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Actually a Tale of 2 cities – SKC and Philly biased previews

June 22, 2012 1 comment

This guy I know through a friend and some other people used to work AT Livestrong Park for SKC.  Every now and then I like asking for some input for the blog when we play together.  He’s even coming to the game – so if you see him with me, please don’t give him our “friendly welcome” …

Eh, what am I saying, GO FOR IT!  And onto the 2 sided preview

SPORTING Perspective (Who cares…)
Phillip Bupp

We can piece together Sporting Kansas City’s gameplan for Saturday’s Union game based on their gameplan from last Wednesday’s game against the Seattle Sounders.  Sporting benched starters Kei Kamara, CJ Sapong, Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar and Seth Sinovic (Matt Besler is out for a few weeks due to appendicitis) in favor of Jacob Peterson, Soony Saad, Peterson Joseph, Michael Thomas and Michael Harrington along with Lawrence Olum starting in place of Besler.  The game was much more important than the final score for a couple reasons.

This was a test for Sporting to determine what kind of depth they have.  With games in hand against their top opponents in the Eastern Conference, Coach Peter Vermes used this opportunity to use their final non-conference game of the season to see how his bench can play in a hostile environment of over 40,000 people after traveling to the West Coast.  For the most part, the team performed wonderfully and drew the Sounders 1-1 with a primarily backup squad.  If anything, the starters were the ones who were making mistakes and having bad games.  Aurelien Collin played his usual aggressive style but took lots of risks after getting a yellow card in the 16th minute.  It was a miracle that he didn’t pick up his 2nd yellow because he didn’t let up his play.  Until Graham Zusi came on in the 50th minute, Roger Espinoza seemed lost and somewhat unprepared commanding the midfield.  After Patrick Ianni’s beautiful goal, the usually calm and reserved Jimmy Nielsen was shown screaming at Espinoza which I felt was undeserved as there was nothing anyone on Sporting could really do.  It was a nice set piece and nicer goal by Seattle.  Backups Jacob Peterson and 19 year old Soony Saad had exceptional games early on as Peterson scored a terrific goal and Saad was on target with most of his shots and was much more physical than ever (which has been a weakness of his).  Knowing that the bench players can perform when called upon is better to know now than finding out late in the season and it gives Vermes a great dilemma and start thinking about giving these players more starts and more playing time.

The other aspect learned from the Seattle game was that it showed how important Sporting views future games on the schedule.  Sporting will play five games in thirteen days so the players will have to have a breather at some point especially since they have to endure 2 cross country trips within a week.  The Seattle game became the sacrificial lamb of the stretch and they got away with a point on a night that had New York also drawing and Real Salt Lake blowing a two goal lead and losing to the LA Galaxy.  It would be safe to assume that barring some sort of injury or exhaustion from players, Vermes will play the Starting XI (except Besler and possibly Bobby Convey) against Philadelphia and somewhat close to the Starting XI for their US Open Cup game against the Dayton Dutch Lions with possibly a couple changes to the lineup.  As far as what Philadelphia should do, they should keep in mind that one more yellow card means that Aurelien Collin will receive a one game suspension for too many yellows.  If he’s suspended and Besler doesn’t come back, the two Center Backs will most likely consist of Konrad Warzycha and Lawrence Olum, both primarily Midfielders converted to Center Back, which have a combined total of nine MLS appearances and two starts.  Julio Cesar can take a spot if necessary but that would sacrifice some strength in the Midfield.  In other words, Sporting can’t afford Collin to get another yellow so I would target him and the inexperience of Olum and go through the middle if I’m the Union.  I predict a 2-1 Sporting win with goals from Collin (off a Zusi corner) and Sapong.

UNION ASPECT ( The one that matters)

Now, let’s not get started on the whole “Our season is blown” and “Why bother” comments.  There is rejuvenation, there is hope, there is a chance – that something might happen.

Hey, I’m in the “Throw all the reserves out there against SKC and focus on the USOC on Tuesday” camp, but that’s just me, especially considering not that many people in the stadium probably know (or care) about the USOC match and how there actually is some figment of a chance.  It’s something salvageable, right?

Rejuvenation- We have a new coach.  He put a lineup in that made sense against DC.  Hell, they played like a damn team.   I can’t say much more than that (especially cause of the copious amounts of beer prior, and firewater, and some licourish vodka). He put McInerney in, who was likely mere moments away from handing in his 2 week notice (I know, he can’t, just saying).  Hackworth even stated “Sheanon is a left back, he’s going back into that position”.  Does this mean no more strikers as defenders and goalies as midfielders?  No more darts at a roster chart?  Consistency?  Hope – see everything I just stated.  Chance – This game should be a matter of pride.  Again, we shouldn’t go balls to the wall, but this is SKC, this is the 2nd best team (with 2 games in hand) in the Eastern conference.    This is the team that I feel deep down, we all want our team to be.

