Wednesday, March 14, 2007

CONCACAF Semifinals Overture: Physical Graffiti

UPDATE 8:30 ET: Power Outtage Postpones Dynamo-Pachuca
SECOND UPDATE: Match Rescheduled, Thursday March 15

Mexican players have elevated physical, dirty play to an art form. Like graffiti artists, they employ prohibited tactics, but the skill, daring and sheer audacity of their machinations strikes a chord with an admiring, forgiving public, which the "artisans" happily accept as an affirmation of their conduct. And the band plays on.

As the curtain rises on the first-leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal round, the Houston Dynamo host Pachuca CF (tonight, 8:30 ET, FSC) and DC United entertain CD Guadalajara Chivas (Thurs, 8 ET, FSC). If Major League Soccer's 1-7 record against Mexican opponents in the regional club championsip since 2002 is any indication, Houston and DC are about to get trampled under foot.

The US National Team, however, has dramatically changed the tempo against El Tricolor by fighting hard for every loose ball, challenging every shot and ignoring every provocation. The underdog MLS clubs would be wise to take note.

With Dwayne De Rosario and Brian Ching questionable, Pachuca will go hard at Brian Mullan, Brad Davis and Paul Dalglish. Houston needs to reply in kind. In Washington, Christian Gomez and Luciano Emilio will get rougher treatment than Dick Cheney's hunting buddy. Again, DC must set a similar tone with Chivas striker Omar Bravo, minus the thuggery and yellow cards.

Here's hoping the MLS clubs keep the score tight in these first-leg matches, putting all the pressure on the Mexican teams in the first week of April. Otherwise, US soccer fans will be sick again.

Match Previews: | Soccernet

No comments: