By Chris Reiko
Sounders dominated MLS Alphabet Week 3, but also my 5 cents on who will benefit from the De Ro trade, the Timbers’ historic first point, Scotch whiskey in New England and players that shined last weekend and came from original European England. Also VIDEO’s with Sounders Steve Zakuani and rising MLS star Simon Dawkins, who explains us what is the difference between practicing with Rafael van der Vart and Chris Wondolowski.
A – Alvaro Fernandez – Sounders Designated Player, he played really well in last World Cup for Uruguay, together with Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, but now looks like he is one of the reasons for a little alarm in Seattle. The Sounders remain winless after their first four games, and their coach Sigi Schmid when I asked him about Alvaro performance he answered quickly “You saw the second half.”
B – Bun, Bun – Bunbury, Teal – Sporting Kansas City and his great two goals. It’s great to see him healthy and scoring again, and he could be one of Bob Bradley’ first calls in June. Bunbury makes forward competition for USMNT spots even more interesting. On the first one, it was a quality shot that not many MLS players can make, and on the second his great moves seem so easy, that between confused Whitecaps defenders Bunbury looked like man from different planet. Don’t you love the Bun – Bun- Bury celebration?
C – Camilo – Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo, the Whitecaps forward who scored two goals in stoppage time in his team’s incredible comeback from three goals down. He is just 22 and being from Brazil, and other than soccer he is also big fan of NBA. If he keeps scoring like that in crucial moments, at some point of his career he may end up with salary on NBA level. Way to go Camilo, but Davide Chumiento coming off the bench in 69th minute impacted the game big time, and was one of the reasons why he become first Whitecaps player named MLS player of the week.
D – Dwayne De Rosario – for long while on April 1st, not many people took this trade seriously, looked at from the beginning as The April Fools Day joke. And some believed only after seeing him in Red Bulls uniform. “It’s unfortunate to have to trade our captain, but this deal is part of our rebuilding process and helps to open salary cap room for our club,” said Toronto FC coach Aron Winter in a statement. For reason why DeRo trade had to happened, see letter “J” in this MLS Alphabet.
E – Evans, Brad – Seattle Sounders midfielder for his go ahead goal, he did something in a unique way, that few Earthquakes players described as “we just don’t know how it happened”. Evans earned his first 3 caps with USMNT during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Do you think he has any chance to get a USMNT call for 2011 Gold Cup? He still has some time to impress BB, and Sigi Schmid would love that too.
F – Folan, Caleb – Colorado Rapids new striker. His nice 2 goals welcomed him to MLS. Sure it was against United but there are no questions. He made the MLS Champions’ attack even more dangerous. Caleb played 74 games in English Premier League and scored 14 goals, thanks to his conflict with Hull City coach Phil Brown he end up in Colorado. I wonder if Caleb Folan has more friends, players like him in EPL that don’t like their coaches. I am sure we will find room for them in MLS.
G – Goats. Congratulations to Robin Fraser for his first MLS point as Chivas USA coach, and to The Goats for decent game. True, they played Toronto FC just a day after De Rosario’s departure from there, and major restructuring is going on in the TFC midfield. No question, Chivas USA still has plenty of work to do, but at least they started to collect some points.
H – Hanauer, Adrian – Sounders part owner and General Manager did not looked happy after his team gave up a lead twice and end up just with 2-2 draw in San Jose. He tried to stay calm, but we can feel a little tension inside and around Sounders team, starting from GM to some players and of course coach Sigi Schmid all seem to being under pressure. This could be very difficult April for Sounders and not a surprise if there will be some turbulence in the locker. They are facing a fresh and positive Fire side on Saturday at home, and then Sounders are going on the road to Philadelphia and Colorado, where as we know, getting points will not be easy. And on the last day of the month they host Toronto at Qwest Field – and this could be their first win this season. Of course that is if they don’t beat the Fire on Saturday, but this not going to be easy. Quick reminder that the Fire managed to beat the Rapids in the US Open Cup last week.
I – Immediate remodeling (or extra fitness training) for Sporting Kansas City defensive line is needed ASAP. How can you lead 3-0 with 20 minutes to go and not win? Coach Peter Vermes will have a few words with his backline guys and I gotta feeling that conversation may not be friendly. With 8 goals Sporting so far is the best MLS team in terms of scoring, but they also allowed 8 which makes Kansas City defense look little too friendly to the opponents.
J – Julian de Guzman – Toronto FC midfielder he is not even starter, he came off the bench, and played entire second half. His outrageous, ridiculously high 1.7 million over 3 years (guaranteed) contract was one of the main reasons why Toronto FC had to trade their star Dwayne De Rosario. If you think about that, who in the world (other than previous Toronto FC General Manager Mo Johnston) will pay that kind of money for Julian de Guzman? Not many even respected experts believed how that was possible, but someone approved this contract.
K - Khari Stephenson – Goal of the Year candidate, and a sure winner for MLS Goal of the Week. He just got back from international duty for Jamaica, but he made huge difference coming as sub in second half. His favorite team is FC Barcelona, but even in the Nou Camp we don’t see that kind of strikes too often.
L - Leonardo – Brazilians and Italians they have theirs and we do have ours. Last year’s UEFA Champions League winners Internazionale Milan are now coached by Leonardo (although after Tuesday’s game, maybe not for much longer), but here in MLS we have our little more affordable version of Leonardo. What is interesting three of four goals scored this year for Galaxy came from Brazilian players. Leonardo is the first MLS player who scored a goal, when Faryd Mondragon was between posts for the Union. No one did that before.
