MLS Fangirl

Comments from a fangirl's eye-view on Major League Soccer, the American slice of the world's greatest sport.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The management regrets to inform you ...

... that I'm forced to take about a week or so off. I've been caught up in soccer goodness and was about to get back to blogging on MLS, but I've hurt my hand and can barely type. Which is a shame because I had all sorts of things to say about Arena and MLS. But I'll get back to it when I'm healed up. Wizards and my beloved DC tomorrow, go, DC, go!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tarnished silver lining

Reasons not to be completely bummed out by the US foundering out of the World Cup:

1. We actually got a gol of our own in World Cup play in Europe.

2. Since fútbol in the US still is an unpopular sport, not too many people are actually aware of what happened.

3. That game on Saturday against the Italians, one of the best games of the whole World Cup.

4. No more little profiles about Landon Donovan.

5. There's still two more weeks of great fútbol.

So this is it. I'm sorry to have to do this to you, USMNT, but I think it's time we started seeing other people. I love you, guys, but I think it would be better this way, just for a bit. I know you've got to take a breather, get your act together. We both know that you're capable of so much more than you're demonstrating right now, and I need that in my life. I know you'll understand, because you're such a nice guy. And you might want to think about that, because you know how the girls dig the bad boys. You could stand to be a little badder. But that's OK. You're always going to be No. 1 in my heart. So if you don't mind, you'll be seeing me around with Mexico for a few days. But don't worry, I'll be dropping them for Argentina pretty soon. A girl's got to keep her options open and all. I'll be seeing you in a year or so, whenever you start getting it together to start qualifying for the next round. I just know that you're going to be incredible, and I'll be waiting. Call me, kay?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

US vs. Italy

I did not know it was possible to lose God and find God all in one day. Yeah, it was a draw, but it was a good draw, and the US played like they knew what they were doing, down two men who were taken out by crap officiating. This is the team I'm always thinking of when I say, "It's possible for the US to have a good run in the World Cup." Thanks for showing up, boys. And thanks, ABC cameraman, for the clear shot of a shirtless Brian McBride at the end of the game. Thanks to that shot, a friend of mine has become a fan of futbol.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I reject your reality and substitute my own

I'm taking a class this month that runs from 10:30 to 12:30 CDT, so as I'm an annoying dedicated student, I didn't get so see the US take on the Czech Republic. Having not actually seen the game for myself, I'm going to go with my own blind, frantic belief that the US did fanTAStically and is well on its way to winning Group E. Feh, who need reality? Who needs things like actual statistics. I'm an American, by jimminy, and I don't let pesky things like facts get in my way.

In reality, though, 3-0?


On any other given day, I would have been dejected by Japan's 3-1 fall to Austrailia, because hell, they were winning when I left the house!! But I've got so much emotionally invested in the United States, and when they lose, I feel it in my heart and they're getting primacy. I feel like I just got broken-up with by a guy who I thought was the perfect guy but it turned out he lied to me on every point. It's funny how apt that is to describe how broken-hearted I am by this loss. Part of me wants to put my head down on the table and cry a little bit and then get up and swear off men ... er, I mean US futbol ... forever, throw my support toward England or Mexico like all my friends are doing, the ones who are die-hard Premiership fans and speak in disparaging terms of US futbol.

But this is the thing about being a true fan, you don't love them just because they win. You may break up with the guy for being an asshole, but you never turn your back on your friends just because they screw up.

Go US!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

While watching the Mexico-Iran game ...

Dear Marcelo Balboa -- feel free to just jump in there at any time. It's OK, you can do it. Just enter in the conversation and get it back to the game at hand ... or fútbol in general, if that's what it takes. Because I quite honestly don't want to know any more about the politics of Iran or its size in square miles. I would consider it a personal favor if you could keep the inane chatter of your compatriot up there in the ABC booth guided toward the actual SPORT. Thanks much.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup intermission

Yeah, I know this is an MLS- and USMNT-focused blog, but it's the World Cup, it's a month of holidays for the futbol fan, and I've just spent two days in a state of mild-to-critcal frenzy. For reasons in addition to the World Cup, I've had little sleep, terrible food and other stress, to the point where I'm barely able to form cognizant sentences, but I'm going to throw some stuff out there anyway.

First off -- and I know this is piddly but it's been bugging me -- Puma makes the worst kits. All the uniforms made by Puma that I've seen so far look exactly the same and only vary by color. They're ugly. Thank heaven that the USMNT has Nike, because ugh.

