Week 15: The Games I Caught (+)

I managed two games this weekend: New England’s win over Red Bull New York and that tantalizing ripper of a draw between DC United and FC Dallas; for the rest of the games, I clocked the result and that’s about it. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do...

But, if you’ve got fifteen minutes to spend on the can this morning, below are some thoughts that came to me out of those two games I caught.

Red Bull New York 0-1 New England Revolution
- Shockingly decent crowd for New York, no? Actually, it is no. Only 13,819. Well, good job to the camera crew ‘cause it looked better than that.
- Sadly, the camera crew couldn’t save the game, a dull affair highlighted primarily by the through-ball that sent an inexcusably open Andy Dorman in to score for New England and Red Bull forward Juan Pablo Angel’s long-simmering madness. I loved the look on his face when he got sent off.
- Having mentioned Dorman, I may as well dub him man of the match. He scored one, and nearly had another, on a day when no one else looked terribly interested.
- OK, that’s a bit harsh. Red Bull started pretty well, going closest (by my recollection) when Clint Mathis hit the post and almost nabbed the rebound in the same sequence. When things dried up for Red Bull, however, things dried up generally.
- And that’s New England’s fault. They never managed a whole lot on offense. On the upside, their possession passing was better than I’d seen it in and Steve Ralston ably played the part of the wily veteran. But the essential absence of Taylor Twellman and, to a still greater extent, Pat Noonan, meant the Revs didn’t threaten enough to produce a rout - and, given Red Bull’s play, that would have been the only way to keep things interesting.
- Then again, when James Riley is on the field, things tend to be interesting.
- So, what ails the Red Bulls? Where Juan Pablo is concerned, profligate finishing; he missed at least one, and likely two, chances that a player of his reputation should have buried. Mathis had his chances and, if memory serves, he looked the most aggressive Bull on the field so long as he was out there. Claudio Reyna, god bless ‘im, looks tired out there - maybe that $1 million wasn’t so swell - and Dane Richards didn’t offer much more than energy on the right. Given all that, I’d say the Red Bulls suffer from an inability to impose themselves on a game, coupled with deadly problems with capitalizing on the few chances they create. This should look very familiar to The Bruce.
- All in all, not much of a game to watch. It was the kind the makes you drink to ease the boredom, only to have the drink inadvertently lull you to sleep.
- Oh yeah, I just noticed that MLSnet.com is celebrating Ralston’s 115th assist; given this was a secondary assist - Shalrie Joseph actually played Dorman in - this only makes me wonder how many of Ralston’s other 115 assists deserve asterisks. Don’t get me wrong: Ralston is not only one of my favorites - a consummate pro and a talented guy all round - and he absolutely deserves the praise, but...secondary assists are kinda silly.

DC United 3-3 FC Dallas
- This Sunday game on the other hand, this is the kind of game we should all sit prospective converts in front of in the effort to spread the faith. There was enough space on RFK’s field that one would think they could build the soccer-specific stadium in there.
- But DC fans have to be worried about what can only be described as a defensive collapse, one abetted by something like a Shrinking Violet Syndrome. FC Dallas, on the other hand, should be heartened by their team’s fight. Those of us not so fond of DC, well...let’s just say I had fun watching the second half...
- One last thing here: if Dallas had Kenny Cooper available, DC would have lost. They played down the flanks so much in the early going and only lacked someone powerful enough to get on the end of those crosses.
- Man of the match for me: again, it’s Arturo Alvarez. Toja had those inspiring goals and he brings so much all over the field, but Alvarez has that penchant for running at, and unsettling, defenses; it keeps ‘em honest. Dominic Oduro is pretty useful as well, though his lack of polish showed badly when, after being gifted the ball deep on United’s left, he almost miraculously failed to score.
- Speaking of playmakers, what’s up with Gomez? I didn’t see much out of him yesterday. I’d say United got more out of Ben Olsen. And a surprisingly spring-chicken-esque Jaime Moreno; was his hamstring pull the turning point?
- I’ll leave this one to DC fans, ‘cause I wasn’t paying enough attention, but who was the weakest link on defense? DC defenders got bowled over for (at least) two Dallas goals, and out-muscled on the other (hmmm...leaning back to Toja for man of the match...), but, damn, were those doughy goals.
- Going the other way, however, DC sure as hell had Dallas’ back-four at their mercy for the opening 50 minutes. Having only watched the game once, I thought they suffered from defending too far up field; watching them retreat toward goal approximated, substituting soccer for war, what would happen when a pike-push turned wrong on medieval battlefields. Just frickin’ carnage all ‘round. I’m guessing Steve Morrow made adjustments at half time - and those helped - but Dallas gave up their share of chances up to the 60th, 65th minute.
- Still, great game to watch. I would have enjoyed it just as much had Dallas lost 3-2, or won 4-3 (OK, that’s a lie; I would have loved a 4-3 Dallas win).

Moving on to the ones I didn’t see...

Chicago Fire 0-4 Houston Dynamo
I already wrote up this one; scary game from the rest of the league’s perspective.

Kansas City Wizards 1-0 Real Salt Lake (whoops, saw highlights)
- Wow...kinda thought they’d do better against RSL at home.
- Suddenly the mystery behind the high ratio between KC’s shots and goals adds up: hey guys, you can play the ball closer; you don’t have to shoot from over 20 yards for it to count. Seriously, these guys need to work on breaking down defenses.
- Speaking of which, I want to know where KC keeps the Eddie Johnson I saw in this game because they sure as hell didn’t send the same guy to the Gold Cup or the Copa America. Seriously, guys, if you’re just going to pretend to send EJ and keep this real (or is this the evil twin?) locked in a closet at Arrowhead, you may as well play him.
- Having just read the headline to the MLSnet.com match report (link under the score), can one really say KC ended their "slide" when RSL was the opponent? For the record, I'm still waiting for Toronto FC's first road win.

Chivas USA 2-1 Columbus Crew
- I’ll have to watch the highlights for this one; very intriguing result. Whoops...they don't exist...damn...
- Good for the Crew for scoring one on the road; that’s only two against Chivas at home this year. Actually, I see by the stats sheet they scored two goals; damn shame Eddie Gaven gave the game-winner to Chivas....well, unless you’re a Chivas fan.
- Good result for Chivas, whatever happened.

Houston Dynamo 0-0 Toronto FC
- There are times when I want to witness records being set or broken; this isn’t one of them.
- I wonder if Toronto has Houston’s number. Or maybe they’ve just got the “draw-on-the-road” thing down.

Right. I’m off to do some reading; I’ll need to know more before compiling power rankings. Interesting week, though...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

NE vs. NY - Did you notice how frustrated Angel gets when he doesn't get the goal? It's encouraging to see that desire. Can't wait until they get a SSS in NY.
TFC vs. Houston - It really wasn't that much of a yawner to me. TFC came away with a point and Houston set the record. While the closest team to me is Columbus I tend to root for teams who show the best support. While Houston, D.C. and N.E. do well in that respect TFC has them all beat. 3000 on the waiting list for season tickets - that's great.
Noting that you had to rely on highlights, I have DirecTV with Setanta, GolTV, FSC and ESPN with DirectKick so I get about every game. Is it worth it? I guess. Saturday's this fall start a 7:30am with EPL and go till midnight (for West Coast MLS). For you poor people on the left coast that would be an early start (4:30am for the first EPL game). I actually get work done around the house in-between games so I'm not too much a couch potato.
Looking forward to the real MLS season getting back underway.
Will Houston continue to dominate?'
Will LA be able to actually win some of their in-hand games and make it to the playoffs?
Should be exciting and hopefully a better TV package is in the works for 2008.