Tag Archives: CONCACAF CL

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

This Weekend in MLS – Week 21 Reviewed and Recapped

Shea Salinas

Coming off the shocking performances of a few teams in MLS last week, what was a fan to expect for an encore?  Would we see this week to get the blood flowing in a league that is supposed to be built on parity?  I am sure the results came out in favor of a few sides, and my predictions improved a bit, but overall it was a good week for the MLS.  Many sides were still out with exhibition matches and CONCACAF CL play, so there were only 6 matches taking place this week, with Houston playing in two of them.  I also decided to add a nice video I found of Week 21’s Goals of the Week, which I will post after the recaps for you to enjoy before looking forward.

My predictions for this week: 3-3

MLS All-Time predictions: 7-12

FC Dallas  1 – 0  Houston Dynamo

Starting off the week was a match that I saw Houston taking from start to finish as they travelled to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas.  After Dallas’ shocking performance last week, taking Kansas City 6-0, I did not expect one of the worst teams in the MLS to show an equally strong performance this week.  Dallas would shock even its fans though as Jeff Cunningham continued to score, netting in the 20th minute and giving Dallas the only goal they would need on the night.  Cunningham missed a penalty earlier in the half but it turned out the Hoops would not need it as Houston obviously did not show up to play on this night.  Only odd thing that happened in the match aside from Houston’s lack of offense was when Houston winger Brad Davis earned a red card from the bench late in the match.  Davis would miss Houston’s next match but as I did not see anything from the replays; I am still wondering what he did.

Colorado Rapids  4 – 0  Chivas USA

In one of the strangest matches of the weekend, Colorado waxed Chivas from the opening minute, literally.  Pablo Mastreoni took a back pass from Omar Cummings and blasted it from about 25 yards out in the first minute of the match to give Colorado the 1-0 advantage. (First time Pablo has scored since 2005)  Three minutes later Colorado would practically shut the door on Chivas when Conor Casey lofted a ball from just inside the 18 to beat the Chivas keeper, putting the rapids up 2-0 inside the first 5 minutes.  After the quick start Colorado would settle into the match and wait until the 23rd before scoring their 3rd goal of the match, and again until the first minute of stoppage time to get their 4th, after a red card was given to Chivas defender Shavar Thomas for taking down Omar Cummings in the box.  It was a light red card but Casey scored his hat trick in the first half and Cummings extended his assists total to 10 on the season with 3 coming from this match; I would give him 4 for drawing the penalty as well.  Chivas looked dire in this match and without scoring and without a presence in the back, they could be looking at dropping farther to the depths of the Western Conference by the end of the season if something does not turn around quick.

Real Salt Lake  1 – 0  Seattle Sounders FC

A match that saw Seattle lose yet again!  Could Seattle finally be feeling the freshman pressure of their maiden season in the MLS?  I think so as their results continue to pile up in an unfavorable fashion of late.  Seattle owned this match in every way but the final score.  They dominated possession and had many chances to get in on goal but lack of finishing was yet again the Achilles Heel of Seattle.  RSL keeper Nick Rimando played a ball long in the 62nd and caught Seattle sleeping, hooking up with Robbie Findley, who would shake his defender and put RSL in the lead just before the halfway point of the second half.  Try as they might Seattle never answered and Findley’s goal would be the game winner for RSL.  Seattle needs to wake up if they plan on staying on track for the playoffs.  They have not dropped from their playoff position yet, but if they do not find the scoring touch pretty soon they could follow Chivas down the standings.

San Jose Earthquakes  0 – 3  Columbus Crew

Coming off a few strong performances, San Jose were feeling good and looking to try and take down another strong opponent this week.  Seattle and DC had failed to defeat San Jose in the past two weeks but Columbus is a bird of a different color and would not be had so easily by the Earthquakes.  San Jose would play the Crew tough throughout, but once the Columbus found the back of the net in the 69th it was all downhill.  Moreno would net for the Crew in the 69th after coming off the bench to put the Crew ahead.  Four minutes later in the 73rd, Robbie Rogers would find the net to increase the score line, and in the dying minutes (87th) of the match substitute Adam Moffat would finish off the Earthquakes with a goal of his own.  The Crew is looking strong and will only become better as they see some of their top talent return to fitness.  Could there be another MLS cup in their future this season?

