Thursday, February 26, 2009
Earlier today the Houston Dynamo announced they would be signing a player to the squad tomorrow, in a World Soccer Wrap exclusive, we have learned that the signing will be goalkeeper Tyler Deric. Deric is a native of Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston, a graduate of Klein High School, and has been a member of the soccer team at the University of North Carolina. The 20 year old was also named the newcomer of the year and player of the year by the Houston Chronicle in 2005.
More importantly, Tyler Deric is a product of the Houston Dynamo's Youth Academy and is the first member of the Academy to sign with the Dynamo. The signing will be officially announced on Friday, meaning Deric should be present at the Dynamo's friendly against the Montreal Impact on Saturday morning.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
-Photo by Katy Umana
The quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League kicked off last night and the Houston Dynamo hosted Atlante in front of a crowd of 10, 203 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas. Defender Bobby Boswell scored the first goal of the night giving the Dynamo the lead in the 34th minute. The Dynamo managed to hold onto the lead and looked to be headed to Cancun with a home win, but with 8 minutes left in the match Gabriel Pereyra scored the equalizer for Atlante.
While Atlante is in the middle of 2009 Clausura, this was the first competitive match for the Dynamo since late November of 2008, when the beat CD Luis Angel Firpo, 1-0, to advance to the CCL Quarterfinals. Going into Tuesday night’s match, Dynamo Coach, Dominic Kinnear, had indicated he was satisfied with the number of preseason friendlies the Dynamo have played since starting camp at the start of this month, and he felt his squad was ready to take on a struggling Atlante team, though he downplayed the possibility of the Mexican side’s league struggles would carry over into the CCL.
Knowing the history of MLS success, or lack thereof, playing Mexican clubs in Mexico, the Dynamo went on the attack, keeping the bulk of first half action on Atlante’s side of the field, while Atlante bunkered down, looking for the nil – nil draw, but not failing to take advantage of occasional counterattack. The Dynamo’s aggressive play finally paid off in the 34th minute when Boswell headed the ball into the goal from 12 yards out. The Dynamo managed to maintain their one goal lead heading into halftime.
Despite being down by a goal, during the early stages of the second half, the Potros seemed content with losing the match by a goal, and put little pressure on the Dynamo defense, which showed some weakness as Julius James got his first start with the Dynamo’s back line. As the minutes ticked away, Atlante took advantage of their midseason form and turned up the heat on a slowing El Naranja. Finally, in the 82nd minute, Atlante took advantage of confusion by the Houston side that had expected a goal kick instead of a corner and the congestion in front of the goal, and Pereyra’s momentum got the ball into the back of the net. The Dynamo pushed to get another goal, but to no avail.
Referee Neal Brizan, from Trinidad & Tobago, deserves special mention as a somewhat shocking 42 fouls, including 8 yellow cards, were called during the match. It seems that Brizan was familiar with the recent history of this competition and took pains to control the match, and while he managed to thwart time wasting tactics, he also managed to disrupt the rhythm of the game to the detriment of the Dynamo.
Following the match, Stuart Holden, who is stepping into the spot once controlled by Dwayne DeRosario and still mourning the loss of his father, acknowledged that he is going to have to be more selfish in the future and take more shots when the opportunities arise. Holden had a couple shooting opportunities in the match, but chose to pass the ball to teammates, whom he believed had better shooting opportunities, but who did not take advantage of those passes. Meanwhile, Coach Kinnear indicated that while he was disappointed in giving up the lead late in the match, he believes that his team can secure a victory in Mexico next week and advance to the CCL Semifinals.
Despite being suspended for earning a red card during the group stage, Atlante’s coach, Jose Guadalupe Cruz, was present in the stadium and addressed the press following the match. While proud that his squad faired better in this match when compared to last summer’s 4 – nil loss to the Dynamo in the 2009 SuperLiga, Cruz indicated that the Dynamo are still one of the toughest MLS sides to face and should not be taken lightly next week, even when Atlante hosts the Dynamo. When reminded of the MLS history in Mexico, Cruz’s telling response was that history does not play the games.
