Two chances were all TFC needed to dump the reigning MLS champions out of the CONCACAF Champions League. Goals by Ryan Johnson and Nick Soolsma on just three genuine chances took care of a fatigued and sluggish Galaxy side that could not make its dominance in possession count in the home leg.
For me the Galaxy already had an uphill climb before the starting whistle even with the slight advantage on the away goals rule. Bruce Arena's decision to start 10 of his 11 regulars in the MLS opener was always a head scratcher considering the C-C-L was "the Galaxy's top priority" and Saturday's game was the first of a 34 game season. Add to that the fact that this is the Galaxy's third of four games in 12 days and you have to ask where was the squad rotation?
Fatigue definitly played a huge factor in tonight's match as the Galaxy were anything but sharp, could barely connect their passes, and the finishing became more and more wayward deep into the match. A fresher side might have been able to convert one of those last gasp chances but the Galaxy just didn't have the legs.
MLS teams continued their dismal run on Mexican soil as Santos Laguna used a dominant second half display to overpower the Seattle Sounders 6-1 on the evening and 7-3 on aggregate to advance to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Seattle deserves credit for going into Mexico with the intention to attack rather than sit back and try to defend their slim 2-1 advantage from the first leg. Sigi Schmid’s positive approach almost paid immediate dividends, but Oswaldo Sanchez made a tremendous double save in the 8th minute. Santos were then quickly rewarded for their goalkeeper’s heroics at the other end as Cristian Suarez walked along the top of the box and curled in the opener with Jeff Parke giving the forward way too much space to operate.
Less than 60 seconds later, Santos doubled their lead, as Oribe Peralta took a through ball at the top of the box and brilliantly turned and fired home while in the process of being dragged to the turf.
The second goal originated with a through ball from a very open midfield. Santos were taking advantage of the spaces with short passes in the middle of the park while waiting for the space to open up top for the killer through ball.
After the shock wore off, the Sounders closed the midfield and went back on the attack, moving the ball well, but their passes and movements were too easily telegraphed in the offensive third. One reason for this was a lack of involvement on the part of Fredy Montero.
When the Colombian decided to join the game in the 37th minute, he popped up on the left and sent in a pinpoint cross for Alvaro Fernandez to bury his header. The Uruguayan’s strike putting the Sounders back in the contest and setting things up nicely for the final 45 minutes of the tie.no comments
UPDATE: It was announced Tuesday that Tony Taylor would be added to the final US U-23 camp ahead of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying. Taylor is set to arrive in Nashville on Wednesday. The official 20-man roster for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament does not have to be submitted until March 20th, but it is believed that this is the roster Porter will use for the tournament.
Taylor last played for the U-23s in the Yanks 2-0 win over Mexico in February, as he played the final 23 minutes of that match.
Caleb Porter announced who he will take to battle with him when the U.S. fights for its right to be a part of the 2012 summer Olympics in London. Porter announced a roster of 19 players on Monday that will congregate on March 13th to begin their final preparations for Olympic qualifying, which begins on March 22nd for the U.S.
Here is a look at the full roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (D.C. United; Annandale, Va.), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire; Lilburn, Ga.)
DEFENDERS (6): Josh Gatt (Molde; Plymouth, Mich.), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Ike Opara (San Jose Earthquakes; Durham, N.C.), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo; Huber Heights, Ohio), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact; Lancaster, Pa.), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union; Potomac, Md.), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Mix Diskerud (Gent; Oslo, Norway), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz; Richardson, Texas), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union; Sacramento, Calif.), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy; Naperville, Ill.)
FORWARDS (5): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls; Barnegat, N.J.), Terrence Boyd (Borussia Dortmund; Berlin, Germany), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City; Prior Lake, Minn.), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim; Silver Spring, Md.), Brek Shea (FC Dallas; Bryan, Texas)
The Portland Timbers, behind the incredible support of the Timbers Army, bulldozed their way to a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union.
After a first half of sloppy play in which the Union did well to suffocate the game in the midfield, Timbers head coach John Spencer made a clever adjustment and had his team play more direct while taking less touches to bypass and stretch out the Union’s compact defense.
Despite the adjustment, the Timbers fell behind due to a Gabriel Gomez free kick in the 51st minute. After such a tightly contested first half and a slick surface created by the rain, it was no surprise that the first goal came from a set piece. Gomez did so well to whip his long free kick in with pace, which took a deflection off Timber’s center-back Andrew Baptiste before skipping into the net.
Baptiste’s redemption came just three minutes later though as this time he got his head onto a free kick at the right end of the field. Jack Jewsbury whipped in a great ball and Baptiste flicked it towards the far post, but Union goalkeeper Zach MacMath (who looked a bit shaky all game) made a real mess of it, letting the ball squeak in underneath him.
It was that direct style that Spencer preached at halftime which led to the winner for the Timbers. Kalif Alhassan was brilliant up and down the right flank all night and his efforts paid off when he sent a ball in for Kris Boyd, who finally escaped the attention of Danny Califf to nod home.
Boyd is an out and out striker, who does his best work inside the 18. If Portland can continuously get him services like Alhassan’s cross, then the former Rangers man could be a 20 goal scorer in his first MLS season.
