Scary. Fear the Revs.

• King of Goals sighting! Sergio Galvan Rey comes up big for Metrostars again, scoring the tying goal in the 73rd minute. I want all you SGR detractors to personally apologize to the man, ya hear?

• The Galaxy don’t often blow a lead at home. So it’s always fun to see it when it happens. Oops. My “lack of objectivity” warning light just came on. Let me reset that bad boy and move on here.

• The sound of screaming pre-teen girls at the Home Depot Center was overwhelming. I’d prefer the big plastic horns. Though I suppose a paying customer is a paying customer.

• Bottom line on the Metros/Galaxy draw: Metros gain a point, Gals lose two. If I’m a Metros fan I have to like the way things are going for the club. And I am, kinda.

• I started watching DC/San Jose, but lost interest. My apologies; anyone want to comment on the 0-0 draw? The part I saw was lackluster. Maybe it was because I was reduced to watching it on MLSnet.com, or maybe it was really lackluster. Discuss.

• Part of the problem for DC may be that Freddy is gone to The Netherlands for the U20 World Cup. DC is going to find out how important the kid is while he’s gone. Depending on how well we do, he could be away from the club the entire month of June.

• Only Columbus and Metros have similar problem, but they can do without Danny Szetela much easier than DC can do without Adu. Eddie Gaven’s absence will not be easy for the Metrostars, but still isn’t as bad, in my view, as DC going without the Kid.

• Tim Ward of Metrostars and Chad Barrett of Chicago are also gone to Holland, but won’t be as big a loss. I don’t mean that pejoratively, however. Have I missed anyone?

June 4, 2005

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: ReAL SALT LAKE v FC DALLAS


by @ 11:34 pm.
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Jason Kreis almost puts one in before two minutes are gone. I had to physically stop myself in mid “YES!” after I remembered he’s not our guy anymore.

Well, in a sense, Jason will always be “our guy”; just not tonight.

Another good chance in the 4th minute for RSL. What do they think this is? We’re FC DALLAS! You can’t . . . it’s just . . . I . . . you . . .

Never mind. It is a home game for them, after all.

This is another week where the new guys have to step up and fill in gaps caused by injury and national team duty. Mina is in, Aaron Pitchkolan, Abe Thompson, and Arturo Alvarez also getting a chance to shine. Mina has a résumé in the game already, of course, but is still a bit of an unknown quantity here in MLS. The others are primed to make a name for themselves in this rare, and hopefully brief, window.

Good run and shot by Alvarez in the 18th. That’s just about the first trouble we’ve caused D.J. Countess tonight. I’m glad to see D.J. doing well. I liked the kid when he was here, and like him even better now. I read an article about him this week, and it seems he’s pouring thousands of dollars of his own money into a charitable foundation he himself started.

WOOOOHOOO! Speaking of young whippersnappers, Ronnie O’Brien makes it 1-nil.

“Ronnie, a whippersnapper?” I hear you cry. But wait, I didn’t tell you that Alvarez set the goal up by making a beauty of a pass to Abe, who scorched a shot that DJ saved but couldn’t keep from rebounding. All Ronnie had to do was be there. I love these kids.

I forgot to mention it earlier, but the USA’s loss is our gain tonight. Greg Vanney was in camp with the Nats this week but didn’t make the game day roster. Therefore we have him for tonight’s game. I mention this now because he just made a great hustling save off the line to keep RSL off the scoreboard. As it turned out, the USA did just fine without Greg today, puttin’ the wood to Costa Rica, 3-0. Heh heh heh.

Arturo Alvarez was left off the National Team that is in Holland for the U20 World Cup. Maybe he’ll find a little extra drive from that. It’s gotta hurt.

Alvarez nearly scores on a breakaway in the 43rd. A rank homer would claim he was fouled on the play, but I’ll defer to the referee this time. It was close though.

On the ensuing corner, Abe Thompson thumps one off the crossbar. It may still be vibrating. That’s twice he’s been close to scoring tonight; he came close last week in his debut against DCU as well. This kids going to be the real thing, methinks.

One-zip at halftime for the Football Club. The Young Guns look very, very good. I read a few commentators this week who said that newfound depth, caused by the creation of the Reserve League, has really intensified FCD practices, as more players fight for playing time.

