Sunday, July 31, 2005

RSL's scoreless streak: Not the record after all

Earlier this year, we all heard about RSL breaking the futility record after going 557 minutes without a goal. I was looking through some old match reports, and here it talks about the Miami Fusion breaking a 457 minute streak, which was the second longest at the time. The longest? That belonged to the Colorado Rapids, at 562 minutes.

On 9/18/99, they beat Los Angeles by the score of 1-0, Dely Valdes scoring in the 41st minute. They then had the following results:

0-0 @ Kansas City (won on shootout)
0-4 @ Los Angeles
0-0 vs San Jose (won on shootout)
0-1 vs Chicago
0-2 @ Miami

That's the end of the 1999 regular season, with the streak at 499 minutes. They then lost two playoff games without scoring, but those don't count for the purposes of the regular season record. In the first game of 2000, they lost 1-2 to Los Angeles, with Bravo scoring in the 64th minute on a penalty. 499+63 = 562 minutes without a goal, five better than RSL. It's also mentioned by Beau Dure here. MLS was probably confused because it spanned two seasons (or just lazy).

So take heart RSL fans, you're not the worst of alltime. Just second worst.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

What's really important: Investments & Stadiums

The MLS allstars defeated Fulham today 4-1. That's good, because our best players should beat a lower-level Premiership team. But the real news was Thursday, when DC United was sold by AEG to a group of investors lead by Kevin Payne (officially called Global Sports & Entertainment). This means that now there are 7 owners in the 12 team league, which is just outstanding. Just look at the scenario after contraction in 2002 compared to now:


Anschutz-CHI, COL, DC, LA, MET, SJ


Anchutz-CHI, LA, MET, SJ

In addition, SJ should be sold soon to Club America (so they say) and KC is also up for sale, giving us 9 owners for 12 teams. And with expansion likely in 2007, the investor pool is growing even larger.

Even though the league has yet to be profitable, I'm sure these owners are fully aware of how sports franchises have sky-rocketed in value in the past 30 years. George Steinbrenner famously bought the Yankees for $10 million, and now they're worth 50-100 times that. All NFL teams are worth $500 million or more. The cheapest team in the four major sports is the Edmonton Oilers, and they're worth $86 million (link). DC United went for $26 million, about the same as the LA Galaxy price a few years ago, and a record for MLS. The KC Wizards are going for around $15 million, and that's going to be the expansion fee for new teams (it was $10 million for Chivas and RSL). So there's a ways to go, but the potential is there, and soccer is different from Lacrosse or any other up and coming sport in that there are tons of soccer fans in this country, they just don't follow MLS. Once the league is up there in quality, they'll come around. And of course, millions of kids are playing the game.

Any MLS team needs a stadium to be profitable, and the deals they've got in Frisco, Bridgeview and Commerce City are just brilliant. Not just the stage/concert/multiple-use-venue stuff, but just the whole youth fields and "mixed-use development" ideas. I don't think we really realize how brilliant these ideas are. Because by itself, a soccer stadium is unlikely to get built. The Crew lost two votes for a stadium back before Hunt decided to build it himself. But, by combining it with something else, it becomes possible. For example, in KC they are building a youth soccer complex. Since they're building tons of soccer fields, why not put a major league stadium in the middle of that? In Milwaukee, the proposed stadium would cost $40-60 million, but the whole project is $300-500 million. If you have millions to invest, then you can kill two birds with one stone. And while you wait for MLS to become profitable, you can make money with concerts and the like. It's amazing, because we're doing things backwards: Stadiums first, then profitability and high interest later.

Friday, July 29, 2005

On the field, all the time (Update)

previous post

Okay, on July 3, there were 17 players who had played every minute of MLS action. Since then:

7/4-Amado Guevara misses game due to yellow card suspension.
7/20-Zach Wells benched for Tony Meola.
7/23-Chris Leitch benched for Ryan Suarez.

So all three Metrostars are off the list, bringing us down to 14 and making them the third team totally eliminated (after RSL and Chicago).

2005 Candidates

CHV-Ezra Hendrickson
CLB-Simon Elliot
COL-Nat Borchers, Joe Cannon
DAL-Scott Garlick
DC-Bobby Boswell
KC-Nick Garcia, Bo Oshoniyi
LA-Todd Dunivant, Kevin Hartman
NE-Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Matt Reis
SJ-Pat Onstad

The list will soon be pared even further, as three players have earned suspensions and will be eliminated on 8/6. Those guys are Boswell, Garcia and Heaps.

Personally, I think Parkhurst is still my choice among the position players. I guess my second pick would be Ezra. Among the keepers, Hartman and Onstad seem the most likely to make it. Reis and Cannon both could be called up to the national team. Oshoniyi is not a good keeper, but he doesn't have anyone behind him. I guess Garlick is the most likely to get eliminated, due to having a strong backup.

Bigsoccer thread

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


NE 1-1 LA

So, seven goals scored tonight means that we are two goals away from the milestone. RSL-Chivas has their whole game before anyone else gets a shot at it. Kreis or Mathis would be a nice guy to get it. Although part of me wants it to be Romo or Sequeira just to piss everyone off. It'll probably be somebody stupid like Chris Brown though. But it'll still be a great moment regardless.

4,991 going into tonight...

Nine goals away from that magical mark which MLS continues to be oblivious about. Two games going on tonight:


Then, after the allstar break, there's a full slate on August 6. It was looking like it could happen perfectly on the Pizza Hut Park opening game, but the first match that day is RSL-Chivas. It would be fitting for Jason Kreis to get it though.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gold Cup player review

(I should note that I did this before looking at any Bigsoccer threads or anything else on the subject)


Jimmy Conrad
Getting a chance for the first time at 28, he needed to impress and did so. Despite a bad final, did enough to put him in the mix for 2006. May have made Greg Berhalter irrelevant.

Oguchi Onyewu

Everyone knew he had the ability to be an international star, and he stepped up to the plate. Was the best USA defender and made the Best XI. A great game against Honduras, not as good against Panama, but should go from here to become a regular (just like Gibbs in the 2003 edition).

Chris Armas

Like Sanneh, had a last chance to make an impact. Unlike Sanneh, he looked pretty decent and will probably get another chance. Still, he probably couldn't cut it against the top teams like Germany and England. But if Kerry Zavagnin keeps getting called up, then Armas deserves to as well.

Brad Davis

Started the first game and looked unremarkable, but his sub appearance in the final was great, and was the most dangerous player on the field. A great penalty, too. Should definitely get another look.

John O'Brien

Proved that he is indeed the same player who started every game in Korea and impressed us all. He can take defenders on, and few USA players can serve the ball in like him. Other than winning the championship, the best thing about the Gold Cup...please don't get hurt again. ;)

Santino Quaranta

This guy replaced Eddie Johnson on the roster at the last minute, to everyone's surprise, and came out of nowhere to impress everybody. Started the first game and gave a good preformance, and came off the bench twice. In the final, took the defenders on and nearly created the winning goal, then stepped up calmly and buried the penalty. Definitely in the mix now.


Eddie Pope

After a long, successful career, people are starting to worry about Eddie. Already the fans are starting talk of him being our "Agoos 2006." An awful giveaway against Honduras went unpunished, although he did struggle with injury the whole time. With Onyewu, Gibbs and Bocanegra, he may find himself on the bench next year, although I still consider him a lock to make the roster.

Tony Sanneh

After a great 2002 World Cup where he was possibly our best player, injuries and age have slowed him down. Playing in the center, this was probably his last chance and he was one of our worst players.

Greg Vanney

Like Hejduk, looked good offensively (serving some great balls in), but is shakey defensively. The same player he's always been, he could've stepped up here but didn't. We still need a better left back.

Ben Olsen

Got his first shot in a while, and didn't distinguish himself. Too many guys ahead of him that are more talented for him to really break through.

Steve Ralston

Not the greatest of times for Ralston. Has played well in qualifying against CONCACAF teams, but not as good here. I don't think he'll see much time in Germany, if at all.

Conor Casey

Started the first game and played poorly, then tore his ACL and will be out for at least six months. He really hasn't shown much with the national team, so he needed a good tournament. Now he can almost certainly kiss his chance goodbye.

Josh Wolff

Wolff is a guy who has a lot of talent, but doesn't score very often. He got a goal off a redirection against Jamaica, but didn't look very threatening overall. He's still going to get called up, especially since Johnson is hurt, but he didn't do himself any favors.