Alhassan capped off his man-of-the-match performance with a delightful chip 14 minutes from time to wrap-up all three points and a dominant second half display from the Timbers.
Here are my thoughts on the Timbers and Union:
The MLS is alive and kicking once again with new signings and returning players making immediate impacts for their clubs in week one.
It was also very telling that throughout this weekend’s action, other than Chivas USA vs. Houston, the West won every other Western vs. Eastern Conference battle. Possibly a sign that once again it is going to take a lot more points to make it out of the West.
The Galaxy looked sluggish in their opening match with RSL. It was a surprise that Bruce Arena went with his preferred starting XI considering they just played to a grueling 2-2 draw on a plastic pitch last Wednesday and have the return match midweek against Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. That competition according to the Galaxy front office claims is the clubs top priority.
Only two changes were made to the side that drew the first leg North of the boarder and LA looked tired, as passes were not reaching their targets. Keane did look busy, but Ireland’s all-time leading scorer’s finishing let him down.
LA did strike first through the returning Edson Buddle with a header from an immaculate service from David Beckham, but RSL over ran the Galaxy defense with three goals in 12 minutes. First Sean Franklin turned the ball into his own net. Javier Morales found the winner 10 minutes from time, finishing off a scramble in the box after David Beckham inexplicably let Ned Grabavoy run free down the left hand side and get a free cross off while he was arguing with the referee. Fabian Espindola was running rampant the entire game and his goal five minutes from time was just rewards, but once again it was poor defending from the home side that let him through. While RSL thoroughly deserved their victory, the Galaxy defense was culpable for all three goals.no comments
Herculez Gomez is on a goal-scoring tear as his most recent efforts lifted Santos Laguna to a 3-1 win over Puebla. Herc managed to score two to spearhead his club's comeback after fellow American DaMarcus Beasley originally put Puebla in front.
Gomez has now scored 5 goals in his last 4 matches and is resembling the blistering form he displayed prior to the 2010 World Cup that earned him a share of the golden boot in Mexico's 2010 Clausura season. Gomez was then playing for Puebla and since then made 2 more stops (Pachuca, Estudiantes Tecos) before signing with Santos Laguna this season, which leaves you to ask the question what were these teams thinking when they let Herc go?
Here are the match highlights from Herc's dominating performance....
Yesterday Chievo Verona hosted Inter Milan. The match seemed destined for a draw until Inter's Diego Milito and Walter Samuel both scored in the last five minutes of play. Bradley put in an industrious shift, but ultimately was too easily passed by the Inter midfield. Next week the Flying Donkeys will be on the road against Bologna.
Solid performance by Bradley and it was unfortunate that he was on the losing side. Bradley has made quite the impression in his first season in Italy. His commanding performances week in and week out have made him a local star, and I wouldn't be surprised if we start to hear rumors of a move to a bigger team in Italy soon enough. The next two matches for Chievo are great opportunities to pick up full points, and I am eager to see how Bradley will perform.
Ahead of Olympic qualifying the US U-23 squad took the field with a purpose last Wednesday night against Mexico. In doing so they brought the game to their rivals and were constantly on the front foot. After a Juan Agudelo header and a Mix Diskerud deflection the Yanks were up by two goals and that was plenty on a night where the Americans dominated both sides of the pitch en route to their 2-0 victory.
Check out the awesome behind-the-scenes footage of the match courtesy of US Soccer. Caleb Porter's pre-game speech was epic, which prompted me to automatically youtube Miracle to listen to the "Herb Brooks" masterpiece prior to the battle vs. the Soviets (see below). Enjoy!
Herb Brooks, aka Kurt Russell, time!
I'm sorry but I had to include Al Pacino's pre-game pump-up jam from Any Given Sunday....it's a game of inches!
Seattle earned an impressive 2-1 victory over Santos Laguna in the home leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final.
The Sounders deserved their victory with an aesthetically pleasing and free flowing possession game that for long stretches kept Santos from even a sniff of the ball.
David Estrada's 11th minute goal epitomized Seattle's fluid passing and movement. Fredy Montero picked up his head in midfield and flighted a beautiful ball that was met by David Estrada who ghosted in to head home at the back post.
Seattle continued to boss the first half with Mauro Rosales poking and prodding at the Santos back line while the cerebral Alvaro Fernandez controlled the pace and rhythm of the game.
When Santos did get possession, they were a bit to slow in moving the ball, but that changed in the second half.
Preseason means absolutely nothing. Trust me. I am a Washington Redskins fan. If we were to go by preseason results, then Vancouver would be your 2012 MLS Cup Champions and I think we can all agree that will not happen. I myself, however, have never been so excited for an MLS season as it seems that every team has improved.
Just as in 2011, the West will be the more dominate conference, in terms of the style, atmosphere, and points in the table. With that said, the teams in the East have made some stellar moves during the offseason and will be much more exciting to watch, but the West is still by far the best of the best.
Western Conference- Final Regular Season Table Prediction
1. Real Salt Lake
2. Seattle Sounders
3. LA Galaxy (MLS Cup Winners)
4. FC Dallas
5. Portland Timbers
6. Vancouver Whitecaps
7. Colorado Rapids
8. Chivas USA
9. San Jose Earthquakes
Read detailed breakdowns of each Western Conference club after the break....