Saturday, May 31, 2008

I love winnin'. It's, like, better than losin'!

Sorry for the extended clip up there, but it's the only clip I could find that has my favorite Nuke LaLoosh quote.

Just came back from Dynamo's 1-0 win over RBNY tonight. (Highlights not up on YouTube yet, so if you want to see them, check them out here.) That was about as sure a 1-0 win as I have seen recently, which may sound Pollyannaish (What? Me? Who are you looking at Playtherapy?), but there it is. The Orange seemed to dominate the run of play for long stretches, and to my recollection, the caffeine freaks had only 2-3 solid shots on goal. Not bad for a Dynamo team missing De Rosario, Onstad, Robinson and Captain Wademerica.

Chingy of course is a deserving man of the match, getting his head opened up in the first half, coming back 2 minutes later with a tough guy head bandage, then getting several great chances, giving the defense headaches worse than his own all night and finally scoring a nice goal. Mister3d pointed out that with Barrett out, the player wearing the captain's armband has scored two games in a row, first DDR on Wednesday and now the Flyin' Hawaiian tonight.

And while I know that RBNY were playing without the flu-ridden Juan Pablo Angel, baby-expecting Dave van der Bergh or injured (again. I swear, if it wasn't for Denilson, this would be the worst DP signing ever. Even including Denilson, it contends for the honor.) Claudio Reyna, Dynamo were hardly out there with a full deck themselves. So don't give me that as an excuse RBNY apologists.

Dynamo are now 3-1-1 in their last five games, and though that includes the embarrassing loss to the Temblors and a winnable tie in Dallas, I'll take it.

Also, playing well tonight right in front of us was uber-rookie Geoff Cameron, whose cool slot job into the box sprung Chingy for the goal. Man, how does Kinnear scout these guys? Cameron was a deep third round draft pick after playing for Rhode Island, for goodness' sake, hardly a noted soccer powerhouse. I guess all those orange balls on frozen fields toughened the dude up. In any event, he gave Kevin Goldthwaite all he wanted and more on the right wing all night. Very nice job, young man. Mister3d and I tried to help in the first half when Goldthwaite was right in front of us. We were all over him and then he had a clear kick for a clearance that he missed badly, slipping onto the ground flat on his ass for good measure. Not to break our arms patting ourselves on the back or anything, but we're going to take credit for that one!

Also saw solid play from Mulrooney and Ianni, who kept Altidore well out of the danger zone almost all night, except for one early chance that the frequently maligned Tony Caig stopped while diving to his left. Nice block you goofy Scot. Playing well was also Bobby Boswell, again proving that we got the better of the deal with DC. It's so much fun watching Zach Wells cough up a two-goal lead while Bozzie looks better and better with each passing game.

Though the roses tonight were not without their thorns. Still way too much waiting for the perfect shot and not pulling the trigger when the scoring opportunity is right there in front of you. Brian Mullan and Stuart Holden were the main transgressors in this regard tonight. And what else is new there? Both have been way too hesitant to pull the trigger. Mullan has something of a history that Playtherapy has well-documented of putting together great run, beating one, two and sometimes three defenders and then... nada. Check out Mully's almost wide-open look in the first half in the highlight reel. Being slow to finish allowed Jeff Parke to get in position for a sliding block that snuffed a solid chance. Holden has got to get over this or he may not get his ticket punched to Beijing later this summer (though it may be unpatriotic to suggest that I wouldn't be all too unhappy about that.

All in all though, a very nice W that put Dynamo into a virtual tie atop the Western table for now at 3-3-5, good for 15 points. The candystriper thugs, minus top thug Andre Rocha, travel to Denver and Dick's Sporting Goods Park (kinda rolls off the tongue doesn't it?) Sunday. Personally, I'm hoping for an ugly tie.

Absent highlights, I'm just going to post this one again. Mon the Dynamo!

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Late stingers in the north country

After watching the game this morning, I had a few thoughts and since I seem to have the floor, here they are:

1. Corey Ashe looked nice coming in from France, scoring a few seconds after entering the game. His cross for the game-winner was studly as well. Where has that been all year?

2. Like with any draw, you lament the chances missed. I have to say that I think Dynamo had more chances missed than the candystripers. No need to list them all, but Davis' decision to pass in the box instead of shooting at an injured Sala 30 seconds after DDR's strike was a killer. I have no doubt that would have been a winner. So what else is new? Both teams looked mediocre and I think the draw is well-deserved, if a draw can ever be.

3. Kenny Cooper's goal was indeed a thing of beauty, like so many of his have been this year. He's the only player over there I fear.

4. Once again, big props to the Texian Army and El Battalon for turning the pizza box into Robertson North once again. As Buzz Carrick over at Third Degree pointed out, (in different words of course), those northern flatlanders need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

5. Eddie Robinson has got to stop having these brain farts. Now he misses the game Saturday night at a time they really need him with DDR, Onstad and Clark already away on national team duty, Davis and Barrett's status are questionable, and now Mullan's. That means the starting XI against RBNY Saturday could look like this:


Brown and Wondolowski first off the bench. Jeez Eddie, I know when someone clocks you with their cast on the back of the head, you get pissed, but cool it! (Too bad it wasn't Rocha you pushed. In that event, I might have been willing to give you a pass, but only if you took him completely out. Though I have to point out that I am completely opposed to needless and gratuitous violence. But if you destroy Rocha, does it really count?)

6. Referencing No. 2, Dynamo are consistently (insofar they've been consistent at anything) making one pass too many in the penalty area and are not playing sharp at all. Davis, Holden (a big transgressor in this category), Mullan, Caraccio, De Rosario. Shoot. The. Damn. Ball. You make a mess of scoring chances you get what you get. It's finally time to say that the team's record right now is what it deserves, and they're darn lucky to have the 5 draws. 11 points out of a possible 30 to start the season? It immediately turns me into a BIG fan of the playoff system. Any playoff system.

7. Stoppage time equalizers against your greatest rival are quite fun. The teams play one more time, here at Robertson in late June. If Dynamo wins that one, the jinx over the candystripers is preserved for 2008. Quite nice.

8. Waibelinho played the worst I have ever seen him play. Getting beat by Kenny Cooper for the first goal was just the lowlight of a nightmarish evening for Craig.

What do you think?