New England Revolution  1 – 2 Los Angeles Galaxy

On the road in a place they have not won since 1999, LA would try to continue a run of good form with a win over the Revs.  They would not be disappointed this round, as NE is a bit weaker than previous seasons and LA seem to have found their stride of late.  What can only be described as the inevitable goal of the week happened for LA and Landon Donovan in the 21st minute, when a shot deflected from inside the box found Donovan just outside the right wing of the 18 and he smashed it with a volley into the side netting past Matt Reis, putting LA up 1-0 early.  Kirovski would add to the lead in the 52nd after find the end of an Eddie Lewis cross that got Reis out of position and allowed Kirovski to turn and poke the ball into an uncontested net to pad the Galaxy’s lead.  New England is not a team to quit though and a takedown in the box in the 82nd by Galaxy rookie Omar Gonzalez would grant the Revs a PK opportunity.  Not one to miss a chance, veteran Steve Ralston would step up for NE and slam the PK home to give the Revs a chance in the final minutes of the match.  Through some desperate defending that LA have not been too successful with in the past, they would hold on and finish out the match though, earning a big 3 points on the road in this one.

Houston Dynamo  3 – 2  Chicago Fire

Closing out the week on Sunday night, Dynamo players and fans were out looking for a win against the visiting Chicago Fire.  After a disappointing performance Thursday, the Dynamo would come out firing, though their breakthrough would not come right away.  In the 21st minute however, Houston would catch the Fire sleeping in their own end and Kei Kamara would receive the inbound pass and turn to find himself in on Fire keeper Busch without a defender in sight.  Kamara would fire almost point blank on Busch and put it past him and into the far side of the net.  In the 38th Houston would strike paydirt yet again as Brian Ching played a beautiful long ball into the left side of the box for a hustling Ricardo Clark, who would take a nice left-footed touch over an onrushing Jon Busch and into the net, putting Houston up 2-0 at the half.

The second half may have seen a totally different Houston side emerge as Chicago came out pressing to get back into the match.  A Blanco ball found an open Patrick Nyarko in the 47th minute before Nyarko laid it off to Chris Rolfe; Rolfe took the pass and cleared some space before unleashing a rocket from 25 yards out to beat Houston’s Pat Onstad, bringing the scoreline to 2-1 and breathing life into the Fire.  Minutes later a questionable decision would be made by Houston defender Julius James when ushering a ball to the touchline; Blanco would approach and looked to give James a nudge knocking him off the ball that would soon lead to the game tying goal.  James in my opinion went down way too easy, but in the 48th Blanco took that ball and played a beautiful cross into the box that found Peter Lowry right before he volleyed it into the net to tie up the match.  The decision to not call Blanco for the foul on James was questionable, but unless you have the Oscar’s that Blanco has in his trophy case you cannot go down that easy.  The match looked to be a tie going into the end when Houston’s Corey Ashe was taken down late in the proceedings by Brandon Prideaux on what can only be called a very light penalty.  Whether it was a makeup call for the Blanco no call earlier or the ref believed it was a penalty is beyond me, but there did not look to be enough contact to warrant a penalty in this case.  In the end Stuart Holden would step up and put the game away for Houston from the penalty spot, giving Houston the win and me a win over Chicago in my predictions for the first time.  It was a good match and one that Houston needed after the poor result earlier in the week.

Next weekend looks to be a very busy one on the MLS schedule.  Most teams will be back on track with only New England, San Jose, and Colorado having the week off.  After watching the USMNT travel to Mexico City this weekend the focus will be back on the MLS for a bit here in the US, so looking at next week here are a few matches to look out for.

  • DC United  v  TFC – Which team gets back on track in MLS after recent poor league form.
  • Chivas USA  v  NYRB – Can the Red Bulls steal one against a struggling Chivas side?
  • FC Dallas v  Columbus – Can Dallas continue their race towards the playoffs?
  • Seattle  v  LA – Does Seattle find their form or do LA continue their ascent?

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Filed under Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, DC United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, International Football, 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, USMNT

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