Monday, April 28, 2008

Curious George Look Suits Moreno Well



Alejandro IS the Man in Yellow and the crew cut matches the Crew kit... Is it just me or are you doing a double take, saying DAAAAAAAMMMMN... Read more!

Dynamo Diesel States the Obvious


Picture of Diesel getting action, scoring more than entire Dynamo lineup.

Whispered, “Do you hear that?”

Barely audible, “Nope, I don’t hear anything!”

SCREAMING, “THAT’S WHAT I MEAN, IT’S TOO QUIET!!!”

Hmm, out of the three of us, Martek posts a Celtic WIN article after yet another Dynamo loss. That makes several no shows by this blog- ignoring the obvious sucking sound coming out of the Bayou City- after the last few Dynamo games. Obviously, with inverse results, we'd be NYAH NYAHing, 'we told ya so' all over the web. Yep, nothing like a good kick in the cajones to deflate us or make us hide in the shadows with the roaches. At least we three have those nifty Championship banners to hide behind but how many times do we say this before it gets old?



Either the combination of our economic, environmental, and foreign policies OR the new Dynamo fan mantra. You choose.

A few random thoughts

• Oh, Ryan Cochrane, how do we miss thee? Let us count the infinite ways… this was a guy that both Martek and mr3d ragged on regularly for 'untimely fouls'. What we'd give for those now...
• So far the Boswell for Wells trade plays out pretty even- both with fairly mediocre starts. Bobby definitely brought his post-season trauma and Wells is trying to gain the experience that only starting minutes can give. Who gains the upside in this trade remains to be seen.
• Ianni has played better than Boswell, though at times his errors have been more blatantly noticeable.
• After as nightmarish beginning, Caig seems to be a more capable backup.
• The Dynamo can’t afford any more stupid cheap shots from Robinson, as his absence leaves significant gaps.
• De Rosario is losing too many balls in the final third, trying to shoulder an impotent front line, though the young gun Argentine at forward is the real deal. Both these players possess creative skill with the ability to match. The flick cross across goal against the Galaxy was particularly SWEEEEEET. In a Dynamo season that has begun rather acridly sour, I savor what few sweet moments I can.
• Ching’s problems have little to do with desire; I feel he’d sacrifice body parts right now to score. Still, one has to wonder, given his injury record and his ever diminishing end of season goal totals, is he past his prime. If so, how far past?
• Possession time means little except to fans who take the apologist route. Think of the NFL Bend But Don’t Break Defenses against a Run and Shoot Offense. They get down to business in the Red Zone. Similarly, that’s where we seem to break down. Fifteen shots. Six on target, no goals.
• Every MLS Power Poll has us in last place. Even Ives puts us there, explaining that while we may not be the worst team skill-wise, we will have to win before he factors in those ‘other considerations’ which make us a much better than last place team.
• Other teams have had injuries too.
• Last season’s Gold Cup forced Dom’s hand- creating the need for lineup changes absences and some dicey trades- which panned out. Do we need Bob Bradley to schedule some lengthy call ups once again?
• While we lose a close one in Columbus, perpetual MLS Cup bridesmaid New England steal an away win in Frisco with the type of lineup most of the league teams use for US Open games.
• Say what you want negatively about Moreno. He finishes quite well. It’s standing ovation time- definitely my vote for player of the month- even though Donovan may have more outstanding single games. A shame he didn’t give us that opportunity too often wearing Orange. While I agree with mr3d in hindsight thinking maybe Daglish (waived at end of last season) being better trade bait- he was injured last June, rendering him pretty much an untouchable.
• About Lando- good for him. Yet the brash in your face attitude may make him a target for hackers. If he shamed me like that, I’d take him down anyway I could- a la Eddie "Da Undertaker" Robinson.

Look for others (HOMERS?) to say it ain't so though I would counter that until we put points on the board, the results are the bottom line.



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Another win. Is a miracle in the offing?



Skippy McDonald's expression says it all. When Celtic lost to Motherwell at home earlier this month, it truly seemed as if the championship run was over. But now that the Bhoys have beaten the strangers twice in 10 days, including the 3-2 win at Parkhead yesterday after Skippy scored the brace and then won the penalty kick that Barry Robson fired home for the winner, the Hoops are back on top.