What better way to have pride than to come away with at least a point?  Kansas City is already established this season.  They have their standing position to protect, and even improve.  As of now we almost have nothing, going forward – unless there is a huge shift in the standings – we’re going to be the spoiler team, at least that’s going to have to be our mindset – get into the game and ruin the teams above us.  Also, if memory serves correctly, SKC was in the same boat we were at this time of the year last year, were they not?

Our game last week put our team into perspective – we have a lot of work to accomplish until we become an actual team, but they are slowly starting to get together.  DC didn’t put up their best game against us, and we put up an aggressive – yet haphazard one – at best.  It’s new beginnings, and it’s the silver lining.  This game Saturday IS the proving ground for us and Hackworth.  Yes, a week and a half is a short time for a coach to get things together – but I feel this is the turnaround.

Prediction – 1-1 draw where our defense excels greatly.  Lahoud will get a yellow card.  McInerney will get a goal.  Adu will do his little 5 foot shuffle.  The only downside – and this is because of having Nowak as a coach it is what we expect as our gameplan – is if we play their game and focus only on defense… But I feel that if we come out like we did against DC last week, and avoid the counterattack, it will be a great game.

Week 7 MLS Picks

April 20, 2012 3 comments

Dan – 17 out of 30
Nick – 13 out of 30

DK: This week we’re going to incorporate a special guest pick set of our dear, beloved friend, Johnny “Vegas”.  Let’s see if he’s as sharp as we are.

Jh: As sharp as you guys? Judging by your season record you guys are as sharp as a ball peen hammer.
 
NY:  We basically use this weekly segment to post content to the blog, as well as make fun of the other teams in MLS anyway.
 
DK: TFC vs Chicago – Not much to be presented by these two teams. TFC gets their first points through a  0-0 tie.
 
JH: Toronto vs Chicago: when gambling a man must have rules.  Always double down on 11 in blackjack, Never bet on the hard ten in craps Ect.  First rule of MLS game picking, always go against Canadian teams. Chicago isn’t much better than Toronto but just picked up Chris Rolffe back from his two and a half year tour of Denmark. Expect him in the game day 18 and so give the fire a big boost upfront. Chi 2-0
 
NY:  Vancouver hosting Dallas makes hefty travel for the visitors.  FCD will travel just 600 miles less than Union will by going to L.A.  The difference is that Dallas has Brek Shea, and Union don’t have anyone that good.  Dallas triumphs in this one 2-0.
 
DK: Portland vs KC – I’m jumping on the bandwagon… well granted, if you asked me last year I would say that KC looks like a fantastic team anyway.  But they are undefeated right now.  They’re legitimately on fire and I don’t see them giving this up that easily, especially against a team such as Portland.  The one thing with this game is that it will be in their Jedi Wen stadium, and with a chainsaw buzzing at a more annoying level than vuvuzela, it will be a tough one for them.  KC 2-1
 
JH: Portland vs Kansas City: another gambling rule I live by, anytime the best team in the league plays the worst team in the western conference. Always go with the best. Sporting KC are a balanced scoring team with a nightmare back line. And they have a tendency to beat up on bad teams. And right now Portland is BAD. 3-0 Sporting.
 
NY:  Houston’s traveling circus hits Ohio this weekend, and the homeless Dynamo take on the Crew.  Columbus were unlucky to lose to Union last week, the only goal coming from a penalty kick.  They get to rebound against the team-whose-new-home-stadium-is-still-being-built Houston.  It’s always tough playing every game on the road to open the season, just ask KC.  But Houston managed to score a goal playing underwater (that match in Chicago that was stopped after 65 minutes due to rain).  Columbus couldn’t take advantage of a makeshift Union backline last week, and they won’t fare any better against the hobos of MLS.  I see it ending 2-1 Houston, because they’ve only played 4 matches so far this season so the uninjured players have fresh legs.
 
DK: DC vs NY – I would be picking NY in this game anyway – considering DC just tied against Montreal last night (a bright side in the dark world of philly sports which was last night), but Rafa Marquez is fined and suspended for his blatant disregard for the talent that is Shea Selinas.  So I’m saying NY wins so much more outstandingly than before, and expect them to go on a tear while their monkey is off their back.  NY 3-1
 
NY:  New York’s luck gets better and better.  They got rid of that nuisance Luke Rodgers and played better.  Now, the league gifted them a reprieve from that thug, Rafa Marquez.  New York takes this one 2-0, as DeRo’s dancing shoes will not be needed this week.
 
JH: Colorado vs LA: normally a match up of the last two champions would be prime time viewing but alas this year so far LA and the Rapids have been middling at best. But much like the early 2000 lakers I expect the fightin Donovan’s to start turning it on. 1-0 LA.
 