Not to compare FCD to Manchester United, but it is exactly that kind of dog-eat-dog, Sir Alex Ferguson-esque competition, where you never know if you’ve performed well enough to keep your spot, which breeds quality and consistency. And further, it’s being done in Dallas without causing dissension and strife. The word is that this is the most unified Dallas team in a few years.

Not much going on here in the second half. RSL are pressing, but they don’t seem to on the same page in the attack. I wonder if Jason is wishing he had offered to take a salary cut to stay in Dallas. Just a thought.

Brian Dunseth has robbed Alvarez of two clear scoring opportunities tonight. Robbed.

2-NIL!!!!

This goal was a photographic negative of the first. On this one, it is Ronnie who breaks through, and drills a beauty of a shot. DJ saves it nicely, as before, only to give up a rebound that goes to none other than Abe Thompson who places it very neatly in the far corner and in the net. He was also the one who set up Ronnie for the initial shot with a lovely give-and-go combination. Very fine work on that goal. Primo.

You just couldn’t possibly ask for more out of these young kids. It’s incredible how they are responding. Someone pinch me; this can’t be true. It’s just too good.

I feel for D.J. He’s played well but losing. That’s never fun.

I know there’s 30 minutes left, and I hate to jinx things, but RSL do not look like they have a goal in them tonight. At. All.

Abe goes off for another of the Young Guns, Drew Moor. This is a defensive substitution. Which is fine at this point. But I still think we have another goal in us tonight.

Ronnie goes off in the 89th for Steve Jolley. He looks distressed (Ronnie, not Steve), as if he’s taken a knock or isn’t feeling well. I’m going to go into full denial mode now and forget that I saw that, or even typed in into this column. Some things just shouldn’t be contemplated.
Three minutes of stoppage time. No worries. That’s not a phrase I’ve been accustomed to typing during injury time in days of yore. But tonight, truly, no worries.

What a good day this has been. 3-0 for the Nats, 2-0 for the Hoops. Oh, and did I mention I’m on vacation? If I had a personal life that wasn’t like a Shakespearean comedy, things would be pretty sweet. Or maybe it’s a Shakespearean tragedy . . . no, comedy, definitely. Aren’t they the ones with happy endings?

Peace to all the cats. I’m out like corduroy jeans.

See you next week for some BRIMSTOOOOOONE!

Yes, we’re heading north to the City of Big Shoulders for the season’s second Brimstone Cup match against the Fire (who, by the way, put FIVE on Chivas today). Should be a blast. Anybody driving from Dallas for the game is welcome to pick me up in Edmond and take me along. I’m an excellent traveling companion, being the raconteur and wordsmith that I am, and will gladly split gas costs as long as you’re willing to take a check that is postdated to 2007.

Goodnight everybody, tip your waitstaff and drive safely!

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: USA v COSTA RICA


by @ 10:53 pm.
Filed under Uncategorized

First ever qualifier for Salt Lake City. They’ve gone all out, putting a nice grass field down at Rice-Eccles Stadium. They even had the sense to put the turf down early enough to let it grow together and get some roots. Well done, indeed.

Whoa! Early goal for the USA! Landon Donavan belts a shot from just inside the penalty area. No chance whatsoever for Álvaro Mesén. Early scoring is not a hallmark of American soccer, so it’s nice to see when it happens.

No start for Clint Dempsey or Pat Noonan. Revs fans across the country are screaming WHY? WHY DID YOU TAKE THEM IF YOU WEREN’T GOING TO USE HIM! Of all MLS teams, New England Revolution were gutted the most severely by call ups for this game (although I guess there’s really no such thing as an un-severe gutting), losing Ralston, Dempsey, and Noonan. That’s half of their goal production for the season missing.

Things worked out a little better for Greg Vanney. Even though he doesn’t make the final roster, fortunately for him, his FC Dallas are playing ReAL Salt Lake following the USA match in the same venue. He’ll get a start for club, if not for country.

The Ticos are hacking away at DaMarcus Beasley, knowing that he’s just coming back from knee surgery. Nice, fellas, nice.

Beasley almost scores at the half-hour mark off a beautiful through ball from Kerry Zavagnin.

Beasley gets another cynical hack from Gilberto Martiniez. The guy wasn’t even trying for the ball, and went studs up on Beasley’s lower leg. He should rightly have been sent off, but at least he got a card.