Kasey Keller

Proved time and time again why he is the man. Made some great saves against Panama, and saved a penalty in the shootout, as well as one against Jamaica. Barring injury, a sure starter in Germany.

Marcus Hahnemann

Started against Cuba, then sat the bench. Didn't really have much to do, as Cuba got had one great chance and little else. It was good for him to get a full game. Looks likely to make the World Cup, possibly as the backup.

Matt Reis

Didn't see the field. Being the third option gave him a chance to show Arena what he can do, so now he's on the radar at least. But with Hahnemann and Tim Howard, as well as the MLS guys (Joe Cannon, Jon Busch, etc) to compete with, he's a longshot.

Frankie Hejduk

Hejduk is one of those guys who gets a lot of flack, but he always seems to step it up when people count him out. Looked good getting forward, less so defensively. Until someone else steps up, he'll be our reserve right back, and possibly a left back.

Steve Cherundolo

Had a man of the match preformance against Canada, then was hurt against Jamaica. Still in line to start at right back.

Pablo Mastroeni

Steady as usual. If Reyna and O'Brien are both healthy, it will be interesting to see if he retains his starting spot.

Landon Donovan

Landon didn't rule the field like we know he can. But he was one of our better players, and single-handedly led us to victory against Cuba. Not totally consistant, but had a few moments of brilliance and made the Best XI.

DaMarcus Beasley

Like Landon, was up and down. Maybe he just isn't motivated against such inferior comeptition. He did win the Golden Boot, with three goals and four assists to go along with that, so I can't complain too much. Best XI selection as well.

Clint Dempsey

A talented player who provided a spark off the bench. Nice to see him gain some experience, but a bad preformance in the final. Didn't really hurt his chances overall though.

Pat Noonan

Noonan played up top, and played ok. Along with Dempsey, was a spark against Honduras. Will continue to get experience in the remaining qualifiers.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

USA 0-0 Panama (3-1 on penalties)

A beautiful end to an ugly game. We had our chances to score, and they did too. How Panama missed those shots, I don't know (the same goes for Conrad). But we held on, and our experience showed in the shootout. Gold Cup champions, and our third title out of eight tries.

The whole tournament, we played down to the level of our opponents, and not even close to what we're capable of. Really, the only good game we had was against Jamaica. But the results are what's important, and they speak for themselves: Four wins and two draws, with 11 goals scored and 3 against. Pretty sweet. It seemed like we were destined to win, and holding Panama scoreless had much more to do with their ineptitude than our defense. Keller came up big, and was definitely our man of the match. Donovan was also impressive, and of course the newcomers Quaranta and Davis came up big. They ran at the tired Panama defense, and then were calm and collected in the shootout. Panama was so good on penalties against South Africa, but they couldn't repeat that today. Oh, and Armas, I knew you were gonna miss (I think he learned that technique from Jesse Marsch).

I'll have a player by player review in a little while, focusing on their chances for Germany 2006, Until then, here's something to enjoy:

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Gold Cup final

Ok, we seem destined to win this thing. Panama is up next, and they are not as good as Honduras, hex or no hex. Some people have been saying to watch out for them, but I see little to worry about. They've played five games, and only won two, both over Colombia. Let's take a look so far:

1-0 vs Colombia. Very lucky to win this one. They were outplayed and Colombia should've scored several times but couldn't finish.

2-2 vs Trinidad. The Soca Warriors didn't get a win in three games, and they couldn't beat them. Let them equalize at the end.

0-1 vs Honduras. Kind of a meaningless game, didn't play well.

1-1 vs South Africa. Decent game, but South Africa probably was the better team.

3-2 vs Colombia. Best game of the tournament, and fully deserved to win. But it doesn't make up for the rest of the tournament.

We haven't been playing that well either, save for the Jamaica game, but we have moments of brilliance, and it'll take only one to beat Panama. They lost to Honduras earlier, and we just beat them. And they couldn't score on Honduras. It's interesting to note that in all seven Gold Cup finals, the losing team did not score. So I think Panama is going to be shut out.

We'll be missing Pope and Mastroeni thanks to injuries suffered on Thursday, as well as Casey and Cherundolo from earlier. I would expect to see Hejduk in the lineup, and possibly Vanney as well for a four man backline with Onyewu and Conrad. Who knows. Armas has played well, but Dempsey could take his place. Although, Dempsey seemed to be a spark as a sub, and I think Bruce would like to have that off the bench. Wolff hasn't been great, but Noonan is untested and is unlikely to start.

Prediction: USA 2-0 Panama

Friday, July 22, 2005

USA 2-1 Honduras

What a great, satisfiying game it turned out to be. Thank god, because I was in agony for 85 minutes. Although with the way we played last year, I expect us to make these comebacks now. We're better than Honduras, and we should beat them every time. We actually didn't play that badly, at least offensively. I saw some reports saying that Honduras dominated the game, and were unlucky to lose, which is ridiculous. They really didn't have that many great chances for all the counters they had. Meanwhile, we had Beasley's uncalled penalty, Ralston hitting the post, Noonan's header, etc. I think we were unlucky to not be tied going into the last few minutes.

John O'Brien was my man of the match, and it is just so encouraging to see him play the way he has. He really hasn't lost a step, and is a definite starter when healthy. If the Gold Cup does nothing else for us, then that's enough.

It's also interesting to note that JOB's goal was the 600th scored by a USA national team player, alltime. That doesn't include own goals.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Gold Cup semifinal

The tournament resumes as the world's sixth best team takes on Honduras. Ok. Actually I have to go on a little rant here. Of course, we are not the sixth best team in the world (I think we're somewhere around the tenth spot). However, the FIFA rankings are a mathematical formula and therefore it's not perfect. We have an advantage over UEFA teams because our continental championship is played every two years, and we also play many more World Cup qualifying games. Also, let's not forget that the rankings also take into account eight years worth of results. People just don't understand what the rankings are about, and so every month on cue you see people saying that they're ridiculous or whatever. It's so annoying. Yeah, they're not perfect, but they're the best we have (And don't start about Elo, they have the USA's alltime record as 184-186-110, when it's actually 171-185-105. They're probably counting some matches that they shouldn't).

So anyway, Honduras is up next. Even without David Suazo and Amada Guevara they're still pretty decent. Five of their starters from the 1-0 friendly win in February are with their Gold Cup team. They could only manage two shots against a back line of Marshall-Borchers-Albright. They have a stronger team now and a decent attack (Velasquez seems like a threat), but we should be able to hold them to one goal or less.

Once again, Wolff is a key figure for us. We need to score a few and he really should get another with Beasley and Donovan feeding him. Also, Hejduk will be back. This should be a little harder than Jamaica but still not too hard.

Prediction: USA 2-0 Honduras

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MLS: Record When Scoring First Goal

So what's the record of MLS teams who score the first goal? I thought it seemed higher in this year, and after looking up this year's numbers so far, I decided to do the rest. Can't really do the shootout era games because they don't list games that went into shootouts, just the win/loss record.


2000: 130-28-23
2001: 102-28-21
2002: 93-25-18
2003: 85-24-30
2004: 88-16-33
2005: 71-9-19

Team Scoring First Win Pct

2000: 71.8%
2001: 67.5%
2002: 68.3%
2003: 61.2%
2004: 64.2%
2005: 71.7%

Scoreless Games

2000: 11/192 = 5.7%
2001: 7/158 = 4.4%
2002: 4/140 = 2.9%
2003: 11/150 = 7.3%
2004: 13/150 = 8.6%
2005: 8/107 = 7.5%

Monday, July 18, 2005

Best & Worst of MLS

Much like in 1998, this year has seen a bigger disparity between the top and bottom teams due to expansion. A number of teams are on pace to be among the best and worst in the league's history.

Let's start out with the best teams, ranked by points per game:

Best MLS Teams

1 1998 Los Angeles 24 8 0 68 2.13
2 2001 Miami 16 5 5 53 2.04
3 2001 Chicago 16 6 5 53 1.96
4 2002 Los Angeles 16 9 3 51 1.82
5 1998 DC United 24 8 0 58 1.81
6 1996 Tampa Bay 20 12 0 58 1.81
7 2001 Los Angeles 14 7 5 47 1.81
8 1999 DC United 23 9 0 57 1.78
9 2000 Kansas City 16 7 9 57 1.78
10 2000 Chicago 17 9 6 57 1.78

The 1996-99 teams are actually hurt by the shootout, or they would have a few more points. Only four of these teams actually won the MLS Cup. Now let's take a look at the leading teams from this season:

? 2005 New England 10 2 5 35 2.06
? 2005 FC Dallas 10 3 4 34 2.00
? 2005 Chicago 11 6 3 36 1.80

All of these teams would make the top ten at present. NE and DAL both are at 2 points per game, which has only been done twice before. It does appear unlikely that anybody will match the 1998 Galaxy pace, though.