When the two teams meet on Tuesday March 3, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. central time in Cancun, Eddie Robinson will be available for the Dynamo and goalkeeper Federico Vilar will be available for Atlante. But before the second leg of this CCL Quarterfinal tie, on Saturday, the Dynamo will host the Montreal Impact, fresh off of tonight’s victory over Santos Laguna in the CCL, in a friendly at Robertson Stadium.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
While the 2009 MLS Season does not start until March 19, 2009, but, with apologies to the Pan-Pacific Championship which starts tonight, the Houston Dynamo will be the first MLS team to play a meaningful match when they host Atalante on Wednesday February 24, 2009 at 9:00 p.m. cst in the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. As the only MLS squad left in the CCL, the pressure is on the Dynamo to win this two match tie with this tough FMF squad from Cancun. Since that match is only week away, it seems now is a good time to preview of the 2009 Houston Dynamo season.
After winning the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cups, the Houston Dynamo entered the 2008 MLS Playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference and considered a favorite to make to the 2008 MLS Cup. But first the Dynamo had to get past a surging Red Bull New York. Things looked promising for the Dynamo when the managed to walk away from the turf of The Meadowlands with a 1-1 draw against the Eastern upstarts. When the Dynamo took the pitch at Robertson Stadium on November 9th, they were greeted by over 30,000 Dynamo fans, but the Dynamo misfired all match and with a 3-nil win, the Red Bull advanced and ultimately found themselves playing and losing to the Columbus Crew in the 2008 MLS Cup.
But as Lou Holtz once said “Remember the good Lord put eyes in the front of your head, rather then the back, so you can see where you’re going rather then where you’ve been.”
The big changes for the Houston Dynamo as they enter the 2009 season are the loss of Nate Jaqua to Seattle Sounders FC in the expansion draft and the trade of Dwayne DeRosario to Toronto FC. With these departures, the Dynamo entered the silly season looking towards the young, talented Stuart Holden to fill the hole left by Dwayne DeRosario and a need to create offensive depth. In this trade, the Dynamo were able to remove close to $325,000.00 from their payroll, add defender Julius James’ less then $50,000.00 contract, and then avoid the $75,000.00 hit from Patrick Ianni, who is no longer a Generation Adidas player, by trading him to Seattle.
But before the Dynamo could deal with their offensive needs, there was the issue of Bobby Boswell. The 2006 MLS Defender of the Year came to the Dynamo in December 2007 and, after a rough Pan-Pacific Cup and early 2008 MLS Season, soon found himself a critical component of the Dynamo’s back line and an integral part of one of the toughest defenses in the MLS. With the closure of the 2008 season, Boswell was out of contract and testing the waters of Europe where he found himself on trial with the Turkcell Super League side Antalyaspor. Bureaucratic red tape issues blocked Boswell from signing with Antalyaspor, so he returned to the MLS where he signed a four year contract that will keep him with the Dynamo. Between the return of Boswell and the acquisition of Julius James in the DeRosario trade, the Dynamo were in the position to send Patrick Ianni to Seattle, and clear up the salary space as discussed above. Finally, the Dynamo shored up their defense when they signed goalkeeper Tally Hall, who spent the last couple years at Danish side Esbjerg fB, to serve as Pat Onstad’s backup.
In the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, the Dynamo scored a coup by obtaining Geoff Cameron who, while classified as a midfielder, has been called on to be a utility player for the Dynamo who saw action at almost every position except goalkeeper. The Dynamo may have struck MLS SuperDraft gold once again when the managed to draft midfielder/forward Daniel Cruz in the third round. The fact that Cruz was the last Generation Adidas player on the board is a bonus for the Dynamo. Meanwhile, in the 4th round of the Draft, the Dynamo took a flyer on Marcus Tracy despite the fact that the Hermann Trophy winner is headed to Aalborg BK in the Danish Superliga. Should Tracy’s stint at AaB fail within the next two years, the Dynamo will have his MLS rights (and hope that he doesn’t turn out to be like a certain Tracy who plays for another team here in Houston).
Finally, the Dynamo acquired the young, talented Felix Garcia from the PDL’s Laredo Heat. At 18 years, Garcia has been an important player for the Heat and has spent some time with the USMNT’s youth squads. To put icing on the cake for the Dynamo, he is a Generation Adidas player. While the Dynamo started their pre-season camp on February 2, Garcia has not appeared in Houston, choosing to earn his high school diploma before embarking on his MLS career. While Garcia should be applauded for wrapping up his education, the delay to his Dynamo start is troubling, but under the coaching of Dominic Kinnear and John Spencer, Garcia is likely to flourish, and hopefully be the Rosetta Stone for the future of the MLS – signing the under appreciated talent from the streets of Laredo, Escondido, McAllen, Nogales, Las Cruces, Rio Grande City, Calexico, and Eagle Pass.
