Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Business as usual

Afternoon all,

Hope all is well,

Well, once again its been quite a busy time in the 'business end' of the MLS season. Sporting KC secured two crucial wins over Toronto FC (although not as comfortable as perhaps we would have wanted) and tied 1-1 at home to a Thierry Henry less New York Red Bulls who boasted new boy Tim Cahill. Six of the last seven regular MLS season games are against play potential play off opposition, meaning this really is the time for Sporting KC to grind out results and show how good they really are. The two away trips to New York Red Bulls will undoubtedly have all eyes on it (and for good reason), but I think the away games at Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact have now become just as difficult. Montreal Impact have invested heavily in their roster and now boast some fantastic individuals such as Nesta, Di Vaio, Bernier (who's having the season of his life), Felipe, Arnaud, Rivas, Nyassi, Mapp and Neagle to name a few. For me, Montreal Impact have to be considered late play off pushers. Despite loosing to Columbus Crew (who we'll talk about in a second), they went the whole of August 4-0 and defeated New York before that in late July. Just 3 points stand between Montreal Impact in 7th and Houston Dynamo in 4th.

Here is a look at the Eastern conference table as is stands -

1Sporting Kansas City50271.851575342410177173
2New York Red Bulls46271.7137746397271519-8
3Chicago Fire44261.6913853531420815-4
4Houston Dynamo42271.56117939336241415-8
5Columbus Crew42261.6212863330321412-1
6D.C. United41271.521210543385311712-12
7Montreal Impact39291.34121434346-3311312-16

For me, even though Sporting have a 4 point cushion at the top, no one is safe and every point now counts. Chicago Fire play their game in hand mid week next week vs bottom of the league Toronto FC and Columbus Crew play tonight at 9th placed New England Revolution. It seems as though Columbus Crew and now doing what they've not been able to do all season........ score goals. They're now unbeaten in just over a month and in that time have scored 11 goals in 5 games. This is obviously due to the dynamic duo up front Jairo Arrieta with 3 goals in 6 and the new DP Federico Higuain (for those reading in europe, the brother of Real Madrid's Gonzalo) who has 6 assists and 3 goals in 5 appearances in MLS. They've crept into 5th above DC United and it wouldn't surprise me if they won tonight at New England either. Columbus Crew have tough games vs New York, Sporting KC and Chicago Fire BUT they also have games vs Toronto FC, Chivas USA and Philadelphia Union. We're in for an intriguing end to this MLS season, I can promise you that.

Elsewhere around the world of US Soccer, the USMNT play 2 World Cup qualifiers vs Jamaica. Firstly on Friday evening away and then at home in Columbus, Ohio on the Tuesday evening.

Here is Jurgen Klinsman's roster for these upcoming games -

GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos)

Really pleased that Graham Zusi has received some recognition. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw Graham Zusi play more of a wide role for the national team at some stage. He's done it consistently for Sporting KC in MLS and done it well. For me, with Michael Bradley out injured, there's a real opportunity for someone to show what they can do. Bradley will always start for the US, he's now become that good (as an Aston Villa fan, it still pains me to think we let him go so easily). We've seen the games were some of these players have been tried and tested, now its the time to shine. Very interested to see if Break Shea starts out on the left (no reason why he shouldn't) but i'm excited to see who will start up front on Friday evening. Its been a rapid start for Terrance Boyd in Viena (excuse the pun). He scored another 2 over the weekend and took them very very well.

(here they are -

For me, Boyd is really 1 to watch out for. He's only 21, but if you watch both goals, his 2nd is a really well directed header but its his 1st that gives away the most for me. Watch his movement as he sprints past his marker to get in front of him. He's more then aware that the ball is going near post. He could be the next big natural goal poacher and threat for the USMNT. On the other hand Jozy Altidore has 4 goals in 3 Dutch Erdivisie games, Herculez Gomez is always a threat and Clint Dempsey finally got his move away from Fulham and joined Tottenham Hotspur (how on earth have Liverpool not shelled out the extra few million for him, i'll never know). I think Tottenham is a great fit for Dempsey now as they failed in a bid to sign Joao Moutinho from FC Porto. Expect to him Demspey out wide for Spurs or even just underneath the front man (Adebayor or Dembele). My point is, the USMNT are not short of options up top and will be a threat, as long as they get service.

The Jamaican national team also boast some very good players throughout their roster too. Defensively they are sharp with Jermain Taylor (Houston Dynamo, USA) and Adrian Mariappa (Watford, England). Their midfield will consist of pace and patience in the shape of Dane Richards (Vancouver Whitecaps, USA), Je-Vaughn Watson (Houston Dynamo, USA) and Rodolph Austin (Leeds Utd, England). The front line may consist of Toronto FC's Ryan Johnson (who of course scored vs Sporting KC last weekend in MLS), Colorado's Omar Cummings but the 1 player i'm very eager to see at the international stage for only the 2nd time in his career is Vancouver Whitecaps forward and MLS rookie Darren Mattocks. Aged just 22, for me an outstanding candidate for MLS rookie of the year with 7 goals in 12 starts in MLS.

I'm excited to see what the USMNT can do in this game, but equally, the Jamaican national team have plenty to offer as well. 2 very good games coming our way on beIN Sport and ESPN. Lets enjoy!