Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gamba Osaka rides again.

It's only preseason, it's only preseason...oh wait that doesn't work anymore. forgive me, I thought I was having a gamba osaka flashback but it turned out to be a real life nightmare served up by the speedy!? attacking!? New England Revolution.Everyone knows that the season can't be judged by the opening game and that concacaf play seems to induce an inability to concentrate on regular fixtures but damn the dynamo looked horrible.

All credit goes to the Revs game plan and execution. Nichol deserves special praise for scouting and signing in what appears to be a trio of impact players. Let's see, the positives for houston?..... I'm happy for the Rev fans that were treated to an opening day display of positive soccer. A dominant and deserving home win on opening day is truly a fantastic way to start the season.

And with that above statement the cogs of the reciprocal karma machine are beginning to turn in order to bless the dynamo and their attending fans on the April 6th home opener. If you are still enough you can hear the dominant and deserving win karmically winging its way down to robertson right now. Please!

Now if someone can come up with a recipe for a 5 to 0 performance against saprissa publish it now. Really, I'm not kidding. Houston needs to carry at least a 3 goal lead in aggregate to costa rica.

Here's to an outstanding MLS 2008, Salud!.
Read more!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A three-way on the freeway to First Kick: Afterword: Predictions

It's been one heck of a fun offseason, though seemingly interminable at times. After much consideration, Indian food and Wonderful Vietnamese sandwiches from Cali Sandwich Shop, here are the Nutmegged predictions for Saturday night's Dynamo/Revolution game:

MARTEK: Weather report at game time right now is for a temperature of 33, dropping to 31 by the end of the game and clear, but still wet from today's freezing rain and snow. Jimmy Chowda is right: "Prediction: Pain." I think the scoreline will be a nice and tidy 1-1, with Twellman scoring for them (Does anyone else score for the Revolution?) and De Rosario tearing Matt Reis' frost-bitten fingers off his body with a blistering laser beam from about 20 yards.


Revs clearly motivated after their regular post season spanking, get it together after a 1-1 half time score. They party afterwards like something amazing happened, V-E Day or getting the Evil Empire
out of the White House (face it, Bushies, you've bagged way more than your limit of carpets).

Blue-Blooded fans begin to brag as if they won much more than the opener. Soon all will be planning for a Thierry Henry signing or perhaps calling a Victoria Secret model for a date and hearing... YES.... Euphoria deflated like Viagra detox after losing at Robertson and being a MLS Cup bridesmaid, again... BTW- loyal dittoheads, if you missed the carpetbagging reference, I just spelled it out fer ya.

MISTER3D: dynamo 2 revs 1
carracio and wondo for houston
mansally for NE or shalrie

Enjoy the game! Read more!

A three-way on the freeway to First Kick: Episode 3: The forward pass

Finally, we head up top:


MARTEK: Up top, I'm looking at a forward pairing of Brian Ching and Chris Wondoloski. "Francisco" Franco
Caraccio has looked nice on the ball, but he clearly has some adjusting to do
regarding the speed and physicality of the MLS game.

Kinnear has been subbing
the Generalissimo and Wondo this spring, but I am wondering when he's going to
start the two together because it's Ching's health that makes me worried up top
and not Wondo's.

Here's a thought: assuming Dynamo don't resign Jaqua and/or
Ngwenya when the Austrian season ends, how about moving Holden up? What do you

MISTER3D: If I think the dynamo should rest Dero what should they do about ching? Play him! but sub early. Against the revs it would appear ching- wondolowski start. Against municipal, Wondolowski's very being vibrated with goal scoring desire. He has looked good in the preseason and deserves the opportunity to take his chances into the season proper. Maybe we will see kinnear's rookie du jour, geoff cameron subbed in for ching on saturday, who else could it be? Really. Has anyone seen Kyle Brown this preseason. This may be to early to declare but carracio looks to be a fantastic addition. Once he adjusts to kinnear's expectations (running and defending--I swear you could see his thoughts in the municipal game, "what,, I am a number ten argentine. I do not defend and run around like some midfielder") and mls I predict that he will be a much loved member of the orange nation, leading many to ask, "ngwenya who?"

Holden up top is not an option, who are you Martek, peter nowak?

PLAYTHERAPY: Brian Ching is a good forward but we suffer from his all-out physical play. I mean he really throws himself around out there, which leads to him spending far too much time on the trainer's table. Last year, I compiled the stats and he's missed something like 30% of his teams games over his career. We need him healthy and scoring goals. His goal touch suffered much of last year.

I have made much fun of Wondo's wrestling antics, a lot of energy marking out his defender. No more if he can play the way he did against Municipal. He played both ways, having a major impact, with hard tackles, steals, and constant hustle. What I wish he had was something that really distinguished him as a striker. Perhaps that will come with minutes. As mr3d wrote, you could feel his goal hunger and we wanted him to score, too. Baaad! Caraccio showed great promise, with cheeky touches belaying creative skill and an intuitiveness (the flick to Ching in the box was masterful) that I haven't seen by any Dynamo other than De Ro. I echo the occasional, "What? ME Defend?" attitude, though he improved a wee bit the last few minutes.

