Category Archives: CONCACAF CL

3 matches and no real shocks in the CONCACAF CL

Robbie Rogers

So Tuesday saw the opening of the CONCACAF CL group stages, and here we would receive the opening matches from groups B and C on the night.  The other match played on the evening was from Group D, and in all honesty the result came out as one would expect.  So for those of you following along with me, here are a few words on the two matches I was able to watch and I will make sure to drop the score line from the Group D game as well.

UNAM (Mexico)  1 – 0  Comunicaciones (Guatemala)

Columbus Crew (USA/MLS)  2 – 0  Puerto Rico Islanders (PR/USL-1)

I was not sure what to expect out of this match, but I have to say I always saw Columbus as the better side in this one.  PRI would be missing a few players to injury and suspension, while Columbus had back their Argentinian leader Schelotto and hard nosed front man Moreno.  The match would be played by both sides as expected, with PRI trying to attack through the long ball and Columbus relying on a number of creative passes to create chances.  Columbus looked the better side from the start but could not find the net in the first half, taking the match into halftime at 0-0.

Going into the second half, the Crew coaching staff, seeing that they were the dominant side, would make a change to their lineup by bringing in another big attacker in Steven Lenhart to pair with Moreno up top.  This would work for the Crew, and in the 57th Lenhart would find the net on a cross from central defender Chad Marshall.  This goal would give the side the lead they needed to be able to bring off Schelotto, who is just back from injury, and use their strong defense to close out the match.  I had no doubt about the result of this match after Columbus went up, but they surprised me as Robbie Rogers picked up a deflected cross in the box and slotted it home, taking the Crew up 2-0 and all but guaranteeing their win.

Columbus showed well on their first night, but with their group makeup I would not go writing them into the later rounds just yet.  Their group also contains Costa Rican side Saprissa and Mexican side Cruz Azul, both teams very tough.  So in the end the Crew got the result they needed, as it looks like the rest of the way might be an uphill battle.

Marathon (Honduras)  3 – 1  DC United (USA/MLS)

DC’s run of bad form continues.  This is all I could think as I watched the match against the Hondurans.  If you watched you would think that DC had the better of the possession and that they looked dangerous on multiple occasions, but I do not think you could say that you thought they would win this one.  Having beaten DC handily last season in the CCL, Marathon knew what to expect from a DCU team, even if there were some new faces on the pitch.  The Hondurans for their part, started out slow in this one, making even the announcers think DCU had some sort of advantage.  The match should have only been 2-1 in the end, but a bonehead encroachment move on a penalty by a DCU player brought the saved penalty by Josh Wicks back to be taken again, at which time Mario Berrios finished his second attempt.

The Hondurans looked dangerous on the counter all night, as a slower DCU back line could not keep up when a ball was played long forward to the Marathon front men, and it was at one of these moments that Marathon’s Walter Martinez would find the opening goal; coming in the 23rd minute after a defensive blunder.  DCU would strike back right after the break though with a header that left Luciano Emilio bloodied and highly ineffective for the rest of the evening.  Try as they might DCU could not find another goal in this one, and in the 78th, Honduran International Jerry Palacios found the net for the goal that would put the Honduran side ahead.  Insult to injury would be added from the penalty spot late, but with a busy schedule coming up; DCU will get on with it and return to DC to await the Galaxy of the MLS at the weekend.

DC do not look like they will make it out of the group stages at the moment, but as we have seen many times before, you cannot base the final from the first performance.  The side currently looks to lack the talent to compete at this level, but with the transfer window still open, there could be more bodies on their way in.  Marathon should be dangerous in this group with their combination of speed and attacking, but this match would not be one they would want a repeat performance of.  Had DC been a better side the result could be very different, but Marathon made it work and fought through a performance that was not up to their skill level.  The return leg of this one should make for an interesting match as DCU will now be looking for their first win in 4 against the Hondurans.

So there is the wrap on Tuesday night’s CONCACAF CL action, there are a few more matches this week, but the TV coverage is spotty and only showing the MLS sides I think.  I will update with them as they come in, but I would not expect much in the form of an in depth story, as many of the matches in these early rounds will not be shown.  So until next time, tune in to some MLS, CCL, or any of the other footy that has now started up around the world.

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Filed under Comunicaciones, CONCACAF, CONCACAF CL, FMF, Marathon, Puerto Rico Islanders, Rest of the World, UNAM, Uncategorized, USL

Gavin picks the MLS – Week 23 picks

028

So after a dismal few weeks of picking matches in the MLS, I have decided to turn matters over to my son Gavin from here on out.  Gavin is 2 years old, going on 3 in September, and I am working on getting him started into the game early as I had him watch the opening match of the EPL season with me Saturday morning; since he was awake already.  So from here on out I relinquish control of the MLS picks to him, and he seemed to enjoy making them so it should be quite interesting, until he forms a real opinion or picks his own club.  So without further ado, here are Gavin’s picks for MLS’ Week 23.