El Capitan, staying in Houston for a third year in a row?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rattlesnake venom can be a powerful thing indeed

There is very little I can say in the way of advance for tomorrow's game at Wembley that isn't said or shown in this video. Suffice to say that I will be wearing the colors tomorrow, and I fully expect everyone else to be doing the same. It's time to see just how powerful rattlesnake venom can be when facing down three lions in their den.

Also tomorrow night the Dynamen will be at Robertson North up in Frisco, hoping to continue the dominance over the candystriper thugs. Personally, I'm throwing out last week's game as an aberration with all of the history and motivation. The fact of that matter is that once the Orange see those candy-ass red stripes, they'll know what to do. (Or so I hope!)

Official predictions from the head: England and Dynamo each win 2-1.

Predictions from the heart: USA and Dynamo. All. The. Way. Read more!

Friday, May 23, 2008

That championship look

No, the title of this blog does not apply to Dynamo, who were outplayed in almost all aspects of the 2-1 loss to San Jose last night. You get games like that from time to time, losing to inferior teams, but you also get the opposite, beating teams you should never beat.

Rather, the title applies to the now three-time SPL champion Celtic FC. Their surge to the title came almost literally out of their ass. When the Bhoys lost to Motherwell at home in early April, it looked like the SPL title streak would be over. Then came one win, and then another and then, even better, two inspiring and amazing wins over hated rival strangers at Celtic Park. Seven in all to grab the trophy.

I have been a Celtic fan since being directed that way by two friends of mine who live in Ayr, just outside Glasgow. Since then, as I have learned more and more about the team, its history, what it stands for, my fandom has deepened and deepened. I have given myself completely over to the Bhoys (and believe me, I almost foam at the mouth that Dallas would ever consider calling themselves the Hoops. There is only one Hoops, and they ain't red and they sure as hell ain't in Dallas!), just behind my devotion to Dynamo.

But I'll let the Bhoys' actions speak for themselves in the clips below. For Tommy Burns, for Phil O'Donnell, for the return of Neal Lennon, for the Holy Goalie, for the Wee Ginger One, for Skippy and Aideninho and JVOH (and his wondrous, goal-scorin' noggin) for all the rest,

Mon the Hoops! Mon the Championship!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Q&A: Dynamo/Earthquakes preview

Our Q&A this week is with Offside-San Jose blogger extraordinaire Melissa. You can check out her excellent game preview here.

Quite simply, everything seems to be aligning for this to be the Orange's third consecutive win. Dynamo has never lost on ESPN Thursday, posting 4-0 scores last year against las chivitas, RBNY and Chicago (to go with a 2-1 win over Colorado). What's more, they're facing a Temblor team that is in seeming disarray on the field (though I have to admit, in what was an otherwise poorly played game last week, if it were not for James Riley's entry in the Worst Brain Freeze ever contest, they would have lost to the Revs only 1-0), has a rash of key injuries and players playing out of position and an expansion side to boot. Add in the whole San Jose history and the stars don't seem to be aligned any better for a big Dynamo road win.

Which of course leaves me very nervous heading into the game. There's no more dangerous animal than a wounded one, and a wounded one playing at home against the team that used to bear their same name in front of what should be a very hostile crowd with all of that history is a dangerous animal indeed. San Jose is likely to be more motivated for this game than any other so far this season (with the possible exception of their home opener). And after all, they are professionals for a reason. Mister3d pointed out (which you will read more about in the post below), that the Quakes 3.0 have indeed shown they have skills and they will be no easy mark. This isn't DC United and Zach Wells for goodness' sakes (Sorry DCU fans, but after last night's goal to Dichio where no fewer than three players had to screw up to make that happen, you get what you deserve. You lose to TFC at home this weekend and you are officially yesterday's news, or at least Soehn is.)

My official prediction, though, is that with all the history, national TV and all, it is Dynamo who will seize the moment more than the new Quakes. I am predicting a 3-1 pasting.

On to the questions and answers:

NUTMEGGED: Toronto did a lot of wheeling and dealing during its inaugural season. San Jose has played it cool and quiet. Is this a wise strategy? Who looks tradable and what player would you like to see in a Quakes kit?

MELISSA: Doyle says he is looking for guys who want to stay in San Jose. My general impression from the GM is, he is thinking more long-term than just this season and would rather sit on the DP slot or allocation money and wait for what he thinks is the right fit. And I get the sense that there's a bit of an emotional attachment here as well since he chose to stay in the Bay Area when the Quakes moved to Houston. I think it shows in some of the trades for former players, especially guys like Ramiro Corrales, who I read somewhere (the San Jose Mercury News?) Doyle has known him since Corrales was twelve years old. Also, a bunch of the guys on the roster are Santa Clara University graduates. I don't think this is purely coincidence. But I do think it's too early to say whether this "strategy" is a bad thing. Also, Center Line Soccer recently reported there will be a steady stream of trialists coming in and out until the next transfer window opens and the Quakes have already filed ten discovery claims. But most importantly, when you take away the angry pundit fans factor, Doyle and Co. actually have a ton of leeway to do all of these things since the new ownership group remains extremely supportive and everything is still on track for getting the soccer specific stadium built in San Jose.

I think Jason Hernandez is the most tradable right now. He's been the most impressive and the most consistent. Also, he's played in every game so far. This is a hard question to answer because of that factor alone.

I would love to see Nate Jaqua in a Quakes kit. I really don't have an explanation why I love that guy, but he was my number one choice to join the expansion team as soon as it was announced. Does Houston still have his rights? I hear he is just hanging out in Oregon now. Maybe he'll get more excited about playing again after he spends some time in Nats camp.

NUTMEGGED: Nate Jaqua? With Dynamo's scoring problems this year, don't be surprised if he winds up back here. Dynamo do indeed have his rights, and the price would likely be higher than it was for Ramiro Corrales.

But in the same vein, how do you reconcile keeping Joe Cannon on an expansion team considering his trade value?

MELISSA: Since SJ just traded Preston Burpo away, this question kind of answers itself. I can't even remember the name of the other goalkeeper guy they signed (ok, I checked the roster... Michael Gustavson). And the fans love Joe. The Quakes might have a riot on their hands if he got traded. I'm completely serious.

