Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Proper Words in Proper Places
Are the True Definiton of Style"
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

"The reality of MLS budgets is that teams don't have the money to go out and become Chelsea or Arsenal." -- MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis attempting to obliterate the Stating the Obvious Barrier in an otherwise interesting breakdown of the new Major League Soccer rules.


"If it's a jump ball, we're the fourth-largest market and they're not." -- Sons of Ben advocate Carl Cherkin mixing his sports metaphors in an otherwise intelligent analysis of the Philly vs. St. Louis MLS Expansion Franchise Steel Cage Match Extravaganza.


"Some mistakes I feel like I made as a 15, 16-year-old obviously I wouldn't repeat now, because I learned a lot from it and it helped make me a better person." -- Maturing Freddy Adu getting all philosophical and stuff in an otherwise straightforward feature on the former MLS, current Benfica prodigy.


"We are investigating as to whether the policeman was justified in taking out his firearm and discharging it, and also why he had it with him during the match." -- Malaysian official employing dry government-speak in an otherwise extraordinary report regarding a soccer referee packing heat and making like Yosemite Sam in a recent game gone bad.


Red Bull Rising Quotes Archive

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Gift to You: Red Bull Park Porn

By now, you've already seen the official, updated design release for Red Bull Park. In fact, you've probably already stumbled upon the website with the three rotating photos of what we hope the future MLS Cathedral in lovely Harrison, New Jersey will look like.

In the spirit of the season, we here at Red Bull Rising are posting seven additional, possibly illicit, but certainly tasteful, snapshots of the future Red Bull Park, inspired by LA-based Rossetti Architects, the outfit currently tasked with ... er ... erecting ... our fabulous new Beautiful Game Basilica along the banks of the pristine Passaic River.

It's Like Rio Carnival, Only in Hudson County!

Check Out That Box!

You Come Here Often?

GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAL!

Even The Signs Are Cutting Edge!

You Don't Own Red Bull, You Only Rent It

Dude, I'm SO THERE!


UPDATE: Billy Buzzkill in Comments notes the photos are not brand new. Oh, and another thing, Angelina Jolie's smokin' hot bod in Beowulf is computer-generated, and since we're all about balance and fairness and inclusion here at Red Bull Rising, Becks stuffs with socks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Twelve Days of Red Bull Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
A suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the second day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the third day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
The Cletus Returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Juan Pablo A-Scoring,
The Cletus Returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Beautiful dreaming,
Juan Pablo A-Scoring,
The Cletus Returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
More First-round losing,
Beautiful dreaming,
Juan Pablo A-Scoring,
The Cletus Returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Bruce goes a-leaving,
More First-round losing,
Beautiful dreaming,
Juan Pablo A-Scoring,
The Cletus Returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
Empty Suit keeps a-spinning
Bruce goes a-leaving,
More First-round losing,
Beautiful dreaming,
Juan Pablo A-Scoring,
The Cletus Returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium Plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
The Red Bull sent to me
O-Sor-Io signing,
Empty Suit keeps a-spinning,
Bruce goes a-leaving,
More First-round losing,
Beautiful dreaming,
Juan Pablo a-scoring,
The Cletus returning,
Clau-Di-O Stinks,
First round exit,
Stadium plans,
Bruce Almighty,
And a suit named Marc de Grandpre.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Red Bull Make Point Heading Into Playoffs

The Red Bull had nothing to gain on Thursday night in the City of Angels. With the New England Revolution already booked as the first-round MLS Playoffs opponent, the game against the Galaxy, while admittedly interesting, meant very little to Bruce Arena's Gang. Regardless, there were several positives and a couple of negatives resulting from the 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center.

POSITIVES:

  • Jozy Altidore, playing out of position on the wing, had a very strong game, including a poacher's delight open headball goal off The Big Easy, Dave van den Bergh's terrific cross, and appeared 100-percent healthy. A fit Jozy paired with Juan Pablo Angel will be real trouble for the Revolution next week.


  • Dane Richards also had a fine game, continuing his late-season push for rookie of the year, which sadly, will probably be in vain due to Toronto FC's Maurice Edu's strong debut for the US National Team on Wednesday in Switzerland. Voters will likely flock to Edu's cause after he helped Team USA to a rare victory on European soil.


  • Chris Leitch looked shaky again. Nope this is not a typo or editing error, we did not mean to place this point in the NEGATIVE category. This is a good thing, because Arena would have to be nuts to pencil this guy into the lineup on Oct. 27 after another sub-par outing.


  • Despite the absence of Francis "Grandpa" Doe, Claudio Reyna and Clint Mathis, the Red Bull were dangerous offensively. Putting aside (for now) grievances against or allegiances to these guys, it's an indication of good team depth that even without them on the field, the Galaxy had difficulty covering their own third of the pitch.


  • NEGATIVES:

  • The last thing any squad wants going into the playoffs is a shaky goaltending situation. Landon Donovan's cross was superb and Troy Roberts' header was solid, but Tim Conway's stagefright was the star of the show for the lone Galaxy goal. And the petulant, ill-timed retirement announcement by The Walrus doesn't improve matters.

  • The Big Easy, Dave van den Bergh, limped off the Home Depot pitch on Thursday, a DoublePlus NotGood for the Red Bull. Defensively DVB has been outstanding, solidfying the left fullback slot with poise and skill. Offensively, The Big Easy's natural tendency to overlap has successfully unbalanced the opposition and could also allow for Grandpa's inclusion into the starting lineup as a pseudo-left winger, but actual freelancing withdrawn forward, thanks to the cover provided by DVB. The Red Bull need The Big Easy against The Revs.

  • Shalrie "The Behemoth" Joseph and the Revs have patched up their contractual differences, removing a potential off the field distraction that many Red Bull fans (um...including us) had hoped would cut into the focus and commitment of the former St. John's University star's physically dominating game. Now, not so much.
  • Friday, October 19, 2007

    MLSnet.com Strikes Again!


    Don't look now but the Beckham Rules are out of control. Check out the screen grab above. MLS is so hellbent on getting the Los Angeles Galaxy and David Beckham into the playoffs that they've awarded Team Lalas the first ever 1-1 "win" in league history. Readers may recall this isn't the first time The Red Bull have been the unlucky recipients of creative MLSnet.com "reporting" as only the valiant efforts of MetroFanatic prevented the league from excluding the Red Bull from their rightful place among squads who had indeed qualified for the MLS Playoffs. See Race for the MLS Cup Report.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    MLS Playoffs: Shoddy, Unprofessional Breakdown

    While shamefully smearing a 12-year-old accident victim, contemplating the latest attempt by The Man to destroy everything cool in the world, we thought, "Who's gonna grab the two remaining Major League Soccer Postseason Tourney slots?" So without creepy Tattoo, here's the Red Bull Rising Race for the MLS Cup Report, Part Trois. All information below is based on official data from the MLSnet.com Playoff Standings page, which isn't always accurate, so just in case, check the MetroFanatic. Let's play!