I've been watching a good portion of the World Cup on Univision as opposed to ESPN2, not just because I'm taking a Spanish conversation class this month and I'm trying to practice my comprehension, but also because the trappings are better. There's no annoying ticker at the bottom of the screen telling me about sports I don't care about, Univision has nothing but futbol-themed commercials during the half instead of little updates on other sports that I don't care about and, most importantly, from what I can tell, the talking heads on Univision spend the full 90 talking about futbol. Unlike the guy during the Argentina-Ivory Coast match that started using examples from other sports to explain what was going on or chatting about the upcoming NBA Finals. Unlike that same guy who started talking about the FIFA rankings as if they meant something truly significant. Even if the guys on Univision do go off on stupidity like that, I wouldn't really know it, because my Spanish still ain't that good.

Most bizarre moment today -- Alexi Lalas and Co. chatting about the Sweden-T&T game from the Belmont Stakes. And geez, Lalas is a tall guy, I had no idea!

So far all of the matches have been pretty good, from the first amazing gol by Germany to the 2-1, surprisingly hard fought win by Argentina over an Ivory Coast that came back after halftime and started to play some serious soccer. Nothing's gone quite as I've been expecting, with teams that I was sure would be routed ending up playing fairly well, such as Paraguay, which, yes, lost to England but still came back after the single gol for England to just hold it to 1. Great bending assist by Beckham for that own gol from Paraguay (in those awful Puma kits!), by the way. Best game, though for me, surprisingly, has been the Sweden-T&T draw, which I saw noted as a "shocker" by some news outlets. Down by 1 and with a surprise keeper, Trinidad & Tobago really did deserve that 1 point.

And I still love that Addidas commercial with the little kids in Barcelona playing the pickup game with the big stars. Although the great Bud commercial with the fans in the stadium is a good one, too.

Tomorrow my big game would be Mexico-Iran, and I'm trying to decide if I should go to church or skip church and watch the game. Quite honestly I have to wonder where one would be most likely to find a sense of the divine, and I generally find it more consistently on the pitch than anywhere else. And after that it's back to MLS, yay!

Picks for Saturday
Crew vs. Wizards: The battle for second place in the East wages in Columbus tonight, and before last week I would have just gone with KC, despite its wretched performace as of late. Hopefully the Crew is still riding a wave of confidence after beating the Hoops last week, so I'm going to throw my hopes behind Columbus. Go Crew!

New York vs. Houson: New York is hunting for a second win, and they're not going to find it at home against the Dynamo tonight. That's one thing you can say about New York, they're consistent no matter where they play, which ain't saying much. The Dynamo have it tonight.

Picks for Sunday:
FC Dallas vs. Chivas -- Awww, and Chivas was going with such a nice little record there, piling up a couple of wins. Dallas surely isn't going to allow a repeat of last week with a loss to a lower-ranked team at home. My great hope is just that Chivas doesn't let the Hoops romp all over them, so let's say Dallas by 1.

Fire vs. Revs -- You know, I just can't get used to the fact that the Revs have gone to being all that and a bag of chips to less than that and a bag of the generic chips that your mom buys at the dollar store when she's trying to save up for a facial. Of course, the Fire haven't been doing so well lately, either, but I'm actually pulling for them, but I'm thinking this will end in a draw.

Galaxy vs. DC -- A new coach and new coaching staff isn't going to do anything for LA against a team that knows where it's at this season. The Galaxy is playing tired and embarassed at being routed by Chivas on Thursday, so I don't think it'll be much of a trick for DC to pull off a win. The question really will be, how many points will the Black-and-Red rack up?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Casting call

Having just listened to NPR's Frank Deford grudgingly comment on the World Cup and the US Men's Team's chances therein, which were both incredibly naive and somewhat astute all at the same time, which is pretty much his style, I began to play the ultimate fútbol What-If game, as in, what if a miracle happened and the US won the World Cup?

Other than being hated for yet one more thing on the global stage (and Deford hit that one on the nose) a win at the World Cup for the US means one great thing -- one of those patriotic, propagandistic, dripping-with-cheeseyness-but-makes-you-stand-up-and-cheer Disney sports movies. Yes, like that movie Miracle that came out in 2004 about the U.S. Hockey team's win over the big-bad Soviets in the 1980 Olympics, US fútbol would be immortalized on celluloid eventually. It would, of course, have to be a real tear-jerker, complete with all the little dramas real -- such as Frankie Hejduk getting sidelined by an injury and having to bow out of the National Team the day after he's named -- and imagined -- let's say, one of our GKs breaking every finger in both hands and yet still managing to shutout the Brazillians in the final match of the tournament. Oooh, heartbreaking, yet lifting, one of those "human-spirit" things. Ugh, yeah, but you get the idea.

And then there's a matter of casting the movie. I think Kurt Russell could do a decent Bruce Arena, he does that "I'm a stern but respected father-figure" thing so well. But for players? I'm just not as into movie stars are well as I used to be, so I can't think of other appropriate actors. I have a tendency to like seasoned guys, like Viggo Mortensen and Hugh Jackman, who are all a bit too long in the tooth to play the young guys of the US team. Well ... maybe if Hugh Jackman shaved his head he could be Kasey Keller.