NUTMEGGED: Well clearly we asked that question in this e-mail format before Burpo got traded. There's no way San Jose would trade Cannon now. For their sake, I hope Cannon stays healthy!

Back to the questions. Ramiro Corrales has assumed an attacking mid role, not his forte as he is most valuable in a defensive mid linkman role or as a flank defender. Given the current roster, who do you think might better fit that role?

MELISSA: Yikes, this is a tough question. I guess I'd say Ned Grabavoy, when he is having a good day. But the thing about Corrales is, I'm pretty sure he was in the defensive mid role during preseason and early on this season so the attacking mid change is recent. Yes?

NUTMEGGED: Throughout this season, especially after last week in New England, it has been easy to focus on what has gone wrong for San Jose this season. Instead, let's focus on what has gone right. Speak to that. Given that a playoff berth this season is probably unlikely (or is it? What do you think?), what positives have you seen that contribute to San Jose's goal of building a contender for the future? (And Mister3d has this to add: there is no need for the earthquake faithful to worry, the wheels have been sent into motion----San Jose won the Carolina Challenge Cup. The supporters' shield or mls cup is a done deal. See this post.)

MELISSA: I could do the math to figure out the minimum number of points the team needs to make the playoffs but meh. I'm sure someone else will. Maybe in the comments to this post? For the Quakes right now, the big if is consistency. The Colorado game is an example of what went right so the team just needs to figure out how to repeat that performance. This may sound stupid, but I say the number one positive to take from that game is morale. During the Colorado game, the Quakes scored early which definitely set the tempo. The solution may or may not be something that simple but I don't think this is a situation that calls for a ton of specifics or statistics. Ronnie O'Brien is the real offensive spark right now and when he has a good game, the rest of the team does too. Also, when they're down, it takes the guys a good 45 minutes to pick themselves back up again and start creating real chances - which usually leaves them just a handful of minutes before the final whistle to get anything done. So it all seems to be slowly coming together for the team. But we still have terrible aim. We need to fix that asap.

NUTMEGGED: What is the perception of the Houston Dynamo in the Bay Area? Does it rankle the Earthquake faithful that the team has won back-to-back MLS Cups? Is there a sense that those titles rightfully belong in San Jose? Similarly, what kind of reception do you think the team will get there? More hostile than most visitors get or less?

MELISSA: I think a few old-school pundits believe the titles Houston won should belong to San Jose. But most fans don't share that opinion. I think the faithful are just happy the new owners are so supportive and the team gets to keep the old titles. And besides a sort of collective general mental pause over the absurdity of the situation, people don't really think about the connection much anymore. Keep in mind that Quakes fans already got the initial Houston meetup out of their systems during preseason so they'll just be treating the Dynamo like any other MLS team - except The Galaxy. That hatred never went away.

NUTMEGGED: Fair enough, and if Landon Donovan keeps barking, you may have the support of an entire nation behind you! :> And finally, a bonus question: Prediction for the match?

MELISSA: I'm going to remain optimistic and say 0-0.

NUTMEGGED: Thanks Melissa, and we hope you enjoy the game, but not too much, you understand. Read more!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stevie, we hardly knew ye, or Rule 1: Never give up a hat trick to Edson Buddle

So I guess this is what happens when your team, with a designated player right there on defense, surrenders a hat trick to Edson Buddle.

Not to mock the dead, but, oh what the heck, let's mock the dead. Everyone raise your hand if you're shocked by this. Morrow's hack-a-whack candystripers have been an embarrassment to the league for two years. The Strangers of Scotland may be known for their brand of anti-football (which I dearly hope catches up to them in the SPL this Thursday), but Morrow's teams should be known for nothing less over here. Let's go down the list:

Carlos Ruiz: All of the whines of Cuauhtemoc Blanco, none of the flair.

Andre Rocha: The list of his victims is getting truly Manson-like.

Adrian Serioux: Hit on Beckham speaks for itself.

Denilson, "Uilio Avino", Drew "Oh no! It's Jonny Magallon!!" Moor, Arturo Alvarez kicking Brad Davis in the nuts, etc., etc., etc.

How much you want to bet Kenny Cooper went upstairs Monday and and had the proverbial Him or Me meeting?

Looking over the Grim Reaper's Rolodex and it seems to be flipping to S. Hmmm. As in Soehn?

Here's how I will always remember Little Stevie, watching his team just fall apart. He is outahere.

Oh, what the heck, here are a few more:

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Top 10 Week 8 musings

Had a wonderful time this weekend watching Dynamo take down Chicago in the rain and lightning through the miracle of tele-vision. Also had more fun than I thought I would running through the videos of the other games from the over the weekend, which brought about his series of thoughts, rants and other musings, in no particular order:

1. Those ARE the droids I'm looking for. Hand 'em over.
Why do other GM's even discuss trades with Dominic Kinnear at this point? On the same night that Bobby Boswell scored the game-winner for Dynamo (followed by his Crash Davis-style slide on the rain-soaked Bridgeview surface), trade partner Zach Wells was over in the Home Depot Center turning victory into bone-crushing defeat, surrendering three goals in a nightmarish span of about 8 minutes or so. So notch one more for the Dom, as Bozzie '08 really is starting to turn into the player he was in 2006.

2. Flip....flip...flip.flip.flipflipflipflipflip.
That's the sound of the pages turning on the calendars marking the final coaching days of both Little Stevie Morrow and Tom "(sit on my) Thumb" Soehn. Footie McBlogmesiter Dan Loney titled his post on the LAG/Frisco game "Uilio Avino," meaning, as he wrote "No D in his game? No D in his name." Add one more great _P signing to Morrow's credit. Any team that gives up a hat trick to Edson Buddle (Edson Buddle!!!!!!) deserves to have their franchise revoked and sent to USL On. The. Spot.

As for Soehn, he turned it around to the tune of a Supporter's Shield last year after a slow start. But this year, I have my doubts about him being able to work that magic. As Phil Garner can attest here in Houston, you pull that slow start crap one too many times, eventually, your team just decides to say "What the hey" and do it all the time. Bye bye Tommy.

3. Don't need no special treatment to get that call. Adrian Serioux should be exiled for at least two games for that ridiculous, Paulie Walnuts-level hit on Beckham. Despite my better nature, I'm beginning to become a fan of Goldenballs and his playing partner Landon "The Enforcer" Donovan. (More Loney: "Every time I see one of those MLS human rights ads about the dignity of all people and the evils of discrimination, I expect the tag at the end to be 'I'm Landon Donovan. Mexico sucks.'") Say what you will about LAG getting all the preferential treatment, but those guys are just flat out backing it up, and if you don't respect that, then you're just holding a damn grudge.

4. Oh Canada. Oh Brother. At this point, if you haven't heard it, you haven't been listening, but Toronto is becoming an absolute beast. See what a little less Mo (Johnston that is) on the sidelines can do for you. Now if he doesn't get all trade happy, those maddening hordes may have something to really cheer about in November. The scene I'm looking for is a November snowstorm all over BMO Field for the Reds v. Revs Eastern final.

5. Edson Buddle. I just had to mention that again.

6. Picking wings off flies is way harder than this. Anyone see the NER win over San Jose? Thanks to Steve Nicol, Africa is going to become the new Argentina in MLS. Now the Quakes 3.0 get to face a surging Dynamo Thursday. I am taking nothing for granted, but, man, do the Quakes look bad. Here's Glenn Davis' take:

Having called the NE/San Jose match last night at Gillette Stadium all I can say is that I may have seen the worst MLS game of the year. Certainly it was the most passionless. Was it just one of those nights? Maybe. But when it comes to San Jose it was a less than professional performance just from the standpoint of coming to compete.
From the opening whistle it looked as though the Earthquakes did not want to be in NE.
The Revolution scored 6 minutes in through a poorly defended free kick which Kheli Dube finished and then probably the worst own goal of the season when James Riley went to head back to Joe Cannon who raced off his line. Riley put his header over Cannon and in.
The second half was a bit better from the Quakes but you could see that San Jose coach Frank Yallop was clearly upset about the lack of fight and desire.

Here, we report, you decide. James Riley, how do I put this succinctly and tenderly, you suck.

7. Whither goes Wondo? Kyle Brown the Dynamo's answer to forward pace problems? Whodathunkit? Chris Wondolowski had better hope the following get called up to the US squads this summer:


Even then, watch Wondo ride the pine. Something's going on there and no one, not Fallas, not Kinnear, not even Glenn Davis, wants to talk about it. It may just be time for Kinnear to get the Jedi mind trick battery recharged and find someone on which to dump Wondo for a future league MVP.

8. De Rosario's de noggin. So DDR gets credit for the first wackified goal that originated from Rico Clark's boot in the Fire win. And I thought the one off his face last year against Pachuca was weird.

9. Mr. White, this yellow's for you. Playtherapy has been going on about this to Mr3d and I since Chicago signed the guy last year, but this is the first time Cuauhtemoc Blanco was doing his whine/flop/whine/flop/play like a Hall of Famer/whine//flop number on my team. My reaction, fun at first, but why exactly did Paul Ward wait until the 94th minute to book the guy? Does Ward not have any professionalism at all? How do you let a player, ANY player, abuse you like that? Geeza Louisa, shut the f*ck up.

10. Edson Buddle. There's his hat trick.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

And now for a weekend completely different, or, staging an assault on common sense

So in place of the weekly interview segment, which no one here had time to chase down this week (Difference between a blog and a for-profit journalistic enterprise? In blogoverse, if you don't have time, you don't do it and you just move on.), it's on to some simple picks and thoughts heading into the weekend.

First, did anyone see Colorado's 2-0 win over RSL last night? How ironic that the goal that sealed it was a PK on a brain dead handball in the 80+ minute? Some days the tiger gets you and other days you get the tiger.

I like RSL, I really do. And as I wrote over on Center Holds It, they're a very beatable team, but if you take your eye off them, they can punish you for that. They're kinda like the kid swinging at you that you've got at arm's length. He can't hit, and can't hit. You get confident, look away and then Kyle Beckerman knees you in the nuts. You know it's your own damn fault you're writhing on the ground in pain, but you also know that there's no way RSL can mount an attack with this strategy. Still, man that hurts!

Dynamo vs. Chicago: As I'm writing this, there's still no preview posted on the Dynamo site. But a quick lookaround tells me everyone and their dog are picking the Fire. I have no problem with that as, if I was even pretending to be unbiased, I'd do the same thing. Chicago is at home. They're mostly healthy. Their players are fast and difficult to defend. Busch has been a monster in goal. You think you're dealing with that piss-like beer and then he comes over all Guinness on you, stopping your dead-certain-to-find-the-back-of-the-net shot. Kinda like Matt Reis, only younger. And don't even get me started on C-moc White. Though, my prediction is that over the course of the season, he'll tire like Carl Lewis in a marathon and will be nadas-ville in October.

Still, if the Orange are to prevail, what has to happen? First, Eddie Robinson and Bobby Boswell have to click all game like they did in the first half against Colo last week. The defensive perimeter around that goal mouth has to be what it was in June of 2007, the freakin' Ash Mountains on one side and the Mountains of Shadow on the other. Second, the return of solid wing play would help. But with Brad Davis still out (he is still out, right?) I think this is unlikely. And third, Chicago has been getting a lot of great press recently. Has this gotten to their heads? If so, you'll see it in a visitor-dominated first half. If not, it could get ugly. But the thought of ugly makes me unhappy, so I think realistically, another tie is in the offing here. I'll go with a prediction of 0-0. Only unlike in previous weeks, the draw might be morale-boosting.

Toronto 2, Columbus 1: At some point, the Crew are going to lose a game they're confident about. And what better time than a visit to BMO Field and the surging Reds. (Also, any chance to select a team called the Reds in homage to Hawksport Ian's Pittodrie side, I'll take.) The Crew are good, but I also think they've been playing out of their minds. I think Toronto, whose fans got into the Crew's heads in the opening week, is just the team to bring them down to Earth. The matchups I'm looking for Hejduk vs. Guevara and Marvell Wynne vs. Schelotto. I also think this will be the week where everyone says, "Hey, what is happening to Alejandro Moreno? Looks like he's slowing down." It's coming at some point, and I think it'll be in the Great White North.