As always with games against the Revs, just how Bawston (okay, New England) react after a Dynamo score, whether the Revs are ahead or not wil determine the course of the game and final score. In the Cup, after the Dynamo equalized, you could see that, "Oh, shit, not again!," look in New England's eyes. I hope it will be a great game.

MARTEK: Mister3d, how dare you impugn my good friend Peter Nowak. Believe me, when his more, ah, creative tactics lead to the US bombing out of Beijing early, thus bringing Holden and Ianni back here to Houston right away, you too will be singing the praises of the guy. Mark my words!

Geoff Cameron coming in early for Ching? You were right all those posts ago, this really will be the Year of the Goon!

MISTER3D: Peter Nowak is clearly the smartest guy in the room or just a jerk. the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Ok, the scale leans more to the jerk side but moving holden out of the midfield seems counterproductive.

Thankfully, ching didn't play a full 90 in poland so I'm thinking 60 or so minutes then yank him. Sometime in the second half would be a great debut for the wondo/carracio pairing. Kinnear might as well see what they can do together.

I'm looking forward to the opening game but with international competition hovering so close at hand the revs game is a little like oatmeal, good for you and sustaining yet lacking that magic deliciousness of the fresh off the comal breakfast taco that is concacaf.

PLAYTHERAPY: Can Kinnear even pronounce 'sub' before the 70th minute- except Holden for Davis? I'll go one worse than your suggestion, Martek, why not Holden for Onstad? Or a presidential running mate? Read more!

A three-way on the freeway to First Kick: Episode 2: The Midfield

Continuing the previous post, we move to the middle.


PLAYTHERAPY: Speaking of Wasps, Clark, with those long, graceful legs, when he's on, he's Mr. Everywhere. When he's hot, he completely disrupts midfields. His outside shot is also something to remember. Mulrooney does not have the same pace, but is so damn versatile and seems to run as fast in the 93rd minute as the first ten.

De Ro is working out the kinks, coming off the offseason, expecting to do the phenomenal. Sometimes it works, others he gives the ball away too easily. I expect this to improve greatly in such a big game. Clearly, big games are a motivation. I also expect the phenomenal occurring more often as he gets in season form.

Ashe was superb against Municipal, a bipolar performance from the away game. At Roberstosn, a majority of the attack flowed through him, and, even better, it worked. I expect Corey to return to his 70+ minute game entries, when tired opposing defenders wish they had high powered rifles so they wouldn't have to keep up just to hack him. I do worry that if Ashe has a terrible game starts, will Kinnear pull in
time? Ditto for Boz?

I like Holden. I really really like Holden. I like his scrappiness and his ability to go at people. I also like how he finds ways to score. I think he needs to be on the field, getting some major minutes. Fantasy wise, he was a steal last year.

Davis was hit or miss last year but when he hit, he was awesome. While De Ro was out, Davis would drift more and more to the center, looking for more touches. With the cast back and hopefully healthy, I'd like to see more production out of Davis. Unfortunately for Brad, he was often subbed for Holden.

I know everybody and their dog says stopping Mullan is the key to shutting the Dynamo down. Yet for far too many years, Brian's assist and goal totals have been laughable. His dribbling and ability to leave fullbacks in his dust is fantastic, yet something invariably happens to break the play down- a good cross to no one, one too many touches, or a wide shot. The great thing about him is his ability to stretch the field, teams definitely go out wide to cover him. I just want his dazzling magic to make more goals.

MARTEK: In the middle, I refer to these thoughts I posted to Jimmy Chowda:

Dynamo clearly has an overloaded midfield. Kinnear has always used a 4-4-2 and
sticks to it like glue. So that means you’ve got this line-up in that middle 4:
Brian Mullan, Brad Davis, Ricardo “Fishkiller” Clark, Dwayne De Rosario, Stuart
Holden, Richard Mulrooney and Corey Ashe. By my count, that’s three starters too
many, three players, mind you, who could start on any team in the league at any
time. You also have four national teamers there (3 US and 1 Canadian), Dynamo’s
co-MVP (Mullan) and the guy who was probably they’re actual MVP from 2007
(Mulrooney), leaving Corey Ashe as the 7th man out. Some of these guys are not
going to play, and keeping top quality pro athletes happy while not playing is
something of an impossibility.


MISTER3D: mullan-mulrooney-davis-holden start against the revs with the possible positional flip flop of davis and holden. If the game warrants, keep Dero on the bench and rest him for saprissa. If ashe can duplicate his municipal performance I wouldn't mind him starting and mullan coming on as a sub. If davis isn't ready holden and ashe start alongside mullan and mulrooney. The riches of the dynamo midfield and all the game worthy players and possible lineup permutations gives me a headache... in a good way...i think.

MARTEK: Wait a minute, wait a minute, I'm still trying to get my head around the "Keep Dero on the bench and rest him for saprissa" comment. I can imagine Kinnear's response to that suggestion, ala John Rhys-Davies: "Very dangerous. You tell him first."

After how well he has played against the Revs, I think it would only embolden a team you've got down to rest the guy who has killed them more than any other. Who counters Shalrie in the middle and keeps him honest if not for De Rosario? If Clark was available, maybe, but even then...