With Garcia’s current absence that will last until at least June, the Dynamo find themselves in the position of needing some more offensive tools. While Brian Ching remains as the core of the Dynamo offensive prowess, it remains to be seen who will serve as his compliment up front. Will it be Kai Kamara? Erik Ustruck? Corey Ashe? Or Brian Mullan who has once again been labeled as a forward, not a midfielder, by the Dynamo. Or, might it be Joseph Ngwenya, who might soon be out of contract at Antalyaspor.
The Dynamo’s first 2009 MLS match will be at home on March 21 as the host Columbus Crew. This year, the Dynamo will have more Spring home matches and less fixture congestion since their involvement in the CCL will preclude them from playing in SuperLiga. This year it appears that the Dynamo will have a few less matches at home during the high heat of Houston’s hot, humid summers (and with any luck Houston will be spared from hurricanes this year).
It is possible that the Dynamo will have another slow start to the season as the reconstruct an aggressive offense, but with the likes of Kamara, Ching, Holden, Cameron, and Mullan, The Dynamo might actually earn some crucial early points this season.
While there is still some work to do at the Dynamo, the presence of MLS experience and talented youth, mixed with the coaching tandem of Kinnear and Spencer, means that the Dynamo will once again be a strong force in the MLS Western Conference and strong favorite for making it to the MLS Playoffs and the 2009 MLS Cup.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The franchise made the move from San Jose to Houston, with the impression that it would be easier to obtain a stadium deal in Houston. With the Dynamo’s fourth season starting next month, the club still calls the rundown Robertson Stadium, located on the University of Houston campus in the Third Ward, home. Without rehashing the long, tortuous route the stadium process has taken, it appears that the Houston Dynamo will be starting the 2011 MLS season in a new stadium located on the eastern edge of Downtown Houston. This afternoon, Houston Dynamo CEO Oliver Luck made an appearance on the Ken Hoffman show on 1560 The Game. While Luck was primarily there to promote the Dynamo’s new $150 season ticket package and the $32 special for 4 tickets to the Dynamo’s game against Atlante on Wednesday February 24th. However, Hoffy asked Luck about the status of the stadium negotiations, Luck did not say a final deal had been forged, but nonchalantly and openly stated the team would be in a new downtown stadium in 2011. Gone were the caveats and spin of the past.
More importantly, Luck stated that an unnamed bank has agreed to involve itself in the financing of the Tax Increment Redevelopment Zone a/k/a TIRZ that is at the heart of the public funding associated with the potential stadium. Unlike the sporting palaces recently built for the Astros, Rockets, and Texans, the Dynamo stadium carries a projected cost of under $100 million with only a fraction of the cost coming from public sources. This means that instead of relying on local taxes, which would require a vote, to fund the stadium, the City of Houston and Harris County will provide funds through the TIRZ that will go towards infrastructure improvements. Little, if any, public money will be used on the actual stadium. While a deal has not been finalized, the fact that a bank has agreed to finance the TIRZ, despite the credit crunch and current economy, is an indication that the Dynamo, the City, and the County are on the eve of finalizing a stadium deal.
Speaking of the current economic situation, MLS and the Dynamo, as well as most of the other MLS teams, should be applauded for providing affordable season ticket packages.
Meanwhile the Dynamo are out on the West Coast for some preseason friendlies. Today they faced the L.A. Galaxy, and beat them 2 – nil, thanks to an own goal from Tony Sanneh and a Brian Mullan goal. The Dynamo will be travelling to San Luis Obispo to take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.
This Monday on 1560 The Game’s Soccer Show, it appears that a couple representatives from the Dynamo Girls will be joining us in studio. As always, you can watch and listen to the show online at http://www.1560.tv . The show starts at 7:00 pm Central Standard Time.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Instead of doing a live blog here, I'll be joining the live chat at:
Feel free to join us there.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Here are some videos to get you ready for the match:
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Joseph Ashmore translate the article to English.
Being a Cagliari Tifosi is indeed a hard job. You can’t go to your significant other and say: “Dear, the boys and I are driving to the Derby, see you tonight”. First problem is there is no Serie A derby in Sardinia and then there is the marginal problem of living on an Island. So the Sardinian either collect Air Miles or empties the Beer reserves on the ferry to the mainland and then continues this on the Autostrada rest stops.