New York 2, Kansas City 0. Angel is back. He and Altidore score and all the Metroredbullstar fans, despite the fact that they should know better by now -- they really should -- will feel the glimmers of hope after New York takes it to Kansas City at home in no uncertain terms. We're into May and June, which like last year, is New York's time to shine. NY's defense isn't all that, but I just don't think that KC has the firepower to take advantage on the road. The Wizards are on their way to an RSL level of suckage this year. And this game will be looked at as the moment where that became quite obvious. I hope I'm wrong because the Cauldron holds great fans, but I just got that feeling.

New England 3, San Jose 0. The days of the Quakes winning a big game on the road against a quality side will come, but not this weekend. Just like Columbus did to them at the end last week, the Revs are going to kick them until they cry and then kick them for crying. I think this game will come to being unwatchable, unless you're Jimmy Chowda that is.

DC United 2, Chivas USA 1: OK, here's the shocker pick, but I have my reasons. First, DCU is having troubles, yes, but they are just not that bad. Second, las chivitas is having troubles, yes, but they ARE that bad, so bad that they are going to singlehandedly resurrect DCU's season and take Guzano out of all summer transfer market speculation all at once. But like Dan Loney said, they are, after all, just one great Mexican signing away from solving all their worries aren't they? I know that 2-1 is always the wussy pick, but I rarely pick home shutouts and I know Zach Wells' strengths and deficiencies, as do all MLS teams. So a clean sheet on the road I will not predict. But just good enough to win, OK, I'll go with that.

Los Angeles 2, Dallas 2: Do you like defense? Well, stay home dude. Enjoy your Sunday. Spend time with your family and on no account tune in to watch this game. Freefalling FCD (you have no idea how thrilled I am to write those words) and top heavy LA start a firin' and we should all get the wimmin and chillin' out the way. Arturo Alvarez and Kenny Cooper score. Landon Donovan heals quickly and blisters the candystripers yet again. David Beckham scores, then is seen lowering his head, pleading get me to Wembley to play the US, fast. I don't know how much longer I can take this.

What do you think? Read more!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Orange ramblings

So as I was at work today, I had the headphones plugged in listening to Glenn Davis' Dynamo All Access radio show from Monday night. If you've never heard Davis' take on all things footy (but mostly Dynamo), you're really missing out. The show is lively, entertaining, not afraid to pick fights and defend positions and an indispensable part of the soccer landscape here in Orangeville. Last night, Glenn had as guests Stuart Holden plus the Chicago Fire’s midfield duo of Justin Mapp and John Thorrington, as well as weekly guest Dominic Kinnear.

Here are some thoughts arising from last night's show:

Glenn expanded on his piece from today's Chronicle about the fact that Dynamo should be included in any discussion about the city's top teams. This is a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many otherwise professional sports journalists think that all discussions should be limited to Astros-Rockets-Texans. The things is, and this was pointed out on the show, journalists don't enjoy exploring something they don't know anything about. They like new things in their fields and are actively curious about them, but expanding beyond the horizon? Most of the time no.

When I was a young sports journalist umpety-ump years ago, I worked for the Middlesex News out of Framingham, Mass. I had to go cover a high school wrestling meet. Now, being from Texas, I knew pfft about wrestling. So I went to the tourney, pulled aside an assistant coach and explained my situation. The guy sat with me and pointed out some tactics and terminology. All in all a 15 minute lesson. Then I remembers, "Hey. It's sports. One guy wins. The other loses." Then it all clicked. The point I'm making is that it takes almost no time at all to learn about a new sport, and as we all know, you employ your curiosity for a match or two and soccer grabs hold. You may not get all fanatical about it like the people in this room (who me?), but it'll get you past your prejudice.

So as The Dom said on the show when asked about this topic as to whether Dynamo should be in the discussion, "Sure. Why not?" And that is really the question, now isn't it?

Glenn also mentioned an interview he had with Joseph Ngwenya the other day about the possibility of his return to Orange. Apparently the dreadlocked one, who says he played only 51 minutes for his team in Austria, is trying to decide about a return. He says his pride is hurt, but that if he id come back, it would only be here. But my favorite part of the interview is this:

GD: Have you been following the Dynamo and the league?

JN: I have been following, it’s early days yet and if there is one thing I know, I know the team will be in the playoffs again this year contending for another MLS Cup and I know that NO team in the league relishes the prospect of playing the Houston Dynamo in the PLAYOFFS (regardless of regular season records) !

Check out the whole interview at the link above.

And if you get a chance, check out the All Access podcast. It's a great way to spend a couple of hours. Read more!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My favorite things

Forget whiskers on kittens and packages tied up with string, how's this for a list:

Seeing Dynamo's first win with my two boys next to me

Abusing Nick LaBrocca and getting into his head with a nice "LaBrocca is LaBroken" chant (You should have seen the look on his face.)

Seeing Chingy deke Bouna Coundoul and then slot the ball into an empty goal

Watching De Rosario nail the winner on a penalty right in front of me


(Feel free to add your own in the comments) Read more!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Q&A: Dynamo/Rapids, Shooting the Bull, Jeff Bull

This week's Q&A is with longtime Colorado fan and one of the three-headed blogmonster that runs the fabulous Center Holds It site, Jeff Bull.

Dynamo's season has been a trying one to say the least so far. Sometimes and heretically, it almost feels like it would be better if the Orange were in full-blown suckage mode, losing all of these guys they've been tying, just to have some sense of how the season is really going!

But that's just frustration talking really, because one way of looking at the season is that, after six games, Dynamo have only lost twice. And with each game the defensive effort is improving. The problem is that the offense still seems, ah, a bit caddywompus, which is a precise technical, footie term used only by us soccer bloggers.

Still, nothing a few goals and a helping of good luck (now THAT'S something that's been in short supply recently) can't fix. And that's why I'm predicting a 2-0 win for Dynamo this weekend, which will be only the second one, for reasons detailed in earlier posts on this blog, that I will be witnessing with my own personal eyeballs. Scorers will be Dwayne De Rosario, reprising his role in Dynamo's dismantling of the Rapids in a driving Front Range rainstorm of a year ago, and El Generalissimo Franco Caraccio slotting a garbage piece past Coundoul to seal the deal.

You read it here first. Now, on to Mr. Bull (who has been patiently waiting, in a virtual sort of way, while I bloviated the above). And by the way, Jeff also asked us here at Nutmegged several questions about Dynamo that he will post on Center Holds It sometime today or tomorrow.