MISTER3D: Yes the resting Dero comment shows my idiocy but the prize in my eyes right now is concacaf and saprissa which is making my vision somewhat blurry. I did employ the weak qualifying phrase, "if the game warrants". And you're right about player passion, after we watched that simple training exercise of keep away evoke competitive bloodlust amongst the dynamo i wouldn't want to tell a healthy dero that he was sitting. (but come on--it will be 30 degrees on game day and ...saprissa...)

MARTEK: Hmmm. I like the way you think. Play the starters and then sub early. Saprissa win is more important than a grind-it-out early MLS game in Arctic conditions.

Still, I hate the thought of losing to those guys. Read more!

A three-way on the freeway to First Kick: Episode 1: The Back Line

The Nutmegged Brain Trust knocked our collective skulls together over a nice meal at Madras Pavilion (The Official Nutmegged Indian Restaurant) the other day, and then retreated to our individual computer screens to rap out our thoughts on the upcoming Dynamo/Revolution MLS season opener and the state of the Orange in general heading into the season.


MARTEK: In the back, I project a starting lineup for Saturday of this:
Waibel-Boswell-Robinson-Barrett with Onstad of course in goal.

My goodness, is Bobby Boswell that much of a downgrade from Ryan Cochrane? He
has been slow, slow, slow this season and riddled with mediocre decision-making.
You guys were at the Municipal game, what did yo see in real life? And please
tell me it looked better than it did on TV.

Th thing is, if Ianni looks as good as he did for the U-23s, Boswell might just
see his playing time dwindle significantly this season. And that might just be
his best contribution to this team after all, as a Generation Addidas guy's
backup. Now how far down is that from the 2006 defender of the year?

MISTER3D: Martek's starting projection looks solid and I'm sorry to report that boswell is even scarier in real time. In the first half of the municipal game, his eyes shone with the look of a man in the thrall of a pass back petit mal causing onstad visible unease. Hopefully onstad can help rewire boswell's brain to better fight this worrisome default instinct but let's remember that the dynamo managed well with cochrane and should do the same with boswell.

At this stage, I'm not sure that ianni is that great of an upgrade over boswell. Does ianni have the skills to play outside back, he might make a nice replacement for waibel when the season starts to take its toll on craig and on those occasions when mulrooney is platooned in midfield.

PLAYTHERAPY: My man of the match in the Muncipal game at Robertson was easily Onstad. Without his point blank saves, this would have been a much different game. He even dealt well with Boswell's- HUZZAH- surprise backpasses. This Canadien national is one of the most unsung keepers in the MLS, a pure case of ageism. Without doubt, he has the best positioning of all MLS netminders- I'm surprised no English teams have come shopping for a bargain- not
that the Dynamo would bite, mind you.

Boswell WAS scary. Cool guy, cool blog, frightening play. The other day at lunch, mr3d teased me about screaming at Boswell during the Municipal game, "Don't call off Onstad if you don't have your man marked out" (actually, don't remember what I said, a moment of passion). Too many poor decisions, frightening backpasses with head down, hardly looking up at anything but the ball. I "prayed" Boswell knew where everyone was- the attacker breathing down his neck, the other defenders, and his keeper. Clearly, some of the problems plaguing him at the end of last season do not seem to be resolved as he was beaten several times. Onstad and Boswell left the field at halftime discussing what seemed to be communication problems. Bobby is a big question mark.

I miss Cochrane. Martek and mr3d slagged him all last year, but he was part of the centerline of one of the top defenses in the league. Now, one part of our spine is questionable. Ianni acquitted himself well last season plus scoring a few timely goals. This year, he'll have waaay more responsibility. We'll have to see.

Waibel is Mr. Cool but the Revs went at his lack of pace during last year's finals. Once he got help against Khano Smith and Smith tired, frustration ensued. I would venture the Revs go right at him again. I noticed Waibel making fewer overlaps during the Municipal game.

Barrett is the opposite, making constant overlapping runs which really help stretch the field. He is part of the glue of this team, as Houston can frustrate the hell out of a good possession team with its wasplike smothering defense.

MARTEK: Ianni might do well in place of Waibel, or maybe Boswell can move out there. It's sad to say, but I think Waibel's days are coming to a close. He's still one tough hombre out there, but he's slowing down, and he was never all that fast to begin with, now was he?

As for Barrett, Captain Wademerica is like Teddy Kennedy over there, Mr. Consistency on the left. He seems slow, but really is kinda sneaky quick. It's the black boots. The genius about wearing black on your feet is it makes you look slow, but in reality you are not slow. Trickery, trickery, trickery. I wonder if he learned that playing in The Netherlands.

And you notice we're not mentioning Eddie Robinson. How nice is it to have THAT hammer in your arsenal? Bozzie better buck up or ERob will take his head off. Read more!

With Kennedy, an advantage for Dynamo?

Last year I started a mostly tongue-in-cheek system for predicting MLS matches, looking at how each team has done in the past with who is going to be the lead ref.

Saturday night, longtime MLS referee Michael Kennedy will blow the whistle in the Dynamo/Revolution game. This is potentially bad news for the Revs. Kennedy (who you'd think would be biased in favor of Boston with a name like that) has quite a history with the Revs. They are 9-14-5 in their 28 games with him as the lead ref. That's 14 losses in 28 games!! On top of that, he has dished out five reds and awarded nine penalties over that span, with an average of 3.6 yellows per game.