DK: Colorado vs LA has the makings of a decent skilled match… and then you realize that they’re not on top like they both usually are.  I still think it should be a great match to watch, but nothing much in it for either – 1-1 tie.
 
JH: San Jose vs Real Salt Lake: Two very evenly matched teams, A  San Jose win puts them at the top of the western table while a RSL win locks them firmly at the top. But without Shea Selinas I don’t think the earthquakes have enough firepower to keep RSL from shutting down Chris Wondolowski. Espindola grabs a goal and RSL steals one on the road 1-0.
 
NY:  Real Salt Lake visiting San Jose is a chance for RSL to get right back on the winning track.  There’s certainly no shame in them losing to KC at this point in the season, with Sporting having such a good run right now.  The intrigue comes from Real looking immediately below where they sit, atop the conference standings, to see the Earthquakes just 2 points behind, with a game-in-hand.  Don’t worry, no one thought San Jose would be in 2nd place at any point of the year, either.  I pick RSL to put SJE in their place, 3-2
 
DK: Chivas verse Union.  Chivas being mine and Nick’s definitive “Loser each week, every week”, this will be the game that will test how well the Union as a team is this year.  Remember, Chivas snuck in 3 points against a stagnant RSL offense – a little more than what we as fans can predict the Union to do when those two face off – and beat Toronto and Portland.   Some factors to take into play – 1) East coast west coast travel… this is a 10:30 pm game – 7:30 pm PST.  Jetlag will be in effect.  2) Some scuttlebutt says the Califf did not travel, but we are more than happy with Gaddis in there as a replacement.  3) It’s Chivas.  A lot of factors, mostly team based, are in our way of a victory here, but I’m still putting it in that Chivas is complete shit.  Union win 1-0 off either a set piece or a lucky PK.
 
JH: Union vs Chivas: Have the union even scored a goal from actual game play? I think Novak’s plan is only score off set pieces and PKs. Defensively the Union are rock solid and MacMath is coming into his own. Novak’s perfect season carries on as no one scores. 0-0
 
NY:  Interesting pick, this match.  Chivas, though they have 9 points, are winless at home.  They’ve both played Portland at Jeld-Wen Stadium, where Union lost and Chivas won.  They’ve also both hosted Vancouver, where Union got a scoreless draw and Chivas lost 1-0.  The aforementioned travel effects, along with the fact that Chivas have not conceded more than a single goal in any match so far, would have me pegging this as a Union loss.  But The Goats, for some strange reason, don’t play well at Home Depot Center.  Maybe they lose footing in the body marks Landon Donovan leaves after he dives.  1-1 draw.

Week 5 Picks

This is the weekly post where Dan and Nick square off to see whom can better predict the outcomes of 5 matches from the MLS slate.  The email happened as follows:

Montreal v Toronto;  Columbus v New York;  SKC v LA;  San Jose v Vancouver;  DC v Seattle;  RSL v Colorado;  Portland v Chivas 

DK: Not like I’ve been posting anything on the blog to begin with, but it’s still nice to not have to worry about a “pregame” post commenting about how we don’t have faith in the team (read: Management). 

NY:  Dan, just because Union don’t have a match doesn’t mean that you and I can’t poorly predict the outcomes of the rest of the MLS weekend slate.  Let’s begin, shall we?

I’ll take Union’s 2 biggest geographic rivals, New York and DC to start.  New York seems to have been buoyed by the fact that Luke Rodgers is not going to be able to return to the team due to visa problems.  He seems like a jackass.  New York, on the road, is going to continue their We-play-better-without-Luke run of form and defeat their hosts, Columbus, 3-1.


DK: I think NY IS better without Luke – seriously, I hate the guy… then again there aren’t many opposing strikers that I don’t hate.  But NY is traveling to Columbus, who doesn’t look too awfully shabby, but they’ve only played 3 games, and one was Toronto.  I’ll still give it to home field advantage and say that Columbus over takes NY, but 2-0.  That, or Henrey places the ball in the net a few times (note: I didn’t say kick).

 NY:  DC United looked scary-good last week, and they are hosting Seattle, which should dedicate this match to the memories of Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley, both of whom died on April 5, in 1994 and 2002, respectively.  Ok, so they won’t, but wouldn’t it be otherworldly awesome if Sounders donned a flannel-pattern kit for this match as a tribute?  Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as a postgame concert?  Might be the only way that DC would sell as many tickets as Seattle averages.  Be that as it may, this will be the game of the week, with DC winning 3-2.

