Week 3: Mess o' Match Wraps, Power Rankings, Video

Holy crap did I read (or skim) a crapload of soccer crap today. Crap, crap, crap - by which I intend to express my amazement and appreciation that there's so much good content out there as opposed to commenting on the content itself.

At any rate, I'll start with the general stuff and work my way down to individual game reports. The idea is to get as many perspectives as humanly possible and to add that to what I mentioned in my Week 3 power-rankings. Before ceasing to talk about me, though, I may as well flag the weekly summary I sent over to Write On Sports (who could use more contributors, by the way); I led that piece with my one-man effort to sow doubt in the Houston Dynamo camp. I think they're another team laboring under too-great expectations this season (all y'all know the other one).

Enough about me, though. Let's see what everyone else had to say about Week 3.

Since they started the trend, I'll link to ESPN's power rankings first; unlike me, they had the guts to place Red Bull New York first. A couple blogs chucked out power rankings as well: Luis Bueno turned in a tidy effort for Sideline Views (and matched my top three on the way, while avoiding my peculiar attachment to Colorado) while Who Ate All the Cupcakes made the Herculean effort of comparing all 13 MLS teams to professional wrestlers. I can only applaud.

Others, both professional and amateur, went for regular wrap-ups of the weekend's action: Soccer America turned in their usual pair of wraps, one a general summary, the other a barebones data dump of goals, cards, and (the motherfrickin' sorry) attendance. Ian Plenderleith, of USSoccerplayers.com also touched on the (sorry, sorry) attendance, but he also added more good stuff about some dodgy officiating and those wonderful quotes that athletes often give when pressed for answers. Mike H of My Soccer Blog rounds out the summary category with a comprehensive offering of his own.

Dan Loney, who seems to have fallen between my two categories out of spite, has to float between them for the sin of writing (quite well, actually) about only two of Week 3's games.

Finally, before turning to the games themselves, let's plunk a video compilation of Week 3 goals to recharge your batteries (courtesy of Climbing the Ladder, of course.

Back to it now, in the order in which they surprised me...

FC Dallas 3 - 1 Colorado Rapids
If you want "just the facts," it's hard to beat MLSnet.com's traditional match reports. But I learned so much from the labors of others: Bill Urban's nice perspective piece on just how much Colorado and Dallas hate one another is a good starting point. But this one contained some lovely details: there's FC Rocky's appreciation for Jovan Kirovski's goal in spite of the handball that made it possible, as well as Dallas coach Steve Morrow's righteous frustration that his team gave up the goal, handball or no. Ramon Nunez gets some nice love from the Dallas Soccer News who flags that his first on the day is up for goal of the week as well as telling the inspiring story behind his start - Dax McArty picks up some kisses in that one too. Meanwhile, fans out Colorado way take a different view of Nunez.

My favorite detail from this game, though, comes from a passage in the Denver Post's write-up on this game. And I flag this for two reasons: one, because it gets to my theory that Brandon Prideaux is the weak spot on the Rapids' back line; two, because it says, "That guy looked like a doofus" without saying it explicitly:

"In the 29th minute, Nuñez took a pass from Dax McCarty and dribbled around Brandon Prideaux at the top of the goalkeeper's box, causing Prideaux to fall while trying to change directions, before placing a shot inside the left post from 12 yards out."

Red Bull New York 1 - 0 Houston Dynamo
I think the best piece of coverage I saw on this game showed up in the Houston Chronicle in the form of the third paragraph quote from coach Dominic Kinnear: it shows he gets the scope of the problem.

But the big story here is the essential shock of writing "the first-place Red Bulls" - as Ives Galarcep pointed out on his blog. Pieces in other spaces point out that this isn't so much a surprise, between the play of kids like Dane Richards and Josmer Altidore, or even the team's defensive solidity. Martha, who writes for the Red Bull Offside, throws many of the players much love (though emphatically not John Wolyniec, who should be OK seeing as he picked up some love from Red Bull Rising, who turned in a very impressive review), but I also want to thank her personally, for using the word "bitches" in a way that makes me feel more comfortable expressing myself in a similar manner.

Really, hard as it is to get one's head around the idea of the New York area having a team to brag about, it's kind of fun at the same time....even if you know that somewhere down the line, they'll absolutely implode in a totally unpredictable way.

Chivas USA 4 - 0 Real Salt Lake
It's the magnitude of this one that shocks: this one could have been still uglier and it left a few RSL fans wondering whether their guys stopped trying. Oddly, pundits, even Chivas players, found time to pick at their performance in the rout. As I see it, Chivas took their foot off the gas a bit, but, by the 75th minute, they stomped their foot on RSL's neck so damn hard that I expect the latter's recovery from this trauma to continue for a couple of weeks; so, no, I don't get the complaints.

The best thing I read about this game, though, the referee broached the subject of the "towel rule" - as in asking whether RSL wanted to throw it in:

""It's worse when the game is in extra time and you get asked if you want the full extra time," RSL coach John Ellinger. "How would you feel?"

After that, it's equal parts joy and pain: the "pain" comes from the seriously unfortunate injury to Andy Williams and a budding, perhaps media-inspired, goalkeeping controversy that grows from Nick Rimando's second dodgy performance; the only thing to make this worse is the fact Rimando may hold onto the job due to "back-up" Chris Seitz's likely absence this summer. The "joy" side is pretty obvious: Ante Razov's 100th goal in MLS; LA Soccer News cranked out a pretty good sidebar on Razov "the man."

Chicago Fire 2 - 1 Kansas City Wizards
Good God. It's like a disease, all this typing, so I have to stop (and start on this earlier next week). So, quickly as I can, here are some resources from the game that surprised me the least this weekend - and I stand by what I've said in a couple places now; there's something ominous about Chicago, even if no one in the Chicago area seems terribly interested in seeing it.

- Luis Arroyave: good stuff on Barrett, Rolfe, and Armas.
- ChicagoLand Soccer News turned in a good, general report.
- As did Windy City Soccer LINK
- The Kansas City Star's report flagged some key stuff about how Chicago played Eddie Johnson, so that should interest a coach or two.
- Down the Byline, a site I don't cite enough, turned in a good report from a KC perspective.

So, yeah, I petered out a bit toward the end. Hope it was good for someone out there ('cause I'm spent).

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