Last Week:  1 – 5

MLS Overall:  8 – 17

**team in bold is chosen winner, no bold denotes a draw

Los Angeles  v  Chicago

New England  v  Seattle

Los Angeles  v  DC United

Kansas City v  San Jose

Toronto v  Chivas USA

FC Dallas v  New York

Colorado v  Chicago

Real Salt Lake  v  New England

Seattle  v  Houston

Now here is my take on the matches, minus any REAL predictions.

Chicago should show strong as usual and LA are hurting at the moment, but I would not be surprised if LA come out to play in this one as Donovan will be a bit more recovered from his H1N1 virus, and they were managing before Beckham joined the team so his absence should not hurt them much.

Seattle got a result in what I can only guess was a horribly called match last weekend, but New England is struggling this season, and Seattle is a tough place to play this term.  This could be an interesting match to watch, if one of the sides can get a goal early.

LA will go from a mid-week matchup in Chicago to DC, who will have played a CCL match on Tuesday in Honduras.  This match in DC could go either way with both teams playing two matches in a short week.  LA could bounce back in this one after dropping two, but DC has the deeper side and should give the Galaxy trouble in DC.

Two of the worst possible teams face each other this week in San Jose.  Kansas City will come to town and will be looking to get on track, after going through a recent coaching change.  San Jose could pose a problem to Kansas City though, as they have gotten some results of late, and do not look to be giving up on their season quite yet.  This is probably one of the more useless matches to view of the week, the other taking place in New York.

After getting back on track against DC last weekend, Toronto will travel to the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA, who also managed to gain back some confidence in New York on the weekend.  This should be an entertaining match, and very physical with the two sides involved.  Do not be surprised to see more than a couple of bookings in this one, and maybe a player or two sent off by the end, as they both play a pretty physical game.

Dallas will travel this week to New York to face what has to be the worst team in the MLS at the moment.  This match is almost pointless, except I am a Dallas fan and hope to see them do well.  Dallas still has an outside chance at the playoffs, but New York really has nothing to look forward to for the rest of the season, and should be playing spoiler for the rest of their term.

The only other match I am really looking forward to is taking place in Chicago at the weekend, as Colorado come to town.  Colorado has looked good of late and Chicago will be playing their second match inside of a week with a weakened squad.  I am very interested to see if Colorado can take their show on the road in this one and find a result, but I am afraid I am going to be sadly disappointed by Chicago shutting up shop and defending like made.  Here is hoping that Colorado gets a goal early so Chicago cannot get all their men behind the ball for 90 minutes.

New England will welcome Salt Lake into Foxboro this weekend after returning from a late week match against Seattle, in Seattle.  With a weakened squad, I find it hard to believe New England can compete strongly twice in one week, but I would hope so since Salt Lake is not one of the stronger sides in the league.  This match will most likely be a bore to watch, but there are some entertaining players, and if they can produce some fireworks it could be interesting to see.

After a disappointing result in Seattle a few weeks back, the match that earned Brian Ching his $500 fine for his comment on Twitter, Houston will welcome the Sounders to Houston.  The Houston side will be on a short week as they open up CCL group play in the mid-week, but barring any serious injuries, Houston should be up for this match as they are used to this busy schedule.  Seattle will also be on a short week after playing New England at home in the mid-week, but if they can find the net this could be a match to watch.  The MLS new boys have had their ups and downs this season, but at the moment they still find themselves in position to make the playoffs, a feat not normally associated with a first year expansion side.  This should be a match to watch this weekend though.  I know I will be tuning in.

So there it is.  Week 23 picked by my son so I no longer have to embarrass myself trying to pick a league based on parity, to be sadly disappointed as the results roll in.  This should be a good weekend, as the MLS is packed with matches, the CCL and UEFA CL have action, and the EPL will start in the mid-week.  Another busy week in the world of footy.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, CONCACAF CL, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC, Uncategorized

Recap of MLS Week 22 – Pushing towards the playoffs

Fan

So as this was the opening weekend of the EPL, I did not watch any MLS matches this weekend.  It was a busy weekend as it sat and I could not find time to get through all of the matches.  I have watched some, but I am going to stick to a brief recap on the weekend’s action.  As for the normal predictions review included with this post, I am planning a new predictions review post that will cover both the MLS weekend picks and the EPL picks into one.  Also, starting with MLS Week 23 fixtures, there will be a change to how the games are picked so lookout for that.  Enough babbling by me though, so let’s get on to the action.

