wherein DF travels to Deutschland for the 2006 world cup to follow the US men's national soccer team

Sunday, April 02, 2006

MLS Day 1 and the USMNT

Gameday 1 of MLS season XI is in the books, and there's plenty of fodder for thinking about its implications for the national team. Viz.,

  • Until the Fire lost the thread in the last twenty minutes or so of their 3-2 loss to FC Dallas, Chris Rolfe was the best player on the field. He set up the first Chicago goal with some nice moves, scored a great second on the volley, and nearly had the third that might have deflated FCD and put things away for the Fire. As Waldo noted in his inimitably rude commentary, Rolfe looked nervous in his last outing for the MNT, against Guatemala, causing a lot of followers to write him off. But after watching him play today, I wonder if commentators (self included) were too quick to dismiss him. Yes, he's untried, but do we have another forward who has his kind of skills and upside?
  • Eddie Johnson scored in his debut for Kansas City, and it was a nice one. After last year's turf toe disaster, the goal for EJ is to get into form before the World Cup. If he can manage that, he'll definitely get minutes, especially after scoring in his first game back against Guatemala and looking strong against Germany. Based on what we saw yesterday, EJ seems to be on the right track, both physically and mentally.
  • Clint Dempsey had a nice series of moves, including an impressive backheel-to-self, during the first half of New England's 1-0 win over Los Angeles. Marcelo Balboa used the opportunity to compare Clint to Ronaldinho. Hm. He then noted that Clint might use the World Cup to open up some Euro teams' wallets for a major transfer fee, and illustrated the possibility with the example of Pablo Mastroeni, whose stellar performance in WC02 resulted in . . . a return to the Colorado Rapids. Celo, you were a great defender with a strangely effective Chileno, but seriously, lay off the crack, at least when you're announcing.
  • JOB trained with Chivas USA earlier this week. Are the Goats getting closer to landing the oft-hampered ex-Ajacied? Update: according to a second-hand account of an interview with Bruce Arena and Thomas Rongen, JOB is going to sign with C-USA very soon.
  • Kenny Cooper came up huge with a game-winning goal as a sub for FCD. He looked huge, too, because he is, going at least 6'3" with a large frame. For the past few years there have been rumblings about Cooper's performance for the Man United youth teams, but after loan spells to Academica Coimbra in Portugal and Oldham Athletic in the English second division, Man U released him. It's a puzzling decision, since he never seemed to get a real shot with the first team, but Dallas is certainly happy to take ManU's castoffs. And based on what I saw yesterday, this kid has got to get a shot with the Nats at some point, if only because he has the kind of physical presence that none of our other forwards bring.
  • Update: Brian Ching scored four for the Dynamo in their 5-2 win over Colorado, after his last outing for the Nats pretty much sealed his fate as a World Cup spectator. So good in MLS, so mediocre for the Nats. I suppose it just shows how much of a leap there is from American professional soccer to the top international level. Fun fact: Brian's total goals from today exceed by one the total he's scored in his entire career for the USMNT.


Blogger mirarchi said...

Great post! Thanks for the update on how the nats did in MLS this weekend. I was really glad to see Johnson score -- if he can go on a pre-WC hot streak in MLS, I'll feel a lot more optimistic about our chances of advancing to the second round. I remember reading an article awhile ago, maybe on www.soccernet.com, about EJ having an attitude problem, and that being the reason why he was traded to KC. Do you remember seeing the article, and have you heard anything to corroborate it? I know that EJ had some maturity issues when he first broke into the league, but everything I'd read before this soccernet article suggested that he had turned it all around, thanks to some good mentorship by one of Dallas's assistant coaches, I believe.

I was also excited to see Cooper score, if only because I'd heard so much about him but had never seen him play before, until this weekend. He is indeed a big man, and, even better, he seems to have good ball skills for a big guy -- I remember a nifty piece of footwork against Chicago which drew a foul in a dangerous position.

I was surprised to see Ching notch four goals like that. I wonder how much competition for roster spots will motivate players like Ching and Dempsey. Although I think Bruce should leave Ching off the final roster, if Ching goes on a tear in MLS, you have to think he should at least get another look from Arena.

Thanks for that update on O'Brien. I really hope that he signs soon with MLS, as time is running out for the guy. Given how long it's been since he played competitive club soccer, and give how we've only got a few more weeks before Bruce has to name his final roster, every weekend O'Brien hasn't signed is really a serious blow. Even if O'Brien makes the roster, he won't be much help to us unless he's match fit, and I'm afraid a training camp and a few friendlies aren't a substitute for a match a week in MLS.

11:16 AM, April 03, 2006

Blogger DF said...

I totally remember the article about EJ having attitude, and that being the reason he was traded. Ives Galarcep wrote it on Soccernet.com about a month ago. As far as I can recall, there were no sources and the whole report seemed kind of fishy, so I didn't put too much store in it. Regardless, EJ seems to have his act together now. I hope he continues to gain form and confidence (except when KC plays DC).

2:59 PM, April 03, 2006

Blogger mirarchi said...

Yes, I remember it not quoting any sources at all, and sounding really fishy. I actually couldn't believe that such an article would appear on a mainstream web site like soccernet and that an otherwise respectable soccer writer like Galarcep would write something like that. It really sounded more like a post you'd expect to read on bigsoccer than like a legitimate piece of sports journalism. Maybe Johnson stole Galarcep's girlfriend?

4:29 PM, April 03, 2006


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