Tag Archives: Chicago Fire

Week 3 Power Rankings: Power Shifts West

Week 3 Power Rankings:

1. Seattle (3-0-0)- The Sounders continue to roll on the road at hostile BMO Field, even without wunderkind Fredy Montero.  As Freddie Ljungberg returns to form, this team could get even more dangerous.  The only question is whether they have the defensive depth to weather injuries.

2. Chivas USA (3-0-0)- The Goats are somehow managing to win games with an injury list that looks like a starting lineup.  They didn’t look overpowering against Columbus, but winning 3 of 3 is impressive for this league. Perhaps most importantly, they managed to score with Kljestan effectively taken out of the game.

3. Chicago (2-0-1)- As usual, the Fire are the early season class of the East.  Winning a 10-on-11 contest shows that this team has the resilience that last year’s lacked.  There is impressive offensive depth, with Rolfe and Blanco on the bench, but can the defense hold up over the course of the season?

4. New England (2-0-1)- Nipping at the heels of Chicago in the East.  Having to come from behind at home to beat Dallas is worrying, but you can’t argue with the results.  The next contests (DC and RSL) will be better tests of what this team can do.

5. Colorado (2-1-0)- So they can beat LA and Kansas City.  The big test for them will be at Columbus next week.  The Crew will be at home and fighting desperately to regain a shred of respect.  Colorado’s road win over LA was impressive, but most teams won’t give up the easy goals that the Rapids managed to poach.

6. Real Salt Lake (1-1-0)- Two ends of the spectrum from RSL.  Will this be like last season where they dominate at home and flounder on the road?  Benefited from some huge errors by Columbus, but still managed to beat the defending champs 4-1 (does that mean anything right now, though?).  Can Findley and Movsisyan keep it up?

7. Toronto FC (1-1-1)- Showed some flashes in the windy home loss to Seattle.  When will TFC find a consistent goal-scoring threat?  If the Reds can’t beat Dallas next week, John Carver will be in hot water up north.

8. DC United (1-0-2)- Less than impressive in a game where they had a man advantage at home against Houston.  Couldn’t create very much on offense until the end.  Circle the Eagles’ tie with RSL next week as the most potentially enlightening game of the week, as both are in a good position in the standings.

9. Kansas City (1-2-0)- Maybe the Wizards found the right defensive combination against San Jose?  2-0 over the Quakes is impressive, but they’re still one of the worst defensive teams in the East.  Can they be the first to keep Seattle out of the W column next week?

10. San Jose (1-2-0)- How can they score so little when they have so many experienced playmakers?  The Quakes can redeem an ugly road loss to KC at home against Chicago next week.  Paging Bobby Convey.

11. Houston (0-2-1)- The class of the winless ranks of MLS.  There’s plenty of fight in this team, they just haven’t been getting the bounces thus far.  The Dynamo no longer have a consistent midfield presence with D-Ro gone.  Cameron and Mullan are good at times, but neither is much of a revelation.

12. Columbus (0-2-2)- Showed some fight with 10 men against Chivas, but the injuries are mounting and this team doesn’t have the same confidence that it did last year.  Could Sigi Schmid have been the difference maker?  Even Guillermo Barros Schelotto looks off.  A home win against Colorado would be huge next week.

13. Los Angeles (0-1-1)- The talent is there, but it is horribly inconsistent.  Omar Gonzalez’s roller coaster performance perfectly exemplify this.  Can a 35 year-old 2.Bundesliga defender really improve the backline?  Does anyone really miss David Beckham?

14. New York (0-1-2)- The only consolation for The Red Bulls is that they aren’t the worst team in MLS.  However, Houston would seem to be ripe for a road upset.

15. FC Dallas (0-0-3)- There is no consolation for Dallas.  They let a 1-0 lead slip away at New England and now have to travel to Toronto.  Off-season improvements look like a waste at this point.

Who is Zack Simmons?

Among the names not listed for January’s MLS Combine was Zack Simmons, UMass’s stellar 2007 Third-Team All-American keeper.  The committee that selects players for the combine still has time to correct their mistake–the list won’t be finalized for a few weeks, when Generation adidas, NAIA, and more NCAA players are added–but IFK believes in both education and justice.  Zack Simmons seems to stand for both of those principles, so darnit if we won’t do our part to support them as well.

Simmons began his UMass career as a true walk-on (not an invited one), but earned significant playing time by his sophomore year.  Over the course of his career, his Goals Allowed Average dropped from around 1.5 to just below .8 goals per game and his save percentage rose from 78% to 85% of shots saved.  Amazingly, his numbers improved from 2007–when he was awarded All-American honors as well as being named the Umbro National Player of the Year and a member of the College Cup All-Tournament team–to 2008.  His play was instrumental in UMass’s second straight Atlantic 10 Championship.