 DK: 2nd pick is the teams from states in the middle west that fall into a whole in the map. RSL vs Colorado.  RSL is at home, but they just recently played Montreal on Wednesday, and won only 1-0.  You’d think they’d notch a few more goals on that one, but you can’t complain about a team with a 4 win and 1 loss start (I wish I could talk about a team with that start).  This is early to call, but obvious as a possible playoff match preview and the current battle for top of the West.  Note: RSL has a 6 game unbeaten street against Colorado, and I think this will continue on to 7.  RSL over Colorado 2-1.

 NY:  Civil war!  The first MLS regular season meeting between Montreal and Toronto will be a snoozer.  TFC is still seeing visions of Herculez Gomez scoring goals creeping behind their centerbacks, and Montreal hasn’t found their MLS-level game yet.  However, they earn a draw, 1-1, based on home field advantage.

DK: I too think that Montreal and Toronto will be a tie.  It’s just how much of a level of bore and ‘potential’ do you want to witness for this match.  Leave it in Canada and let us not suffer a 0-0 game.

 NY:  Runner-up for match-of-the-week is Sporting Kansas City hosting LA Galaxy.  It’s the runner up because LA is not playing well right now, otherwise, it’s a 4-0-0 SKC hosting the defending MLS Cup Champions.  I see SKC winning this one 2-1, and staking early claim to the title of early frontrunner for this year’s title.  And, commence fanning the rumor flames that KC can exercise their contractual rights to Herc Gomez to bring him in on-loan once the Clausura is over, and he likely wins the title there, too.

 DK: Again we’re picking the same outcome.  SKC at home is similar to what LA was last year.  Not only that, SKC has momentum – and talent.  Right now LA only has piles of cash.  Even though I doubt Gomez will come back to play for KC at any point in time, in the near future KC will easily handle what LA brings and Kamara will notch 2 goals easy. 2-1 also.

NY:  And I need a relative gimmie, so I’ll close with Timbers hosting Chivas.  It’s well-documented through these posts what my opinion of Chivas is.  I know they didn’t follow orders 2 weeks back in beating RSL, but that was an aberration.  That idiot with the chainsaw will get to celebrate a home victory, and cut into that log a few times in doing so.  Portlandia 3-1.

 DK: Yes Portland’s at home, and that buffoon will likely have fun celebrating a few goals (seriously, what are you compensating for with that chainsaw) – but I don’t want him celebrating with that chainsaw.  I get the gimmick, I get the tradition, I just don’t like it.  And in that I’m saying that he won’t be celebrating and this will end in a 0-0 tie.  Don’t you like the way I make my picks?

 NY:  And in closing, with a bonus prediction, I’ll predict that Union don’t lose this weekend.  It might be the only thing I get right.

Summary: NY:  Columbus 1-3 New York,  DC 3-2 Seattle,  Montreal 1-1 Toronto,  SKC 2-1 LA,  Portland 3-1 Chivas USA

DK: Columbus 2-1 New York, RSL 2-1 Colorado, Montreal 0-0 Toronto, SKC 2-1 LA, Portland 0-0 Chivas USA

Week 4 picks – The downward Spiral Begins

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Score – Dan 7, Nick 8

Wow we suck

 

DK: Well, last week was completely miserable… I didn’t get shit right.

NY: That’s because your luck has run out.  I’m in front on the scoreboard, the way it should be.

DK: Hopefully not run out enough to win the lottery tonight.

DK: Since I have to right my sinking ship, I’m going to pick LA vs New England.  New England squeaked one out last week at home, but now they have to play LA in LA.  We all know how that works out for east coast teams.  2-0 LA just because they’re LA

NY: DC v FCD:  Andy Najar is away on Honduran international duty, and Brek Shea is just back from US international duty.  I think DeRo nets one, and Dallas gets one.  I call a 1-1 draw, in a match that may have more people on the field than in the RFK Stadium stands.

DK: Chivas vs SKC.  Chivas did the unthinkable, unimaginable, the incredible… ok I didn’t watch the game whatsoever.  But they defeated RSL last week (much to the demise of our pick count) – one of the last teams you would think Chivas could defeat.  Well, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, and Chivas is not that good of a team, and SKC is that good of a team with many attacking options (I’m still scratching my head as to why RSL didn’t score though).  SKC will easily walk into LA and take a win from Chivas, and stay undefeated.  3-1

NY: Seattle v San Jose: Seattle wins at home.  I know San Jose defied my prediction last week, it won’t happen again this week.  Seattle at home 2-1

DK: This is the only time I’m going to pick RBNY.  Still surprised at their manhandling of Vancouver, but if they did that to Vancouver at home, they should easily take apart the expansion side of Montreal in that wasteland they call home (or Harrison).  New Jersey Pink Cows will get the win, while acting and looking like they are the top class of the league – when we all know they aren’t.  2-0

NY: Portland v RSL: Interesting contest, considering RSL losing last week, and having to go on the road in a difficult setting.  I will pick a 1-1 draw here, as well.

DK: Toronto vs Columbus – Toronto, all though they have been playing well at BMO field, is more concerned about Santos and the Champions League than MLS right now.  Columbus will come in and wipe the floor with TFC.  2-1

NY: Colorado v Chicago: A matchup of two teams that we’ve already seen play against Union.  I was more impressed with Colorado, plus they’re playing at home, so I give this one to the Rapids, 2-0.

UNION

DK: We have the team.  We have the players Nowak wants… now it’s just implementing the fuck out of it.  We also need to score that 2nd goal.  If we don’t, all is for lost.  But I’m going to say this will come down to a 1-1 tie.  Le Toux, if he plays, won’t be spectacular (neither will be our team).

NY: Union need to take the attitude of Gabriel Gomez on themselves.  He’s fiery, determined, and skilled.  If the whole team plays the way he does, they will win.  I don’t expect them to, therefore, I see this ending 1-1, only because Vancouver will not have Eric Hassli.  If he was in the lineup, the ‘Caps would win this outright.

 Recap:

DK:
LA 2-0 New England
Chivas 1-3 SKC
NY 2-0 Montreal
Toronto 1-2 Columbus
Union 1-1 Vancouver

 NY:
DC 1-1 Dallas
Seattle 2-1 San Jose
Portland 1-1 RSL
Colorado 2-0 Chicago
Union 1-1 Vancouver

 

Stay tuned later for our match ‘pre’view

Season Picks – Week 2 Dan vs Nick

March 15, 2012 1 comment

All went well for Dan minus his Union pick, as he went 4 for 4 prior to the Union loss.  Nick caught back up due to his union prediction.  Scores Dan 4 – Nick 3.  On to week 2!

 

WTF is Nowak doing

 

NY:  San Jose v Houston:  Lingering from last year’s playoff defeat of the Union, I still don’t like Houston.  I know they won a road match last week, but that was against Chivas.  There might not be a worse team in this league than Chivas.  Therefore, I will say that Wondo nets one for the ‘Quakes, and the match ends in a 1-1 draw.

DK: As I would normally pick this match and say Houston over San Jose, Houston not scoring a goal til the 92nd minute against Chivas is going to make me walk away from this one.  Instead I’m going to pick Kansas City over New England.  I’m basing this on SKC holding strong and proving that they are and will be the top of the East (that counterattack is hard to stifle) and the New England is still rotting from the inside out in all areas of management, playing, and so forth.  2-0 for Sporting at home.

NY:  FC Dallas v Portland:  Lingering from last week’s defeat of the Union, I still don’t like Portland.  Dallas did well to frustrate PCNJ last week, but Portland isn’t a bunch of whiny, complaining quitters.  This being in Dallas, I think FCD takes this 2-1.

DK: I’m just going to say that I’m going to pick most all other league matches.  The ones you picked are likely going to be close ones.  I don’t think Portland can out match DC like the way they outplayed the Union, but it goes without saying that they are completely match fit and this will be a good match to watch.

My 2nd match is going to be Montreal and Chicago.  Chicago had a bye in the opening week and will be well rested.  If you include the fact that their starting line is still intact from last year, they are already miles ahead of the Impact… but what amount of impact (see what I did there) will a ‘record breaking’ crowd for Montreal do for the home team?  I don’t think a bunch of French Canadian fans will make that much of a difference.  I’ll say Montreal will finally tally a goal, but lose 2-1 to Chicago.

NY:  Real Salt Lake v New York:  RSL dominated a tired LA Galaxy 3-1.  They might double that goal-scoring output against a team who seemed to only have 2 players who cared against Dallas.  Ok, maybe not quite THAT bad, but RSL wins again, either 2-0 or 3-1.

DK: 3rd pick for me is Seattle verse Toronto.  Both played the 2nd leg of the CONCACAF Champion’s league Quarterfinal Wednesday night. Seattle, being thoroughly embarrassed by Santos – Toronto overcoming the “goliath” in LA.  One’s confidence is likely shattered, the other is walking on air.  Both are going to have their fair amount of travel-lag and fatigue between Wed and Saturday.  I don’t think the home field advantage of plastic and fluorescent colors will help Seattle against the confidence TFC will have after beating LA at home.  2-1 TFC.

NY:  Chivas v Vancouver:  Chivas sucks.  Sebastien Le Toux will become Sebastien Le Two in this one, and all Union faithful will shed a tear into their green beer.

