Tottenham Hotspur, Red Bull New York, and Club América were all in action today. Let’s start with the good; Spurs began their match against Q.P.R. strongly and applied pressure from the outset. Bale’s first goal was a result of beautiful movement and seamless passes. Across the Atlantic in Red Bull Arena, we were not treated to such a show in the final third. The Red Bulls were hosting the regular season champion Los Angeles Galaxy but the first leg of MLS’s marquee match-up failed to produce the promised goals. Going south of the border, Club América hosted DaMarcus Beasley and Puebla FC. Even in front of 80,000 aguila faithful, América did not provide the quality of play expected of them.
Tonight’s game was a midfield war of attrition between FC Dallas and Red Bull New York. I would have predicted that as the game wore on, Dallas would create more and more chances. If New York was going to find a way into this game, I thought it would come from an early strike like the 1-0 game against Philadelphia last week. Counter-intuitively, however, the Red Bulls pushed at the end of the first half and started the second half strong. Without Luke Rodgers due to injury, New York started mostly the same lineup they out in the last match. Rost in goal, Miller, Ream, Keel and Solli in front of him. Tainio as a defensive minded midfielder, Marquez as the playmaker, Lindpere and McCarty out wide, with Henry partnering Dane Richards up top. Continue reading
Rafael van der Vaart scored twice, once in each half, to lead Tottenham to victory over Blackburn at Ewood Park on Sunday. This weekend was a tumultuous matchday across Europe (Milan coming back from 3-0 down to beat Lecce) but especially in England where QPR defeated Chelsea and Manchester City demolished their crosstown rivals in what Sir Alex Ferguson described as “the worst result in my history, ever.” Somewhere tucked in between all the drama of the week 9 in the Premier League, Tottenham travelled to face Blackburn Rovers who are struggling at the bottom of the table despite seemingly playing up to par with their opponents. Continue reading
After New York’s do-or-die victory over the Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena on Thursday, we knew the Red Bulls would play in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs but we didn’t know against whom they’d play. That depended on Houston’s match against Los Angeles yesterday. I had predicted that the Galaxy might use that match to build momentum for the playoffs, but smartly, Bruce Arena rested key players and gave youngsters like Jack McBean a run out. McBean actually scored against Houston as the Galaxy’s youngest player in franchise history despite his team losing 3-1. Houston’s victory propelled into second place in the East, pushing Columbus down into a wild card position. That means that New York, as the fourth wild card seed, will travel to face-off against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Wednesday night. Continue reading
Thursday at home against Rubin Kazan was a match that Tottenham needed to win to maintain dominance in their Europa League group. Harry Redknapp sent out Gomes; Walker, Bassong, Livermore, Rose; Lennon, Carroll, Sandro, Giovani; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko; in a 4-4-2 formation. Pavlyuchenko scored the only goal of the game and Gomes made a number of big saves to keep the score at 1-0. In the second half, Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul and Modric subbed in to shore up the game. Even with the additions, Rubin Kazan pressed Tottenham for the whole match.
Redknapp ran out a starting 11 that included two regular first team players; Walker and Defoe. Both Sandro and Aaron Lennon have been recovering from injury and neither was 100% fit. Going forward, it was obvious that this group of players did not have experience playing together as players constantly made errant passes and mistimed runs. Tottenham had to absorb a great deal of pressure from the Russian side in both halves without creating much going the other way. This was surely a performance that Spurs would like to forget despite squeezing out the result. After all, The Game Is About Glory, not just getting the result after 90 minutes.
I’m looking forward to seeing Bale, Modric, Parker, van der Vaart, and Adebayor tear into the Blackburn Rovers defense on Sunday. We need a good strong win at Ewood Park to boost the team after a poor performance against Rubin Kazan and a tough draw last weekend away to Newcastle.
Dane Richards was the hero on Thursday night. In the eighth minute at Red Bull Arena against the Philadelphia Union, Richards rose up to meet a from the right cross by Jan Gunnar Solli. That goal punched New York’s ticket to the playoffs in their final match of the season. Better late than never, even though many fans (myself included) thought it was an unlikely result for the last few weeks.
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Each fall that goes by I tell myself I’m going to be more attuned to NCAA soccer. Perhaps I’ll follow one of the perennial top teams like the University of Akron or University of Maryland or UCLA. Well, this year has been no different in that I planned on watching a few games and following the few dozen players scattered across the country who will make the transition to the professional game. The difference is that this year I am actually following through and I think you should join me. Continue reading
Saturday’s game away to Sporting Kansas City for the New York Red Bulls potentially showcased how the highest paid team in the league plays a must-win game. I’ve said it before and at risk of beating a dead horse, a team with the quality of the Red Bulls should not be struggling to make the playoffs. Hans Backe led his team into Livestrong Park in need of a tie to shore up a playoff spot. By far, the most important moment of the match was Thierry Henry’s red card offense.
Some thoughts after the jump…
This one will be quicker, I promise.
Under Jurgen Klinsmann, even a loss can be exciting. Today I want to look at who should be getting a call up in November. For the international break that runs November 11-15, the United States is slated to play two matches in Europe. One of these games is suspected to be against France and the other is yet to be decided. I’d like a match against a team like Serbia, a team that it not clearly out and out better than us. Probably the two most exciting bits of news are the possible inclusion of Joe Benny Corona (21) and Fabian Johnson (23). Continue reading
Tuesday night’s match in Red Bull Arena was a lot more for the United States Mens’ National Team than a simple 1-0 loss to Ecuador. Ecuador was never going to be an easy match-up for the US, but we could have won the game with a little more clarity in front of goal. Ultimately, whether you think Klinsmann’s baby-step process is the correct path to take or you want to see the US try to win at all costs is a bit irrelevant and premature to me. I’d rather examine which players had strong performances that may have earned them the call back into the squad in November and which players floundered with their chances. Probably the biggest winner on the night was Oguchi Onyewu.
Highlights and analysis: Continue reading