But Simmons isn’t just a star on the field.  In the classroom, he is an Economics and History double major who boasts an astonishing 3.99 GPA and was named ESPN The Magazine’s Top Academic All-American for all sports.

Simmons was named a Second-Team All-American by College Soccer News in 2008 and was selected as their top keeper for the 2008 MLS Superdraft.  At 6’2, he does not have outstanding size, but that is above average for a professional keeper and MLS Keeper of the Year Jon Busch is only 5’9.

If the MLS is serious about improving American soccer, they need to be serious about paying attention to the college game, their best source for homegrown talent.  My guess is that Simmons is going to make a solid if not spectacular keeper some day, and someone is going to question how they missed out on him.  Most likely, a team like Chicago that does an excellent job of scouting the college ranks will pick him up in the middle rounds of the draft.

So tell me again: why wasn’t Simmons one of the seven keepers chosen for the MLS Combine?

Boswell Sure to be Hot Commodity

2006 Cosmo Mr. Bachelor Virginia and occasional central defender Bobby Boswell will be a hot commodity this winter…for employers.  Boswell led the backline for Houston last season, but he is out of contract and with all of the league’s frontrunners in need of central defenders–Columbus, New England, Chicago, Chivas USA, and even Los Angeles all have holes to fill there–Boswell can basically go anywhere he wants.

He may have to fight for a spot in Columbus, as two of the three players the Crew rotated in that spot are definitely returning, with Chad Marshall the wildcard.  If Marshall resigns with the Canaries instead of heading for Europe, Boswell would have to look elsewhere.

In Chicago he would be playing in front of MLS Keeper of the Year Jon Busch, but would be stepping into a defensive unit that will suffer a few losses this offseason, and thus a hit to their chemistry.

New England lost Michael Parkhurst to Europe, but Boswell could team with Costa Rican import Gabriel Badilla to form a solid central duo in Boston.

Chivas USA would probably love to add Boswell to complement Shavar Thomas, but Thomas is not nearly the potential partner that Badilla would be and playing for Chivas may just be the least rewarding experience in the league.

Los Angeles is always in need of defenders and may be too much of a landmine to step into (the Galaxy probably don’t have the money to spend anyway), but Boswell would be on the league’s highest-profile team and having both Boswell and Franklin in defense could be the stabilizing force LA needs.

In the end, Boswell’s best option might be staying in Houston.  If the Dynamo can reload up front, they may have just as good a chance as anyone in the league of holding the 2009 MLS Cup after not making it to the finals for the first time in three years in 2008.

Regardless of where he goes, what will Boswell’s new team be getting?  According to Cosmo magazine:

“I am optimistic, work well under pressure, and am goofy.”

What does Boswell look for in a partner?:

“Confidence and enthusiasm are big for me. I like girls [or teams] who challenge themselves.”

The man has spoken MLS, now go show him what you’ve got.

MLS Weekly Review and Preview 9/2

First, a quick rundown of last week’s games:

Salt Lake 2-Colorado 0

Fabian Espindola made a big splash in his return from injury, scoring his 4th and 5th goals of the season to lead RSL to yet another home win.  Salt Lake continues to try to keep pace with streaking Houston, while Colorado is trying to find its groove under Interim Head Coach Gary Smith, who has lost both games he has presided over with that official title.  The Rapids were also hampered by injuries to Pablo Mastroeni and potentially England-bound midfielder Terry Cooke.  With the loss, Colorado relieved San Jose of the cellar spot in the West.

New England 2-Los Angeles 2

Taylor Twellman notched his 5th goal, but also went down after taking LA ‘keeper Steve Cronin’s hands to his head.  Landon Donovan picked up his 15th and 16th and Shalrie Joseph finally got his name into the scorebook for the season during a 2-2 draw.  The Revs, reeling from their CONCACAF Champions League loss to Joe Public FC of T&T and fighting depth issues, switching to a 4-4-1-1.  New England continues to slowly lose ground on Columbus for first in the East (and the league), while Bruce Arena’s LA is hanging on to MLS’ other playoff contenders by their fingernails.

DC 0-New York 0

A bore draw between two teams locked in stalemate in the East.  DC continues to draw games that it needs to win, while New York stays hot with a solid road draw.  Both teams are currently in good position for the playoffs, but New York is on their way up, while DC seems to be stagnating and in danger of heading downwards.

Dallas 1-Columbus 2

Just two weeks after defeating FC Dallas at Crew Stadium, the Canaries traveled to Dallas and picked up a valuable road win, pushing them two points ahead of New England.  Alejandro Moreno scored his team-leading 8th of the season and Eddie Gaven finally got his 1st on the year.  Dallas took the lead on a 35th minute Jeff Cunningham strike, but Columbus continues to prove that they play just as well, if not better from behind as they do from a tie or a lead.  With the loss, Dallas loses valuable ground in the West, falling to just two points out of the cellar.

