Friday, September 4, 2009

Three and a Big One. Weekend picks

So I was reading an excellent piece from Steve Davis (link here) about the US-El Salvador game tomorrow at Big Sandy. Davis speculates about line-up options for the US and also includes this little tidbit:

(Brian) Ching is almost sure to be in the lineup. His ability to rattle around and make things happen by winning second balls will be critical against what is sure to be a crowded Salvadoran defensive third.

He also mentions that Rico Clark and Goalden Holden are likely to see time. And it doesn't take a genius to see that all three will play as well at Hasley Crawford Stadium in T&T on Wednesday.

So the point I'm winding around to is that while it is nice for Dynamo to have this week off to get set for a serious September-November run (more on those in a sec) and rest, three crucial cogs in the Orange Machine won't be taking any rest at all. It all goes back to that eternal soccer conflict of Club v. Country. In a tortured fashion, I usually wind up on the side of club emotionally. Let's face it, I frequently watch US games that involve Dynamo players and wonder how it will affect Dynamo, but I rarely ever see a Dynamo game and wonder how it'll affect the US MNT. Does this mean I did not scream myself nearly hoarse when Charlie Davies found net at Azteca? Hell no. I'm just confessing my sins as an American that's all.

So, that being said, I also think the US will roll over El Salvador and Benedict Arnold Alvarez in Utah. (And no, my admission of a C v. C conflict up there does not DQ me from making that comment about Arturo, who dumped my alma mater St. Thomas HS to attend Katy Mayde Creek. If that guy goes all Giuseppe Rossi on us, his record of ever having attended STHS will be purged. Take that!) The key will be, as Davis pointed out in his piece, to get through ES' defensive shell because you know almost no member of that team will venture beyond midfield. So pinpoint passing will be key. That's why I think Rico might get subbed early in the second half if it's still 0-0 and also why I included that piece about the Flyin' Hawaiian above.

The US will take this game 2-0 handily, though there will be a few scary moments, especially with Onyewu sitting out.

As for the Wednesday game in Warneristan, check this out, courtesy of duNord:

Nine USA players are carrying Yellow Card cautions into the El Salvador match, meaning their next Yellow will trigger a one-game suspension: Jozy Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Conor Casey, Steve Cherundolo, Ricardo Clark, Jay DeMerit, Clint Dempsey, Donovan, and Benny Feilhaber.

That is muy mucho amarilla. But, on the Orange side, if Rico sees yellow, he's that much fresher for the Supporter's Shield battle at Columbus Sept. 13. So at least we have that going for us, whoever us is at any given moment.

On to MLS play, there are three games this weekend, with very little impact on Dynamo's fortunes. Maybe in terms of playoff foes, but that's about it. And two of the games are being played AT THE EXACT SAME TIME as the US/El Salvador game. I have written frequently in the past that I think this is a disgrace on MLS' part. You're telling me that these games could not have all been played on either Friday night, Saturday afternoon or Sunday? Three lousy games and two of them have to run opposite the United States? No need to continue this rant as it has fallen on deaf ears from the mouths of various and sundry in MLS HQ for years now, but the point has to be made every so often that when the National Team plays, everyone else on the pyramid stops what they're doing and watches. This is a simple lesson and they need to learn it.

On to the picks

Last week: 2-5
Overall: 73-90 (.448 or 19 games over blind chance)

WIZARDS at REVOLUTION 2-0 New England The Revs have the best record in the league since mid June and, let's be honest, do you see any reason why they wouldn't win at home against a Wizards team that has completely quit? You fire the coach because you can't fire the players, but Onalfo wasn't really the reason for KC's demise. The guy now coaching, Vermes, put that team on the field, and now he's reaping his own private whirlwind. The Wizards have an, ahem, broken wand.

DC UNITED at FC DISASTROUS. 2-0 Frisco This would normally be a tough one to predict, but I think DCU's loss in the US Open Cup, especially the Wicks incident, is going to haunt that squad. DC hasn't been an especially brilliant road team, and while Frisco is worse without Drew Moor than with him (think about THAT for a second), they clearly are playing with nothing to lose. DCU is the better team, but I think they will not be focused and Frisco will slip in there. I don't normally pick Frisco to win anything at all (and I'm usually right!), but this time, I'm thinking it's going to fall right for them. The applause, er, the few claps, er, the echoes will be deafening.

TORONTO FC at RAPIDS. 2-1 Reds I finally saw the hit that Mastroeni put on Hainault last week. Wow. Rarely do I get intensely ticked off at something that happened several days ago, but seeing that little punk writhing on the ground, clearly faking the whole thing since he had just leveled someone, just sent me over the edge. I dearly, dearly hope we get to play the Crapids in the first round of the playoffs to administer a little frontier justice. Two games is not enough for that hit. He should be banned for the season. So is that emotion coloring my pick here? Maybe. But let's consider the situation a bit. Colorado is out all four Cs (Colin Clark and Conor "Wisdom Teeth" Casey), out that punk I mentioned above, and plugging in the newly-acquired Drew Moor in place of Ugo Ihemelu, a step down. Toronto is rested and ready and missing only Amado Guevara. I think TFC will get a rare road win here and restart their push for a playoff berth. One other factor: DDR will be a beast in this game. He loves playing in Colorado.

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