Worst MLS Teams

98 1999 Metrostars 7 25 0 15 0.47
97 2001 Tampa Bay 4 21 2 14 0.52
96 1999 Kansas City 8 24 0 20 0.63
95 2003 Dallas 6 19 5 23 0.77
94 1999 New England 12 20 0 26 0.81
93 2001 Colorado 5 13 8 23 0.88
92 1999 Miami 13 19 0 29 0.91
91 2000 San Jose 7 17 8 29 0.91
90 1996 Colorado 11 21 0 29 0.91
89 1998 New England 11 21 0 29 0.91

Some mighty tough teams to beat here, although Chivas USA is trying:

? 2005 Chivas USA 2 14 3 9 0.47
? 2005 RSL 3 11 4 13 0.72
? 2005 Columbus 4 10 3 15 0.88

Chivas is slightly better than the 1999 Metros, but they should finish better with the new players they're getting. In order to match it, they would have to only get 6 points from their final 13 games.

The last few years have been full of parity, thanks to contraction and the dispersal draft. Out of the twenty top and bottom teams in MLS history, only two are from the last three years. Of course, some of that has to do with having 12 teams instead of 10. But it definitely makes the league more interesting and exciting to watch; just witness RSL's upset win over LA earlier this year.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

USA 3-1 Jamaica

Finally nailed a prediction (although I would've rather had Donovan make the penalty). Despite giving away a penalty, a red card, and missing a penalty, it really was a good day for the USA. A dominating preformance for the most part, as Jamaica never threatened until late. Keller's penalty save was huge and set the tone. Beasley and Donovan continue to lead the team and without them, our attack wouldn't be nearly as good. O'Brien has also played well, which is a great site. Oh, and Josh Wolff finally scored.

Honduras is up next in the semifinal, and although they are on a bit of a roll, they should be taken care of.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Gold Cup Quarterfinal tomorrow

We made it this far, but anything less than the final is failure. With our first team back on the field, we should be able to get some offense going, especially against a team that has allowed 7 goals in three games so far. Josh Wolff really needs to put one in, he's due. Jamaica has also looked good offensively, so they may score a goal, but we should score more. Hopefully, this one will be a little more exciting to watch.

Prediction: USA 3-1 Jamaica

Thursday, July 14, 2005

MLS Allstar team announced


Starters: Reis, Vanney, Pope, Conrad, Joseph, Dempsey, Donovan, Guevara, O'Brien, Johnson, Ruiz

Bench: Garlick, Hejduk, Albright, Valakari, Gomez, Noonan, Twellman

So that's 11/18 from Dallas and New England, which actually seems about right. Garlick and Valakari are questionable, but was their coach Colin Clarke who selected them as reserves. Hejduk is there because the Columbus fans deserve to be one of their own. Don Garber's commish picks were Gomez and Twellman, and of course everyone's shocked because he didn't pick Freddy Adu, as he did last year. I think maybe they're trying to keep him out of the spotlight a little bit, because he's probably a little burned out and because he's not a great player yet. So it's probably for the best, since he doesn't deserve to be there.

What's more interesting is the four teams which didn't have players selected (thankfully the league doesn't force every team to be represented like MLB). Colorado and Chivas are totally understandable, although Joe Cannon probably would've been a better choice as a reserve keeper. The other two teams are Chicago and San Jose, which are in 1st and 2nd place in their conferences. Both of them have really succeeded as teams this season, without any huge stars. That's not to say that they don't have talented squads, it's just that they're getting solid play from everybody. I mean, Justin Mapp, Thiago, Ivan Guerrero and Nate Jaqua are good players, but are borderline allstar picks. Same thing with Danny Califf, Brad Davis, Brian Mullan and Ronald Cerritos. They don't have a leader like Guevara with the Metros, but when the whole team is working together, they win and that's what matters.