Dynamo, on the other hand, is 1-0-1 in games with Kennedy. Trouble spots, though, are the two reds and 10 yellows he has given out in those games. No penalties though.

So I'd have to say, this looks to be a slight edge for Dynamo.

I know, I know, it's a flawed system and certainly not airtight. But still, an interesting angle. Read more!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dynamo/Revs preview Part 1, in which Jimmy Chowda and I trade information with our respective enemy agents

The week before MLS Cup last year, Jimmy Chowda over at Blue Blooded Journo invited Dynamo blogger Texas Celt and I to answer five questions about the Dynamo for Jimmy's New England Revolution-themed site, which we did. (The idea was Jimmy's, which he claims he stole from some Celtics-themed site last year, the point being it's not plagiarism if you can lay out the string of copying, now is it?)

Well, those were the days B.N. (Before Nutmegged), so now that Mister3d, Playtherapy and I are all up and running in the footblogorama with a site of our own, Jimmy and I are at it again, only this time he asked me some questions and I also sent several to him. (You can read my answers to his questions here).

(Now hopefully, this will become a semi-regular feature here on Nutmegged this season before Dynamo games, which is a blatant invite for all other bloggers of teams about to play Dynamo to save me the footwork and contact me! If not, I'll come for you!)

Here are our questions and answers:

1. How is the 2008 Revolution already different from the 2007 model
overall? Any changes in their style of play, formation, etc.?

It will be different, but there's no telling by how much. It looks like they will have a very similar starting lineup as MLS Cup on the 29th. However, they have actually added some outside talent before the season for the first time since we lifted the southern no-fly zone. Nicol's keeping his formation preference secret right now, but I'd expect a 3-5-2 on opening night. Overall, we're hoping for a faster, sleeker attack from the Revs and much more crashing the net like you guys do in Houston.

2. Taylor Twellman went through a difficult offseason, to say the
least. How do you think that will affect his play this season, if at
all? Have you seen any signs of him being less than his usual self
during preseason?

Well, he went through a much more trying time during the 2006 season and he still finished with a respectable goal count. From professional (all signs pointed towards he was on the World Cup team), to financial (public complaints about the pay disparity between him and the likes of Donovan and Ruiz), to personal (death in the family) Twellman had a rough summer. This time around, he was very disappointed with the Preston situation, but that's now months in the past (he also had a family issue that got resolved a few weeks earlier). However, he got the contract he wanted at the start of last year and knows full well he's one of the rare players who can't possibly draw the amount of money it would take to replace him. He understands that, and he knows the only way to change the situation is to get playing time with the Nats over the summer and score some goals. My prediction is he'll be just fine.

3. Who do you think will be the most important new faces for the
Revs in 2008? How would you rate their preseasons so far?

There's more than one, and this goes back to the last question, but the most important new face by far is Chris Albright. Chris knows Twellman and a few others on the team very well which has eased his transition and lessened the impact of some key departures. Chemistry is key and he seems to have fit right in. On the field, he's proven in MLS and adds a new dimension to the team. Albright can get forward with competence, and may also allow the insertion of our 2007 #12 pick Amaechi Igwe in a 4-4-2. Igwe played forward in his one year of college and scored a bucket of goals, but he was a defender with the U-20's. We're hoping he can be a starter this year, but he may not be physical enough for a 3-5-2. As for Albright in a 3-5-2, some say his marking is suspect, but he's got the best possible coach in America to fix that.

With regards to the preseason, Kenny Mansally has been a revelation. He signed a senior contract even before camp, so you know Nicol knew something. With Cristman's slight knocks during the preseason, Mansally has stepped it up. I predict he'll start on opening night.

4. And the other side of question No. 4: How do you think the Revs
will be affected by their key losses from the offseason? I'm thinking
of Noonan and Dorman here.

Noonan has more finese than 95% of the players in MLS. However, I think teams had the Twellman-Noonan connection figured out. His departure means more off the field as he's very close to Twellman. Dorman, who's raising serious eyebrows in Scotland, lost his spot to Wells Thompson late last year. However, he makes great runs from the midfield into the box. He may have been poised for an upswing with the Revs in 2008. There's no telling now. What I do know is Dorman will probably earn a transfer over the summer and could quite possibly be earning 50-100 times his 2006 salary next fall. Dorman was the Midnight Riders man of the year in 2006.

5. And finally, what is your prediction for the season opener?

Prediction: Pain. We can play up here in March. However, the difference between 40-50F in the afternoon and 20-30 in the evening is, ah, night and day. I'm standing by for Garber's "see, I told you we can't play in march" line when it's just plain silliness to be scheduling games this way. We play a night game in Chicago on Thursday night, too.

As for the game: Revs 1-0.

And here's a quick look at what happened last time around. (Sorry Jimmy, my fans demand it!).

Read more!

Monday, March 24, 2008

How does the thought of Brian Ching getting brained with a D battery strike you?

According to MLS Rumors there was a spot of unpleasantness at the Saprissa-Atlante match last week and Atlante has apparently filed a protest with CONCACAF that could get the Costa Rican side a stadium ban in their semifinal series against Dynamo.

