With Nine Games Still Remaining in the Round, the MLS Goal of the Week Competition Is Over

Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry shut down the balloting for the week (and maybe the year) with this stunner:

The 88th-minute golazo put New York up 2-0 on Montreal, but of course, these being the Red Bulls, they gave up a goal to Marco Di Vaio in stoppage time, and then nearly blew Henry’s masterpiece a minute later, when Di Vaio hit both posts with a shot inside the box.

The former Serie A goal poacher was ruled offside, dubiously, and the ball just stayed out, enabling the Red Bulls (6-4-2) to hold on for a 2-1 win that lifted them into a tie with Houston atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Van Persie vs Wolyniec

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie scored three goals yesterday to lift his team to a 3-0 win over Aston Villa (and U.S. keeper Brad Guzan) that clinched the club’s 20th English championship.

His second was a beauty:

The full volley into the far corner, off of a pass from distance, kind of reminded us of MetroBull striker John Wolyniec’s overtime winner against Columbus in 2003:

Which one is better?

The MLS man was closer to goal, but the pass he had to deal with was longer. It was also an overtime winner.

Both players hit the ball absolutely on the screws, but RVP’s degree of difficulty to get it on frame was greater, and he pocketed it right in the corner.

Advantage: RVP, by a nose.

U.S. U-17s, Coach Richie Williams, Make the Wrong Kind of History

Former MLS midfielder Richie Williams and his U.S. U-17 charges lost 3-1 to Honduras in the CONCACAF Championship quarterfinals on Sunday evening in Panama City.

The defeat denied the team a berth in the 2013 U-17 World Cup, and made them the first U.S. U-17 side ever to fail to reach the World Cup, a string of 15 straight appearances dating to 1985.

The Americans came into the match as heavy favorites, but after Honduras broke a 1-1 tie with two goals early in the second half, the U.S. could not recover, and their World Cup dream evaporated.

Highlights here:

This is the third disappointing result for a U.S. youth team in the past three years, following the 2011 U-20 team’s failure to reach their World Cup, and the U-23’s inability to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

U.S. U-17s Edge Guatemala, Advance to Do-Or-Die Game with Honduras

On a patchy field in Panama City, the U.S. U-17 national team got a 49th-minute goal from midfielder Corey Baird and made it stand up for a 1-0 win over Guatemala in the Americans’ second game of the CONCACAF U-17 Championships.

Check out the highlights, which include some quality wing play from Rubio Rubin, and a sweet piece of skill (at the 1:56 mark) by newcomer Joel Sonora, a Boca Juniors Academy product who made his first start for the U.S. U-17s:

The victory handed the Group C title to the U.S., who defeated Haiti 3-0 in their opener on April 7 behind two goals from Red Bulls Academy player Christopher Lema.

The Yanks now move on to face Group D runner-up Honduras on Sunday (6:00 pm ET, Fox Soccer) with a berth in this fall’s U-17 World Cup on the line.

If the Americans win, they’ll advance the CONCACAF semifinals as well as to the nation’s 15th consecutive U-17 World Cup, with this year’s edition being held in the United Arab Emirates from October 18 to November 8.

MLS’s CCL Dream Deferred Yet Again

A team from Major League Soccer will win the CONCACAF Champions League some day. Just not this year.

After Seattle went out to Santos Laguna in a 1-1 second-leg draw on Tuesday night, the LA Galaxy represented MLS’s last hope for a 2013 CCL finalist. Their task was nearly identical to the one Seattle faced on Tuesday: They were playing on the road in Mexico, and they trailed by a goal after the first leg. Indeed, the Galaxy’s degree of difficulty was slightly higher, since Monterrey had scored two away goals in their first-leg win at Los Angeles.

Bruce Arena’s side had been 10 minutes away from taking a 1-0 win down to Mexico for the second leg when the visitors’ two biggest threats, Mexican striker Aldo De Nigris and his Chilean counterpart Humberto Suazo, each struck in the waning moments to send LA to a severely deflating loss. But the Galaxy have Robbie Keane and Juninho and a rounding-into-form Landon Donovan, and their fans had hopes that they could bag the two goals needed in the return match to either win the tie outright or send it into extra time.

