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 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. | USA Today | Soccernet | Times UK | | 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.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Jozy Altidore Headlines YouTubePalooza

    We've been waiting for Red Bull striker, and FIFA 08 coverboy, Jozy Altidore's version of the Adidas Impossible is Nothing videos to pop-up on YouTube, and although the quality of this version is less than perfect (you've got to endure a choppy bit of cheesy pregame nonsense prior to the actual spot), without Freddy further's Jozy and a sampling of other cool YouTube video:

    Jozy | Messi | Beckham | Kaka | Guardado | St. Margarets

    Extended Impossible is Nothing Video | Jose Plus 10 | Ali

    Becks-Scooby Doo | Messi Chip | More Messi (via

    David Beckham Plays Soccer Game

    Becks made his Major League Soccer debut last night, appearing as a sub for the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 1-nil loss to DC United before an announced crowd of over 40,000. Here's a quick roundup of links:

    MLS | ESPN | DC Centers | NY Times | Times UK | Deadspin | TMZ

    Thursday, August 9, 2007

    Jozy and the Eurocrats: Big Clubs and Fat Contracts

    Freddy Adu's inevitable foray into European futbol has pushed Red Bull striker Jozy Altidore to the top of the He's Leaving For Europe List. Soccer by Ives, as usual, gets the straight dope directly from the 17-year-old out of Livingston, New Jersey.

    "There was a time when I said to myself that I'm not going to go there [Europe] until I'm 21, when I'm more mature and able to take care of myself and live a life like that. But then again I thought about the soccer aspect. The quicker you can get there the better. Even if it starts off tough you can always adjust to it, especially if it's a team that needs you. It's all about timing."

    Regarding timing, Altidore becomes legal when the clock strikes midnight on Nov. 6, just as Major League Soccer shuts down and European clubs start scouring the globe for elusive goal-scoring saviors who can answer their prayers via the winter transfer window. Merry Christmas, Ajax fans, here's Jozy! P.S. Check out Paul Gardner's complete review of the Under-18 European Eligibility Kabuki Dance (hat tip to du Nord).

    Of course, none of this comes as a surprise to the tens of Red Bull Rising readers, who remember this from way back on April 23, 2007.

    "Jozy Altidore's combination of strength and skill is something to behold ... The kid's only 17, and still learning, but when he figures out how to battle ... rough treatment without resorting to histrionics ... he will be one of the most feared strikers in the league. Sadly, here's a prediction: Catch him now while you can, folks. This will be Jozy's last year with the Red Bull and MLS. A player with this much upside and youth is heading abroad for Big Money."

    Wednesday, August 8, 2007

    Beasley Battles Fat Bastard, Balkan Bigots

    American winger DaMarcus Beasley had an eventful first week with new club Glasgow Rangers, where he was repeatedly assaulted by notorious Tartan Torturer Fat Bastard in his Scottish Premier League debut, and then subjected to some good ol' fashioned Balkan racism in European action.

    Beasley overcame the oh-so-clever monkey chants from the highly-evolved FK Zeta faithful by scoring his first Champions League goal for the Old Firm side out of Ibrox. DaMarcus hopes to avoid a roadside confrontation with William Wallace upon his return to the Land of Haggis.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2007

    We're Back

    Red Bull Rising was forced to leave the country, because of this Sollozzo business. Thankfully, our Godfather got us cleared of all those false charges and made arrangements to bring us back here safely. While away, we followed MLS, the US National Team and World Soccer religiously via satellite dish, when not enchanted by a beauty piu Greca d'Italiana. We considered posting in absentia, but in a court of law they could've proved that you, our loyal readers, had knowledge of our whereabouts. Anyway, we've settled all family business and in five years Red Bull Rising is going to be completely legitimate. Trust us. It's all we can tell you about our business. Now, back to the soccer...