 

DK: Far too obvious.  Vancouver played solid soccer in their opener.  Can’t do anything but agree with you on this one.  The gimme pick of the week – Vancouver wins 2-0

NY: Union v Colorado:  Union found it tough to navigate the midfield against Portland, and they will be faced with Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni in the central midfield which won’t make things any easier.  I’m setting the yellow card over/under at 4.5.  That same over/under applies to number of times we will collectively nearly crap ourselves because a Colorado right winger gets behind Porfirio Lopez.  Unless something changes miraculously from Monday to Sunday, I see this as another loss for the U, at BEST a draw.  Second verse, same as the first, Union 1-2 Colorado.

DK: I’ll stop being a homer for once and I’m going to get flack for this as well.  There’s no possible way we’re going to play as a team.  We look like we’re in 2010 form, minus someone attempting to fly like superman (yes, I’m never going to give up on referencing David Myrie’s performance).  We have no midfield – literally they almost disappeared.  Our strikers were too far depressed into our defensive half, providing few outlets for any possible counterattack (which we never had).  And our defensive line looks surprisingly shaky – granted that after Portland’s tying goal we started to panic and play the long ball – something of which we again, never had – and opened ourselves up more for constant pressure did NOT help ourselves defensively.  Colorado is a tough team to beat, even with Casey Connor out for who knows how long.  2-0 Colorado.  The only thing that could save us is home field advantage, Colorado travel lag, and MacMath showing us the same performance he did in goal last year.  But all signs point to no win.

NY:
SJ vs Hou – Tie
FCD vs Por – FCD 2-1
RSL vs NY – RSL win
Chivas vs Van – Van win
UNION vs Colorado – loss

DK:
SKC vs NE – SKC 2-0
Mon vs Chi – Chi 2-1
Sea vs TFC – TFC 2-1
Chivas vs Van – Van 2-0
UNION vs Colorado – loss

Season Picks – Week 1 Nick vs Dan

March 9, 2012 Leave a comment

In an effort to cure boredom, and lack of content on the blog, Nick and myself are going to pick a set of 5 games weekly.  Naturally, being a degenerate gambler, I had to make sure that something was in it for the victor.  So – the one dollar wager is on!

 

The rules are simple – 4 games a week are free to choose, and the 5th pick of the week will be that week’s Union game (if there is no Union game, we pick a different game).  Only the final outcome of the match will matter, not any predicted score.  So if we say Union win 5-1, but only win 1-0, the point is still ours.  Scores will only be used for a possible tie-breaker.  Whoever has the most points at the end of the season will have bragging rights – which won’t matter because Nick will still say (rightfully) he has more knowledge than I do.

PICK 1

 DK: Vancouver vs Montreal – Impact, what impact.   Montreal is new.  Vancouver has a team set, and with the prime addition of Le toux will likely come out on top in this match.  I don’t think Montreal is ready enough as a team, and won’t be so until mid season (prove me wrong).  Vancouver 2-0

NY:  Vancouver vs Montreal???  What is this, the National Hockey League?  Beat it with this two-teams-from-north-of-the-border nonsense.  This is the only game that I chose to look at different than yours.  I’m looking at RBNY @ FC Dallas.  This game is about the late-season charging Pink Cows against Brek Shea and company.  I see this one ending in a draw.  Henry will be in form after a surprisingly successful return run with Arsenal, and Brek Shea will want to produce for his club team before he gets shipped off to try to win his country a medal.

DK: I don’t need your damn hassle.

PICK 2

DK: DC vs KC – What can’t you say about KC?  They’re going to look to try to match and even top last season’s success – and they are road tested from last year (albeit to a fault).  It’s the season opener, and getting the first win on the road will set them apart from the rest of the eastern conference quickly – as that often became the downside for East coast teams (with the new format though, expect this to change).  Unless DC can get De Rosario to break out with multiple goals, KC is looking like the victor.  2-1 KC.

NY:  Sporting were very impressive once they actually got to play games in a consistent venue.  The question is: did KC benefit from playing at their comfy, new home, or did they benefit from the fact that no one in their right mind would enjoy visiting Kansas City?  I’m not sold either way.  The only problem is that DeRo is really the only bullet in the DC gun, which I expect to be shooting blanks in this first week.  SKC ftw.

PICK 3

DK: LA vs RSL – LA is coming off a CCL quarterfinal match on Wednesday, although being the number one team in the league – RSL is well rested and not one to take lightly.  LA will have the home crowd and the start of a new season behind them, but their minds may still be on the CCL.  I’ll predict RSL to take advantage of fresh legs and win 2-1

NY:  Galaxy did, indeed, already play this week, but I see this as a good thing.  I think it has put them in a rhythm, which I expect to carry over to this game.  It’s the beginning of the season, therefore I don’t see the heavy schedule running the players down too much.  It would be a big problem 2 months from now, but the team is fresh at present.  I expect LA to win this game, but probably just 1-0 because RSL is no slouch defensively.