The Allstar game itself against Fulham should be fun, but the real excitement will be Don Garber's state of the league address, and any other announcements. Just today we learned that teams will be allowed to keep some players that they develop. There's also the San Jose to Houston rumors that may finally be confirmed, and maybe some other expansion related news (we just heard about Milwaukee. I'd like some confirmation on Toronto). The league also has broke the bank (relatively) to sign Donovan and Johnson to big deals, and there's been talk of MLS spending more money on player acquisitions. It should be an eventful weekend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

USA 0-0 Costa Rica

I seem to be a goal off on all my predictions. Anyway, we won the group. We'll find out our quartefinal opponent tonight, which could be Mexico if they can't beat Jamaica. Not sure if that would be good or bad to play them right away.

I can't remember the last time we had a great game where we just dominated the competition. I guess Guatemala back in March? Even then we couldn't finish. Using a different lineup every game has something to do with it, but we definitely should be dominating the likes of Cuba and Canada and putting them away earlier. If we win the Gold Cup, I won't be complaining, because results are what matters most. Hopefully we'll look better for the World Cup, once we stop experimenting and get all our guys in camp for a month.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Countdown to 5,000

So, to update my earlier post, we are now only 49 goals away from the 5,000th goal in MLS history.

You'd think this would be something that MLS would take notice of and promote, but it is MLS after all. They've been doing the top 25 moments in the league's history this year, so they obviously pay attention a little bit. As I mentioned earlier, it's due to happen on 8/6, on the day Pizza Hut Park opens in Frisco. The week before is the allstar game, so maybe they'll mention it then.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

USA 2-0 Canada

The Gold Cup continues, with unspectacular play and unexciting games. But hey, we're 2-0! Costa Rica shouldn't be too hard. At the very worst we would get a draw, which still lets us win the group. Next round, we'll be playing the third placed Group C team. It would make for a very interesting situation if that was Mexico. But that's almost certainly not gonna happen, even though Mexico lost the opener. They still were way better than South Africa even in defeat.

So about our team...First, Donovan and Beasley continue to lead. In two games, Donovan has three goals and Beasley three assists. Beautiful goal yesterday. I just pray to god neither gets hurt for the World Cup. O'Brien has looked decent. Casey had a bad game, and it turns out he tore his acl. Given his play, that may be for the better. Sorry Conor.

I expect another win against Costa Rica. We'll probably see more of the first game's lineup than the second though, since really this one's kind of meaningless. I almost want to predict a draw, but we've won every Gold Cup group game we've ever played. Hopefully we can play a little sharper this time. And they don't have all their best players either.

Prediction: USA 1-0 Costa Rica

Friday, July 08, 2005

USA 4-1 Cuba

Not the most encouraging preformance. BUT, like the last two WCQ's, we ended up with a comfortable win after 90 minutes. That's all that matters. Landon showed again why he is the best American player alive today. I was also encouraged by Santino Quaranta, who may finally be living up to his potential. He was part of the same class with Eddie Johnson, so hopefully he can step up just like he has.

The Canada game tomorrow should be easier. They played awful vs Costa Rica, and their captain McKenna is suspended. DeRosario is their top thread, and he hasn't exactly been tearing up MLS. And, we should have our first team out there, which means Donovan/Ralston/Mastroeni/Onyewu/Pope instead of Casey/Davis/Armas/Conrad/Sanneh. I don't think we'll score four again, but it should be an easier time.

Prediction: USA 3-0 Canada

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

USA vs Cuba preview

Cuba is the worst team in the tournament, and the USA likely the strongest. So anything less than a dominating victory will be a disappointment. In the last Gold Cup, it was 5-0 in our favor, with Donovan scoring four times. I would expect at least three goals this time around, since we put up that amount on much better Costa Rica and Panama teams. It will be more exciting to watch some of the players fighting for World Cup spots, like Chris Armas and Jimmy Conrad. Yes, I said exciting and Armas in the same sentence. I also just heard that Marcus Hahnemann will start in goal, so that's another one to watch. The one guy to watch, and who I really hope plays tomorrow so I can see him, is John O'Brien. The USA needs him to be healthy and productive.

