Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wednesday night highlights

The Eastern conference teams took all three games from the West tonight, as the Chicago Fire finally broke their long winless streak. It's about time. Jesse Marsch returned as a sub, but now Ante Razov is done for the year. Still, they can't play much worse, and a second straight win over Colorado at home Saturday looks likely.

Freddy Adu lined up at attacking midfielder instead of at forward, and had a solid game, scoring his third goal of the year. This could be his best position for now. DC won, and so did the Revs to tighten up the standings. The West should have a similarly tough battle for 3rd and 4th. Most fans have complained about having 8 of 10 teams in the playoffs, but it does make things interesting, even if the importance of the regular season games is less because of it. Everything is still up for grabs.

Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley played in the Champions League 3rd round qualifiers today. Man Utd won 2-1 on the road in Romania, and should advance easily. Beasley debuted for PSV, which lost 2-3 at Red Star Belgrade, the champions of Yugoslavia. They'll need to win the return leg at home.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Heating Up

Big week ahead for US soccer, starting with 3 midweek MLS games on Wednesday and a full schedule on the weekend. Then, on the 18th, the USA will be in Kingston to kick off the semifinal round of World Cup Qualifying against Jamaica.

The last three qualifying meetings between the two countries in Kingston, have all ended scoreless (the 1990, 1998, & 2002 campaigns). We've never lost to Jamaica, ever, so that would be very disappointing. A draw would be fine, considering this is the hardest game of the semifinal round. I expect Jamaica to have a hard time scoring, so a 1-0 win seems like a solid prediction.

The rosters for the game should be announced soon, and I'll provide my analysis when that happens. Brad Friedel is definitely out, while Clint Mathis is banged up. I'm curious to see if Bruce Arena thinks Eddie Gaven is ready to be a major contributer, or if he goes for the veteran leadership of Earnie Stewart instead. Another thing to watch is if Tim Howard or Kasey Keller will be in goal. The English Premier League season starts this weekend, so he may not call in both men.


Welcome to Climbing the Ladder. It's not only a reference to a certain former ESPN announcer, but it also describes the current state of American soccer. In the last 15 years, we've climbed quite a ways, starting in 1989 when we qualified for our first World Cup in 40 years, to hosting the Cup in 1994, the start of MLS in 1996, and reaching the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002. But we still have far to go. MLS is not among the world's top leagues, and lacks the fan support to be a big success. The national team is among the top 20 in the world, but is nowhere near winning the big one. US soccer must continue to progress, and reaching the elite level will be harder than going from nothing to today's level. This blog will chronicle the journey.