Check out this video and see if this doesn't get the blood to boiling. In the first here (again thanks to MLS Rumors) a security guard gets into a scuffle with Atlante's keeper and other players. Now imagine if this were to happen to Pat Onstad and Eddie Robinson:

Now check out this one where Atlante defender Daniel Garcia gets hit in the right eyebrow (towards the end of the clip) with an object thrown from the stands and has his head bandaged. His...right...eyebrow!

According to the Medio Tiempo report referenced above, Atlante is alleging that Garcia got hit with a roll of coins, that there were non-accredited people on the field, that fans were throwing screws, batteries, etc. on the field, as well as bottles and cans (one of which you can see in the video), and that all of this started even before the game when the Colts were getting off the bus and heading into the stadium.

Now all of this is in a Saprissa win! Imagine what would happen if Dynamo goes down there int he second leg and beats those guys. If this were Europe the incidents there would draw an immediate stadium ban with a possible eventual ban from UEFA competition for a period of years! But of course, as we all know, CONCACAF is not UEFA and Jack Warner is no Michel Platini. Still, the prospect of a fan-caused injury to an MLS player, possibly a serious one, and the huge anti-soccer press that the incident would incite here in the US is no small matter. CONCACAF needs to deal with this situation seriously and with a hammer.

And to make matters worse, this is not the first time Deportivo Saprissa has been involved in a match ban. Check out this piece from the Tico Times in 2006:

Use of Ricardo Saprissa Stadium
Suspended for International Games

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) suspended the use of Ricardo Saprissa stadium in Tibás, north of San José, for international games as it investigates fights that broke out after a March 29 game between Costa Rica 's Saprissa and Mexico 's Toluca teams.

The Costa Rican Soccer Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) reported yesterday on its Web site that it received notification from FEDEFUTBOL secretary Chuck Blazer that the stadium is temporary unusable.

“The measure is being taken as a result of disturbances during the Saprissa-Toluca game March 29,” the statement said, indicating that the Saprissa stadium cannot be used for international games until the violent incident has been investigated.

Last March 29, a controversial goal by Toluca enraged Saprissa players, coaches and fans when the goal eliminated the team from the CONACAF Championship Cup. Fans threw objects into the field and a few raided the field and tried to attack the umpires.

Of course, it is always hazardous to predict Jack Warner's actions, but I would rate the following actions in descending levels of probable:

1. Nothing is done and the game is played at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.
2. The game is played at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa without fans.
3. DS gets a stadium ban and the game is played at a neutral site.
4. The game is played here at Robertson Stadium.

And this is of course in inverse order of my preferences. Still, if something serious happens, it will be CONCACAF's fault. Read more!

Gene Autry may not have been an MLS fan, but I sure am and I'm Back in the Saddle Again

After a week off chilling with the fam in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, my home away from home, I am now back in my own polluted swampland and ready for this weekend's start of the MLS season, our first here at the Nutmegged World HQ.

So in the crush of getting everything back together, I just have the photo above today and the following clips, which welcomed me back to Dynamoland. More to come as the week unfolds.

Read more!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hmmm… are MLS Bloggers truly FRAIDY CATS??? Why haven’t YOU Joined the MFLS Bloggoff??? PLUS a list of FAMOUS CONTESTANTS & THEIR COMMENTS

Last month, Nutmegged sent out invitations to join our 1st Major Fantasy League Soccer Bloggoff. Within a week, we got two confirmations and one, “I don’t really do this sort of thing”. Another week past and we got another yea.


To date, we have:

CONFIRMED and read these famous people’s words!

Center Holds It- Jeff Bull wrote: “OK, I finally stopped being lame. Center Holds It has a team and it is cheap. Yesss....”
Look out for this guy. His devil may care attitude brings to mind Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke or the Hustler. Inside info sez this guy was the co-champ of another prediction league bloggoff. He also has that Harry Palmer type charm.

DCenters wrote-“While I am horrible about doing this sort of thing, I am in for it.”
Hmmm… if this were playing poker or pool, this would mean this guy is gonna give us a major ass whoppin’. As in I’ve played a little bit before… some. Watch this guy.

La Galaxy The Offside- “Crap. I forgot to get back to you, didn't I? This does sound like fun. Only probably is I'll be traveling without a computer for most of this month. How much will this affect me?”
Not at all, Laurie. At our age, we’re elated to have a girl even talking to us. But I have to ask, especially in this internet age, you ARE a girl, aren’t you? Still, you haven't joined our division yet, so we are still girl less.

Soccer Tickets Online- “STO ( will play, no need to goad us. since we are only a few months or so old, we may not have Goff's following, but we have plenty of chutzpah (we think, we don't speak hebrew though so we could be clean out of the stuff for all we know).”
Shite, another guy who seems really smart. And who, likes the rest here, writes really insightful posts. Yikes, will Nutmegged get whomped this season?

Nutmegged- mr3d insinuated, “don’t look at me, it’s the other guys…” (points to indicate Martek and playtherapy).
Martek will handle Predictions and playtherapy will do the fantasy league. Though playtherapy won both his fantasy divisions in MFLS and Fox Sports Ligas and came in 2nd in the prediction league, that says little as the pack thins out in the final months- you’re only competing against two or three people.
BTW- playtherapy sometimes likes to play RPG’s and Martek is a Trekkie- does this mean we’ll have penalty points deducted before the season begins?