PICK 4

DK: Chivas vs Houston – I took an easy pick, sue me.  Chivas can easily be described as a bottom feeder team.  Houston’s only fault may be under-estimating them at Chivas’  home.  Although, one can be a welcome mat for only so long – but I don’t expect things to change that drastically anytime soon.  Houston 2-0.

NY:  Shockingly, I’m going to agree with DK.  This also saddens me.  Any thought of Houston taking a team lightly during their season-opening match will be doused with the memory of Danny Califf netting the game’s only goal in 2011’s season-opening match.  I, also, think Houston will win 2-0.

UNION PICK
Portland vs Union

DK:  1-1 tie.  Portland gave Cooper to RBNY in the offseason, and Union lost a lot of franchise stars.  This will likely be an even matchup – even though the addition of attack minded players will help the Union, Nowak is obviously going to play a tight defensive strategy to counteract any plausible success.  Expect the inevitable confusion between players in the lineup.

NY:  I pick this as a loss for the U.  Too much change among the personnel responsible for scoring goals.  Freddy Adu is being depended on heavily for leadership, but he hasn’t played with this team long, and seemed, at times, to be at odds with teammates during matches.  He has had the training time with his team now, but I wonder if they can gel early enough to get a win in a venue with dreaded narrow pitch.  Such a field was their undoing in Houston’s Robertson Stadium, where they couldn’t find the space and couldn’t play the aerial game.  They were forced to pass vertically and deep, which lead to choppy possession and not enough goals.  Unfortunately, I expect more of the same in this one.  I ABSOLUTELY hope both myself and DK are wrong and Union win this match 5-0, but I’m very skeptical of the moves Nowak has made during this offseason and need to be shown by the team that they know how to win.

Summary:
DK
1: Vancouver over Montreal 2-0
2: KC over DC 2-1
3: RSL over LA 2-1
4: Houston over Chivas 2-0
Union : Tie

NY
Pick 1: RBNY / FCD Tie
Pick 2: KC over DC 2-0
Pick 3: LA over RSL 1-0
Pick 4: Houston over Chivas 2-0
Union: Loss

Back to the DRAWing board

September 24, 2011 1 comment

Philadelphia’s recent visit to Kansas City has ended, once again, in a 1-1 tie.  This wasn’t a weak tie like earlier in the year, as KC was a real formidable attacking opponent, and both teams had a decent amount of chances.  I for one considered this a must win, because it’s better to win now and tie later in such a tight eastern conference race, but various others considered this game a can’t lose considering how well KC has been playing, and we didn’t lose.  Which is a plus.

As I have a friend who works at LiveStrong Park, I took the liberty of asking his opinion of the game, which I will rebut / comment on, etc. (PS- he used to be from PA and got a job out there, so he’s fairly unbiased in some senses)

“I thought it was a rather even game from both teams.  If I had to say, Sporting Kansas City probably played a little better overall and in different stretches of the game but the Union were able to get Sporting out of their comfort zone of playing the attacking, offensive game they’re used to.  Keeping the ball away from the front three of Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, and Omar Bravo was how the Philadelphia Union were able to get the draw.  Sporting had more chances to score but Philadelphia had better chances to score and that sort of evened things out for both.  Both teams played much better than the first time they met in June where the Union pretty much went on a shooting rampage and had nothing to show for it due to a lack of finishing and Jimmy Nielsen.  This game, the Union were able to get better chances and were better at finishing or getting in that position to finish while the Defense showed up for Sporting

Where the refereeing has been pretty erratic in MLS this season, I thought it was a semi-fairly called game.  I know there will be some Sporting fans who will say that there were some calls that didn’t go our way near the end of the game but it was like that for both teams.  From my vantage point, we got away with a few also.  I noticed there were stretches where everything was getting called and other times where nothing was getting called.  Personally, I like to see them play on as much as possible and see things be physical from both sides but that sort of inconsistency can’t be good for the players trying to guess what kind of mood the ref is in.  Definitely thought it was one of the more cleaner games of the season which was good because it was a very physical game. ”

Interjection – As he says the officiating was fairly decent, as the ref let the players play on for the most part and tried not to influence the game too much with calling fouls, but there are quite a few moments that Kei Kamara had lost his temper and could have been booked for dissent to the officials (he wasn’t saying “Golly” or “Fargle” if you know what I’m saying) and kicked the ball away in pure disgust clear after the whistle had blown, which is counted as dissent AND time wasting and would count for another booking.  Guy needs some anger management.  Back to the KC analysis