NUTMEGGED: Fernando Clavijo has been mentioned so often as a prime candidate for firing in the past few years that it's amazing he still has a job. But with Colorado's, ah, rapid start to the season, Clavijo seems to be the one laughing last. How much of the start is attributable to him and do you see him lasting the season?

To raise a quibble, I can’t credit any Western Conference team with a rapid start - e.g. if Colorado played in the Eastern Conference, they’d be 5th. Relevant to that point is my persistent low opinion of Clavijo’s abilities. To watch this team move the ball forward is to watch improvisation in action, or something that bears a strong resemblance. In simple terms, Clavijo played as a defender and his team looks like it....since 2007 at least. Whatever success the Rapids enjoy is down the players and a helter-skelter rush toward the opposition goal.

NUTMEGGED: Which 2-3 Colorado players (or more) are most responsible for the Rapids' success this season? What have these guys done that's all that different from what we've seen in the past from them?

I won’t say Gomez...I won’t say Gomez...I won’t say Gomez....crap...I have to say Christian Gomez. As he showed against DC, he’s one of those guys that can kill you with an inch for an opening; that gets respected even when the Rapids seem to be bypassing him and playing the flanks. After him, I’d point to just about every young buck the Rapids pulled from the reserve teams of the past couple years: Kosuke Kimura, Stephen Keel, John DiRaimondo, Nick LaBrocca, even Omar Cummings - and the exclusion of Clark is deliberate, not because he doesn’t belong here, but because we all know who he is. All these players give the sense of something being built and they look a solid foundation. This gets back to Clavijo: I don’t rate him much as a coach, but I think highly of his ability to judge talent; he’s just in the wrong side of the business. Get a proper coach and I’d wager those same players would be more than building blocks for a foundation.

NUTMEGGED: Do you see any warning signs in Colorado's games up to now that make you think the quick ascent is a short-lived phenomenon? And if instead you think Colorado is truly in contention to stay this season, then what has to happen to keep there?

The defense hasn’t been a worry since last year; things look pretty solid back there. I just don’t understand how Colorado attacks; I mean, I see it happen and it comes off often enough to put the Rapids on the high side of the goals-for average, but....I dunno. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. In a phrase, the attack looks like a bunch of guys running like hell toward the opposition’s goal or end-line, screaming like hell for the ball and whacking it around under that set-up as well as they are able. In other words, you see fewer proverbial passing triangles than you do hard-kicks upfield. If I’m wrong - and I could be, believe me - Colorado will keep scoring at a decent clip and they make the post-season without a hitch. If I’m right, though, the goals will dry up and the Rapids will settle down to mid-table in the West by alternating wins with losses all season long.

NUTMEGGED: What Dynamo players or tactics do you think are going to give Colorado the most trouble Saturday night? And vice versa, what Colorado tactics or players (other than score 1 goal given Dynamo's recent propensity for whiffing close shots) will serve them well against Dynamo? I can’t answer score one goal...hmm. Brad Davis missing means Corey Ashe will probably play and think Kimura will contain him well enough. I’d work the Rapids’ left, keep Mullan active and Dynamo players near him in order to really go at that side; Ashe will have a role to play still by crashing the far post or corralling over-hit crosses. And Brian Ching should wake up one day. I guess I’m saying the Dynamo’s usual game - e.g. play width - should hold up allright against the Rapids. I think Dwayne DeRosario will get pinched like a Christmas nut between LaBrocca and whichever of DiRaimondo or Pablo Mastroeni starts. So DeRo should be willing to move side to side and to dump the ball quicker than usual. Just keep the Rapids off-balance and you might yet get your first W. As for the other way, the Rapids have potential speed mismatches on both flanks: Clark (assuming fitness) against Mulrooney/Waibel and the Kimura/Cooke combo could really test Wade Barrett and Ashe on Houston’s left. Tam MacManus will be in the middle looking for crosses and Cummings and, worse, Gomez, will lurk for slop. The silver lining in that: your central defenders should be up to winning most crosses, so a potential shower of those might not matter so much...just make sure they clear ‘em far or Gomez will have a field-day.

NUTMEGGED: Speak about Bouna Coundoul. In the two games I have seen of Colorado's this season, he has come up huge. Has he finally turned the corner and become one of the elite keepers in the league (I'm thinking Onstad/Guzan/Reis territory here) or is he still just below that?

You know who Bouna reminds me of? David James, at least when I saw him a lot playing for Liverpool. Bouna is a GREAT shot-stopper - that’s always been his strength as I saw it - and the more he learns his position, the better he’ll get. But like James, he can wander, he can flub crosses, and he's good for a howler every so often. So, no, I don’t think he’s elite yet, but the Rapids still benefit from having continuity in goal. As for why he’s not “elite,” watch the man give up rebounds on shots. My advice to Houston: follow up on EVERY SHOT. That brings up an addendum to the question of how Houston should attack: shoot from range, but only with players in front of you.

NUTMEGGED: And finally, what is your prediction for the game?

Prediction? Pain. (Thanks for letting me type that; I had an irrational love for Rocky III (“There is no tomorrow!”) when I was a young adult.)

Seriously now...I think the Rapids come at a bad time for a team struggling to score. Call it an ugly 1-0 to the Rapids. The next most likely scenario: Houston blows ‘em out of the water....I’m talking 4-0 or 4-1.

NUTMEGGED: Thanks a ton Jeff. Enjoy the game from your outpost in the Pacific Northwest, and here's hoping your second guess is the right one!
Read more!

It Starts Here video and Hope Solo's emasculation of Drew Carey

Tickets go on sale for the USA's first qualifying match for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. Central. The U.S. will host Barbados on Sunday, June 15 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The second leg will be played on June 22.

For more information, check out the US Soccer site here.

And now that you're psyched up about that, here's Drew Carey taking on MNT and WNT members last year in video soccer. Drew schools Taylor Twellman, Hope Solo ("I expected more from him." When someone who looks that good tears you down after you beat her in the game, YOW!!!) and Kasey ("Drew is just a little bitch") Keller.

Read more!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

On TSU, press reports from Aberdeen and early picks

Well, apparently, here's the scoreboard for today:

Kpene: He's here.
Ngwenya: Who?
Derek Soutar: "WTF" says the Dom
TSU: Go and Tigers!