Steve Goff’s of the Washington Post friendly reply in mr3d’s ee cummingesque style: “thanks for the offer, but i don't usually play the fantasy leagues. best of luck!”
We’re all cool with this and sincere thanks for the response (we’re happy just to have a reply), just please don’t pull an Eliot Spitzer on us, okay? In other words, after asking you to the prom and you saying it’s against your ethos, just don’t show up with anyone else.

For those of you who want to follow the fun or check out team lineups or picks, click here- Blogger MFLS Invitational Champs. Read more!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

SuperLiga has outlived its usefulness, but boy, was that ever fun

, mi gran amigo I come to bury you with the utmost of respect and admiration.

First some facts to state for the record:

1. I loved SuperLiga last year.

2. The game against Pachuca here in Houston was the best game I've ever seen, though the result was a Dynamo loss.

3. The energy and passion at the games was like nothing else. After the game, Mister3d and I congratulated and had our picture taken with a group of Pachuca fans standing next to us, absolutely wonderful, gracious winners who turned me into an immediate fan of los Tuzos, which is what the tournament, ultimately, was all about, right?

And yet, I find myself in the odd position of advocating its abolition after this year, after what I expect will be a rollicking good time again. More on that below, but first, the SuperLiga 2008 pairings and schedule were announced today and they look like this:

Group A
D.C. United

Group B
Chivas USA
New England

Saturday, July 12

D.C. United vs. CD Guadalajara (RFK Stadium - Washington D.C.) 7 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Atlante (Robertson Stadium - Houston, TX) 9 p.m.

Sunday, July 13

NE Revolution vs. Santos (Gillette Stadium - Foxborough, MA) 7 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Pachuca CF (Home Depot Center - Carson, CA) 9 p.m.

Tuesday, July 15

D.C. United vs. Atlante (RFK Stadium - Washington D.C.) 7 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. CD Guadalajara (Robertson Stadium - Houston, TX) 9 p.m.

Wednesday, July 16

NE Revolution vs. Pachuca CF (Gillette Stadium - Foxborough, MA) 7 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Santos (Home Depot Center - Carson, CA) 9 p.m.

Saturday, July 19

D.C. United vs. Houston Dynamo (RFK Stadium - Washington D.C.) 7 p.m.
Atlante vs. CD Guadalajara (Location TBD) 9 p.m.

Sunday, July 20

Chivas USA vs. NE Revolution (Venue TBD - Los Angeles, CA) 7 p.m.
Santos vs. Pachuca CF (Location TBD) 9 p.m.

Tuesday, July 29

Semifinal 1 (Location TBD)

Wednesday, July 30

Semifinal 2 (Location TBD)

Tuesday, August 5

Final (Location TBD)

It kind of sucks for Dynamo to have two 9 p.m. games, but then again it is summer and the heat here is, shall we say, a tad on the warmish and muggy side. Despite what some have said, there is no conspiracy to this situation. What, you're going to do that on the east coast and stick them with 10 p.m. games? No way. It's merely an accident of geography that we have the start times we have. And considering the weather conditions here in Swampland, it's actually a blessing.

And you know what? I don't care. 9 p.m. or 9 a.m. Bring 'em on. I'll be there.

My personal feeling, though, is that with the advent of the CONCACAF Champions League, SuperLiga, for all its greatness, is at the end of its rope. It was a great idea when there was no real Champions League. Now that there is, there's really no reason for it. It was an absolute blast last year, but now all it's doing is congesting the fixture schedule.

I'm rooting for the US U-23s all the way tonight (though we get screwed royally if the Cubans have to forfeit their two remaining games, giving Panama and Honduras 3 extra points each, while we just get the 1 from Tuesday.) But you know what, since my emotions are leading me more towards club over country from time to time, the silver lining of having Stuart Holden and Pat Ianni here full time in the summer if we don't qualify for Beijing brings a smile to my face. So while my first priority is "Go USA!!" my second of "Whew, dodged that bullet." is, to be perfectly and absolutely honest, not all that far behind.


And here is the game of which I speak. Just an amazing, amazing time. I'll never forget it.

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A tale of two ties, or a duo of draws

There's kissing your sister and then there's liking it. Yesterday, my two favorite teams each slogged their way through 0-0 draws, but with wildly different meanings, showing once again that in footy, as in less important matters, context is everything.

Earlier in the day Celtic and Dundee United fought at Paradise to a scoreless result, which I think pretty much torpedoes the two-time SPL champs' chances of adding the third. Unless that other team starts to lose, the Celts will just have to look to the Scottish Cup for their silverware this season. I'm not giving up by any stretch, just being realistic.

But for my No. 1 team, a scoreless result was just fine with me. Being in preseason still, playing at altitude and against a determined opponent, Dynamo knotted 0-0 at CSD Municipal in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Now there's no need to insert any recap or synopses of the game because several people online have already done so, my favorites being Jeff Bull at Center Holds It, Glenn Davis' and Bernardo Fallas at the Chron. Here's my take posted on those fine blogs:

The combo of legs and altitude had Dynamo gasping at the end, but I was thrilled with the result, getting at least the minimum you would want from the opening away leg. I was impressed with Wondo. Nice disruption of the Municipal defense, though it was clear he was out of gas int he last 10 minutes.