“Sebastien Le Toux definitely was the star of the game and probably the season for the Union.  I haven’t been able to see many Union games this season and I have mainly heard of his play but seeing Le Toux play last night, he definitely is that sort of Striker that you can depend on getting a goal and lifting a team on his shoulders when it’s needed.  I also want to commend the Sons of Ben and the Union fans who were at the stadium.  I was sitting underneath their section at the tunnel but they were definitely the most vocal and loudest visiting group who has come to Livestrong Sporting Park and we only have two more MLS regular season home games versus Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls.  There were definitely more Seattle Sounders and L.A. Galaxy fans at those games when they were here but they were really only vocal after they scored.  The Sons of Ben kept it up the entire game and at times, it was hard to hear the Cauldron on the other side of the stadium.  I honestly think the Cauldron and the Sons of Ben are two of the best supporters groups in MLS and the Sporting KC and Union fans some of the best fans in MLS.  It’s easy to be a Galaxy or Sounders fan when they’re always the top of the standings, are always on national TV, and have guys named Beckham and Donovan on their team.  It’s much harder to be a Sporting KC fan when we were last in the East earlier this season and harder to be a Union fan when they were battling their scoring drought and were underachieving earlier this season.

All in all, the result definitely hurt Sporting Kansas City more than the Philadelphia Union.  The draw puts Sporting in a tie for 1st with Columbus and Philadelphia in 3rd a point behind both with a game up.  That extra game is the key for the Union and gives them a major advantage when it comes to obtaining 1st Place in the Eastern Conference especially when Sporting plays Columbus Wednesday night.  I can imagine just with the body language around the team, Columbus is a must win if Sporting wants to think about 1st place in the East and be more comfortable in the top three.  To those Union fans who visited LIVESTRONG Sporting Park for the game, I hope you had a good time.  I know you’ll probably want to say PPL Park is a better stadium but this place is definitely one of the best places to see a Soccer game.”

Much of what my friend said was true.  Late in the game KC finally got an attacking situation going, and was able to start getting Kamara into the game on the wings, which is probably much of why he was getting so frustrated, not at the refs but at our defense.  Califf and Valdes must have really been giving him the business.  Valdes was authoritative, and does what he often does to confuse fans since he’s a defender, but he was acting more like a counterattacking midfielder with how far up the field he was playing the ball.

Torres is classic Torres and has a keen ability with crossing the ball forward at the right pace for everyone.  With how well he’s been playing, it’s frustrating that he wasn’t put in as a starter earlier in the year.

Paunovic was almost non-existent.  With his breakout games when he first started, gotta wonder what happened with him.   Still love the guy, but he took on Le Toux’s bad touch it seems.

Le Toux has his touch back, and all is right with the world.  He had a few chances at sharp angles that a world class striker would have made, but the issue is not his shooting (and how many shots he does take) but it used to be his first touch.  Michael Farfan made a beautiful save of Torres’ cross to prevent a goal kick, tapped it to Le Toux who taps it in.  Earlier in the year, I don’t think Le2 would have made that goal.

Gabe Farfan is not a defender and let Bravo through on Kamara’s beautiful cross.  There was almost no way for MacMath to save that.  But, Gabe is still a better option than Nakazawa at back, who was getting burnt every time the ball was near him.  Within 5 minutes the positioning was switched, Gabe fell back and Naka went forward, which is a much better option, as Naka was then close to non existent.

Carroll is a beauty still, and Okugo needs to show more of a presence than he has been.

With our flaws, it was a well skilled match from both sides, and either team could have taken the lead at any given moment.

Now, the ill-fated – STANDINGS

As it stands now (as of 6:56 pm on Saturday) Houston Dynamo has beaten FC Dallas and have taken claim of the number 1 spot in the Eastern Conference.  Columbus and KC are now tied for 2nd place at 41 points, and we are now in 4th place in the East, holding the 3rd wildcard spot with 40 points, Portland is 37 and holds the 4th spot.

Situational Next upcoming games:

DC plays RSL.  They are currently close to contention, but with a win can be competitive.
Columbus plays LA and can reclaim the top position before playing KC this coming Wednesday.  A win both game will probably put them as the number 1 spot for the end of the season.
NY plays Portland.  NY is at 36 points and Portland is at 37.  This currently is for the 4th wildcard spot, but Portland can come up and tie the Union with points if they win this game.
Colorado holds the 2nd playoff spot at 41 points, and is playing San Jose.  Probably a win there, but it’s good to know that we aren’t far off from some security.

So, sadly enough, we are rooting for RSL, LA, and a draw in Jersey.  I may or may not update after tonight’s results.

Eastern Conference PTS GP GD
Houston Dynamo 42 31 0
Columbus Crew 41 29 -2
Sporting Kansas City 41 30 6
Wild Card Race PTS GP GD
FC Dallas 46 30 3
Colorado Rapids 41 30 1
Philadelphia Union 40 29 6
Portland Timbers 37 29 -5
New York Red Bulls 36 29 3
D.C. United 35 27 -1
Chivas USA 32 30 -2