    The Not-So-Fab-Four scrambling for the chance to get hammered by DC United or the winner of Saturday night's delicious Houston Dynamo-Chivas USA tilt, mercifully slated to be broadcast by Fox Soccer Channel, are the Chicago Fire (37 points), the Kansas Wizards (37 points), the Colorado Rapids (35 points) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (33 points, but two matches left). Or as we like to call them, Blanco and the Hunchbacks, Erratic Eddie Johnson and The Wiz, FC Size Matters at Dick's Park and Team Lalas. Excellent, subsidized views of the various permutations can be found here, here and here.

    Alternatively, here's our shoddy, unprofessional breakdown, flimsily based on the following criteria: Current form, Opponent, Personal whim, Oddsmakers, Underdog status and Telekinetic powers (cool!). Or The COP-OUT Factor, for short.

    Blanco and the Hunchbacks -- The Fire didn't help themselves by scheduling a tough match with Cruz Azul Wednesday, which they lost anyway, leaving just two days recovery time prior to their 0-0 draw at DC United on Saturday. Chicago has only won twice since the start of September, but on the plus side, they've only lost once in MLS play, as they've been kissing their sister like they're the Appalachia Fire (five ties). If Chicago beats the streaking Galaxy Sunday, (Telefutura), they're in, but don't bet on it. COP-OUT Factor: Miss playoffs.

    Erratic Eddie Johnson and The Wiz -- Kansas City has won just three MLS matches since the All-Star Break, including a brutal August (1-4) and bad September (1-3-2). Saturday night's loss to the Red Bulls was typically heartbreaking with two gaffes leading directly to Juan Pablo Angel goals and Erratic Eddie Johnson fluffing a PK attempt. FC Dallas doesn't have much to play for this weekend, so chalk that up as a positive for KC, and if you're really desperate for optimism, the Wizards have conjured up a single victory in the past two months, so if that spell holds, they're due for a win this weekend. COP-OUT Factor: Miss playoffs.

    FC Size Matters at Dick's Park -- Here's the thing: The Rapids ain't good. We love Pablo Mastroeni, but he's the only guy on the squad above average in any soccer-related category (great tackler). However, here's the good news: The thrilling victory over Chivas on Sunday was the Rapids second straight win and with hated regional rival Real Salt Lake coming to town this weekend, the heralded Rocky Mountain Cup is also on the line, which should have both fans and players pumped up at The Dick. Plus, way back on Sept. 18 Red Bull Rising, based on our highly-scientific, tirelessy researched (for over half-an-hour!) Puppy-to-Giant Ratio, predicted a Colorado postseason berth. COP-OUT Factor: Make playoffs.

    Team Lalas -- It's ALIVE! Despite being called a Lame Duck in August, Frank Yallop has went all Dr. Frankenstein on our ass, reanimating the lifeless tissue of the Team Lalas corpse and unleashing on Major League Soccer an ugly, rampaging atrocity that will JUST NOT DIE! But enough about the David Beckham hype. Let's get back to the playoff race. Los Angeles has won five straight and if they beat the Red Bull (already booked for New England) on Thursday they'll host Blanco and the Hunchbacks in a civilization-shattering clash of out-of-control egos, high-stakes confrontations and simmering ethnic tensions. But enough about TeleFutura broadcasting the match live, instead of Fox Soccer Channel or one of the Black Rat outlets. COP-OUT Factor: Make playoffs.

    Race for the MLS Cup Report Archive: Part One | Part Deux

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Red Bull Attack Sparks Revolution Showdown

    Juan Pablo Angel, Jozy Altidore, Dane Richards and Francis Grandpa Doe all started on Saturday night and produced the desired result: The Red Bull outscored the Kansas City Wizards 2-1. With the victory, The Red Bull put a hex on the Wizards postseason chances, and set the stage for a tantalizing Major League Soccer first-round playoff matchup with the New England Revolution. Get Your Tickets Now!

    To his credit, Bruce Arena decorated the FakeTurf at the Meadowlands with his best available offensive players and the aforementioned four didn't disappoint as Angel did what he does, score goals, while Altidore, Richards and Granpda challenged and pestered and threatened the Wizards all night. That's what we're talkin' 'bout.

    Angel initiated his first strike with a neat pass to the increasingly effective overlapping Big Easy, Dave van den Bergh, whose cross was handled in the box by ill-fated Wizard fullback Jose Burciaga Jr. Angel promptly buried his fifth PK in as many MLS attempts, hopefully putting to rest the irrelevant, lazy, "He had trouble taking PKs at Villa" talking point trotted out everytime the Classy Colombian approaches the spot before beating the goalkeeper.

    Rookie speedster Dane Richards happily accepted Burciaga's second gift of the first half on the right wing and decided to Pay it Forward (Worst Movie Ever Candidate), squaring to Angel at the edge of the box for a sublime outside-of-the-right-foot settle and inside-of-the-same-foot finish past KC's Bad Hairdo Keeper Kevin Hartman. True the Wizards managed a quickfire Jack Jewsbury head-flick tally immediately after the spot kick, but when Grandpa flashed a strong header just inches too high and then clanged one off the crossbar right before intermission it was clear this would be a Red Bull night.

    Thankfully, Arena wasn't content with offensive tinkering, recalling Carlos Mendes and Hunter Freeman at the expense of Chris Leitch (with Seth Stammler stepping into the suspended Joe Vide role) and extending a second act to none other than Carol Burnett Show legend Tim Conway, who earned a curtain call with six saves, including a nice PK stoning of Erratic Eddie Johnson. Plus, the addition of the Emmy-Award Winning Funnyman caused the cancellation of The Walrus Comedy Hour, which we can all agree jumped the shark several games ago.

    Hopefully, Bruce Almighty will allow this winning lineup to take on the Revs in the 2007 MLS Playoffs (we'd prefer Clint Mathis in front of Dema Kovalenko or a healthy Claudio Reyna in central midfield instead of Stammler or Vide, but we won't quibble ... for now). In fact, injuries aside, Arena should allow this squad the opportunity to face the streaking Galaxy (and Beckham?) on Thursday night.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Red Bull No-Brainer: Beat KC, Bring On Revs!

    The blogosphere is bubbling with Red Bull playoff talk. Big Apple Soccer handicaps the possibilities, including Captain America's first-round California Dreamin'. MetroFanatic, fresh off some fine pro bono work for MLSnet.com, ponders the pitfalls amidst the New England foliage. Channeling Dwight K. Schrute, The Kin of Fish advocates a mercy-killing. How does the Red Bull look, Kin? "Really dead."