Rice-Eccles looks nearly full, and Sam’s Army, as expected, is in the house and letting their voices be heard. This is one of the few home matches I remember where the American fans don’t seem to be outnumbered by the visiting fans. Not a large Costa Rican community in Salt Lake, I’m guessing.

Costa Rica puts one in the net towards the end of the first half, but the play is called offside. That’s a darn shame, eh? All jingoism aside, it was a good fair call. It was also the first time Kasey Keller has been challenged since kickoff.

Kasey, by the way, is 22-2-4 since 1998 in international matches played on American soil. Or American grass, I guess I should say. Either way, it’s an incredible record.

So it’s 1-nil for the boys in RW&B at the half.

You know, friends, one of the few drawbacks of satellite television is that during a heavy downpour or thunderstorm, the signal from up in space gets kind of haywire. Also, said haywireness is normally more severe in direct correlation to the importance of what one is watching. Right now, I got nuthin’.

Fortunately, it is halftime, and Oklahoma storms come and go like, well, like the wind, I guess; suffice to say I’m keeping positive and hoping this will blow over before the whistle blows for second half. If I have to miss the feature on Curt Onalfo and the Concacaf qualifying roundup so be it. But past that, my mental health will begin to suffer.

The only upside is that the waving wheat, is sure smells sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain.

But I digress. The soccer gods having smiled upon me (metaphorically, that is, I’m actually a strict monotheist in these matters), The picture comes back almost precisely as the game restarts. Sweet. I’d attribute this good fortune to clean livin’, but well, why press my luck, you know?

Kasey is immediately challenged by an early shot and comes up with a great parrying save. A little confusion in the back between Carlos Bocanegra and one of the other defenders. No harm no foul, though.

We quickly counter and nearly score as lil’ Stevie Ralston just misses getting on the good side of a cross by Landon Donavan. A quite eventful first three minutes.

Another good stop by Keller as Rojas gets a breakaway. Costa Rica have adjusted there timing a bit, after being called offside no less than six times in the first half.

Josh Wolff keeps making great runs but keeps failing to make effective crosses. If Bruce Arena shows patience, he’ll get his act together and be fine. But, with all the talent on the US roster these days, I’m not sure that will happen.

Yet another good save by Kasey. Costa Rica have come out of the locker room with bad intent. I’m not sure what their coach said at halftime, but it worked.

And then in the 60th, Keller’s fourth save is his best. Soto hits a terrific header, down and to Kasey’s left, and the man makes a stupendous one handed diving save. Unbelievable, this man is.

Ask Romario.

2-0! Great diving header by Brian McBride is greeted by an even better save by Mesén, but Donavan streaks in to pop the rebound in the back of the net. You have to say, in all honestly, that this goal was against the run of play; the aggressive Tico attacking really had us on our heels. Yet that’s the kind of goal we need to be scoring. The back breaker.

Pat Noonan gets in the game after all. Josh Wolff comes out. I’m rooting for Josh, but I’m afraid his chances are dwindling. He’s having a terrific season for the Wizards, however, and that carries a lot of weight with Bruce. We’ll see.

At the risk of repetiveness, Kasey Keller comes up big, again, in the 70th.

I’m starting to get annoyed at the thuggery of the Ticos. I’ve never considered them an “enemy” in soccer terms (ahemMEXICOahem), just an opponent. They’re starting to tip the scales however.

Bocanegra, Convey, and Zavagnin have had solid games tonight. Boca, I’m pretty sure, is a locked-in starter, but Convey and Zavagnin needed good games to increase their odds of getting on more rosters in more qualifiers.

Beasley off for Clint Dempsey. Great game by DaMarcus, especially considering he hurt his knee not much more than 15 weeks ago.

Brian McBride gets a well deserved goal in the 87th. Dempsey nearly scored, and Mr. Bake knocked in the rebound, even though two guys were marking him and THREE guys were standing on the goal line. Like I said, well deserved. The Ticos will be seeing McBride and Donavan in their nightmares for a while.

And that, as they say, is that. A handy 3-0 wind for los estados unidos. Qualification for Germany is just about in the ba . . . wait, what am I thinking? I’m not going to be the one who puts the mojo on this team . . . okay, start again. Qualification is within our reach, though definitely not assured; we’ll have to keep up this level of play up through the Mexico game in September .

Whew. That was close.

See you Wednesday for Panama.

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