LA generated some chances, but Monterrey ultimately showed why they’re the two-time defending champs. Highlights here:

Real Salt Lake’s narrow loss to Monterrey in the 2011 final is looking like a bigger missed opportunity with each passing year. Jason Kreis’s team got a 2-2 draw on the road in the first leg that year, only to fall 1-0 at home in front of an amped-up crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium. Ouch.

Monterrey and Santos Laguna will meet for the trophy in a rematch of last year’s final. The two-leg decider is set for April 24 and May 1.

Digging Out, Catching Up, Looking Ahead

WCq-costa-rica-usa

 

Much like the pitch at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on March 22—the date of our last post, yikes—we have been snowed under the past few weeks. We picked up some more responsibility at the day job, and had a few extra freelance jobs come in. All of which is good for us, but not so good for the BP, which got shunted out of the picture.

We’re back, late on a Friday, having cleared the desk of about 317 tasks, to play a little catch-up. Here’s a 30-second rundown of some of what we missed while we were away:

• The U.S. got a massive and historic point on the road at Estadio Azteca, tying mighty Mexico 0-0, a result which, combined with the win at Dick’s, righted the Good Ship Klinsmann. For now.

• The U.S.-Mexico border war did not go so well where MLS was concerned: Seattle and Los Angeles both suffered home losses in their first-leg matches in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.

• Seattle had its troubles in the league as well, suffering consecutive losses to undermanned San Jose and Real Salt Lake sides to stumble to an 0-3-1 record out of the gate, their worst start in franchise history. Then new striker Obafemi Martins left the team to seek treatment for a knee injury. Tough times in the Pacific Northwest, where expectations were running higher than the Space Needle this spring.

• The U.S. U-20s learned their draw for this summer’s U-20 World Cup in Turkey and it’s a killer: The young Yanks were grouped with France, Spain, and a yet-to-be-determined African nation. Good grief.

• Montreal got their fourth win to start the MLS campaign, edging New York 1-0 to become the surprise team of the young season before being blanked 2-0 by defending East champs Kansas City in a bit of a statement game on March 30. In the West, Dallas is the early leader, reeling off consecutive wins over Houston, Real Salt Lake, and New England.

That’s a start, and we’ll have more in the coming days, along with the latest BPFL recap later tonight. Next week, we’ll have some site news.

U.S.-Costa Rica Live Blog

All right, that’s it for us. Our Man at DSG got snowed in, but we’ll post any additional bon mots he has as they come in. Fascinating game, and a great result for the US, as well as a solid outing for Run DMB at left back.

Good night everybody.

95+ There it is! The final whistle. Three big points for the U.S. 1-0 in the snow. It was “beautifully ugly,” as Alexi Lalas said. The weather was unprecedented, and chances are, quite different from what they’ll face in Mexico City on Tuesday night.

94′ Kyle Beckerman on for Gomez. One minute of stoppage time left.

91′ Geoff Cameron helping the grounds crew shoveler clear the line!

89′ Another free kick for Costa Rica, but they cant lift the ball off the snow. And it’s cleared out easily by the US.

88′ Cameron gives away a free kick in a dangerous area, 10 yards off top of the box left side. US clears it away. Whew, say US fans. Not sure there was much of a foul on Cameron there but…

86′ “Eddie Johnson goes for a tumble, as if he were on a tobaggon ride,” says Ian Darke.

83′ Maurice Edu on for Jermaine Jones. Snow continues to be ridiculously heavy. Players just scuffing and banging the ball around.

78′ These conditions are barely (really, not) playable. And Costa Rica is starting to get more of the play. Guzan comes out to claim for the second time in the past two min.

76′ Eddie Johnson on for Graham Zusi.

73′ “Both sides have abandoned the idea of playing pretty football,” says Ian Darke. “They’re both hitting it long and seeing if they can control the second ball.” Yes. And the field is completely covered with at least two inches of snow, compared with the first half where there was not complete coverage. Tundra now.

70′ Costa Rica goal called back for offside! Wow. US under pressure here with 20 min to play.