And don't remind me that the blue have three games in hand and are only down by five points. I know all that, but the fact of the matter is also that the strangers and their fans need to deal with their REAL problems, that they could have put this thing away at Parkhead twice, but did not. Now, the Bhoys, who seemed so completely out of it after the Motherwell debacle, are in their heads and stomping around in there having a grand old time! And if the title run is truly over, then that's the way it is. We'll at least have April and my Celts will definitely NEVER walk alone.

(Now if only Dynamo can have someone like Skippy step up now that they're coming home to play a damaged las chivitas. If Celtic can ride this to another title then there's hope for us all!)


Read more!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Game preview: An interview with the Crewture from the Black and Gold Lagoon

This week's Q&A is
with Crewfighter from the excellently rabid Crewture blog. It's nice to see such passion out there for any team, but especially for teams like the early-dominant Crew who have so little in their pasts and have to deal with constant relocation rumors, even with their own SSS. It warms this MLS fan's truncated icosahedron of a heart. So Crewfighter, hopefully your passion will continue to be rewarded, but only after Dynamo passes through. Factoid before we start, the Crew have never beaten Dynamo. Just thought you might like to know that.

Handling the questions this week are all three of us here at Nutmegged ganging up on Crewfighter, though I have to admit he does handle himself quite well. Crewfighter also posted several questions to us. His questions and our answers will be posted at Crewture later today.

Word from Fallas is that Pat Onstad will be back in the nets for Dynamo this weekend, though of course Eddie Robinson remains out on suspension. That means you'll probably see this formation:

Onstad (Thank the deity of your choice)
Mulrooney-Boswell-Ianni-Barrett
Mullan-Clark-De Rosario-Davis
Caraccio-Ching

Now, to be fair to Tony Caig, Donovan's two goals last week would be goals against anyone anywhere, but still, let's hope Tony takes a big breather with SuperCanuck back and plays again later this year a little more poised than what he showed over the last few weeks.

My prediction: Dynamo 3-2. Crew get an early gift against Onstad, which wakes up the Orange. Crew score again in the 90th after De Rosario scores twice and Caraccio once (Ching assists on all three). You heard it here first.

On to the interview:

NUTMEGGED: Sigi Schmidt was on the top of the First MLS Coaches to be Fired Lists for 2008 and was quoted as saying he wouldn't survive a slow start. What does he need to do to keep his job for next season? Along those same lines, with the early season success introducing the possibility of Sigi's continued tenure, where do most Crew fans stand on Schmid's reign: Better to lose now and get on with the process of moving on or is he thought of as a good coach in a previously bad, though now improving, situation?

CREWFIGHTER:

Simply what Sigi needs to do is get this team into the playoffs. We would all see that as a positive step in the right direction. From the GM, to the ticket guys, to the fans in the stands. What the Crew is doing this year at home is definitely making the ones who are left believe again. I have been going to games myself since I was 18 and could drive from Pennsylvania. Since 2004, I have been to over 30 home games and I think we have won 4 of those. Yes, 4! That was hard to swallow. This year we have won two and both have easily been the best games I have witnessed at CCS.

Plus every move he has made so far this season has been gold. Plucks Adam Moffat out of USL-2, finds Gino Padula who is going to be one of the best left backs in MLS (I have been impressed with him thus far), brings Brian Carroll in who fills a big need, gets Alejandro Moreno who is just a bulldog (we were not sure how that was going to work out at first but we made out). Then he also brings in Emmanuel Ekpo this week who is a U-23 player for Nigeria that has played for the Senior Nigerian side at the ripe age of 20. And, the formation is working great so far this year. Everyone knows who is on the field and where they are every game. There are not a lot of formation and line up switches like last year. So, right now he is my coach of the year hands down.

On that second question, yeah anymore losing is about the last thing we need.


NUTMEGGED: Speak to me about Will Hesmer. I see he's stopped two penalty kicks over your first four games, which is usually more than most keepers do in a season. Is he getting too much work due to breakdowns in the back line or is this just the real Will Hesmer finally standing up (and lurching about all over the place blocking shots)?

CREWFIGHTER:
Hesmer is a good keeper. That is another good trade that Sigi made last year. His save against TFC was just wild and the noise level where I was at in the Nordecke (north-corner) was electric. That was big, huge, colossal. Then Moffat beating Samuel to the ball from 8 yards behind him. The guys are fighting for the badge this year.

Hesmer could use a shutout this week to bolster his and the defense's confidence a little more. They are getting better week by week. It takes time because only Hejduk was back there extensively last season. But, as a unit I believe Hesmer and the defense has the chance to be one of the best in MLS once they all get on the same page.

That's one thing about the Crew, not a lot of weaknesses in the starting lineup.


NUTMEGGED: ESPN has you rated #2 in its weekly Power Rankings. This is the highest we've ever seen the Crew ranked. Do you feel you can stay in the top five for most of the season, especially if Schelotto tires as he did in 2007? And if so, what needs to happen to make that so?

CREWFIGHTER:
I don't think Schelotto got tired in 2007. I think that he got frustrated in 2007 because his teammates were not playing up to his level like they are this year. Schelotto's performances against Chivas and DC were his best ones in a Crew jersey.

And, I would love to say that we could stay in the top five. But, I would like a few more wins before I make that prediction. Because once a Crew fan gets the kool aid flowing, something horrible happens to bring us back down to Earth.

I definitely think we make the playoffs. I would love if we just pulled away from everyone else this month though. And, we could. We have you guys who are struggling, then KC at home, then away at San Jose, and away at TFC. I say those are all winnable games. Our organization just wants to prove itself again. The team wants to prove themselves and the supporters sections want to prove themselves. And, together we are making it hard now to win at Columbus.


NUTMEGGED: Dynamo's draw last week versus the Gals had much to do with Donovan's speed and finishing touch and Beckham's guile. While Schelotto has the guile, Moreno does not have the wheels, though he has the heart. Who needs to step it up for a home win?




CREWFIGHTER:
Everyone just needs to step up and play as a unit like they have been. The team is very cohesive right now and also very confident. We cannot get over confident as I could see this as a trap game. If we come out with a stinker on Saturday, all the doubts are back. I just hope the team can channel their energy the right way with focusing on Sigi's gameplan and flat out destroying the Dynamo. I would be alright with a tie or maybe even a loss on the road, but we can't lose at home at all this year. We are very proud now about making CCS impossible to play in.

And, I rather have Moreno then Carracio or Wondolewski or even Ching right now. Hardest working damn player alive. I think his wheels are fine.


NUTMEGGED: So far, many of the Crew's attacking players are playing above their previous press clippings. What seems to be wrong with Eddie Gaven? Why isn't he one of these? And similarly, was the Ned Grabavoy move addition by subtraction, or what accounts for the improved midfield play with the loss of a starter?



CREWFIGHTER:
Talking about a player that needs to step up and have a break out game, it's Gaven, or he could find Ekpo in his position. I don't forsee any changes this weekend because you don't change something when you're getting results. But, Rogers had his breakout game then Guille, Moffat, Hejduk, Hesmer, and everyone else has stepped up. It's time for Gaven to get a goal this weekend. And, it seems just when you start counting Eddie out he pulls a great performance out of his ass. So maybe he steps up this weekend.

I hope he does. He is a fabulous young player, so is Rogers. Both really need to be more consistent and bring it for 90 minutes each game. We do have the most promising and youthful midfield in MLS though. And, I don't want fans to get too down on Gaven. Because trading him or sitting him on the end of the bench are terrible ideas. He will turn it around. He hasn't been bad, just okay. He needs to play out of his skin one game. This would be the perfect week for it.


NUTMEGGED: And a bonus question: Prediction for the game?









CREWFIGHTER:
3-1 Crew. Wasn't impressed with Houston's breakdown against the Galaxy in the second half. And, we are 10 times the team that they are. Save your first win for the next weekend, please. :-)
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Can Dynamo sign this squirrel up?

I'm probably the last on my block to see this commercial. But what they hey. It's cracking me up and I hope it does for you too.

Read more!