Why is it again that Kinnear is so hesitant to sub? Odd that Caraccio and Mullen did not come in around the 70 min. mark. I think it would have made the period of mins. 68-83 or so a tad less harrowing.

And my personal belief was that Ashe was trying to shoot at the International Space Station or something on his crosses. That was about as bad as it gets.

One thing I noticed is that BOTH of these teams would have wiped the floor with DC or Harbour View. That first game was almost unwatchable it was so bad. I felt like I lost soccer IQ points just having it on my TV.

Next week’s picks: DC 2, HV 1 and Dyn 2, Mun 0.

What are your predictions? Read more!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Endeavour, Dynamo, Olympians and the Champions Cup

Well, with Dynamo spread across the hemisphere this morning, the main team in Guatemala for tomorrow's opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup against CSD Municipal and Stuart Holden and Patrick Ianni with the US Olympic squad playing against Cuba in Tampa tonight, I thought it an apt time to post this video of seven adopted Houstonians turning the Florida sky a decidedly Dynamo shade of orange early this morning.

So Hail Hail to the STS-123 crew of Dominic Gorie, Gregory H. Johnson, Rick Linnehan, Robert L. Behnken, Mike Foreman, Garrett Reisman and Japanese astronaut (and possible Gamba Osaka fan) Takao Doi (representing the J-League?) on your mission. And the stands at Robertson will be rocking for you when you get back in time for the candystriper game April 6. That is, except for you Dr. Reisman, since you will be staying on board Alpha. We'll celebrate your return in a few months. So in the meantime, soon-to-be-former ISS crewmember Léopold Eyharts will have to take your place.

You'll never fly alone.

More on the Champions Cup in a later post. But in the meantime, check out these photos of where the Lads l'Orange will take it to Los Rojos Wednesday night, Estadio Olimpico Mateo Flores in beautiful Guatemala City. Wish I could be there.

Read more!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Prospective U.S. invasion of Cuba enters second phase

In keeping with the previous post, I have now written and sent my letter to the US Soccer Federation in order to get those guys to help American supporters attend the US-Cuba World Cup qualifier, most likely to be held in Cuba, this fall.

Now, usually when it comes to something like a letter-writing campaign, I put it off and put it off until I remember, usually when I'm driving or at work or in the shower or far too late with a "Oh yeah, wasn't I going to...." sort of thing. Not this time. So to further help you, I've posted my letter below. Feel free to copy and paste it into your own letter to the USSF. Or you can send it to them at this site. They need to hear from you as soon as possible as arrangements of this sort take time, and the earlier they can get a head start on this, the better. It may eventually do no good at all, but at least we can all say we've tried right?

March 8, 2008

U.S. Soccer Federation
1801 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616

To Whom It May Concern

As a US MNT supporter, I would like to ask the USSF what your office plans to do to accommodate the wishes of others like myself who wish to support our team when it (most likely) will play the national team of the Republic of Cuba in Havana this fall?

I am fully aware that a strict economic embargo is in effect, limiting travel and financial transactions with that country. However, since this is a World Cup qualifier, no less, with all of the seriousness that brings with it, I would like to request that the USSF do all it can to assist supporters of the American side who would like to attend the game and root for our national team. Following on with other supporters who have contacted you, I suggest the following actions:

1. Apply to the State Department for a cultural exchange permit for a group of US supporters to accompany the team.

2. Arrange for a charter flight that could fly the group in (on the same schedule as our team) and out of Cuba.

Your support for a legal group of US Supporters traveling to Cuba would reduce the chance of Americans traveling to Cuba through third countries on their own, an illegal act. However, that is the kind of enthusiasm involved here, from American fans who simply want to cheer on the American national side participating in a FIFA World Cup Qualifying round.

Of course, though it is not the USSF’s job to engage in international diplomacy, in the current climate of political change in Cuba, however slight that may be, this simple game could be the beginning of a bridge of understanding between our two antagonistic countries. For this and for the plain reason of helping Americans provide the maximum amount of support for the American national team, I request your help in facilitating ease of transport to this game.

Sincerely, Read more!

Friday, March 7, 2008

U.S. Invasion of Cuba? Write the USSF and make it happen

Anyone up for a road trip this September? Beautiful Caribbean setting... beaches.. birthplace of rum.... and the US Men's National Team providing just that little extra spice of total smackdown. Oh, one little problem, the State Department might arrest you when you get back.


Thanks to MLS Underground for posting about this issue. As reported on that site, Sven Serrano, a US supporter living in Japan, is asking all members of the US Soccer online community to write a letter to the US Soccer Federation to find a legal way for US supporters to get to go to Cuba this September to watch the USMNT play against el amenaza de rojo in CONCACAF early qualifying for World Cup 2010.

This is a World Cup qualifying round match, and the mere thought that the US team would go to Cuba of all places, -- Cuba! which is only 90 miles from Key West -- and not have a single American fan in the stands is a reprehensible notion. I understand the boycott, yeah, yeah. I understand the human rights violations, yeah, yeah. I understand that the Senators might have signed Fidel all those years ago to a minor league deal, yeah yeah. But come on here. This is the US heading south ready and willing to There has to be a way to make this happen.

What follows below the vid is Serrano's letter, as posted on the MLS Underground. Feel free to copy and send this to the USSF, or even better, write your own similarly-themed piece, and tell a friend to do the same.