If the car is the preferred method of travel then the shortest trip is to Palermo, this is accomplished after only 9 Hours. Going to Rome takes 10 Hours and to Udinese it is easily 15 hours. If a Cagliari fan does this the entire season he needs to have an understanding Boss and an even more understanding Wife, not necessarily in that order. That is, unless of course she decides to be your travel companion but since that type of supervision is not desired for Home Games it is hardly desired for Away Games as the last vestiges of conduct and etiquette are thrown overboard on the way to the mainland.
The trip to Juventus also takes a charming 15 hours, this past Saturday roundtrip however will belong to Family lore forever. These are stories that you will tell your Grandchildren. Cagliari won at Juventus 3:2, even though the entire roster of the team costs about as much as the salary of a Kaka or Ibrahimovic. Even in Italy many people have to get out a media guide to identify some of the players for this team. Sure it is a feel good story but it is still a tremendous feat in itself.
After the first 5 matchdays under the new Coach Max Allegri, Calgliari was in last place with 0 Points and a goal difference of 1:10. Since then the Sardinian Club has gathered 34 Points with a goal difference of 29:15, if the League started with Match Day Six then Cagliari would presently be in third place.
The last time Cagliari won a match at Juventus was 41 years ago. This was accomplished with goals by the legendary Roberto Boninsegna and Gigi Riva under the tutelage of coaching legend Manlio Scopigno, who was also called the “Philosopher”. If he was still the Coach today this team would be even more entertaining.
When he received his “marching orders” in Bologna in 1966 he told the Club President “This message contains some Grammatical Errors” before he departed to Cagliari. He only lasted a year as during a friendly tour to the US he was photographed relieving himself in public after having his usual amount of refreshments. Asked if he would like to return to Bologna he answered: “With pleasure, but only in a Bomber”.
He was re-hired by the Club in 1968 and one of his first changes was cancelling the morning training sessions, since he had a tendency to partake in the Nightlife and a good bottle of Whiskey. The afternoon training sessions were good enough for second place and in 1970 this style led to the first and only “Scudetto” in Team history. The Chain-smoking Scopigno had to watch the Championship run from the stands however, he received a 5 month ban for insulting a Referee early in the season. His comments: “The only clean thing in the Calcio is the ball – as long as it does not rain”.
It is doubtful that the more reserved newcomer Allegri will duplicate the feat 39 years later but there still may be a chance. Maybe he should only train in the afternoon, work on his game plan with two packs of Cigarettes and a bottle of Whiskey and tell the Linesman how he really feels. Lucky for us that in Soccer, at least in our dreams, nothing is impossible – as long as it does not rain.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
In addition to covering the Houston Dynamo, I cover Serie A in particular and Calcio in general. Therefore, I have been paying close attention to the David Beckham situation. Much to the chagrin of my colleagues in Los Angeles, ever since the deal to loan Beckham to A.C. Milan, I have taken the position that DB23 now DB32 will not be returning to the L.A. Galaxy.
Last month, Beckham made his Serie A debut against A.S. Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in the Eternal City (in full disclosure, I am a Roma fan), and while he looked a little rusty, Beckham played until the 89th minute and showed signs that he was starting to mesh with his new Rossoneri teammates. Since his closely watched Serie A debut, Beckham has scored two goals for Milan and played a pivotal role in this past Sunday’s victory over S.S. Lazio, a 3 – nil drubbing that moved Milan into second place, 6 points behind their derby rival, Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.
On Monday, Milan included Beckham on its updated UEFA Cup squad, an act that only fanned the flames of speculation that Milan would make a move to permanently acquire Beckham from the Galaxy. Today, news reports indicated that following Milan’s 2-2 draw with the Rangers in Scotland, Beckham openly expressed his desire that his loan to Milan turn into a permanent trade. The current loan arrangement lasts until March 8, and, in my opinion, the Galaxy would be smart to take the money and leave Becks in Italy.
That being said, I would like to put forth my eulogy for the Beckham MLS experience, which might be skewed by the fact that I am in the only existing MLS market that has not experienced Beckham on its pitch. Since his arrival on these shores in the summer of 2007, I believe that Beckham has been detriment to the L.A. Galaxy, but a boon to Major League Soccer.