Toronto FC  2 – 0  DC United

With Toronto’s recent struggles I had not expected this result, but TFC righted their ship this week and got back on track with an important win against Conference rivals DC United.  Dwayne De Rosario would put TFC up in the 30th to take TFC in at the half up 1-0.  TFC was not finished yet though, as O’Brian White netted for TFC in the 66th to put TFC up 2-0 and secure the home win.  DC will be in action this week in the CONCACAF CL so look for them, TFC bowed out of the CCL in the preliminary rounds, so now I am looking for them to get back on track in the league.

New York Red Bulls  0 – 2  Chivas USA

Chivas pulled it off in the Big Apple!  Having not scored a goal and seeing their strong start to the season resemble Hull City’s EPL start last season, Chivas have gotten themselves back on track.  What better a side to do it against than the NYRB, a side who has the leagues worst record and do not look to improve on it any time in the near future.  Chivas would end their scoring drought early on in the match through Maykel Galindo in the 14th and in the 90th with Eduardo Lillingston.  These goals were crucial to Chivas USA, who have been through a very rough patch of late and needed an easy match to gain back some confidence.  There will be hope for Chivas yet this season as they start their ascent back up the table while New York Red Bulls continue to anchor themselves to the bottom.

Columbus  2 – 0  FC Dallas

I do not know what to say about this match.  As a Dallas supporter I feel I should rail against the ref who made a poor call that led to Columbus’ first goal, but as someone who writes about the sport and who knows the team in question, I think no matter what the ref did or did not call Dallas needed to score and didn’t.  Columbus got their first goal on a header from Marshall in the 10th through a corner earned by a poor call.  Dallas pressured Columbus throughout the match though, looking dangerous at times but lacking the finishing touch.  Columbus would shut the door on Dallas though in the 87th when substitute Eddie Gaven came on and weaved his way through the Dallas defense before beating Dario Sala, to give the Crew a 2-0 victory.  Columbus continues to get the results although I do think their play is less than stellar of late, and Dallas needs to keep on going and score some more goals.  The playoffs are a far off option for Dallas still, but results like this one are not going to help them get any closer to those coveted playoff spots come the end of the season.

Real Salt Lake  0 – 0  Houston Dynamo

I thought for sure Houston would take this match, but that would not be the case on this night as both teams failed to find the back of the net.  The only real stat of interest in this one for me was the fact that both sides finished with 10 men as Houston’s Andrew Hainault managed two yellows in the first half, to be sent off in the 36th, and RSL’s Clint Mathis followed suit by picking up his second yellow in the 45th.  This tells me one of two things about this match.  Either the match was poorly called, which is the most likely case in MLS, or the players did not heed the refs early cards as warning enough.  Either way, there is no reason to have sent off two players in the first half.  I might have to go back and watch this one later to see what really happened.

Los Angeles  0 – 2  Seattle Sounders FC

Looks like the Sounders have bounced back when you look at the score line, but I doubt that was the whole story in this one, as two players were sent off for the Galaxy in the match and one for Seattle, and Landon Donovan did not enter the match for the Galaxy until the second half while recovering from his bout with the H1N1 virus.  Now after looking at the stats in this match I am definitely planning to go back and look at the tape to see what happened, but David Beckham was the first sent off in the 17th minute, with Seattle’s Tyrone Marshall following in the 76th and Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis departing in the 79th.  Only Marshall’s was for two yellows, as both Galaxy players were issued straight reds by the official.  Missing a healthy Donovan did not help the Galaxy and going down to 9 men in the end did them no favors either.  Seattle did manage to find the finishing touch again in this one though as Steve Zakuani netted in the 22nd and Fredy Montero found the net in the 54th.  Since I did not watch the match I will not pass judgment on Seattle, but I do not think the new side is out of the woods yet, as winning against a weakened side does not convince anyone that you have gotten back in your stride.  Next weekend’s result will probably be the result that fans should concern themselves with concerning Seattle, and LA should be alright as this could just be a little bump on the final stretch of the season.

Kansas City  0 – 2  Chicago

Mike Banner scored his first goal for Chicago!  That was the headline I saw referring to this match.  Kansas City is in dire straits at the moment, following the sacking of their coach and their lack of results of late, but I was surprised to see Chicago win this one by 2.  No McBride and no Blanco did not look good for Chicago coming into this one, but I am guessing through sheer grit, the Fire pulled it out.  Rolfe provided the goal that Chicago would need in the 13th and Banner did net for his first time in a Fire uniform in the 89th.  I am guessing Chicago’s defense was great as usual in this one.  The only other thing that happened of note was the sending off of Kansas City’s Zoltan Hercegfalvi in the 86th.  It had no real effect on the match for sure, but Kansas City is not looking like they will improve anytime soon.

