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May 23, 2011

05-23-11 Roundup: Covering Various Teams

I had the unfortunate chance to watch the FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake match. I assumed with both teams sitting second and third in the Western Conference that this would be a good match-up. I should have looked a little bit more closely at the goals scored/goals allowed for Utah's side: 9/2. As in, they have given up two goals in eight games but have only scored nine as well.

I tuned in from the 35th minute until the rain stoppage at the 83rd but it was more than enough to get a sense of the game. You can watch the highlights but there's not a whole lot to offer. To give you an idea of the game, the momentum graph (which I'm not going to bother posting so you'll just have to take my word) didn't rise above nine while the WNT against Japan rested over twenty-five twice. The GG Rating was only a 16 with the previously mentioned game at a 73. ("Wolf" indeed.) Again, I only watched a half of the entire game but the highlights didn't hint at me missing a ton other than a George John goof shot and a rocket at Hartman from Will Johnson from 25 yards out.

Some players played in the Chile game back in January, some didn't...
  • Gabe Alexander had some nice combination play on the right side with Jackson but was subbed out at the 77th minute.
  • Brek Shea provided some attack but almost all of his crosses were eons too early, something that won't be tolerated at the interational level. I know he's trying to counter quickly against a loaded defensive line but he was oblivious to nearly every situation he was sending a ball into. As a player as a whole, there's little smart defending although his energy and willingness to make plays happen seem to overshadow that flaw for most people...
  • Zach Loyd played well but I've always been a fan since the draft. I think he can fit into the LB spot for the national team in time...
  • Nick Rimando did everything that was asked of him and then some on the awkward but necessary save from George John's shot...
  • George John has been talked about a lot in and out of the game.  Currently the 8th best player in the MLS.

RSL had no attack and you can't blame Javier Morales' absence on this. I'm not saying the skill of the fielded 11 wasn't less, I'm merely pointing out that RSL made no effort to attack FC Dallas. Every counter Dallas had they were going into numbers. And I'm talking about quick 18-to-18 counters into a 3-on-6 defensive man advantage. RSL just camped out with five defenders and had midfielders playing shallow to stop any idea of an attack. 

Statistically, RSL had tallied just nine subjective points in 45 minutes. Compare this to Japan's 37+ in their losing effort that most people would describe as a "stomp" (they were outscored by the WNT by nearly quadruple subjective points). On the other side of the field, FC Dallas could only muster just over twenty points in watched 45, which would extrapolate to close to Japan's.

All of this is even more interesting (or depressing, considering your point of view) when you find out that RSL is led by ex-FC Dallas striker and prolific scorer, Jason Kreis. Just a mind-boggling no-strategy on Kreis' part, really. I guess that MLS unbeaten home streak means a ton to these guys.

Game Observations

I'm having trouble finding the name of the commentators but the higher pitched fellow actually had some decent insight to the game. And the basic play-by-play guy didn't have a British accent (although that's a staple for MLS games anyway). Overall they did very well...

On free kicks I saw the ref mark the grass with, what looked like, shaving cream. I may be behind the times on this but I still thought it was a great idea immediately after seeing it...

There was a scuffle around the 73rd minute. Shea went to clear a ball in his box by kicking backwards upfield. Shea's foot came close to Real Salt Lake player, Olave, and proceeded to fall to the ground grasping his ghost-bitten face. Hernandez said something Olave didn't like but not after he "straddled" Olave laying on the ground. The players moshed together and the referee had to interfere, although no cards were given. The commentator put it beautifully, "No player wants to be straddled whatsoever."...

I haven't surveyed all the refs but the fact that David Gantar caught my eye probably means he's the best center ref the MLS has to offer. He reffed the U-20 Suriname game. I like how this website describes of him, "[Gantar] finally got what he deserved by getting his FIFA badge. It's very hard to go far as a FIFA referee from Canada but hopefully Gantar can change that and give hope to other Canadian referees."...

Men's Youth Programs

(Side note: It's a tad discouraging when you can't find news about a team on their own website. Imagine if the Los Angeles Lakers didn't publish their own results of games and were weeks of of date.)
U-20s - Recently played France's U-20s to a 3-3 draw on the 17th earlier this month and a 2-1 loss on the 19th. The U-20s carried about half of the squad that went through WC qualifying over to France. The highlights took forever to load for me but was worth it. Some great goals as well as some head scratchers. The best of the videos is Rowe's free kick in the 2-1 loss that set up Conor "Cherrypicker" Doyle's goal.

U-18s - Days away from starting the Lisbon International Tournament where they'll face the Netherlands, Portugal, and Finland. Among the squad is captained Luis Gill who scored in the first U-20 game against France and attended the same tournament last year.

U-17s - Won the CONCACAF championship earlier this year with an amazing goal (start at 3:30) from Nathan Smith in the 92' of overtime to lead USA to a 3-0 win over Canada. Now they're awaiting the start of the 2011 U-17 World Cup where they'll face Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, and New Zealand in group play. USA was among the top six teams in Pot A that were dispersed to the other six groups. (The other five teams were Mexico (hosts), Germany, England, Brazil, and Argentina.) The World Cup starts in late June with their first game against the Czech Republic on the 19th.

U-15s - Apparently the boys (who are in eighth and ninth grade, to put things in perspective) traveled to Croatia and... have not been heard from again. Check for yourself. This is really disappointing that the boys have gone missing on USA's part. Please keep these boys in your prayers.

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