In January of 2007, when Beckham’s move to the Galaxy was announced, it appeared that Beckham’s career in Europe was lying in a casket, awaiting transport to the cemetery. He had been banished from the England National Squad after it had failed to live up to the overly optimistic expectations foisted upon it by its supporters and press during Germany ‘06, meanwhile it appeared that Real Madrid’s Fabio Capello had little use for Beckham. A move to the MLS, to the Galaxy, would ensure Beckham playing time in the sport he loves and make him a big fish in a little pond. I suspect that while the deal was crafted by his people, who are more interested in promoting Brand Beckham than Beckham himself is, Beckham did see the MLS as an opportunity to at least close out his career on the pitch, not the bench.
It wasn’t long after the announcement of Beckham’s move from Spain to a former colonial territory of Spain, that an embarrassed and humiliated Steve McLaren recalled Beckham to the England squad in a desperate, but failed attempt to qualify for Euro ’08. Since that turn of events and despite the changing of the guard from McLaren to Fabio Capello, Beckham has earned his 100th Cap and has seemingly focused his career on being part of the squad fielded by England at South Africa 2010.
But there was a problem, despite the Beckham rule that enabled the L.A. Galaxy to keep the likes of Beckham and Landon Donovan on its roster, the Galaxy front office could not find a way to field squad with the sufficient skill levels to support its offensive firepower. In 2008, the Galaxy did not have much trouble finding the back of the net, but you could drive a bus through their defense and into the net. With that kind of supporting cast, you cannot blame Beckham for being disappointed or blame Capello for concluding that Beckham’s situation at the Galaxy would not help him secure a spot on England’s national team.
While I wish I had been a fly on the wall, I am not privy to the negotiations and positioning that was involved in sealing Beckham’s loan deal to Milan. That being said, I do suspect that Beckham might have shrewdly played-off his management against the Galaxy front office in an effort to put himself into a position where he could better secure himself a spot on the England squad, and kudos for him in pulling off that coup.
On Monday night I, and some select others, had the honor and privilege of spending a couple hours with a former soccer player and current coach that I admire and respect. During that session, we peppered him with several questions, one of which was basically asking him which coach would he most like to punch in the face. He gave his answer in a somewhat coded manner and what I took away from his response was that the coach wasn’t one of his current peers, but a coach that he played for, a coach that had killed his World Cup Finals hopes. As much as the World Cup Finals mean to we fans, we can only barely imagine what it means to soccer players, and much like only a handful of NCAA football players make it to the NFL, only a handful of soccer players around the world make it to the World Cup Finals. Yes, Beckham has been there several times in the past, but he has yet to lift that trophy in victory and 2010 clearly is his last opportunity, his last shot at that kind of glory, a kind of glory that would be ten times as intense as what Santonio Holmes felt this past Sunday when his team won the NFL’s Super Bowl. So, I wish David Beckham all the best in his quest to stay in Milan and play for England in the 2010 World Cup Finals.
That being said, I don’t believe that Beckham’s experience has been a failure, despite the unwarranted self-satisfaction of the soccer haters, and the soccer fans that hate the MLS.
Beckham’s presence in the MLS over the past 1.5 seasons has brought the league a huge amount of press and has caught the attention of both the casual soccer fan as well as the sophisticated soccer fan who had focused primarily on foreign leagues and not the MLS. Like I said above, Beckham never made it to the confines of Estadio Robertson in Houston, but still the crowds packed the late season matches against the Galaxy, crowds that carried over into the play-offs, so much so that Dynamo Coach Dominic Kinnear has expressed his opinion that one of the best crowds he has ever seen was the crowd that packed Robertson Stadium for the 2007 Western Conference Final against the Kansas City Wizards.
I could be wrong, but from this point forward, I suspect that Beckham in the MLS will result in diminishing gains when it comes to crowd attendance and do nothing to help the Galaxy’s prospects at league success, at least until there is a new collective bargaining agreement, and maybe not even then depending on its terms. With the exception of Houston, most of the “new” fans lured out to their local team’s hosting of the Galaxy have satisfied their curiosity and have either decided whether or not they’d continue to support the MLS and/or their local MLS team. I don’t see Beckham’s return to MLS in 2009 as increasing the MLS fan base, but I do see such a return tying the Galaxy’s hands and see them failing to make the playoffs once again.
In the end, I think the Galaxy would benefit from jettisoning Beckham and fielding a better balanced squad, and the MLS would benefit from being able to say it obtained a top player from La Liga and then transferring him off to Serie A.