So there you have it.  MLS Week 22 is now in the books and a few teams will now be looking forward to their group stages in the CONCACAF Champions League.  This will be a busy week for a few sides and many writers, but look for my predictions with a new twist to be up in the next day or so for Week 23.  I now have a few matches to catch up on to better understand what the outcome was, but that is nothing new in MLS, as there are always strange occurrences.  My prediction wrap up should be posted before long, but as the UEFA CL is starting up along with mid-week matches in the EPL, it will be another busy week in the world of soccer.

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Columbus Crew, CONCACAF CL, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Kansas City Wizards, Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC

Red Bulls do not disappoint, staying true to form – CONCACAF CL – Leg 2

Another night in the CONCACAF Champions league and another night with an MLS team bowing out, no surprises there.  I recorded both matches and caught them when I got home tonight, only to find that neither game was entirely watchable, and neither match provided enough excitement or decent enough play to keep a viewer entertained.  The Cruz Azul v Herediano match was probably the best of the two matches and the outcome had pretty much been decided last week in Costa Rica when Cruz Azul won 6-2, gaining a win and 6 away goals in the process.  There were only the two matches tonight so here is a quick breakdown of the action that took place.

W Connection v New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls (USA)  1 – 2  W Connection (Trinidad and Tobago)

Watching the worst team in the MLS compete in any match gets tiresome at times, but watching the complete debacle of a team who made it to the MLS Cup the previous season is something else entirely.  NYRB’s came out of the match with W Connection last week with a 2-2 draw and two away goals in the bag, something no one could have ever predicted would have happened, given the form of NY this season.  So coming off the first leg last week it looked as if NY had a good chance to somehow right their ship in the CCL at least this season and move forward with one positive thing.  All the Red Bulls had to do was to not lose the match and not give up 3 goals, should be an easy task when you are playing at home one would think.  Not the case though, as we would find out soon enough. The Red Bulls were without their number one player, Juan Pablo Angel, but in a match where the side just needed a 0-0 draw his absence should not have influenced the result much.  NY would start out quick with a goal in the 18th from the ageless John Wolyniec, taking a 3-2 aggregate lead in scoring.  NY still looked as if they could pull off the win until sometime around the halfway point of the first half when the team just completely forgot how to play.  All of a sudden fans and spectators watched as NY imploded.  Passes were not being completed, defense was now just a word, and scoring chances were nowhere to be seen.  W Connection would take advantage of this as Andre Toussaint would equalize in the 39th, beating Seth Stammler one on one before putting the ball past NY’s keeper Danny Cepero.  W Connection were not through though and still needed a goal to put them into the group stages of the competition.  Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Toussaint would pick off a pass from the back line of NY and put another past Cepero in the 45th, putting W Connection up 2-1 going into the half. Now one would think that something would happen in the locker room at halftime to energize the Red Bulls at home and push them to score another match, giving them a chance at moving on in the tournament, this would not happen tonight though.  The Red Bulls pushed but so did the T&T side.  Neither team would find another goal in the second half nor would the Red Bulls become the second MLS side to advance this week, leaving only DC United to advance while the Red Bulls and Toronto FC were sent home early.  Rumor is that Red Bull’s coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, has a job until the end of the season but with the sack race one I would not put it past NY to find a way to get him out sooner.

CONCACAF CAM ZEBALLOS

Cruz Azul (Mexico)  0 – 0  Herediano (Costa Rica)

Having seen the 6-2 demise of Herediano in their home leg last week, I was almost expecting what I saw tonight.  It looked as if Cruz Azul were fielding a complete second string side in the match to rest their stars with advancement almost imminent.  Herediano would come out swinging though, trying to at least give a good performance against the stronger Mexican side.  The match produced no goals but both keepers saw plenty of action as both sides looked for a breakthrough.  Cruz Azul will advance through this round as expected, and I have to say that although there were no goals scored, the fast paced box to box action made this match much more enjoyable to watch than the first match of the evening.  Look for Cruz Azul to be a tough match in the group stages, and possibly on into the knockout rounds.

