The Galaxy’s win over the Dynamo was dramatic but in many ways tainted. A strange call when against Houston, and the rolling power outages that swept Southern California seemed to unfortunately coincide with upsurges in Houston play.
Chicago vs Real Salt Lake was a better match than the Galaxy-Houston game. A better atmosphere and more attacking chances highlighted an unforgettable match.
Nick Rimando has won an MLS Cup with DC United, and a Supporters Shield with Miami. Now, if he wins another title with Real Salt Lake, is he the best multiple team goalkeeper in the league’s history? Or would that be Kevin Hartman? The uncanny knack Rimando has for saving penalty kicks in match, translated to Saturday night’s shootout.
RSL has found a way to use Javier Morales in a tactical position between Andy Williams and Kyle Beckerman. During the season the three midfielders often bunched up when on the field together, but the width at Toyota Park and a change in tactics from Jason Kreis and Robin Fraser late in the season have made RSL midfield bite impossible to stop.
Robbie Russell, one of the few MLS players with UEFA Champions League experience has brought an athleticism and intelligence to RSL’s back line since he signed in the middle of last season.
Upon a second viewing, the US performance against Slovakia looked worse than before, and the Slovak performance continued to underwhelm. Slovakia has nothing to prove until the World Cup: they won a very difficult qualifying group in UEFA that included two teams that have beaten the US badly, in recent World Cups and a Slovenia team that is also considered very dangerous. But for the US, doubts linger about the team’s ability to play effectively without Landon Donovan. The record of the nats through the years in matches which Donovan is not available is much worse than many think. I keep track of these things and do know that the US’ record since qualification in 2005 against non CONCACAF opposition without Donovan is 4-7-1 (This does not included January games against Scandinavian “B” teams). The wins were against China, Venezuela, Switzerland (a credible victory) and South Africa.
Costa Rica’s lifeless performance at Saprissa against Uruguay, where the Ticos who looked badly outclassed from minute ten on, showed the weakness of CONCACAF. The return leg in Montevideo could be a bloodbath.
The death of Mexican International and class act Antonio De Nigris of a heart attack will be felt by all fans of CONCACAF. The former Monterrey and Villereal Striker was playing his trade in Greece when he suffered a fatal heart attack overnight. De Nigris was on the Mexican Copa America team that lost to Colombia in the 2001 final, and was last capped for the national team during the 2-2 draw withhe US last year, in Houston. He was 31, and will be missed.
The USL vs TOA mess got messier over the weekend. Published reports from our partner site Inside Minnesota Soccer indicate the Thunder will have local competition from a new USL team next season, as the league has found investors to compete with the established TOA entry. Also, Rochester who was previously thought to be ironclad in USL’s camp has begun making noise about the TOA, according to multiple internet reports. This weekend’s Annual General Meeting of USL in Tampa, will be very interesting to say the least.
Former NCAA and USLPDL star Vedad Ibisevic, who is one of the top strikers in the Bundesliga actually prevented Bosnia from scoring a goal in Lisbon on Saturday. A Bosnian team mate had an open net with Portuguese goalie Eduardo out of position, but the shot deflected off Ibisevic and rolled away from the goal mouth. Bosnia trails the two leg playoff with Carlos Quieroz’s Portugal 1-0.
Several current MLS players and former MLS/USL/NCAA Soccer stars are headed to South Africa with New Zealand. Congratulations to the Kiwis!