Cynicism about Dynamo Park? Here's a way to dispel that (I hope, please, pray, invoke, uh, Know any good religions?)




I am asking Nutmegged readers to assist me in dispelling my cynicism. Now, I'm not huge on online petitions. Mostly I think it's just a way for people to feel good about themselves while accomplishing nothing.

However, I do indeed understand the value of directing your intentions to create your reality. So in that sense, I encourage everyone to focus their energy on this online petition (see it and sign it here) to get Dynamo Park built here in Houston. And please, I know all about how desperate this sounds, but it takes almost no time and at the end of the day, those of us who really can do nothing more than show our support for Dynamo have done that just one more, albeit tiny, time. Read more!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good luck with Killie Paulie, or rather should that be "Good luck with Paulie Killie?"




In the wake of Dynamo's much-reported-upon scoring woes, some have lamented the loss of former striking stars Alejandro Moreno, Nate Jaqua, Joseph Ngwenya and the man above, Paul Dalglish.

My take on these guys is simple:
1. Moreno for Ngwenya deal was genius last year and helped Dynamo earn the title. Lamenting it now neglects that simple fact.

2. Jaqua. Smallest big guy I've ever seen. Getting repeatedly outjumped by players who are 6-8-inches smaller than you is nto good Nate. Maybe you'll learn how to win these balls in Austria.

3. Ngwenya. Nice speed. Nice developing player. Fun and enthusiastic striker. Try learning how to beat a physical defender while in Europe, OK?

4. Paul Dalglish. So there's a group of trainers hanging out in the medical room. Guy walks in. Guy walks in again. Guy comes in a third time, then a fourth and then a fifth. Eventually says, "Don't worry guys. I know where everything is. I can take care of this myself." That's Paul Dalglish. Nice guy. Flashes of real skill. Needed to go because eventually, the trainers had to take care of someone else.

I bring this up because of the following piece I just found on Setanta Sports:

Former Newcastle striker Paul Dalglish is eager to earn a long-term contract at Kilmarnock after overcoming his injury troubles.

In February, Dalglish signed a deal to stay at Rugby Park until the end of the season having been released by Houston Dynamo last year.

After making just two substitute appearances, however, the 31-year-old was sidelined with a groin injury for five weeks.

But he is now available for first-team action again and has vowed to take any opportunities he is given.

“I’d definitely like to stay here and I just need to get a chance to show what I can do,” he told the Daily Record.


Killie, if you do this, and I have little doubt you will since the Dalglish name is still golden in Scotland, I hope your medical staff has a LOT of extra time on its hands. They'll need it.

Though here's a quick look at what ol' Paulie could do in between his training table visits. We'll always have the '06 Western Finals, kid.

Read more!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dynamo/Galaxy preview, a Q&A with Offside Laurie


With Dynamo taking on the hampered and hurt LA Galaxy tonight, it's time for another blogger Q&A, this time with The Offside-Galaxy's Laurie. (For the pregame press notes, click here.)

Dynamo goes into the game tonight missing Pat Onstad (injury, though he might be available during the game) and Eddie Robinson (suspension and knee injury recovery). That means the Orange XI will probably look something like this:

Caig
Mulrooney-Boswell-Ianni-Barrett
Mullan-Clark-De Rosario-Davis
Ching-Caraccio

As for Galaxy, Laurie reports LAG is missing or at least potentially missing several key players. Here's her list:

GK Charles Alamo OUT - R knee surgery
DF Ante Jazic OUT - R ankle surgery
FW Carlos Ruiz OUT - R knee
MF Ely Allen OUT - R hamstring
GK Steve Cronin QUESTIONABLE - L groin
MF Alvaro Pires QUESTIONABLE - L knee

So the Gal XI (didn't the USS Enterprise once visit that planet?) is really anybody's guess. Once you get past Donovan and Goldenballs, I'm not sure who we'll see.

So my prediction of a 3-1 Orange win still holds. Laurie, on the other hand, thinks differently (which, considering my track record so far, is probably a wise thing!). Here's our e-conversation:


MARTEK: 1. Like Dynamo, the Galaxy's results so far this season have to have been somewhat less than you would have wanted. What do you think has contributed mainly to the poor start?







