Friday, September 24, 2010

Of broken fences and Houston Dynamo's late game destruction

I know the schedule still says that Houston Dynamo have five more games to play this season, beginning with tomorrow night's game at DCU, the only team right now that is worse than us. (And just who predicted that before the season?) But I think it's well past time to call time on the whole exercise, functionally at least.

Summing up my feelings for the season so far, it's simple. It sucks. Any more need to be said?

When I look back to last season, and it's weird rash of red cards, nine over all games in all competitions in a two-and-a-half month span from early August to mid-October, I thought that it was just one of those weird statistical oddities that crops up from time to time. Totally unpredictable, very weird and not admitting to easy explanation. "Whew," I thought. "At least nothing that weird will happen again."

And I was right, nothing that weird did happen this year. Instead, something even weirder did.

Most teams will lose a game giving up a stoppage time goal on e a season or so, maybe twice. The fact is that you just don't see that sort of thing very often. It happens and it always sucks to have it happen to you, but if a team is really bad, the losses will come early, often and not be restricted to the very back ends of games.

Or so I thought.

Dynamo have now had this happen to them four times this season. Four times! And are currently sitting on a two-game streak where this has happened to them. Not only that, but this is the team's second such streak this season. Here are the four:

May 29 v Phunions. Danny Mwanga leads the comeback for Philly's first-ever road win, 3-2. With this, though we did not know it at the time, we have seen what the rest of 2010 will look like.
June 2 v RBNY JPA with the stunner in what was pretty much the last action of the game, a 2-1 loss.
Sept. 18 v TFC. Dwayne De Rosario, who else, hammers us for a brace, the second with just seconds remaining in a 2-1 heartbreaker at home!
Sept. 22 v KC. Josh Wolff scores the killer in a 4-3 loss.

The links are to the videos of the game. Watch if you dare. I did for the purposes of this post and think I will have to wander around all weekend to get the images out of my brain (that is unless it happens again in RFK Saturday. Not trying to jinx things, just saying.). Just to even things out, those four games are two on the road and two at home. In three of the four, Dynamo lost leads, the last a two-goal lead!

But do those four games tell the whole tale of misery and woe? They do not. Chew on these other results:

Post 75th-minute losses
May 5: 1-0 loss to FC Frisco with Ihemelu goal in 78th

Post 75th minute goals
July 1 -- 1-1 draw with TFC with Gargan goal in 84th following Ching’s in 73rd
July 24 – 3-0 loss to Crew with Iro goal in 84th and Griffit goal in stoppage
Aug. 8 – Alvaro Fernandez in 88th in 2-0 loss to the Seattles
Aug. 21 – Wilman Conde in 81st in 4-3 win over Fire

Other notable dramatics against us
April 10 – Edson Buddle scores in 44th in 2-0 loss to the Gals at home.
April 26 – Fire’s Husidic in first half stoppage in 2-0 loss at Chicago.
June 26 – Rapids’ Conor Casey in first half stoppage of a 2-2 draw at home.

And against that lineup of stinging failure, we get these three that went to us:
June 26th – Joe Ngwenya notches one in the 79th in a 2-2 draw with Rapids.
July 31 – Brian Mullan gets one in stoppage that earns us a 2-2 draw with NYRB
Aug. 21 – Following Conde in the 81st, Chingy finds net in the 85th in 4-3 win over Fire.

In these 13 games right here, Dynamo went 1-9-3. In all other results this season, the team is 5-5-2. So if Dynamo is to be truly regarded as the worst team in the Western Conference, which a quick glance at the table right now shows to be true, you can see the results that have led us there.

Also revealing on the table is the fact that with 32 goals scores, Dynamo are tied for fourth in the Western Conference and fifth in MLS, hardly a worst int eh league scoring number. However, there are two goals on the field right? Over on the other end, Dynamo have given up 44 goals, the worst in the league. Only New England, at 43 is even close to us.

Now who on Earth would have predicted before the season that New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo would have the worst defenses in MLS? And that no one else would even be close? And of those 44, 17 have come after the 75th minute in games this season. That's 27 in Mins. 1-75 and 17 in Mins. 75-90+. AND THERE ARE STILL FIVE GAMES TO GO!!

So where does all of this lead? Well, that is the subject for further posts. But it's obvious the problems have not been in attack this season, very, very obvious. Read more!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Findley/Kljestan reign of terror must stop!!!!

I think Bob Bradley has it in for me personally.

I truly, truly just cannot believe this roster.

The list for the U.S. national team's friendly against Brazil next Tuesday night at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.....

GOALKEEPERS: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa).

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hanover), Clarence Goodson (Start), Jonathan Spector (West Ham), Chad Marshall (Columbus)

MIDFIELDERS: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Michael Bradley (Moenchengladbach), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro).

FORWARDS: Edson Buddle (Los Angeles), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca).

I am stunned speechless that BOTH Robbie Findley and Sacha Kljestan have been called in to the camp. Kljestan, I was convinced, had finally, finally run his course with the US National team after this past spring. The world Cup team was named and Kljestan was not on it, and so I thought, he would go the way of Freddy Adu and never wear the red, white and blue again, except perhaps at his next Fourth of July party.

As for Findley, my brain is still scarred with his performances in South Africa and the sure and present knowledge that Brian Ching would have done far, far better in every circumstance. (As Dan Loney wrote, regarding Findley's supposed speed advantage, "He missed those shots VERY quickly.")

And now, against Brazil in a friendly that we already have little chance in, to see both, BOTH!!! of those players going to New Jersey is almost more than I can bear. The only reason I want those two guys to go to New Jersey is to have a "rendezvous" with Tony Soprano.

And now, what do I know for certain? What do I know for absolute, you-know-whatting, cannot print in a family newspaper certain? I know that both of these players will see time, perhaps even, in Findley's case, start against the Selecao.

Bob Bradley, you are dead to me. Read more!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Testify LD! Testify

Here is today's money quote from none other than the current reigning Greatest American Hero (which I found on the always excellent du Nord:

"If you're in Denmark or Norway or Sweden, you're playing a little bit or you're on the bench, that's not helping you. If you're playing in MLS every week, that's a lot better than playing a minor role on some team in Europe. So if you have the opportunity to actually play games at some of the big leagues in Europe, great. But if not, you're hindering your development by not playing games." - Landon Donovan

I could not agree more. Now, to be certain, I am not a coach. I am not an athletic development expert. I also would never, ever begrudge anyone who's length of career is generally about 5-6 years from taking a massive short term payday.

However, the truth of what LD is saying is so obvious to me it frequently gets lost in the shuffle. Of course, players should test themselves against top competition. Of course players should always, always try to improve. But also of course, in the best of all possible worlds, there is someone who should be there to keep the player grounded to reality. And the reality of the situation is that for so many Americans, playing every or most games in MLS is far superior to riding the bench, and sometimes not even making the game sheet, on some team in Europe.

And the thing is that we all, all of us footy freaks, can come up with a long list of players right off the top of our heads that prove this statement to be true. Here's mine, and I guarantee both of these lists took me only about 20 seconds each.

Freddy Adu
Eddie Johnson
Sal Zisso
Dominic Cervi
Jonathan Spector
Joseph Ngwenya
(The list of players riding pines in Denmark, Holland, Turkey, etc.)
Kenny Cooper

Landon Donovan (arguable in the German experiments, perhaps not so much at Everton)
Brian Ching
Dwayne De Rosario
Joseph Ngwenya
Nate Jaqua
Bobby Convey

I am sure you have others who would qualify for this list. (Jozy Altidore perhaps?)

Now to be sure, there are many players for whom making the trip over there was very important to their development (Deuce Dempsey, Donovan in Everton, Brian mcBride, Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu, etc.), and others for whom the book is still out (Stuart Holden, Brad Guzan, etc.). But for so many players, MLS is a viable option. Playing is a viable option. Playing regularly is the way to develop. But more important perhaps, staying realistic is the most crucial thing.

So thanks LD for that little dose of reality. Read more!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From my foot, to your face, to our own goal

Truly, truly amazing. Here's the down-low lowdown from the Emerald Isle, where this piece of brilliance took place (via Yahoo):

An Irish football league player has scored a surefire candidate for the unluckiest own goal of all time.

Mervue United's Kenny Farrell was attempting to clear the ball out of defence in a tense match against Waterford, but his punt up field instead caught team-mate Mike Elwood smack in the face.

Elwood fell to the floor, stunned by the blow - leaving the players and crowd to watch in amazement as the ball ricocheted off his nose and arched back towards the goal, dipping just under the bar beyond the reach of goalkeeper Ger Hanley.

Mervue had kept their title-chasing rivals at bay until the own goal, but Elwood's misfortune opened the floodgates as Waterford went on to win 3-0.