69′ Jermaine Jones elbow gives CR a free kick deep on right flank. US clears it but gives up a corner. “Nervy moments for the US,” says Twellman.

MGlo: Ian Darke just said that the US looks to have a 2nd goal in them. How can he see that in these conditions?!

64′ Dempsey draws a foul in a dangerous area. Zusi takes it… foul off the ball on the US.

MGlo says: Costa rica hoping they score. Then they will go to the ref and say “come on we can’t play. This is crazy!”

60′ Saborio with a drive! Tight angle from the right. Great save by Guzan. Conditions are far worse than they were in the first half. TV cameras are getting flecked with snow.

58′ Dempsey with a chance! Just wide.

55′ They’re stopping the game! According to the sideline reporter, they’re stopping the game to try to clear the field, or … they’re stopping it for good? This is…still in doubt. Ian Darke suggests they may resume it tomorrow, when the conditions would be….worse, right? Costa Rica seems to want to continue, US definitely wants to continue and…we’re back on! Wow! How bout that?!

53′ Costa Rica free kick in a very dangerous area: right on the top of the box. Deflects out for a corner. Wow. That could have gone anywhere. Ensuing corner leads to a chance for Saborio! Second corner: that one…Guzan comes out, misses it! Ball sails out.

52′ Prison Mike says, “Jones has been very smart. He knows that the defender has no traction, so when it’s played to his feet with his defender on his back, he turns him every time.  I think Bradley is the best player on the US and he’s useless in these conditions.” Good point. Bradley has been mostly invisible tonight.

49′ Altidore does very well to keep possession in the middle, sprays a ball out wide to Zusi, who can’t catch up to it.

48‘ Snow expected to continue for “next 12 hours.” Ha. US needs another goal to keep this result safe.

46′ Second half under way. Field doesn’t look much better. Taylor Twellman echoes OMATV’s point about Zusi, saying he “has to be careful” on the defensive side of the ball.

Our Man at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park: Halftime. We are better team but Cameron is our weak link at right back. Zusi not helping him.

Prison Mike says: “We win this and we’re in second, we lose and we’re in last. Altidore is showing why he needs to be out there all the time. He’s a beast. And I think Goodson deserves a spot in the back.”

Bob Ley just described the conditions as “surreal.” Let’s see how the field looks in the second half.

MGlo asks: At what point does the result stand? And if the game is called tonight, do they replay the whole game, or from where it was stopped? Good questions.

47+ There’s the halftime whistle. US 1, Costa Rica 0 after 45. The snow continues to fall. Grounds crew has work to do during the break.

Here are some catchup posts from Our Man at the Valley:

“Not much love for Beasley here in the stands, but I think he’s playing well. Lots of snow.”

“White foam on free kicks not going to work in this snow.”

47′ Saborio with a late hit on Gonzalez on that play–a corner claimed by Guzan. Hmmm. Just got a bulletin from Our Man at the Valley–from the 22nd minute. Weather-related technical difficulties….

45′ Beasley, Gonzalez and Goodson all do well to stop another CR attack. US needs a two-goal cushion in this one.

43′ Dempsey taken down in the box! No call! Then follow-up US chance goes just wide.

41′ Costa Rica getting a bit more of the play here in the later stages of the second half.

39′ Goodson with a thumping headed clearance to repel CR attack. Nice play by Goodson.

38‘ Costa Rica counter leads to good shot on goal! Guzan handles it.

32′ Conditions continue to be unbelievable. Our Man at the Valley is clearly suffering the elements on site. All action in Costa Rica’s end.

26′ Jermaine Jones was down with an ankle knock for a while, which gave the crew a chance to clear the lines a bit. Nice play by Cameron on the right flank to clear some danger, then Costa Rica gets to the endline and crosses!…Guzan has it, and it was flagged over the line for a goal kick.

24′ This is a straight up blizzard. Here’s MGlo on the goal: “Saw Altidore shoot. Saw Dempsey celebrate. Like I said, hockey.”

22′ Costa Rica counterattack off a Cameron giveaway goes for naught even though Beasley slipped in the box at the end.

16′ GOAL! US! Hard to see how it went in exactly but Altidore shot hit the post (we think) and the rebound was turned in by Dempsey! Goal! 1-0 US.