LAURIE: We currently have only nine players on the roster who were around a year ago. The team has been rebuilt from the ground up to meet Beckham's strengths. This means the players are still working toward familiarity with each other. Additionally, the salary cap affects the team in a huge way. We have three DPs. (Beckham, Donovan and Ruiz.) They eat up nearly half of the cap between them. The gamble is that they can carry the team while the remaining oldtimers like (Xavier and Klein and Vanney) and the newcomers (like Randolph and Ely Allen and Sean Franklin) will be strong enough to at least hold up their end. It could work, and it could be a huge bust.

If we can avoid too many injuries, I'm guessing the later games of the season, when the team is more used to each other, will look better than the first games




MARTEK: 2. I know it's early, but what would you say is the biggest difference so far in the Galaxy under Gullit and the team under Yallop? Or do you see much difference? Are the players happier under Gullit or not so much?





LAURIE: It is so hard to tell from the outside! I think Gullit is a stronger personality. Also, because he's a superstar and highly paid, I think AEG will be more likely to listen to him than they were to Yallop. I think Yallop too often got bulldozed. I also think Gullit is a lot better at imposing high standards and discipline. A team that hasn't played together much really needs this!

On the other hand, it's hard to know who's calling the shots. I keep thinking Galaxy roster moves will start to make more sense under Gullit, and then we see a move like yesterday's signing of Joey Franchino. That's a page out of last year's book. Was that completely Alexi Lalas, or did Gullit have a hand in the decision? And what does this say about who's running the team and how they're running it? I have no idea.

As far as players being happier, again it's hard to tell. I know there was a lot of conflict last year among newcomers and oldtimers over playing time at the end of the season. And now most of those oldtimers are gone. Does this mean that the team as a whole is happier? I have no clue. But there haven't been any huge rumors of discontent that I've heard yet.



MARTEK: 3. How acutely does Galaxy feel the loss of Carlos Ruiz? Do you think someone will/can step up to fill that void, and if so who, as Landon Donovan can't do it every game (or can he)?







LAURIE: Ruiz hasn't played enough yet for us to know how his presence/absence will affect the team. We're still not sure which Ruiz we got -- the goal scoring machine from his LA years, or the attitude case from last year at Dallas. His behavior up to this point at least suggests he's happy to be here and comes with a good attitude, which is great. It remains to be seen whether or not this will translate into goals.

That said, though, aside from Landon we sure don't have a lot of consistent scorers when Ruiz is not playing.





MARTEK: 4. Rate Galaxy's defensive effort right now on a scale of 10. Has Steve Cronin done anything to justify his leap from the USL to a No. 1 in MLS? Is there hope that the back line will be able to come together to keep foes honest? And if so, who do you look to to lead this charge?






LAURIE: Oh, Lord. Defense. Our Achilles heel. Overall I'd give us a 3. Maybe a four if you factor in the fullbacks' ability to go forward. Chris Klein at rightback is amazing. He has it all and is the true leader of the backline. Mike Randolph at leftback is a little raw but gets the job done fairly frequently. It's at central defense where the big problems lie. We have two players over thirty — Vanney and Xavier, and they have both lost a step with age. They tend to be great at positioning and leadership, but they stand and watch as speedy forwards blast by them. On the other hand we have rookies like Sean Franklin and Julian Valentin, who have the speed but not the experience. It could work if we can find the right balance. As last week showed, we haven't found it yet. And I have no idea where Franchino will fit into this.

I don't want to write Cronin off, but in the games so far he hasn't shown an ability to step up and make the tough decisions with confidence. I have no idea whether this will come as the season progresses, or if Josh Wicks will become the #1 before that happens.





MARTEK: 5. (How do you like the fact that I've gotten to No. 5 without once mentioning that midfielder from England everyone speaks so highly of?) Prediction for the game?







LAURIE: Bravo for you. I think the longer Beckham plays, the more most of us just think of him as an integral cog in the wheel rather than as THE David Beckham. With luck that will come for the rest of the league as well.