    Here's an alternative theory: The Red Bull should hammer the Wizards on Saturday, setting up a first-round matchup with the New England Revolution, the path of least resistance to the MLS Cup Final.

    How so, you ask? Look here and here. DC United is a better team than New England. True, the Red Bull went 1-2 against DC and 0-2-1 vs. the Revs, but upon closer inspection the Flinty New Englanders are a much preferable opponent for our Heroes of the East Rutherford FakeTurf than the Taxation Without Representation Squad.

    Red Bull vs. The Revs: In the first game, back on July 14, both Clint Mathis and Juan Pablo Angel hit the woodwork in a tight 1-nil loss. In the second match, Carol Burnett Show legend Tim Conway played nets for the Red Bull in a hilarious, but largely self-inflicted 2-1 defeat. The final regular season clash, on Sept. 22, was a terrific 2-2 draw which indicated the two clubs were evenly matched.

    Red Bull vs. DC United: On June 10, Ben Olsen's Beard was too thick and manly for the Red Bull, who succumbed in a 4-2 drubbing. Right around the All-Star Break, the Red Bull got revenge with a 1-nil victory, but the two squads reverted to form on Aug. 22, as Jaime Moreno became Major League Soccer's leading scorer in a thorough 3-1 win over the Jozy Altidore-less Red Bull.

    In summary, who would you rather face, a surging DC United team undefeated in league play since July 22, or a up-and-down New England squad with four MLS losses during the same period? It's a no-brainer for the Red Bull. Beat Kansas City on Saturday night and bring on the Revs.

    Friday, October 5, 2007

    What's Bruce Arena Smoking?

    OK, you're one game from clinching a playoff spot, playing in a market where the biggest pro sports collapse ever just happened, and you haven't won a match in a month. One positive you've had going for you, however, has been the stellar play of a dynamic newcomer, who has scored a goal in each of your past two games. So, what do you do? Well, if you're Bruce Arena, YOU BENCH HIM!!!!

    Consequently, The Red Bull dropped a terrible 2-1 decision to woeful but feisty Toronto FC on Thursday night, squandering another chance to secure a playoff spot and potentially blowing the opportunity to avoid facing DC United in the first round of the MLS postseason, instead of the newly minted US Open Cup Champion, but still, objectively, less formidable, New England Revolution.

    Did the exclusion of Francis "Grandpa" Doe from the starting lineup in itself condemn the Red Bull to defeat? Of course not. There were many factors in the loss: Joe Vide caught ball-watching on the first goal and his subsequent ejection, Ronald Wattereus flopping like a fish on Red Bull reject Marvell Wynne's second goal-providing cross, knocked in by an increasingly hapless Chris Leitch (yes, Leitch is indeed without hap). Additionally, at least according to the telecast, the 20,000 frenzied fans at BMO Field didn't hurt the Mo-Jo (see what we did there?) of our Great White North neighbors.

    What we're suggesting is that Mr. Bruce Arena is either higher than Fat Rush on Hillbilly Heroin or he's chokin' like a dry drunk on a pretzel. And remember folks, we're not second-guessing here, way back in May we addressed Arena's disturbing propensity for safe (ie. defensive) lineups, when he should actually be embracing the Red Bull Rising If You Play Them, They Will Score Theory, spiritually, if not literally, supported by the great Johan Cruyff.

    Here's the deal: With Reyna out (yawn), Arena went defensive against Toronto, playing two defensive midfielders (Vide and Dema Kovalenko) along with his recently favored flatback four (Leitch, Jeff Parke, Seth Stammler and The Big Easy, Dave van den Bergh, a revelation at left back). Rookie Dane Richards (nice goal) and Clint Mathis (okay game) were then tasked with providing all the creative spark behind Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel, who proved he was human on Thursday by not scoring a goal.

    Put aside for a moment that Hope Solo would probably be an upgrade over The Walrus and Tim Conway and that Hunter S. Thompson, nevermind Hunter Freeman, would be preferable to Leitch. If your goal is positive, creative, attractive, winning soccer the midfield should be Dema as your defender/destroyer and The Cletus as your attacker/creator, with speed merchant Richards on the right and Grandpa cutting in from the left (already ably manned by the overlapping Big Easy) and hooking up with Clint behind Jozy and JPA.

    The Red Bull can still clinch this weekend if both Columbus and Team Lalas lose (Is David Beckham really back? Stay tuned). But with just two games to play and either DC United or The Revs likely on tap, the time to go into a defensive shell and grind out victories has past. Put the most talented Red Bulls on the pitch and play The Beautiful Game, because Thursday night was Ugly Brucie in Primetime.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2007

    Angel Scores, Walrus Flaws, Red Bull Draws

    Juan Pablo Angel scored, Ronald Wattereus left fans muttering, "Where's Tim Conway?" and the Red Bull recorded it's third straight draw on Saturday night, a 2-2 decision which flattered the visitors from Real Salt Lake. Luckily for the Red Bull, serial sister-kissing is not a crime in Major League Soccer, and another terrible loss by the Kansas City Wizards preserved a three-point Red Bull advantage in the MLS Playoff Standings Table.

    The match itself was exciting, if not particularly well played. RSL opened the scoring against the run of play when Ronald Wattereus inexplicably chose not to try and stop Chris Brown's downward header off the wretched Meadowlands FakeTurf. Evidently, if an overlapping fullback nods the ball into the ground, The Walrus Rules mandate a strict hands-off policy by the opposing goalkeeper. Who knew?

    Grandpa Francis Doe went Old School after the break, employing a killer, Georgey Best-like crossover/far post combo to knot the score, before Kyle Beckerman, a dead-ringer for True Romance villain Drexl Spivey, neatly redirected a Fabian Espindola pass for a 2-1 RSL lead. Despite an uncharacteristically wasteful night, Juan Pablo Angel Just Scores Goals, so the Red Bull blushes were once again spared by the Classy Colombian's no-doubt-about-it PK which finished the match.

  • There Goes Claudio -- One week after playing his best game ever as a Red Bull, captain Claudio Reyna limped off the field with a reported left toe injury. At this point, who knows when he'll return -- and more importantly, which Reyna will return: The effective, influential player who dominated the tempo against the Revolution last week, or the ... err ... um ... other guy? If it's the former, cool. The latter, let's pull a Beckham and shut it down for the season.

  • Big Love -- Roman Grant's favorite club has endured quite the season, with poster boy Freddy Adu and designated scapegoat John Ellinger banished from The Compound, and the Real faithful starting anew under the tutelage of Jason Kreis, Superstar! The aforementioned Spivey-lookalike, Esky The Younger and Team Lalas escapee Robbie Findlay are legit American talents. Sprinkle in a few creative, rambunctious Argentines and you have the makings of an interesting squad in the Land of Brigham Young.