So right now it looks as if Texas Souther athletic director Charles McClelland (above) wants to get Houston's own historic black university on board what amounts to the Dynamo Park ship. My take is simple, if they show the money to get involved, then bring 'em on. It'll still be built as a Soccer Specific Stadium, only this time the American football team will be the secondary tenant, right? As long as Dynamo's interests come first or at least co-first, this is good news.

Kinnear is also denying the Derek Soutar story, which has got to make Tony Caig feel good, for however much benefit that brings. When you look at the Dynamo/Chivas reserve highlights over at the Dynamo site, you see Caig still straying off his line with aplomb. Heart, try not to leap too far up into throat if Onstad gets hurt again.

My quickie picks for the weekend:

TONIGHT: Chicago 2, DCU 1: The Fire own those guys, OK. There are some things bigger than all of us, like Prius' over the Golf.

Dynamo 2, Rapids 0. I just can't help myself. More on this in the next two days.

RSL 1, FCD 1. Dallas' road woes continue in Utah.

Columbus 1, San Jose 0. Crew stay hot, though how hot do you have to be to beat SJE 3.0.

Gals 2, RedBulls 2. Landy scores late, highlight reel, equalizer, gets punched in the face by Van den Bergh when he celebrates too much.

Revs 2, Chivas 0. Revs are good, OK? las chivitas, on the other hand, can only hack so many people so many times. Read more!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

They came for Ugarte and then she walks in: Kpene/Ngwenya and Caig/Soutar

There's a line there at the beginning, "They grab Ugarte and then she walks in. Well, that's the way it goes, one in and one out." (The balloon version I included above because it just cracked me up. Nothing like a little absurdism when your team is winless six weeks into the season, I always say.)

Well, Dynaverse is being roiled by a few stories this week while I've been away focusing on other matters. First, there was this story in the Chronicle about the team "pursuing" a return engagement of Coastal Carolina's finest alum, Joseph Ngwenya.

Reading the story, it looks to be another example of Bernardo Fallas expanding on a storyline that has no there there. How many times have we seen that now? From having no Latino players to the idea of putting Corey Ashe up top, Fallas, who really is quite a decent soccer writer, don't get me wrong, has shown he doesn't always want to find actual news and report on that, but frequently will just make some storyline or other up and see what the team has to say about that. The Ngwenya "story" (Luck even said there's been almost no contact, just some e-mail traffic.) seems to be in this mode.

My take on it is that seeing as how Ngwenya is riding the pine for a team that is getting relegated out of the Austrian Bundesliga, how on Earth does it make sense for him to stay over there? He's getting no exposure, no playing time and no wins. It's the triple threat. I'm sure the money is better and all and lordy me, euros go further than dollar these days, but in the face of all that, what is he making anyway to have this make sense, Beckham green? He should be back here playing for us. Then at least Dynamo can go from getting no calls to all to getting 4-5 offsides every game.

But one thing that Fallas does have right is the actual news of Dynamo signing DCU-ex Guy Roland Kpene to a developmental contract. Hmmm, let's see, nice forward, great guy, pocketful of pace, so-so finishing touch. Sound like anybody (or any team) you already know so well? On the plus side, there's the highlight below of his through ball to Emilio that turned into a goal against the Revs. But as far as I can tell, that was THE highlight for Guy in 2007. Now I know that Kinnear and Spencer's ability to spin gold out of straw was evident with Ngwenya last year. I mean, what did Joe ever do for Columbus or the Gals before leading the MLS champs in goals in 2007? But for once, I'd kinda like a signing not to rely so much on the Dynamic Duo to turn a player into a world beater. Still, if it works, you won't hear me whining.

Over on MLS Rumors yesterday and today, there are more Dynamo stories than you can shake DDR's nose-breaking boot at. The most recent was the news (the Aberdeen Press & Journal piece is here) that Aberdeen keeper Derek Soutar is going from red to orange and will be on trial in Houston when the SPL season concludes next week. Poor guy's probably going to be near death when he gets here. The sun is finally out in Scotland after about 40 days and 40 nights of cold rain were followed by another 40 days and 40 nights of cold rain and meanwhile here in the Bayou City, sweat capital of the universe, it's projected to be 91 degrees (yes, you read that right) this Saturday with our customary 4,000 percent humidity. That nearly passed out, heaving body you'll see over on the sidelines at the Carl Lewis track at the University of Houston in training will be hurling curses as only a true Don can.

One can only assume that Soutar will be here to replace Gretna-ex Tony Caig, who's game experience with Dynamo this year brings up a few special curse words all of its own. Interesting that America is getting known far and wide for the depth and quality of its goalkeeping prowess, and at the same time Kinnear and Spencer, who have been lauded for having so many American players on the roster both at San Jose and here, can't find a good American to replace Zach Wells. Not only that, there's not even an American keeper on the roster right now, is there? Ah well, as Bogie says up there, one in and one out.

MLS Rumors is also replete with stories, also reported by Fallas on his blog, about what was apparently a near riot between las chivitas supporters and El Batallon after the game last weekend. I pray to Heaven above that this was just an isolated incident, but if it happens again, then I can think of a whole host of options to try to fix the problem. But my chief concern is making sure this doesn't become a problem until AFTER the stadium deal is done, if it's done.

But one thing you could do is find out whomever's causing the problem and then make them take their punishment from this guy:

Read more!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lone skater of the apocalypse

Well, not having seen Dynamo's 0-0 tie with las chivitas last Saturday due to being out of town with the fam, and seeing as how's deal with the HDNet Beelzebub means no highlights are available, I am left to rely on Mister3d's excellent review of the game (Oh, how I wish I could have seen Mulrooney kick the ball into Galindo's gut. Too bad it wasn't master whiner Preki.), as well as a few other game stories and photos.

When I saw the score I felt like the lone skater in the image above. Still no wins, still OK play, still nothing to see and nowhere to go.

Oh well, at least I have this to look forward to: Dynamo's first win in both 2006 and 2007 came against the Colorado Rapids. Both seasons ended in Cup championships. Guess who's coming to town this Saturday?

(And hey, don't deny me my grasps at the thin, thin shards of whatever hope I can find. Right now, I'll take what I can get.) Read more!

Panic...Don't Panic.....Panic?...Dynamo lose another tie.

the game last night was a frenetic spastic mess of a game. the no win gorilla on the dynamo's back is starting to take its toll.