Our Man at the Valley is back in contact. Says it’s snowing really hard. Great conditions in which to host Costa Rica.

13′ US attack thwarted by the elements: Dempsey’s leading ball slides too far and over the endline.

9′ “Was dicks all out of orange balls?” asks friend of Backpost MGlo. “The yellow looks great in the closeups, shit on tv. Like watching hockey.” Beasley went down after a collision with Gonzalez. Back up and back in now.

6′ Dempsey sends Altidore into the box…but the ball skitters away and CR defender pokes it out.

4′ U.S. with a free kick 35 yards out, dead center. … Gomez lofts it toward back post… it scoots out of bounds.

We’re under way. Television visibility is poor. Hard to see the ball, and the U.S. team. 10:12

U.S. takes the field in their white uniforms…and almost disappear against the snowbound pitch. —Ed. 10:11

We should probably see the orange ball for this one. Snow is that heavy. Costa Rica anthem done, U.S. in progress. Our Man at the Valley no doubt scrambling to his seat at DSG as we type this. More from him soon. —Ed. 10:07.

The snow is surprisingly heavy. Covering the field, and the lines have been cleared by the grounds crew.— Ed. 10:05.

We’re about 15 minutes from kickoff. The U.S. will line up in a 4-2-3-1, with Guzan in goal, Beasley, Goodson, Gonzalez, and Cameron across the back (l-to-r); Jones and Bradley in front of the back four; Gomez, Dempsey, and Zusi forward in midfield and Altidore up top. — Ed. 9:58

9:55: Now playing the theme to Ghostbusters. Somehow this fits with the Rolling Rock.

9:45: Bus playlist so far: “Jump,” “Star Spangled Banner,” “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Born in the USA,” “America, Fuck Yeah!” … Am waiting on some Indigo Girls. Maybe Southland in the Springtime.

9:33: Spontaneous singing of “Star Spangled Banner” on the bus….God, I cant believe I used to want to drink Rolling Rock!

9:26: Big dilemma for Colorado Keeper upon boarding bus. Since there’s one free beer per passenger, do you grab one on behalf of your 7-year-old son? … Keeper decided not to. First bad move by him associated with this website since he brought in Fernando Torres for Robin Van Persie during Week 3 of the Backpost EPL Fantasy League.

9:08: The Bulldog is pssing out complimentary half-pints of Guinness. That was a good bus to miss.

8:58: Mmmmmm. Titan IPA.

8:41: There’s good news and bad news: First, the bad: The 6:30 [local time] bus from the Bulldog to the stadium, for which we have reservations, has come and gone. The good news: Great Divide is a wonderful brewery in Denver, and the British Bulldog serves their Titan IPA.

8:22: Now watching Argentina-Paraguay. Ref is using white foam on free kicks! MLS taking over the world!

8:11: Colorado Keeper of BPFL fame, just met league rival Clever and Witty. Worlds collide.

8:01: Chicken tikka masala at the Bulldog is very good.  Also very spicy.

7:54:  Suarez!  What a goal!!

7:43:  Girlfriend is here. Diego Forlan is on tv. She is happy.

7:31: At a table with arduous American outlaws from Arizona and California. We are arranged in a 3-4-2 to commemorate our perennial lack of a left back.

7:22:  Now watching Uruguay  v Paraguay. Paraguay apparently thought it was bibs v non bibs

7:08: At pub [British Bulldog]. Heaving… Lots of cheers for final whistle in Honduras. [Honduras and Mexico tied 2-2 after Honduras was controversially denied a late penatly.—Ed.] I think they are misplaced and it’d be better for us I Mexico run away with group.

6:57 ET: On way to pub. Light snow and very windy.

Good evening, sports fans!

We are about one hour from kickoff of the crucial World Cup qualifier between the United States and Costa Rica in Commerce City, Colorado. But Our Man at the Valley has been going strong, on site, for a couple of hours now.

He began the evening at the British Bulldog, the de facto headquarters of U.S. supporters group, the American Outlaws, for this match, and last we heard, was getting ready to board a bus for the stadium.

Let’s get right it.