  • Simple Answer to Simple Question -- Last week we wondered how Mexican fans would welcome Chicago Fire talisman, whiner, hunchback Blanco to Los Angeles. Well, according to Martin Rogers "El Cuau," who scored a cracker of a free-kick in a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA, was met by "missiles ... hurled onto the pitch, one of them striking Blanco on the hip." (Hat Tip to du Nord) Alrighty then. Asked and answered. Luis Arroyave's The Red Card has more on the Fire-Chivas USA match.
  • Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Mexican Standoff: Chivas USA vs. Blanco

    The Blanco-led Chicago Fire meet Chivas USA in Los Angeles on Saturday, which could be a precursor to a tasty, internationally flavored first-round Major League Soccer playoff matchup. If the season ended today (doncha love that phrase?) Chivas, currently holding first-place in the West, would face Chicago, currently clinging to the eighth and final postseason slot.

    The odds of Chivas securing the top spot are good, since the secondary tenant of the Home Depot Center has two points and a game in hand on its nearest rival, Houston. The Fire are in a more precarious situation, just one point up on Columbus (who have a dark promotion on tap) and three points up on Colorado, but the Windy City club are two-points behind the Rapids in the highly-scientific Puppy to Giants Ratio. Additionally, should the Fire and Rapids end in a tie, the first tie-breaker (head-to-head) is a wash, due to a pair of ... guess what? ... regular season draws, and the second tie-breaker favors Colorado with a two-point goal differential edge.

    Now that we've dispensed with the various playoff probabilities, let's examine the potential Chivas USA vs. Blanco first-round clash. The question is, who will Mexican fans (both here in the Good Ol' USA and South of the Border) support? Does their loyalty lie with the USA version of The Goats, or with the talismanic, charismatic, hunchbacked striker called Cuauhtemoc Blanco?

    This not to suggest that All Mexicans Think Alike. Recent cinematic triumphs alone demonstrate the robust, diverse nature of our Latino Cousins South of the Rio Grande. Seriously, have you seen Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men or From Dusk Till Dawn? Even the cheating, cheapshot, Mexican National Team, (formerly known as El Tricolor until Hugo Sanchez went clinically insane) while infuriating, are a compelling assortment of contradictions. Whether it's the simmering, regal Jared Borgetti or the flashy, precocious Giovani dos Santos, you gotta love to hate the no-longer Tricolor.

    No, what we're getting at is how will the Mexican fans react to a Chivas USA-Blanco elimination battle? Columnist Nick Green has a nice primer on the issue including the Club America and CD Guadalajara rivalry and the participation of not only "El Cuau" but Chivas USA defender Claudio Suarez in a potential Chivas USA-Fire showdown. Unsavory aspects of the attempted relocation of Chivas and Mexican support to Los Angeles in the form of Chivas USA aside, will Blanco be booed at the Home Depot Center or cheered?

    This reminds us of a diehard Glasgow Celtic fan, who also passionately supports the US Men's National Team, the squad representing his adopted country. This guy loves DaMarcus Beasley and complained bitterly when Bruce Arena tossed him under the bus in Germany 2006. But now that DaMarcus plays for Rangers, what's he to do? It bears watching how Mexican fans respond if and when Old Country rivalries pop up in Major League Soccer's first-round of the Western Conference playoffs.

  • And now, from YouTube, our favorite Mexican Standoffs:

    True Romance | Reservoir Dogs | Pulp Fiction | Jon Stewart
    And the Godfather of Them All: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
  • Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Juan Pablo Angel Just Scores Goals!

    For 84 minutes on Saturday night Juan Pablo Angel ran down loose balls and errant passes that should've been here not there and endured an inexplicable torrent of abuse from the worst official in Major League Soccer (which is saying quite alot). Most, if not all, players would succumb to the frustration and either go all Blanco and rant and rave until the final whistle or furtively glance over to the bench while massaging a phantom cramp, hoping to get subbed out of the losing match. But not Juan Pablo Angel, ladies and gentleman, because Juan Pablo Angel, let's say it all together, Just Scores Goals!

    The Big Easy, Dave van den Bergh, settling in nicely at left back, lofted a high prayer toward the New England Revolution box as the match slipped away, and newcomer Francis Doe (more on him later) nodded the ball into not more than a yard of space. Angel, somehow still laser-focused on the task at hand despite the aformentioned trials and tribulations, took that minute opportunity and pounced, latching onto the ball and then, as always, almost in slow-motion, cooly picked a spot and drilled the ball low and hard into the bottom right corner, past the outstretched arms of Baldy Keeper Matt Reis, securing a 2-2 draw and a big point at the Meadowlands. Because, ladies and gentlemen, Juan Pablo Angel Just Scores Goals!

    The Classy Colombian by way of River Plate and Aston Villa has now scored 16 goals in his inaugural MLS campaign, one shy of a new franchise record. And he's done it with underachieving captain Claudio Reyna (more on him later, too) and volatile reclamation project Clint Mathis as his primary playmakers, with raw rookie Dane Richards on the flank and a rotating cast of strike partners (brilliant, but often AWOL, and soon-to-be-gone Jozy Altidore, vet John Wolyniec and now the slippery Liberian by way of the Minnesota Thunder). We're fond of these guys, but let's face it, Angel is not exactly receiving bottle-service here. No matter. Juan Pablo Angel Just Scores Goals!

    With Kansas City falling to streaking Chivas USA on Saturday, there's a good chance of a Red Bull-Revolution first round playoff showdown. Check out the MLS Standings. If so, the confidence gained in last night's draw, thanks in large part to the growing legend of one Juan Pablo Angel, may overcome the recent comedy of errors in New England, which would serve the Red Bull well.

  • A Man Called Grandpa -- According to an impeccable source, du Nord, Francis Doe's nickname is "Grandpa." Sideline Views has more on this front. The view from Section 108 was spot-on for the first Red Bull score, as Dane Richards absolutely schooled Avery John on the right and his cutback pass was expertly first-timed by Grandpa for a thrilling, incisive Red Bull score. Eight-year-old pundit Leo summed up the mercurial Doe thusly: "He's a bit of a greedy pig, but he never stops trying to put the ball in the net. Never." Sounds about right, Leo.


  • Here Comes Claudio -- Captain America had his finest game as a Red Bull, battling Behemoth Shalrie Joseph all night, dominating the tempo of the match and actually directing the Red Bull attack with terrific, well-timed passes. Worst MLS Ref Ever, Richard Heron, assisted by Kermit the Frog and Sean Better to Be Seen and Not Hurd, whistled offside a perfect trap-beating pass to Grandpa in the second half, but Reyna's contribution cannot be overstated. Yeah, he babied that header instead of drilling it into the net, but Claudio was The Man on Saturday night. Better than Guevara. More of that and the Red Bull will be dangerous in the postseason.