So -- who would you cast for the movie of the USMNT's victory and the World Cup, and what little bits of drama would you include in the script? Now granted, it would take a miracle for the US team to win. And having said that, as is my track record, I've just ensure that it'll happen. Viva Estados Unidos!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sh*t on the wires

Everyone probably knows it already that former San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop has been tapped to replace Steve Sampson as the head coach of the LA Galaxy. There's been much hootin' and hollerin' about it (check out the Soccer Blogs feed site, just wade through it to find reactions on Sampson from all the other fine bloggers and for all your other delicious futbol goodness, all you want and much much more!). From the overall look of things, Sampson's departure overall was greeted with a "Don't let the screen door hit you in the ass on your way out," although D at The DCenters blog has some strong words to say about LA general manager Alexi Lalas. I haven't been in the futbol-fan game long enough to form a cognizant opinion about Lalas, but I gotta say, wow, you go D.

That lack of general knowledge also prevents me from getting too excited about Yallop. Was he the coach of the Canadian National Team when the USMNT drew with them in the friendly in January? Anyway, I look forward to the Galaxy's game tomorrow with Chivas, although I still expect Chivas to garner a win here, coaching change notwithstanding.

The other item of interest, and this almost makes me want to travel out to Salt Lake to see this royal spanking -- Real Madrid and Real Salt Lake playing in an exhibition game in August.

Oh, and check out the nifty little ticker on the right there, under the US Soccer links. Counting down to Tuesday ...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sampson relieved of duties

So the Galaxy's dismal record this season has caught up to head coach Steve Sampson, according to a news release on The man who lead the Galaxy to the 2005 MLS Cup Championship was relieved of his duties as head coach.

And it really has been a terrible season for the Galaxy, which currently is sitting at the very very bottom of the Western standings, three points below Chivas. And with the way things have been going lately, I don't foresee the Galaxy winning against their cross-town rival on Thursday night.

No word on on who is replacing Sampson at LA's helm. I've noticed some talk here and there in the futbol blogsphere calling for Sampson's dismisal, just about as often as I've heard calls for RSL head coach John Ellinger's dismisal for Salt Lake's bad season, before they started winning. It will be interesting to see what kind of turnaround, if any, the Galaxy will have with this change. The Galaxy is facing the same problem that some other MLS teams have, namely losses of key players to the national team, though the Galaxy hadn't been playing nearly up to past form from the beginning of the season even before the players left for their respective training camps.

Well, it should make for an interesting game on Thursday night, watch it on ESPN. And Thursday starts what's going to be an orgy of futbol for the month of June. I'm so distracted by all things footie I can't concentrate. I've spent most of today figuring out time zone differences for various games, and between and all the futbol coverage on ABC/ESPNs/Univision, there's actually going to be moments where I can have two live games running at once. Gah, I need help. I am not just a fangirl, I am a futbol-a-holic ...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Crew's in

How is it that every time I say things like, "It'll take a miracle for the Crew to win this game," they actually pull one out and win the game? You could have knocked me over with a feather when I checked up on the scoreboard and saw that the Crew had beaten FC Dallas 2-1. After suffering one of the team's worst defeats at the hands of DC United just a few days before, Columbus, I guess, decided that it had enough and got out its game. Either that, or Dallas had come down with a clear case of the "Eh, we can beat these guys in our sleep, let's go take a nap." I only watched the first half on the archive so far, but that first half showed Columbus clearly in charge of the game, so I'm really looking forward to the second half -- hell the last 15 minutes, it looks like -- to see how they pulled this one off.

Anyone know, by the way, how my darling Frankie Hejduk is faring with this ACL injury? Any reports or ideas on when he'll be returning to the pitch?

I'm quite happy for the Crew with this win. Dallas can handle the loss, as they're still sitting pretty four points on top of Houston in the West, and the victory sets Columbus in a tie for second in the East. Could you ever believe it?

I also got to watch DC United take on the Revolution, and I don't know about ya'll but my eyes were on Alecko the whole time. There was a very strong sense of payback hanging in the air every time he headed toward the goal and Matt Reis, which didn't come off, and I was sad to see him come off the pitch without having scored. Still, there was, I thought, lots of be happy with in this game, such as Freddy Adu getting some nice set-ups and Jaime Moreno's 101st gol. And a word to Facundo Erpen -- dude, we know you can score from a distance, so cut it out already.