M - Faryd Mondragon has 13 years of memories about Beckham on his back, but he still must remember that weird feeling about the English megastar. In 1998 World Cup in France, David Beckham “Bent it like Beckham” and scored a free-kick goal against Colombia, beating goalkeeper Mondragon. 13 years later, last Saturday in Los Angeles Becks was able to give Mondragon hard time again, this time assisting on Leonardo game winning header.
N – Nielsen, Jimmy – Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper made some crucial world-class saves in the first half, he was just outstanding. Despite draw and allowing 3 goals Danish keeper was one of the best players on the pitch this weekend and Sporting defenders all should be thankful to Jimmy for so many incredible saves.
O – Officiating. I was at the Earthquakes game, and was unable to see live Galaxy vs. Union, but even before I watched the game I received about 13 emails and 22 tweets about how terrible the officiating was. After the game I even got some interesting quotes from players and coaches about referee Paul Ward calls, but to protect their wallets I’ll keep it for myself. Not to defend anybody, but when we criticize officials, we have to remember that all the refs are also competing for spots and games, working on their careers and most of their mistakes sure are frustrating for the fans, but at least NOT intentional.
P – Portland Timbers, congratulation on the first MLS point and debut of number 2 pick in 2011 MLS SuperDraft – Darlington Nagbe. “It wasn’t all there and it could have been better,” Nagbe said. “But it felt good just getting out there and playing.” With his debut behind him, bigger things now lie ahead. “Darlington Nagbe is just great player and we are fortunate to have him in our team” – said Timbers coach John Spencer.
Q – Quaranta, Santino – Rapids looked comfortable with 1-0 lead, but his goal just woke them up, and they responded by scoring 3 unanswered after Quaranta scored his first of the season. Not that long ago Quaranta was getting passes from his current coach Ben Olsen, now he is getting only directions but he seem to follow them. Health and form of Santino Quaranta, Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius and Andy Najar will be crucial to United this year.
R - Rapids – MLS Champions maybe not at their peak form yet, but good enough to smash United 4-1. Great job by head coach Gary Smith for keeping winning spirit, after difficult loss in US Open Cup to Chicago Fire. Gary Smith added Caleb Folan to already powerful squad and not many MLS teams at this stage of the season are able to handle their attacking options.
S – Simon Dawkins – Congratulations to San Jose Earthquakes midfielder for his first MLS goal. The 23-year-old Englishman is already impressive in his first few MLS games, “I could play a lot better, I still need some work on my fitness, but I love it here”. That is great sign when the young player from motherland of football comes to MLS and complements the just 16 seasons young league. Dawkins is on the loan from famous Tottenham Hotspur, and here he is telling us the difference between practicing with Rafael van der Vart and Chris Wondolowski. WATCH VIDEO below
T – Tchani, Tony – Toronto FC newly acquired midfielder. Very promising young player, and even his new team didn’t win the game, he shows that he can be valuable in any situation. Tchani was traded on Friday, and he already started in TFC roster on Saturday. He is just 21, and considering his young age, he adjusted immediately to the situation and played full 90 minutes. Coach Aron Winter got great material for a big time player. Winter had spent enough time in world famous Dutch soccer stars factory called “Ajax”, that Tchani could become the biggest beneficiary of this DeRo trade.
U – Union despite their loss at The Home Depot Center, they are still on the top of the Eastern Conference, and they allowed just one goal in 3 games, that is about 5 times better average than last year. What progress and for how long can they keep up this awesome average? Well this Saturday the Red Bulls will visit PPL Park, which will be an even bigger test for the Union defense and Mondragon than the Galaxy.
V – Victory is still an unknown word in the Dynamo, Sounders, Chivas USA, Timbers and FC Dallas lockers this season. Rebuilding Dynamo, Chivas USA and expansion Timbers are not big surprises, but not many predicted that we would see Sounders 4 games without a win and MLS Cup finalist FC Dallas on the bottom of the Western Conference.
W - Whiskey. Good Scottish Whiskey there must be quiet few over New England clam chowder, after Timbers got their historic first MLS point. For coach John Spencer it was also his first point as head coach of an MLS team. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that John Spencer earned this point coaching against his bud and countryman, Liverpool legend and Revolution coach Steve Nicol. Cheers, with glass of Scotch from California.
X – What will be MLS per game scoring average in November 2011? Despite the fact that five games ended with draw, mainly thanks to Whitecaps vs. Sporting game, total of 24 goals made our MLS week average 3 goals per game. If we keep this average, MLS is on the way to become the most attractive league on the world, in terms of goal scoring. Thank you Vancouver.
Y- Yallop, Frank he made very brave substitution at half time, taking out Joey Gjersten who had very good first half and replacing him with Khari Stephenson. Although big part of the press box looked surprised on this move, Khari beautiful goal make Frank Yallop look like genius. Yallop pretty much always sticks with his winning 11, but this time the Quakes just tied with Sounders and we may see a healthy Ike Opara more often, if not starting vs. Toronto on Saturday.
Z - Zakuani, Steve – just watch his post game comments to get an idea about the feeling in the Sounders locker.
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Who would you add to this week MLS Alphabet? - welcome your comments and suggestions below
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