  • Taylor-Made -- Taylor Twellman had two typically opportunistic goals for the Revs, rising to head home a neat Steve Ralston cross (another assist for the veteran playmaking machine) and forcing Red Bull fullback Chris Leitch (Hunter still in the doghouse or something?) into a mistake and smoking a grassburner (err, FieldTurf burner, sorry) off the far post into the net. Great stuff by Twellman.


  • Game Reports: MLSnet | Star-Ledger | NY Post | Boston Globe
  • Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    MLS Playoffs: Eating Puppies and Sleeping Giants

    While committing armed robbery (or searching for the real killers) at a Las Vegas Hotel, mystified by the current state of pop culture, we thought, "Who's gonna make the Major League Soccer Postseason Tourney?" So, without hapless Apu, here's the Red Bull Rising Race for the MLS Cup Report, Part Deux. All information below is based on official data from the MLSnet.com Playoff Standings page, gleefully sans the red-fonted advisory: The seeding procedure described above is correct. Spin that wheel!

    DC United (49 points), Houston Dynamo (45) and the New England Revolution (45) have clinched postseason berths and are now presumably concentrating on winning their respective conferences and earning higher seeds for the MLS playoffs. Surging Chivas USA is just off the pace with 44 points, and with two games in hand may yet nip Houston for the top spot in the West, with postseason qualification all but guaranteed.

    That leaves four remaining playoff slots, with FC Dallas (39 points, 24 games played), Red Bull New York (37, 25) and the Kansas City Wizards (36, 25) the frontrunners for three positions and a potentially juicy three-way confrontation between the Chicago Fire (30 points, 24 games played), Colorado Rapids (29, 25) and the Columbus Crew (28, 25) for the final postseason spot for MLS 2007.

    What separates Chicago, Colorado and Columbus (other than a woefully underfinanced, crumbling infrastructure) you may ask? Besides the various on-field talents and clipboard gurus, the defining factor in this contest of relative mediocrity is the Puppy-to-Giant Ratio, as applied to game schedules. The squad that manages to Feast on More Puppies and Avoid (Or Defeat) More Sleeping Giants will enter the MLS 2007 Postseason Extravaganza.

    CHICAGO (30 points) -- Boasting the best current form of the Trembling Trio, the Fire also have a game in hand. The problem for Fire fans is the schedule is not kind to the Windy City Whiners (see Blanco, Wanchope). Chicago has only one measly Puppy (LA Galaxy) in their final six matches, with five Sleeping Giants (East-leading DC United twice, and once each against New England, Chivas and FC Dallas). The Fire have also sandwiched in a friendly against Cruz Azul, a match you'd think would require the participation of Blanco, who was visibly huffing-and-puffing at the close of the Red Bull match on Saturday night. Puppy-Giant Ratio: (-4). Not good.

    COLORADO (29 points) -- Not all Puppies are created equal, but even though Real Salt Lake is a bitter Rocky Mountain Rival to the Rapids of Coorsville, the Jason Kreis Gang, even baring teeth are still Puppies. Colorado faces RSL twice, in addition to absolutely toothless Puppy Toronto FC once. Sleeping Giants Chivas and the Revs round out the sked. Puppy-Giant Ratio: (+1). Mmmm. Mmmm. Good.

    COLUMBUS (28 points) -- The Crew, coming off a devastating loss to Kansas City on Saturday night, could get well right quick with a pair of adorable Puppies just waiting for them in the next two weeks (TFC on 9/22 and The Alexi Lalas Project on 9/30). Six Possible Puppy Points in hand, Columbus ends its season with three-straight Sleeping Giants, FC Dallas at home and road matches at New England and DC United. Puppy-Giant Ratio: (-1). Could be worse.

    So, based on our highly-scientific, tirelessly researched (for over half-an-hour!) Puppy-to-Giant Ratio, while most may think the admittedly better Chicago Fire will secure the final Major League Soccer playoff invitation, don't be surprised if the Colorado Rapids fatten up on some tasty Puppies and earn a spot at the Big Table.

  • Click here for Part One of the Red Bull Rising Race for the MLS Cup Report
  • Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Road Warriors: Red Bull Pick Up Point in Chicago

    The last time the Red Bull earned a road point, the Beckham-less Galaxy still had green in their kit, Senator Larry Craig was a happily married heterosexual and the Notre Dame faithful were looking forward to football season. In other words, it was a long time ago.

    But the Red Bull turned back time last night, picking up a big point in a 2-2 draw with the chippy, Blanco-led Fire before over 20,000 boisterous fans at Toyota Park. Newly-appointed left fullback, Dave van den Bergh (The Big Easy) opened the scoring for the Red Bull and Juan Pablo Angel (he just scores goals!) converted a PK, while the aforementioned cranky, bitch-to-the-ref-aholic Mexican also buried a spot kick, in addition to serving up the assist on the game-tying header from Gonzalo Segares. The road point, the first since back on July 8 at Colorado, was big for the Red Bull. The point garnered by the Fire was even bigger, as the Chicago club battles it out with Columbus (terrible loss to KC last night) and the Rapids for a playoff slot.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Anelka, Torres, Lampard and Dempsey?

    Don't look now, but American Clint Dempsey may be the hottest striker on the planet. Fresh off a nice goal against Best Team in the World Ever Brazil and recognition as Fulham's Player of the Month, Dempsey knocked in another goal for the Cottagers, helping the London club to a 1-1 draw with Wigan. Dempsey trails only The Big Sulk, Nicolas Anelka, in the English Premier League Goal Scoring Race (wait, it'll eventually update) and is currently tied with Spanish stud Fernando Torres and Chelski's Fat Frank Lampard with three goals. UPDATE: Hat Tip to Football is for the Madman for digging up the Dempsey goal video right quick. Madman also has the hot-off-the-presses video of DaMarcus Beasley's neat finish for Rangers today.

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Back to the Future: Guevara or Reyna?

    As the Anti-Claudio Reyna Bandwagon picks up speed and the Amado Guevara Rehabilitation Project garners publicity, let us pose a question: Who would you rather have on the Red Bull roster for the start of the 2008 season, Guevara or Reyna?

    Soccer By Ives bravely marched into the ReynaRage Arena here and again here, making several good points, as usual, but this particular query avoids the moot point of whether or not Claudio should have ever been signed (he was, get over it), and instead addresses the future of the franchise.

    The Case for Claudio -- Unlike Amado, Reyna doesn't burn bridges, hasn't been unceremoniously kicked off a team or disrespected his teammates and the game by petulantly sitting in the stands after getting benched. On the field, Claudio is a defensive, holding midfielder who doesn't panic, controls the tempo of the match and provides easy passing outlets for an increasingly erratic defensive corps. As much as we admire Joe Vide's infectious enthusiasm and Seth Stammler's hearty grit, Reyna provides a crucial, if unglamorous and terribly overpaid, function for the Red Bull. On a lesser note, Claudio is also the designated lightning rod for the club. If he leaves (Chicago?) or retires (LBI?) Juan Pablo Angel or Bruce Arena better get ready for the shock of their lives.