 A desperate attitude hung in the air at Robertson and when the first half ended 0-0, after yet another performance of barren domination, all in attendance could sense the bitter fruitless end floating in the second 45.   The players fought against this palpable destiny with determination and will and the fans chanted, screamed, and yelled against it but as the final whistle blew 0-0, all  shoulders slumped with the weight of futile inevitability.

The following sum up the game well though none mention Shavar Thomas' first half takedown of Ching in the box--it was a penalty. Guzan's time wasting was a travesty, an utter mockery of good sportsmanship and fair play. When it became apparent that the ref was unable to deal, Mulrooney needed to blast a ball into Gallindo's gut to teach him to give the required space on kicks. What a frustrating game.

 It would be interesting to know what those that have HDnet and its high definition replays thought about the game. The good news--due to the west breaking out in ties no ground was lost in the standings. (late edit---colorado looks to be the lone winner this week, damn.)
Read more!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dynamo-Chivas Prematch Interview with Alex of Offside Chivas

Periodically, we are fortunate enough to exchange questions and answers with fan blogs of our weekly opponents. This week, we feature questions answered by Alex who writes about Chivas USA for

Wishfully, the Goat's Tree Formation?

With little time to get this out and without further adieu, here is the interview:

NUTMEGGED: What's the deal with Guzan? Does the rumored hangover from his denied English work permt truly linger? Did someone put butter on his gloves? Or was last week's derby match simply a bad game?

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: Brad is a spectacular goalie. I don't think that Brad is the sole issue at back. The team is not playing as a defensive unit. The communication is lacking in the back 5 due to inconsistent line ups. Individually, no one defender has been to blame for the issues, but as a whole (Brad included), the unit has not done it's job. The only thing that will help is time on the pitch. This defense is about 6 weeks behind the rest is terms of consistency. It will come.

NUTMEGGED: Not only has Chivas struggled against the Dynamo the last few year, Robertson Stadium has been an impregnable Mordor for the Goats. This year, both teams appear to be in a bit of a funk, with the usual standouts not standing out. The Orange will come out like angry wasps bringing Guzan quickly under assault. What must Chivas do they haven't done in previous away matches at Robertson?

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: This year Chivas USA, when healthy, have the strongest strike force in the league, especially taking into account new addition Alecko Eskandarian. Chivas USA have had trouble scoring at Robertson. I think the pieces are in place this year to score some goals.

One other issue Chivas USA have struggled with is adapting to the style of play. Chivas USA play a possession game, and as a unit. When Chivas USA hold the ball, they are the most dangerous. Houston does not give Chivas USA any room, not allowing the team to control the tempo or possession.

NUTMEGGED: How do you feel about the decision to let Amado Guevara go without compensation or the decision to acquire him in the forst place? Given Guevara's start in the Great White North where he's taken off like a true hoser (Canuck), do you feel this was a mistake?

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: It was unfortunate that the relationship between Guevara and Preki did not work out. He has some of the qualities the team is looking for. I understand why Bradley gave up so much for a player of his quality. That said, I'm glad he left and supported Preki with his decision. No one person is above the team, and that mentality is a cancer in the locker room. I personally think the team did better without him, creating a core of great players, not just one star.

NUTMEGGED: Preki pretty much was gifted with a very good team built by Bob Bradley. How do you think Preki has fared strengthening or improving what Bob brought (ie, your DP shines in Toronto while Chivas sits uncompensated)? Are his decisions beginning to become worrisome? If you had your druthers, who would you chose to manage the team- Bradley or Preki?

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: Bradley is a great coach, and there is a reason that he is now the coach of the National Team. Bradley put a decent team together, one with potential. I think in 2006, the team placed seventh in the overall table. The talent he acquired was raw, and predominately came from the MLS draft. Preki acquired a few key players that allowed the team to take the 2007 western conference. Key acquisitions were important, including Paulo Nagamura and Shavar Thomas. Those players may not get a lot of credit, but added the bit of experience and skill the team was missing.

The additions in 2008 made by Preki are outstanding. I say this only because of the practices I've seen and the conversations I have had with players. Wicky and Esky are two players that will perform for Chivas USA. Wicky is unknown here, but will show Beckham-like qualities when he gets healthy and playing time. Alecko is one of the best strikers in the league. He was quiet in RSL, mainly do to poor service and an injury he had for most of the season, but when these two players are healthy, they will be competing for a starting position.

As far as his move with Guevara, it needed to be done. Incase we forgot, his last game playing for Chivas USA, he was substituted and on his way off the field, he shoved an official. When Preki tried to trade Guevara to a taker (TFC), he refused to go (against MLS rules). I am glad he is not Chivas USA.

NUTMEGGED: In the Galaxy game, when Razov scored, We thought, "Oh my. This is not the last goal in this game. This is going to get ugly." And at that point if someone had told us the game would end 5-2, I would have predicted Chivas had won. But the defense just seemed to completely fall apart, not just Guzan, but Suarez and Lawson Vaughn. What do you think Chivas must do differently against Dynamo to solve these problems?

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: My opinion on the Galaxy game is the following. The team didn’t really fall apart. Donovan was unstoppable as he has been most of this year. You should agree that the only reason the Galaxy tied the Dynamo a couple weeks ago was because of Donovan. He is single handedly keeping that team in the hunt (by scoring goals). He is on a rampage and IF he can keep it up, then they will qualify for a playoff spot.

I attribute the 5-2 score line to Preki. He chased the game, and I applaud that. He pulled off a defender and inserted a striker to go after a win. Was it the right decision? Zero points are zero points, so might as well go after them.

NUTMEGGED: What makes you most concerned about what you'll see from Dynamo?

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: Hard play. The Dynamo play hard (on the borderline of dirty). No offense intended, it is always a hard match. If we can’t control the game, we find difficulty scoring.

NUTMEGGED: And last,your final score prediction:

OFFSIDE CHIVAS: No prediction …… Last few I predicted W’s for the Red and White and we see what happened. I will predict this. These two teams, regardless of current form, are the best teams in the Western Conference. The match up will be intense.

Due to me not giving enough info to Alex @ Offside Chivas, reciprocal question and answers will not be on the Offsides Chivas site this week. Thank you, Alex, for your excellent answers and hopefully we can correspond in the future. Read more!