Prediction: USA 4-0 Cuba

Monday, July 04, 2005

Gold Cup predictions

Everybody's favorite continental championship is back. Ok, ok...Hey, at least it's better than Oceania's. For some real fake enthusiasm, see Peter Goldstein's preview and especially the first paragraph. The good news is that this time, there are no more three team groups. They're going with the Copa America format with three four-team groups which is a nice change. The top two teams in each group advance, along with the best two third-place teams. The whole thing is basically a way for teams to test their younger players, which is a shame compared to Euro 2004 and the others (although, the Copa America is becoming a joke too).

Group A

1. Colombia
2. Trinidad
3. Honduras
4. Panama

Colombia is bringing a stronger squad than previously thought, although they're still missing several top guys. But it should be more than enough to win the group. Honduras is without captain Amado Guevara. Even though they didn't make the hex, they're still better than Panama and Trinidad and should finish second. However, the Soca Warriors seem to be on the rise, and they played very well against Panama and Mexico in the recent qualifiers. I'll pick them to finish second in an upset.

Group B

1. United States
2. Costa Rica
3. Canada
4. Cuba

It seems like first and second are easy picks. Both teams are missing some top players, but the USA beat Costa Rica with the full teams, and they should do it again. Canada are likely to go 1-2 in the group stage, although they always seem to pull off upsets in this tournament. Cuba is the worst team in the tournament.

Group C

1. Mexico
2. Guatemala
3. Jamaica
4. South Africa

Mexico has called in several of the Confederations Cup squad and should easily win the group. They'll have a better home field advantage than the USA. The battle for second should be a good one. South Africa's preparation has been a joke and I see them bringing up the rear. Guatemala and Jamaica are pretty close in talent, but Guatemala has been playing big games all year and should finish second.

Knockout Stage

Colombia over Costa Rica
United States over Jamaica
Mexico over Honduras
Guatemala over Trinidad

United States over Colombia
Mexico over Guatemala

United States over Mexico

I have no idea which third place team will be left out, but it doesn't really matter as the "lucky" teams will be facing Mexico and the USA. The other two matchups will be much more interesting. The USA will have a much tougher semifinal than Mexico, although both teams should meet in the final. Anything else would be a huge surprise. I'll pick the USA to win as they are missing fewer players, and Mexico already gave it their all in a more important tournament.

I think the teams with the potential to surprise would be Honduras and Jamaica. Both were upset and failed to reach the hex, and now this is all they have to play for until the next Gold Cup. But they have a tough road to make a real impact (which would the semis).

Sunday, July 03, 2005

On the field, all the time

I keep track of a lot of MLS stats, usually on the Statistics & Analysis forum on Bigsoccer, and one thing I've been doing this year is figuring out which players have played every minute for their teams, in the regular season. Every week I then eliminate guys from the list, sort of my own version of Survivor. Over the course of nine MLS seasons, this feat has been accomplished only 19 times.

Played Every Minute

2004-Joe Cannon, Jim Curtin, Richard Mulrooney, Steve Ralston
2003-Tony Meola
2002-Nick Rimando
2001-*Scott Garlick, Tim Howard, Steve Jolley, Zach Thornton, Kerry Zavagnin
2000-Joseph Addo, Nick Garcia, Scott Garlick, Peter Vermes
1999-Peter Vermes
1997-Mike Burns
1996-Preki, Steve Trittschuh

* Scott Garlick was traded from Tampa Bay to Colorado, and I believe he played every minute that he was available for between both teams.

Here is the list for this year, with only 17 players remaining:

2005 Candidates

CHV-Ezra Hendrickson
CLB-Simon Elliot
COL-Nat Borchers, Joe Cannon
DAL-Scott Garlick
DC-Bobby Boswell
KC-Nick Garcia, Bo Oshoniyi
LA-Todd Dunivant, Kevin Hartman
MET-Amado Guevara, Chris Leitch, Zach Wells
NE-Jay Heaps, Michael Parkhurst, Matt Reis
SJ-Pat Onstad

RSL-none (first team eliminated, last guy was Jason Kreis)
CHI-none (last guy was Ivan Guerrero)

Due to the MLS policy of playing during international games, the key is being a good player, but not too good. Obviously, goalkeepers have a better shot too. Michael Parkhurst is a guy who has a great chance of making it, as he's been good, and the Revs don't have much in the way of backups. Of the field players, he's my pick to make it. Amado Guevara will miss Monday's match due to yellow cards, and Matt Reis will probably be eliminated due to national team duty.

Bigsoccer thread