    The Case for Amado -- Unlike Reyna, Guevara isn't injury prone and actually enjoys moving the ball forward into scoring positions. With Jozy Altidore headed for Europe and Clint Mathis not getting any younger, Angel will need more than speedy, but raw, Dane Richards and the Big Easy, Dave van den Bergh supplying him the ball. Amado has a deft touch, great vision and healthy, playmaking arrogance which could feed the goal-hungry Colombian striker just what he needs. On a lesser note, after being humbled by Preki and a humiliating tour of the Hondoran League, maybe Guevara will be properly committed and motivated to resurrecting his once promising MLS career. Arena also seems open to the idea, which can't hurt.

    What do you think? Leave a comment.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    All Losses Equal, Some More Equal Than Others

    The US Men's National Team dropped a 4-2 decision to World Power Brazil on Sunday which wasn't bad. Later the same day, the Red Bull were routed 3-nil by Chivas USA which was bad. Very bad.

    Clint Dempsey, Bob Bradley and Company played their hearts out against superior opponents, made big plays and gained valuable experience. Claudio Reyna, Bruce Arena and the Gang rolled over against superior opponents, made horrible plays and lost whatever momentum gained in the now long-forgotten win over Chicago.

    So, The Nats can now build on Sunday's performance, traveling to South Africa and later Europe in further international friendly competition. The Red Bull, however, need to find the spine so lacking in L.A. before facing the resurgent Fire in Chicago on Saturday.

    Wednesday, September 5, 2007

    With Friendlies Like These, Who Needs Enemas?

    Perhaps the term "scared shitless" is too harsh, but how would you feel lugging a four-game losing streak into a friendly with Brazil? Picture yourself as newbie U.S. National Team Coach Bob Bradley, Gold Cup victory over CONCACAF nemesis Mexico inexplicably buried in favor of Copa America B-Team chatter, and your boss, Sunil Gulati, invites you to lunch and sitting there at the table is none other than the latest Free Agent European Soccer Genius Fabio Capello. Howya feelin' now? Ready for Ronaldinho, Kaka and Robinho in Chicago?

    Sunday, September 2, 2007

    Red Bull Bounce Back, Blank Blanco

    The Red Bull bounced back from a disastrous two-game stretch on Saturday night, grinding out a crucial 1-nil victory over Eastern Conference rival Chicago Fire at the Meadowlands.

    With Jozy Altidore sidelined due to injury (according to the Red Bull, anyway), John Wolyniec joined Juan Pablo Angel up top, while newbies Paulo Wanchope and Cuauhtemoc Blanco led the Fire line, which basically summed up the difference between the two squads on the night. Angel and Wolyniec were patient and workmanlike, with Woly particularly effective at enduring rough treatment by Chris Brown and an appalling lack of protection from a typically terrible officiating crew. Blanco and Wanchope, on the other hand, spent more energy gesticulating wildly at the ref and linesman than playing soccer, which worked out quite well for the Red Bull.

    Angel channeled his frustration at a lack of chances on the evening by cooly converting the one good opportunity that came his way -- courtesy of a Dane Richards feed -- and secured not only the victory, but three big points on a night which saw Kansas City drop two points in a 1-1 draw with Houston.

    Three players who had failed to impress of late -- Claudio Reyna, Ronald Wattereus and Dave Van den Bergh -- had good games. Not great, but good. Reyna didn't lose possession once, and although he continued his season-long habit of playing it safe, rather than move the ball up the field, he did manage the game well and kept the Red Bull in fine defensive shape. We'll take it. Van den Bergh, to his credit, played left fullback and didn't let anyone get behind him to score or create a goal. Job done. Wattereus, inserted into the lineup with Tim Conway working a two-gig stint in the Catskills, wasn't tested much, but distributed the ball well and, let's face it, he didn't let in an own goal. Mission accomplished.

    Wattereus also provided a bit of comedy. During one of Blanco's temper tantrums, The Walrus, in the act of punting a ball up field, paused for a few seconds to rub the top of the fiery Mexican's head, kinda like Mom's new boyfriend Clark attempting to win over young Timmy. Blanco's slightly bemused, grudgingly admiring reaction was worth the price of admission.

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Pachuca Take Big Bucks, Knock Out Becks

    Mexican club CF Pachuca burnished its Best Soccer Squad in North America credentials and picked up a cool million dollars on Wednesday night, defeating the LA Galaxy 2-1 in penalty kicks at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, winning the inaugural SuperLiga Gran Final. Oh, and 32-year-old, playing-on-a-bad-ankle (sometimes on turf) David Beckham shockingly went down injured after playing in only his sixth game in 18 days. What a wimp.

    No stranger to ripping the heart out of Major League Soccer opponents, Pachuca did it again last night, taking a 1-nil lead via neat Christian Gimenez-Cacho interplay and a clumsy own-goal (no, not THAT ONE) from LA's Peter Vagenas. The Galaxy tied the game up late via a spectacular, improbable bicycle kick by Chris Klein, cavalierly dismissed as a "slow-footed, defensive graybeard" by Red Bull Rising just three days ago. Bicycle, Schmicycle, we'd still take Robbie Findlay!

    Landon Donovan missed a wide-open header inside 10 minutes, perfectly placed onto his male-pattern baldness noggin by Becks, did well to force a great save from idiot Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero late, and had his ill-placed (go either high or low, not middle, LandyCakes) game-winning PK attempt stopped by the aforementioned, finger-waving, hat-wearing Prima Donna in Net.

    Abel Xavier (just the type of old, flashy, big-reputation but small-game player Jurgen Klinsmann jettisoned for younger, hungrier lads prior to World Cup 2006, by the way) should be expecting a complaint from PETA, as his penalty kick killed a hapless pigeon circling the Home Depot Center in pursuit of stray postgame nachos.

    Here's a quick roundup of links:
    Sports Illustrated | TimesOnline UK | Soccernet | La Opinion

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    MLS: Lame Ducks, Bubble Boys & The Fab Five

    While adopting a wide stance in an airport bathroom stall, perusing the latest ground-breaking news, we thought, "Who's gonna make the Major League Soccer Postseason Tourney?" So, without Freddy Adu, here's the Red Bull Rising Race for the MLS Cup Report. All information below is based on official data from the MLSnet.com Standings page, featuring this important advisory, in fancy red font: The seeding procedure described above is correct. Alrighty then, let's get to it.

