Houston and Seattle played a classic match last night on national television. The unsporting Freddy Montero was unable to hand the physical pounding Dom Kinnear and the Houston defenders had in store for the much hyped, but little regarded (at least in Colombia) forward. Montero’s solution: whine and go to ground easily.
Montero has not had the impact in MLS yet that Carlos Ruiz or Raul Diaz Arce, two classic divers who scored a ton of goals previously had. He hasn’t earned the respect yet of fans, fellow players and the officials. While criticizing any part of the Seattle success story is considered out of line in some parts, Montero is the type of footballer that makes me want to for a minute consider the arguments so many hostile fans to the game in the US make about diving and cheating.
For a team that features two consummate professionals in Kasey Keller and Freddie Ljunberg, Montero’s presence is a blight on an otherwise bright season for Sigi Schmid’s side.
Going into the second leg at Estadio Robertson, the question is have the Dynamo learned from last year’s fluke collapse versus Red Bull in the return leg. My guess is that they have, and we won’t have to put up with another match on the rubber in Seattle this season (thank goodness.)
The US U-17 team has been none too impressive in the World Cup being held in Nigeria. I met Wilmer Cabrerra soon after he took the job and moved to Bradenton and have been impressed with his demeanor and willingness to impart a different style into our kids. But without Charles Renken, Joseph Gyau, and Sebastian Lletget, the team lacks the flair and quality going forward Cabrerra wants.
The 1-0 win over Malawi yesterday was borderline embarrassing. Malawi is a dirt poor country for whom this is the first ever major tournament. Madonna has kept the nation in the headlines lately but brought attention to just how bad the situation is there. The US needed a goal keeping blunder that made Iker Casillas mistake versus AC Milan last week look tame, to win with a single goal.
The final group match against the United Arab Emirates will be challenging. The UAE has developed some good young players the past few years and with the Abu Dhabi consortium’s purchase of Manchester City and DIC’s continued interest in Liverpool and other football related projects, the UAE is only going to grow stronger in the game as we look ahead. The nation last qualified for a World Cup in 1990 under Carlos Alberto Parriera after the legendary Don Revie had left managing England to develop the UAE program.
The USL vs TOA saga continues to drag on into its third month. I’ve done some reporting over at the Kartik Report on the matter in the past few days. MLS Commissioner Don Garber, somewhat surprisingly has taken an active and healthy interest in the matter. After a few meetings in New York at MLS HQ (called by the USSF) three weeks ago, the TOA stated a case which I am told was compelling to Garber.
The MLS Commissioner has worked hard to find a solution to the dispute, and has in the process proven that some of his bravado about USL and perceived ignorance of those clubs is just that: when it comes down to it, he is making an effort to help the game throughout the US and Canada.
Another curiosity of the entire situation is why the two Canadian based USL-1 teams have been negotiating directly with the USSF. Is the CSA so irrelevant, that Vancouver and Montreal’s ownership doesn’t even bother to deal with that governing body in resolving their dispute with USL, a league that is after all sanctioned by the CSA as well as the USSF?