And man, how about Chivas squashing the Rapids 4-1? Who knew, huh? That's a game that'll be coming up on the computer this week, that's for damn sure. It may be looking like the expansion teams of Chivas and RSL are no longer the league whipping boys. Still, I'll be interested in seeing how things shake out once the superstars come back from Germany. Fútbol being a team sport and all, it shouldn't make that much of a difference, but you know it always does, just look at KC.

Four days and counting until the the World Cup. Anyone excited yet?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Welcome to the blogroll

A big'ol hidey hi to a couple of new additions to my blogroll, DCSundevil's An American's View on Futbol/Football/Soccer and Passion Thy Name is Soccer from fellow Oklahoman Wallydrag. We simply must have a watch party.

Return of the Fangirl

All six of you might have noticed that I haven't been around lately, and for that, I sincerely apologize. I've been up to my eyeballs in schoolwork, and while futbol hasn't completely gone unnoticed in my narrow little life, I've had to let it go for a bit without commentary, since for three weeks it was marginally more important to memorize Spanish phrases like "Para evitar el riesgo de envenenamiento, nunca tome medicina en la obscuridad," which is fine advice and may save your life someday. Or not.

In all the myriad business, I did figure out how to incorporate a little more futbol into my daily life by making it one of my carrots for working out, that is, whenever I lift weights, I put on one of the games I missed over the week/weekend on the archive, and there you go. Way to make that $20 investment continue to pay off, don't ya think? It was in that capacity that I was able to watch the DC's stunner of a win over Columbus on Wednesday night (where, thanks to the folks at DirectKick, we were treated to a prolonged shot of DC keeper Troy Perkins adjusting everything, from the wall to himself, as he prepared for a free kick from the Crew). Lovely to see an own-gol that wasn't Boswell-produced (I promise that's the last time I mention that, he's certainly recovered from the unfortunate three he garnered last year). I was happy to see Alecko get another gol, but quite honestly, that was a pretty bad lapse on the part of the Crew to let him get that far out and that open. And Lucio Filomeno needs more goles, if only so I can see him whip his shirt off again, because wow.

Couple of things off the wires: Yes, the rumors might be true, Brazilian and Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo really is thinking about coming to MLS at the end of his career. Which is all fine and good for MLS to get guys like him and Beckham, but wouldn't it be nice to get guys like this in their prime rather than just before they're put out to stud? I suppose that's wishful-MLS thinking on my end, but it's something to hope for that someday MLS becomes a place where you want to play at the height of your career, not as a training ground or a retirement home.

And DC fanatics, go check out the story by AP on the Black-and-Red having its best season (so far!! don't jinx it!!) in years. It's still a long way until November, but I have a good feeling. Let's hope that lasts.

And now ... quick picks:
DC vs. New England
Man, not for the first time I wish I lived anywhere near DC. Two home games in one week, wow. OK, so this might mean DC might be playing a bit tired, but it also might mean they can just ride the momentum of their nice 5-1 roadkill of a victory. I'm betting that's going to be the case, and DC will continue their solid streak of not-losing at home.

Dallas vs. Columbus
Yeesh, and yet another away game for the Crew so soon after the aforementioned spanking is not going to improve things for them, especially against Dallas, which has been running hard and fast like a dooley on I-635. Short of a miracle, the Crew has no chance. Watching this game might be the futbol equivalent of an episode of Frasier, where you know that eventually, someone is going to do something fatally embarassing. Sorry Crew, I'll be rootin' for ya though.

Dynamo vs. Galaxy
It's pretty much a no-brainer that Galaxy is out for the count until mid-July, when it gets half its team back from Germany. Never mind that Houston seems to be doing as well if not slightly better sans Brian Ching. This could be the week that LA turns it around, but I don't think it'll happen in Houston.

KC vs. NY
The Wizards have really been off their game lately, and I'm not so sure that they'll be able to turn it around against NY, which has at least been consistent. New York certainly is out to pick up another win, but seeing as I have remembered that futbol teams do draw sometimes, I'm going to go with yet another patented Red Bull draw on this game. KC will get a point, but it won't be enough to keep from eating the dust from DC as it keeps pulling ahead in the standings.

Salt Lake vs. Chicago
Real Salt Lake has got a gem there with Jeff Cunningham, and I'm sure they're hoping that good things do actually come in threes. However, I have a hunch that Chicago will realize that they lost to Chivas last week and are in danger of actually becoming the Chivas of the 2006 season. The Fire will bounce back on this game.

Chivas vs. Rapids
The Rapids won against a California team on Wednesday night, but will that carry over into the Home Depot Center? Chivas claimed its second victory of the season last week against Chicago, and it's probably only my utter hopes that this team will finally, finally pull itself up out of the standings dungeon by making a two-in-a-row this week. My gut actually tells me that Colorado probably will prevail, but I'm ever hopeful. Go goats!