    THE FAB FIVE -- The Fab Five are clubs who, barring a complete collapse, will make the playoffs and are now concentrating on finishing first in their respective conferences. The New England Revolution (42 points, 23 games played) and DC United (39 points, 21 GP) are firmly in control of the top two slots in the Eastern Conference, while the Houston Dynamo (38, 23), Chivas USA (36, 20) and FC Dallas (36, 21) are battling it out for the top two seeds in the West. With three games in-hand on Houston, and with seven of their 10 remaining matches at the Home Depot Center, where they haven't lost in eight league matches, streaking Chivas figures to hold off FC Dallas for the second spot, if not overtake the Dynamo at No. 1. Either way, the loser of the Houston-Chivas-Dallas showdown will still secure one of the four remaining at-large slots.

    THE BUBBLE BOYS -- The Bubble Boys are clubs with a chance to qualify for the playoffs, despite little hope of earning one of the top two seeds in their respective conferences. The Red Bull (33 points, 22 games played), the Kansas City Wizards (32, 22), the Columbus Crew (27, 22) and the Blanco-fueled Chicago Fire (26, 21) are still alive in the East, with the Colorado Rapids (27, 22) the lone squad still harboring postseason dreams in the West. Maddening inconsistency permeates each of these teams, most likely resulting in a mad, mad, mad scramble for playoff qualification well into October. The Joy of Six: Six crucial head-to-head matches are Fire vs. Red Bull (Sept. 1 and Sept. 15), Rapids at Crew (Sept. 2), Fire at Crew (Sept. 8), Crew at Wizards (Sept. 15) and Wizards at Red Bull (Oct. 13).

    THE LAME DUCKS -- The Lame Ducks are clubs with no realistic shot at the playoffs, and if Red Bull Rising had our way, would be facing relegation to the USL. The two newbies, Toronto FC (20 points, 22 games played) and Real Salt Lake (12, 19) were expected down in the basement, but the Alexi Lalas Refugees (14, 18), brought to you by AEG, are unanticipated guests. Look for Jurgen Klinsmann, David Beckham and Landon Donovan to resume their rightful place in the Penthouse Suite in 2008.

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Will Klinsmann Clean Up Lalas Mess in LA?

    The Frank Yallop AEG Gold Watch Ceremony is about to take center stage as the latest act in the David Beckham Traveling Circus of Major League Soccer. The intrepid Ives Galarcep follows the bouncing ball stateside, while TimesOnline UK provides the Continental angle, the Cirque du Soleil if you will, regarding the ascension of Jurgen Klinsmann as new Ringmaster for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

    By all accounts, Yallop is a nice guy thrust into an almost impossible situation as Designated Lalas Fall Guy (see Bradley, Bob). But his comments after the disastrous three-game period which began
    so audaciously with three Beckham-inspired goals before 65,000 fans at the Meadowlands and ended so ignobly with a 3-nil debacle at
    The Dick, speak volumes:

    From Times Online UK:

    "It’s not been easy because of the spotlight thrust on us,” [said] Yallop. "You try to imagine the hysteria surrounding his [Beckham's] arrival but when he’s here it’s so different. It’s not been easy. It’s been kind of testing, to be honest."

    And following Beckham's 90-minutes vs. Chivas, one day after England-Germany at Wembley:

    "I used him tonight and I shouldn’t have done that," Yallop said after the defeat.

    There you have it. Yallop is resigned to his fate. It was Lalas who traded speedy, dynamic youngster Robbie Findlay for slow-footed, defensive graybeard Chris Klein. It was Lalas who chose Carlos Pavon, Alan Gordon and Edson Buddle as the Galaxy strikeforce. Yet Yallop will be shown the door, with Lalas tightly clutching the keys.

    Klinsmann, however, is no Frank Yallop. The Becks "hysteria" lamented by Yallop pales in comparison to the fiery cauldron of heat braved by Klinsi during World Cup 2006, where the son of a baker stood up to Der Kaiser and the German Press, and selected and guided a squad which overachieved beyond any reasonable expectations.

    A resident of Orange County, Klinsmann may be just the bright ray of sunshine needed in L.A., but the tough-talking Lalas may want to consult with Sunil Gulati regarding Klinsi. Should the Golden Bomber accept the immense challenge of cleaning up the Lalas Mess in Los Angeles, he may prefer to go it alone.

    Sunday, August 26, 2007

    Tim Conway Joins Red Bull, Hilarity Ensues

    A funny thing happened on the way to New England on Saturday. Keeper Ronald Wattereus missed another game, and his replacement was none other than Carol Burnett Show legend Tim Conway. Harvey Korman's favorite dentist didn't disappoint either, as his howler had them laughing in the aisles, in addition to gifting the Revolution
    a 2-1 victory over the increasingly ludicrous Red Bull.

    Considering the ridiculous display at DC on Wednesday (featuring the absurd omission of Jozy Altidore from the starting lineup and Keystone Kops defending), perhaps Carlos Mencia will supplant Mendes in the ever-changing Back Four and Dane Cook will swap places with Dane Richards on the wing for a Red Bull Comic Trifecta next Saturday against the Chicago Fire. Get your tickets now!

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    LA Beckhams vs. Red Bull: WOW!

    Having just regained consciousness, here's a few quick notes and postgame links from the thrilling 5-4 Red Bull victory over the L.A. Galaxy before over 65,000 screaming fans at the Meadowlands on Saturday night.

  • Play It Again, Sam -- We've been singing the praises of Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore and Saturday night was merely an affirmation of their individual and collective brilliance. Angel figuratively claimed the mantle of Undisputed Leader of the Red Bull when he literally waved off his rival teammates and grabbed the spot-kick before blasting the ball past Joe Cannon for the opening score. Juan Pablo cemented this position by opportunistically pouncing on a rebound and once again firing the ball through the hapless Cannon's paws for the game-winner. Jozy was Jozy, too big, too strong and too fast for opposing defenders, maneuvering around them with steely grace and authoritatively finishing in the box. Even Beckham was impressed.

  • Who Are Those Guys? -- The Galaxy probably expected problems with Jozy and Angel, but were ill-prepared to deal with the rejuvenated Clint Mathis and emerging Dane Richards. Mathis scored a cracker (making MetroStar-Red Bull history) and instigated the victory with a scorching shot destined to deflect off Cannon and find Juan Pablo's thankful boot. In between, he pushed the issue throughout the match, refusing to turn the ball back to the defense, instead insisting on going forward, pressing the Galaxy defense with pressure, pressure pressure. He also got stuck in on every tackle available (Joe Vide and Seth Stammler were refreshingly greedy with most of them) and took the time to shake hands and chat with Becks after knocking him down. Classy Cletus. Love it. Richards had his best game as a Red Bull, causing havoc on the wings and keeping the Galaxy defenders on their heels. Prediction: If and when Richards learns how to use his left foot and how and when to shoot the ball, he will be a Major League Soccer All-Star.

  • Grumpy Old Men -- Remind me, why are Dave Van den Bergh and Ronald Waterreus on the Red Bull? Seriously, what service do they provide? Because other than absorbing a Beckham free-kick rocket in the melon while manning the wall, all Ven den Bergh did on Saturday night was virtually pass the ball to Cannon on pure sitters twice, TWICE! which would've definitively iced the game. His contributions beyond that were nil. He jogged after the ball while Mathis, Vide, Stammler and Richards were scrambling and he offered nothing offensively. And Wattereus, frankly, is worse than Tony Meola on crosses, hurt all the time and an extremely over-rated passer of the ball. Cutoffs Conway is an upgrade.

  • The Cletus vs. Captain America -- Right now, Clint Mathis is so much better than Claudio Reyna in the middle of the field that Bruce Arena will have a hard time looking his players in the eye if he stubbornly tries to replace the feisty, offensive sparkplug (YouTube) with the subdued, make-no-mistakes plodder. This is not hating on Claudio, who we've long admired, but merely an acknowledgement of a simple fact the Red Bull can ill afford to ignore: Clint provides more energy, more fight and more goals than Claudio. Period.

  • The Ambassador -- David Beckham, though visibly limited due to injury and the Giants Stadium turf, is an instant on-the-field difference maker for the Galaxy. And not just with dead balls. True, the first corner and free he took both ended up in the back of the net via the head of Carlos Pavon, but Beckham's distribution of the ball during the run of play cannot be overlooked. For the second time in two matches, he absolutely carved open the opposition with a perfect ball directly to Landon Donovan's foot, right in stride. Unlike the goal scored against DC (YouTube), this time Donovan was forced to square the ball only for Alan Gordon to botch the tap in, but Beckham's ability to find the open man is already without peer in MLS. Donovan and the Galaxy should be delighted.

    MLSnet.com | USA Today | Soccernet | Times UK | SI.com | Newsday
  • Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Beckham is Beckham in First Start

    David Beckham did what David Beckham does in his first start last night, leading the LA Galaxy to a 2-nil victory over DC United in the Superliga semifinals. He pinged the ball around the spotty Home Depot pitch (hat tip to duNord) with aplomb, he made the keeper look silly with a signature free-kick goal (YouTube) and he passed a perfectly-weighted ball to Landon Donovan to complete the scoring.

    And none of this is surprising to those who know anything about David Beckham's soccer abilities, because this is what he's been doing since Alex Ferguson plucked him from the Brimsdown Rovers youth club when he was 14-years-old. And this is what he will do until he retires. He's not Pele. He's not Michael Jordan. He's not John from Cincinnati. He's David Beckham.

    For those desperately needing someone to compare him to, think Major League Soccer's Carlos Valderrama, sitting in the middle of the field and orchestrating the offense with vision, touch and savvy. Or for old timers, think Cosmos playmaker Vladislav Bogicevic, employing superior game awareness, body control and attacking flair as a midfield general.

    Becks was also lucky to avoid a straight red for his clumsy from-behind mugging of Jaime Moreno (channeling serial bad tackler and old friend Paul Scholes?), and survived a potentially career-ending high-studded attack from Ben Olsen's Beard. He gingerly limped off the field to big applause and now we'll all await the latest word from his Cranky Ankle. This is Beckham. A terrific, international soccer star playing out his final years in the United States and creating buzz and helping to grow the Beautiful Game. Enjoy it for what it is.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Beckham on Saturday: Will He or Won't He?

    The David Beckham Saga has more angles than Picasso's lady friends. Should he have played against Chelski? Should he save himself for Major League Soccer action, or compete in Superliga? Should he tell McClown to buzz off with his Germany friendly?

    While these are all interesting questions (with easy answers, a) obviously not, b) you bet yer bippy, and c) hells yeah), for now, we'd like to examine a purely parochial part of the Becks-Injury conundrum: How does this affect the Red Bull?

    According to Soccernet he may play at the Meadowlands on Saturday, depending on how he feels after participating in tonight's Superliga encounter with DC United. But on the other hand, Soccernet also opines that Becks hate him some turf so there's a good chance he'll take a pass on the crappy Giants Stadium surface.

    Being sunny, optimistic types, here's how we see it:

    If Beckham plays on Saturday, it's terrific for the Red Bull, because all of the extra fans who come out will get what they paid for and enjoy the day and want to come back to support the local team they discover while gawking at the vaguely androgynous curiosity from Ol' Blighty. It's kinda like Becks is the recreational weed, the gateway drug, if you will, to the seductive heroin that is live professional soccer (YouTube). (Hey kids, remember, don't do drugs. And stay in school. Oh, and don't forget to floss.)

    If Beckham doesn't play on Saturday, it's terrific for the Red Bull too, because all of the extra fans who come out will get pissed at the EuroTrash Slacker, and the enemy of their enemy being their friend, they will immediately support the rampaging Red Bull who will proceed to hammer the Galaxy en route to three crucial MLS points. With Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore strutting their stuff, the Red Bull will gain thousands of fans and march to their first Major League Soccer championship.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Limited Engagement: The Producers
    Starring JP Angel and Jozy Altidore

    Remember when Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were the hottest duo in town, starring in The Producers? We figured once the hysteria died down (not to mention the ticket prices) we'd eventually catch the performance, but time passed and before we knew it Ralph Malph and Potsie were playing Max and Leo. Not good.

    That's when we learned an important lesson we feel compelled to share with you today: All dynamic, electrifying pairings -- including the Juan Pablo Angel and Jozy Altidore combo that tore through Toronto FC Sunday at the Meadowlands -- are limited engagements, and you need to see them while you can.

    The Angel-Altidore Show is the most entertaining (YouTube), productive goalscoring force in Major League Soccer. The quiet confidence, deft touch and aerial dominance of the classy Colombian, coupled with the raw power, intuitive skills and brash enthusiasm of the explosive American teenager is simply a sight to behold. Angel opened the scoring in Sunday's 3-nil victory with a poacher's delight, first-timing a deflected ball in the box into the net with enough vinegar to drown a fish supper. Altidore then took center stage, shaking off Tyrone Marshall near midfield, before passing neatly to Angel on the right and then bundling home the former Aston Villa forward's cross for a 2-0 lead. On the final score, Angel flicked on a header to Jozy who danced past a defender with a superb first touch and blasted into the net to complete the rout.

    Scintillating stuff and it brought the house down. But the curtain is about to fall on Angel-Altidore, just as it falls on all great pairings. Martin and Lewis. Butch and Sundance. Donald and Ivana. Nothing lasts forever. It's the circle of life. Jozy Altidore is headed to Europe for big bucks, sooner rather than later, so get your tickets now and enjoy the show. Or before you know it, the Red Bull strikers will be Ralph Malph and Potsie. Not good.