Looking forward, there are 3 matches slated for tomorrow night, all three of which have the winning side from leg 1 on the road.  Panamanian side San Francisco will make the trip to T&T to face off with San Juan Jabloteh to start the night, San Francisco lead 2-0 on aggregate and look the side most likely to move through to the group stages in this tie.  Taking place at the same time in Panama, Honduran side Olimpia will be taking their 2-1 advantage on the road to face Arabe Unido, this could possibly be the most interesting match on the night with Olimpia leading on aggregate but Arabe Unido having the away goal from the first leg.  Look out as I think Olimpia will make it through this leg in the end but will be in for a fight to the finish.  Closing out the night Costa Rican side Liberia will take on Honduran side Real Espana to see who gets to move on and who gets to go home.  Liberia look to be the top side in this matchup with their convincing 3-0 win in the first leg and I would not look for much to change, making Liberia the final club to advance to the group stages, closing out the Preliminary Rounds of the CCL.  The action should be interesting tomorrow night and I will be following from a distance as FC Dallas welcome Houston to Frisco for a match that could prove to be even more interesting with FC Dallas’ current form and the rivalry that exists between these two sides.

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Filed under CONCACAF CL, Cruz Azul, FMF, MLS, New York Red Bulls, Rest of the World, Uncategorized

Disappointment, Redemption, Expectation – Leg 2 of CCL

Well last night started out the second leg of the Preliminary Round of the CONCACAF Champions League, becoming one of triumph and defeat. I was only able to catch two of the matches, since the 3rd was played at the same time as the second with no repeat airings, so here is what I saw and I will insert the score of the 3rd match at the end for those following the results with me.

Dwayne De Rosario

Puerto Rico Islanders 0 – 0 Toronto FC

**PRI advance on 1-0 aggregate scoring

Now I could go on telling you how the USL is an American league as well and that PR is part of the U.S. or even that TFC is Canadian, but I won’t. TFC played poorly is what it all boils down to. In both matches TFC had opportunities that they squandered and PRI made the most of one chance and played defense, not perfectly but enough to get through. Toronto failed to produce a single goal in this two legged tie and should feel bad about it given the chances they failed to capitalize on. In the second leg TFC pushed for the entire 90 minutes, though looking dangerous at many points, never managed to put it together in the final third to score. This is the third match I have seen Ali Gerba play for TFC and the most dangerous thing I have seen from him was a deflection against New England in league play that led to a Dwayne De Rosario goal. The finishing was poor, the passing in the final third was poor, and the overall play by TFC was lacking. While TFC was happy to make their first appearance in CCL play, they were disappointing to watch and deserved the early exit they have now received.

MLS: MAY 30 United at Revolution

Luis Angel Firpo 1 – 1 DC United

**DC United advance through PK win after extra time.

I could say Firpo was surprising, but it was more along the lines of DC played poorly again in the CCL. They will advance, but unless something changes in the group stages they will be disappointed in the CCL again this season. Firpo came into the match tied 1-1 on aggregate, but having scored the away goal they held the advantage. DC had no excuses on this night in El Salvador as they fielded a strong squad to start the match, minus rookie sensation Chris Pontius and the new guy Danny Szetela. Both men would see action on the night though. Firpo would earn a PK in the 39th when a ball would strike a DC’s Marc Burch on his outstretched hand from a free kick, and on the ensuing pk Leandro would put Firpo up 1-0, increasing Firpo’s advantage. DC had held much of the match up to this point and would change nothing as three minutes later in the 42nd Christian Gomez would equalize for the MLS side. The rest of the match was played with DC in control for most of the time and Firpo not looking exactly dangerous on the counter, but nothing would come of DC’s pressure and the match would see extra time. Extra time would pass with neither side finding the breakthrough, though DC’s Da Silva would earn a red card in the 118th minute of play, leaving DC to finish out the last few minutes with 10 in order to take it to penalties. This was not a storybook ending for DC, but they took the PK Shootout 5-4 and will now advance for the first time in a few years, also becoming on of the few MLS sides who have managed to qualify while playing in Central America. The result was good for DC, but unless their play picks up before the group stages, it looks as though they could find themselves right back at home before the knockout stages begin.

APER SOC CALERO

Deportivo Jalapa 1 – 7 Pachuca

**Pachuca advance 10-1 on aggregate

In a match that looked promising to be exciting, the final score line does not disappoint. Jalapa scored on a penalty and Pachuca, who there was in no danger going into this match, missed one penalty. There was one hat trick in the match and 5 different goal scorers for Pachuca. They side looks strong going into group play and will not disappoint those who enjoy watching good football be played.

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Filed under CONCACAF CL, DC United, FMF, MLS, Pachuca, Puerto Rico Islanders, Rest of the World, Toronto FC, Uncategorized, USL