As far as a prediction, I am grateful that you're kind of sucking too. Let's be optimistic and go 1-1.
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Architects for Dynamo Park about to be chosen

Well, well, well, fresh off of the news over the last few days about the kerfuffle, hubbub and hullabulloo about the Don's letter and screwing up Dynamo's negotiations with the city over the Dynamo Park deal, we get this little piece at the Houston Business Journal by Greg Barr (a big shoutout to DuNord for tipping off about this.):

Interviews were under way Tuesday with five finalists vying to design the proposed downtown soccer stadium that would be home to the Houston Dynamo.

A spokeswoman for Colorado-based ICON Venue Group, the developer in charge of the project, told the Houston Business Journal that the finalists include two local architectural firms that are partnering with national firms on their bids.

The Major League Soccer team, which currently plays home games at Robertson Stadium, is close to working out a deal with the City of Houston which is close to finalizing the acquisition of a chunk of prime acreage near Minute Maid Park for the $80 million stadium, which could open as early as 2010.

The Dynamo wants to have an architect in hand as it continues to negotiate the stadium financing package in which the club and the City would share the cost of the project, according to team President Oliver Luck.


So does this lend credence to the various conspiracy theorists that the gnashing of teeth over the last few days was a tad stage-managed? I don't know, but when I put my rose-colored specs back on in a few minutes, I'm going to feel a little better.

Or am I just grasping at straws? Read more!

Quickie MLS weekend look




Well, since Columbus beat DCU last night, despite my prediction in our MFLS Bloggers League, I start this weekend at somewhat of a deficit in the prediction department. What do I learn from last night, never, ever pick against Center Holds It's Jeff Bull. During the offseason, Jeff eventually settled on supporting Colorado and Columbus this season, and look at the results so far. It's bigger than all of us and until Col and Col head downward, I'm ridin' this Bull!


Thursday night: (My prediction, DCU 3, Cmb 0; Actual: Cmb 2, DCU 1) DC looked terrible at home and still doesn't seem to have melded its players all together into a cohesive whole. Let's face it, the huge buttkicking they delivered to Harbour View at RFK looks more and more like the aberration here. Other than that, let's look at their results so far: a tepid and almost unwatchable 1-1 tie to Harbour View in Jamaica; a 2-0 loss to KC; a 4-1 smackdown over two legs to Los Tuzos; a 4-1 win over TFC (the lone bright spot against a team that, with all due respect, should see that kind of scoreline against them in every game, except when they play the Gals); and a pair of uninspiring losses to RSL (RSL!!!) and Columbus. DCU will probably be fine when the season is all said and done, but if they're not, you're seeing the seeds of destruction laid bare now.


REAL SALT LAKE at TORONTO: My prediction, 2-0 TFC. Reds build on last week's win at home against a team that is better, but on the road? Sorry Kreis, you don't get to face DCU every week. Question, did TFC win two in a row at all last year? Well, there's a first time for everything.


NEW ENGLAND at NEW YORK: My pick: 2-1 Revs. New England has had a season with the drunk staggers so far. Win-loss-win-loss. It's an odd-numbered game, so New England pulls through. It helps, though, that they have the Gambian speed brothers, while New York's back line is anything but speedy. Give Angel another concussion and unleash the dogs.


SAN JOSE at COLORADO: My pick: 2-0 Colo. EQuakes, score first, and then maybe I'll pick you. But one thing I'm NOT doing is picking anyone against one of Jeff Bull's Cols. I'm not tilting at those kinds of windmills.

DYNAMO at LOS ANGELES: My pick 3-1 Orange. More on this game later today and tomorrow. But quite simply, the Gals don't just look bad. They look terrible, especially in the back. Ching will score in this game. Vanney, you think Jeff Cunningham abused you...

KANSAS CITY at CHICAGO: My pick, 2-0 Fire. The wheels continue to come off for KC. Blanco will see to it personally at home. Frankowski scores again.

FCD at CHIVAS: My pick: 2-0 Chivas. Las Chivitas takes this one 2-0 over the candystripers in front of, oh say, 7-8,000 passers-by, most looking for some English guy that reportedly plays soccer at that stadium. Chivas fans again complain loud and long how they are the class of the HDC after the Gals get savaged by Dynamo the night before. Tough toenails guys. A move to St. Louis might just help you. Read more!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dynamo Park not in danger just yet



That empty field right there, the proposed site of Dynamo Park in the shadow if downtown, is still on the table, regardless of what you may have read this week about letters and meetings, intimidating and otherwise. (No need to have me run down all the events of yesterday. Read about them here, here and here.)