U.S. Soccer Federation
1801 S. Prairie Ave.
Chicago, IL 60616
Phone: (312) 808-1300
Fax: (312) 808-1301 ­ ­

Dear Sirs

As a USMNT supporter who has been to two World Cups and several WC Qualifiers, both home and away, I would like to ask the USSF what your office plans to do to accommodate the wishes of numerous US supporters who have stated their intention to support our team when it (most likely) will play the national team of the Republic of Cuba in Havana this Fall?

We are all aware that a strict economic embargo is in effect, limiting travel and financial transactions with that country. However, should the USSF decide to support the fans who wish to travel to Cuba to cheer our team on, you could do the following:

1. Apply to the State Department for a cultural exchange permit for a small group of US supporters (200-300) to accompany the team. ­ ­ ­ ­

2. Arrange for a charter flight that could fly the group in (on the same schedule as our team) and out of Cuba.

Your support for a legal group of US Supporters traveling to Cuba would reduce the chance Americans traveling to Cuba through 3rd countries on their own, thus breaking U.S. laws and running the risk being charged and fined by US Customs upon their return for the simple reason that they wanted to cheer on an American soccer team participating the FIFA World Cup Qualifying round. ­

American soccer has friends in the House and Senate who could support any move you make on this project. Even President Bush called the team before our match against Mexico in 2002 so perhaps he could be asked to intervene personally in this matter and lift the restrictions just this one time. ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ ­ Cuba is at a turning point in its history. I remember a certain American table tennis team that was instrumental in opening up the People’s Republic of China in 1970. A group of American soccer supporters could perhaps do just the same thing in 2008.

Sincerely, Sven A.Serrano

Setsunan University, Osaka Japan

Read more!

Mars Needs Women- Just Like the Blogger MFLS Championship (MLS Fantasy League) Needs Bloggers!

Like Dora the Explorer, we need your help. Whether you are a MLS fan wanting to see how the ‘writing/talking heads’ fare in a fantasy league against each other, MLS blogger, or a foreign blogger who wants to play an MLS fantasy game against other bloggers, you can aid in helping recruit soccer bloggers to participate in our Blogger MFLS Championship. How can you help, you ask? Admit it, if you’ve read this far, you ARE intrigued…

First, if any of your fave bloggers are on this list, you can goad, prod, bug, torture them into participation. Find out their home address- then stalk them relentlessly until they sign up. If your fave blogger is not on the invite list, you can tell me who and how to contact on the below comments section. Then proceed to the stalking section.

If you are a footy blogger who is not on the list, leave your contact info below and list your blog site. You also must have written a blog within the past month on your site.

Finally, if you or your site is on this list, you should have received sign up email. If you did not receive this email or did not respond (cue the angry villagers with torches), please comment below. We are still seeking emails for some of the bloggers on this list.

For a direct link to MFLS, click here. Read more!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Which of these two guys do you want to run your team?

The answer, of course, is neither, but after reading Greg Lalas' recent 3-5-2 column on on how to build an MLS side, I think it best to say that the one who actually has the job is the one who should be worried. (Especially if the new season ticket numbers revealed this week are to be believed. Chop, chop goes the GM axe when numbers like that come out, I would think.)

Another question: After reading over the piece, has Alexi done any of what Greg recommends with the Gals?

Also, I very much like Lalas' (that would be Greg of course) notice of both Patrick Ianni and Franco Caraccio. Based on what I saw last year compared to what I saw in Hawaii a few weeks ago, I would not be at all surprised if Ianni is ahead of Bobby Boswell in Dom Kinnear's depth charts.

And one more serious prop: Greg Lalas (When will the Ginger One fade away so that we can all just refer to the Greg by his last name and not have anyone ask "which one" anymore? Soon, please.) pointed out, quite correctly in my mind, that the best of MLS (Dynamo) is better than the lower reaches of the EPL (Derby County being GL's case in point). Check out his column for the obvious points in this regard, and what this might mean for the EPL, especially when you compare that league top to bottom to the Bundesliga and La Liga. Read more!

Inching ever closer to Dynamo Park

Take a good look at that picture, because right there is the three-headed coalition that is going to make Dynamo Park a reality sooner rather than later. Dominic Kinnear has put together the team on the field to produce two titles. Mayor Bill White has coalesced the city's various forces leading to yesterday's purchase of the land for ParadiseTexas. And then Tim Leiweke has represented AEG's interests sometimes controversially, but always consistently.

As has been reported all over the place, Houston City Council yesterday voted to spend $15.5 million to purchase five blocks just east of downtown for Dynamo Park. The council also approved a land swap to obtain an additional block. This was mostly a foregone conclusion with White in charge of the, well, charge. However, it was crucial after it was announced at Oscar De La Hoya's official welcoming party last week that the team was putting a self-imposed April 1 deadline in place for a stadium deal with the city. There is no other site under consideration, and April 1 is, after all, only 27 days away. So it's this site (many, many pictures of it are here) or we go back to Square One.

Dynamo starts against the Revs March 29 in NE. Their home opener is April 6 against the Frisco candystripers. My personal prediction is the announcement of the deal will come March 28, the Friday before the Revs game. What's your prediction? Read more!