No word on what pieces of anatomy flicked the other two goals into the net. I assume they came off of the feet, but then again... Read more!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three videos that are taking my breath away

My favorite is "Some Guy in Arkansas."

As for me, I was at home with Playtherapy and my two sons. At 1055 a.m. Central, I had a voice. At 10:58 a.m. Central: No voice.

Playtherapy's idea at about the 85 minute mark was for us to take our jerseys off and wear them inside out. We did and the rest is history. So you can congratulate him for helping make this whole thing happen.

As he told my son earlier in the game when he told me to pipe down: "But you know, they can hear us through that TV. They can hear us."

They can indeed. Here's a fabulous piece from Nick Green (link here), which is where I got this video, which seems to be making the rounds today.

In it, he quotes these Tweets. First from our boy Stuie Holden (who will always be a Dynamo):

Wow.. had goosebumps for a full five minutes watching this Video. The support has been unbelievable.....

And then from Mr. Donovan himself:

Not sure if you guys saw this but it brings tears to my eyes every time. Thank you all so much...we can't do it...

But my favorite is this part that Green quotes about President Obama's conversation with the team today:

And this - from a U.S. Soccer press release:

The day after the historic and dramatic 1-0 victory against Algeria that sent the U.S. to the round of 16 at the World Cup, President Barack Obama called the team and addressed the players and staff via speakerphone.

The President then congratulated the players on the amazing team spirit they showed during the unbeaten run through the first round of the World Cup and told them that while he was meeting with General Petraeus in the Oval Office, he could hear the rest of the West Wing erupt when Landon Donovan scored the game-winner.

The President then congratulated Donovan on the game-winning goal, asked Tim Howard how his ribs were feeling and asked Clint Dempsey how his lip was doing.

The leader of the Afghan War was being changed out and what was really happening at the White House? The US National Team beating Algeria, that's what! We have all, as a Soccer Nation arrived. As Nick Green says, Screw You Glenn Beck (and Jim Rome and on and on and on. Screw you all.)


And here are my other two faves from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World Cup 2010: Into Africa - US Beats Algeria
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

And now Steven Colbert:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
US Defeats Algeria
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

And by the way, here's the video from Lucky's Pub here in Houston. Amazing.

Finally, here's some info from the AP:

Wednesday morning’s United States vs. Algeria FIFA World Cup match on ESPN – in which the Americans scored a dramatic goal in stoppage time to earn a 1-0 win and a spot in the Round of 16 – is the highest-rated and most-watched soccer game in the history of ESPN networks, delivering a 4.6 rating (4.0 household U.S. rating), 4,582,000 households and 6,161,000 viewers for the two-hour contest (10 a.m. ET – noon).

The previous households record was set five days earlier with the U.S.-Slovenia match (June 18) – 3,906,000.

Excluding holidays, ESPN’s coverage of the U.S.-Algeria game ranks as the most-watched weekday morning telecast ever for ESPN, surpassing the U.S.-Germany World Cup match from eight years ago (June 21, 2002) – 4.4 rating and 5,335,000 viewers.

The game ranked as the highest-rated program of the day on any network among M18-34 and M18-49.

Through Wednesday, June 23 (40 games on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2), the 2010 World Cup is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating (for the two-hour match window) — up 40% from 2006 (1.3). Household impressions are up 46% (from 1,389,000 to 2,025,000) and P2+ impressions are up 49% (from 1,789,000 to 2,658,000).

San Diego was the top market for yesterday’s Team USA game, delivering an 8.9 rating – all the more impressive considering the 7 a.m. local start time. Rounding out the top 10 were Baltimore (6.7), San Francisco (6.1), Washington, D.C. (5.4), Sacramento (5.4), Houston (5.4), Las Vegas (5.4), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (5.3), New York (5.3) and West Palm Beach (5.3). San Diego was also the top market for both the U.S.-England game on ABC (11.5) and the U.S.-Slovenia game on ESPN (8.5).

What is it with San Diego? And how long will it take for Chivas USA to move there since they just can not draw in Carson? Wild. Read more!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GO GO USA!!!!!! That's MISTER Donovan to you!

I can't stop watching this and I don't think I ever will.

That's Donovan, Mr. Donovan!

Read more!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Road to South Africa Parts 1-6

If you've not seen this series, then as an American leading into the World Cup, you owe it to yourself to do so. Very nice job from all concerned. Sit down and enjoy.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Read more!