However, it won't be for much longer if Don Garber (His letter to AEG, Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener is here.) doesn't keep his freakin' mouth shut and his pen capped. (Read Fallas' commentary on this here.) Nothing will turn the indifferent in this town into Dynamo-haters faster than perceived threats. As much as Dynamo's wins have captivated Houston and as much of a soccer hotbed that exists here, we all know the situation is still somewhat tenuous at best. Public opinion can turn fast, and if you try to intimidate here, you find out what a slight hand you're really playing with, trophies or no.

Oliver Luck, of all people, knows this, which is why he met with Mayor Bill White and called a press conference yesterday to keep things from turning into a full boil.

So let's stick with the simple truths of the matter:

Good news:

1. All sides are still at the table and are meeting. Going back to when the Allen Brothers first did the backroom deal that founded this place, quiet "you rub my shoulders and I'll rub yours" meetings are how bidness gets done in Houston. The fact that the sides are talking to each other and NOT the media means that, for now, no Bud Adams-type explosion is going on. Quiet = Good

2. It's early in the season and Dynamo face the Galaxy Saturday. Putting the focus back on the field, especially if the Orange can secure a win against such a visible and highly-beatable opponent, can only help. Everyone's on the same side when it comes to winning.

3. The city is still buying the land and there's really no other purpose for it than the building of Paradise South. The wheels that were turning before the Don's bone-headed letter are still turning.

4. Both sides were conciliatory in tone yesterday, with White saying, basically, there will be no pressuring, and the Dynamo saying, basically, the same thing.

BAD NEWS

1. The price tag went up from $80-90 million to $105 million. It's still a bargain, but two digits looks better than three in front of the "m" word when trying to sell the thing to the public.

2. Dynamo mentioned yesterday that the city needs to put in more money and nowhere was there reference to the former meme about the team footing most of the bill. This leaves people thinking that the team is asking the city to foot most or all of the bill. If this is true, this news turns from bad to really bad.

3. The time spent on this could have spent on something productive, but instead it turned into an airing of frustrations. Maybe this is good news emotionally for everyone in the room, but in the sheer lack of moving the ball forward I'm putting it in this column.

4. Bernardo Fallas says that UH is rumored to be wanting to raise Dynamo's rent by 50% next year. Luck says that's unnacceptable. There is no silver lining to this one


So back to Garber's letter, which was written April 4. Why was it released now? Absent hard facts, it's conspiracy-theory time. Here's a great post from El Naranja over at Bernardo Fallas' Soccer y FĂștbol blog, in which he quotes a friend, who echoes my thinking as well:

Let's see. The Commissioner writes a letter to the Dynamo ownership group outlining the case for a stadium in Houston and listing other markets that have participated in public-private partnerships with MLS. The Dynamo ownership group gives the Mayor a copy. The Mayor releases the letter and says that he won't take money out of police and fire budgets to pay for a stadium (which no one believes would ever happen, isn't how the City finances things like what the stadium project would need, and is something that the Mayor has previously said numerous times) - all while reinforcing his image as a tough business person who won't be pushed around in a deal (which is a great image to have when you run statewide). Then the Dynamo throws together a press conference to say that they're committed to Downtown and aren't interested in moving.

I don't think there's any way that the Commissioner sends a letter to the Dynamo ownership group unless AEG wants that letter. But even if you believe that's not the case, there's no way that the Dynamo owners give White a copy thinking that he won't release it and publicly affirm his opposition to using money that could be used for things like fire and police to finance the stadium.


So have we got a deal or not? No. But will we? Well, I have seen so many stadium and other deals in this city, and usually when you've got everyone wanting the same thing and a lack of posturing, a deal gets done. If the cooler heads that were evident at the end of the day yesterday are any indication, it'll happen, but when is anybody's guess. Read more!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A tip o' the hat to Bhig Shot Jan




A little shout-out to my Bhoy Jan, who scored the game-winner at 94-fuh-reakin' minutes to beat the strangers at Paradise today 2-1! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Or as Matt said over at Lord of the Wing, "I'd like to add F*CK and YES!"

Read more!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Worried about Dynamo? Actually, unlike some others, I think I actually have a reason to be "an optimistic fellow"


Oh, the portents of doom and gloom. A disaster of biblical proportions! Dogs and cats living together!

Let's just have a little perspective here, shall we?

As I posted over at CHI, Dynamo are suffering from the same malady they had at this time last year, CCC fatigue, not to mention just plain jet lag. They just played seven meaningful games in three countries in 31 days, only three of which were at home. That's an average of one game every 4.428571 days (according to my handy-dandy calculator thingy), which you can do over a span of three or four games, but not seven! (As the Dom has pointed out to Bernardo Fallas.)

Dynamo over that time has gone 1(the first of the seven by the way!)-2-4, which is actually a pretty stout mark over that span, while fighting a host of key injuries (Onstad, Robinson, Holden, Davis, Mullan, Waibelinho). So would I like a better record? Sure. But am I worried about Dynamo? No. This week off before taking on the Gals in LA (another road game! Dynamo don't return home until May 3.) is going to be a sweet salve indeed.

Maybe I'm just wearing the rose-colored glasses here, but when I look at this roster, and see these players slowly filtering back to health (Mullan, Davis, Holden and ERob), I am looking at a serious run of quality wins.

I think the main thing with which Dynamo has had a problem that they can do something about (since the schedule and freak injuries are both beyond their control) is communication on defense. Clearly, the ERob/Boswell pairing in the back is not going all that well. And getting Tony Caig to stay in his damn goal (I read he wandered out front and made two great saves in the KC game, highlights of which I cannot see), cool down and work with his defense would be nice as well until SuperCanuck comes back. Solve that problem, and suddenly these questions all fall away.

We'll see what happens in LA this weekend. If Dynamo is truly back in form, the Gals are a team that can make you look good in a hurry.

So no, I ain't afraid of no ghost.

Read more!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dynamo/Wizards preview, a Q&A with Travis from The Offside

Time to play Ask the Questions again, this time Travis (an alright guy if there ever was one) from The Offside-Wizards blog gives us answers to my questions prior to tonight's Dynamo/KC game. Enjoy.


MARTEK: What kind of carryover do you think there might be from Wednesday's loss to the Revs? Are the Wiz lamenting lost opportunities or will it just fire them up to take it out on an apparently hurt and struggling Dynamo?






TRAVIS: The biggest issue is the defense. The young Gambians on the Revs really took advantage of a some poor composure at the back. Anytime facing an opponent missing so many key players, three points are a must, so it is definitely seen as a missed opportunity.



MARTEK: Through three games now, how have the cozy dimensions of the new home helped the Wiz? Hurt them?










TRAVIS: It's an interesting situation. The ballpark is obviously quite smaller, and I believe the max capacity is around 11,000. The good is that the Cauldron (supporters group) gets to sit near the opposing goalie for a half, and in general create a lot of ruckus during each match. The bad: it's a baseball stadium, and I find the dimensions of the actual pitch quite small. Plus the camera angles suck.


MARTEK: Other than Eddie Johnson leaving for Fulham, what have been the biggest changes for Wizards since these two teams met in the Western Conference final last season?








TRAVIS: Claudio Lopez was added, Chance Myers drafted, two veteran defenders traded (Nick Garcia and Jose Burciaga), Ivan Trujillo signed. Most of the big changes revolve around player personnel. There has been talk of switching from a 4-4-2 to a 3-5-2, but so far this season it hasn't happened.


MARTEK: What have you seen from Claudio Lopez that you've liked so far this season? Didn't like?











TRAVIS: The first game he showed how calm a finisher he can be. He gives the Wizards much needed experience of front. The last game, their first loss he got real fired up when things weren't going his way. Not sure if that's because he was mad at his teammates for not getting him the ball, or what. He doesn't seem that fast, but give him a few games. He'll adjust.


MARTEK: Prediction for the game?














TRAVIS: Wizards play defense, win 1-0. Read more!