San Jose 2-Kansas City 1

The red-hot ‘Quakes finally crawled out of the cellar for what seems like the first time since before the Expansion Draft.  Darren Huckerby’s arrival continues to lead the revival for San Jose, scoring the game-winner in the 83rd.  Arturo Alvarez scored in the 43rd, but Davy Arnaud equalized for the Wizards in the 64th.  With the loss, Kansas City continues their wallowing at the bottom of the East.

Chivas USA 2-Toronto 1

The struggles continue for media darling Toronto FC, despite acquiring Guatemalan International Carlos Ruiz, as Chivas picked up an injury time game-winner from Atiba Harris to secure the home win.  Jim Brennan opened the scoring for TFC, but Alecko Eskandarian tied the game up just 11 minutes later.  The game would stay tied for the next hour before Harris inserted the dagger.  Chivas climbs to the top of the West deadlock, now behind only Houston and Salt Lake, while Toronto remains tied for last in the East with Kansas City.

Houston 2-Chicago 1

Brian McBride scored his first goal in his return campaign to MLS, but it sparked a Dwayne De Rosario equalizer just a minute later, which was followed by Brian Mullan’s 3rd goal of the year, giving the Dynamo a lead they would not relinquish.  Although they lost defender Eddie Robinson to injury, Houston stays firmly ahead of RSL in the West with a 5-point lead.  Chicago continues to squander opportunities to overtake, or at least keep pace with New England.

CONCACAF Champions Leaue, US Open Cup and MLS Predictions

9/2: Champions League
New England 3-Joe Public 1 (NE 4-3 on PK’s) New England advances
Chivas USA 2-Tauro FC 1 Tauro FC advances

9/3 US Open Cup Final
DC United 2-Charleston Battery 1 DC wins 2nd US Open Cup

9/4 MLS League Play
FC Dallas 2-Colorado Rapids 0

9/6 MLS League Play
Toronto FC 1-Chivas USA 1
Columbus Crew 1-New England Revolution 2
Chicago Fire 2-New York Red Bulls 2
San Jose Earthquakes 2-DC United 0
Los Angeles Galaxy 2-Real Salt Lake 0

9/7 MLS League Play
Houston Dynamo 3-Kansas City Wizards 0

Around the MLS 8/21

There’s plenty of big headlines today, so I’ll run through them a little more briefly than usual:

Chicago at Los Angeles, 10:00 PM ESPN2

The Fire and Galaxy take the field for ESPN’s MLS Primetime (which has been pushed back to 10 the last few weeks and moved to ESPN2 as a reward for good ratings).  Both teams will be without stars (Beckham, Blanco, etc.) due to international duty, but Bruce Arena will make his big debut.  If the Galaxy don’t have enough depth to field a quality side of starters and they use front office people in Reserve League games, does that mean we should see some accountants on the field for LA tonight?

Chicago has been hot lately, they have plenty of depth, and LA is LA, so I’ll say Chicago 3-Los Angeles 1

Eddie Lewis to LA Galaxy

LA’s midfield mess should get a little bit tidier with the addition of American international Eddie Lewis.  34 years old, Lewis is mostly a link player and defensive midfielder, which is exactly what the Galaxy needed.  Lewis has spent the last 8 years playing for various high-level English clubs (Fulham, Preston, Leeds, and Derby County), picking up 80 caps along the way.  An added bonus is that Lewis is familiar with Bruce Arena from their US National Team days, so Eddie knows what he’s getting into.

Colorado Fires Head Coach Fernando Clavijo

After seeing a solid franchise slowly go downhill under the Uruguayan Head Coach’s tenure, the Colorado Rapids have fired Clavijo (or as the team put it, the two sides have “reached mutual agreement for termination based on personal reasons”).  Taking over will be Interim Coach Englishman Gary Smith, who led the Rapids to a 2-1 victory over Kansas City last week in Clavijo’s absence.

MLS Weekly Recap 8/17

San Jose Stuns New England, Columbus Takes Lead in East

LA Galaxy 2-Chivas USA 2

An intense rivalry between two poor teams.  Alan Gordon’s late equalizer gave LA a draw in the match, but a victory in this year’s SuperClasico series, as Cobi Jones managed a draw in his only game as Interim Manager.  Without Brad Guzan or Sacha Kljestan, Chivas will have to get a major lift from Paulo Nagamura, Atiba Harris, or Carey Talley if they are going to survive the heated race in the West and make the playoffs.

FC Dallas 1-Columbus Crew 2

Dallas failed to extend its hot streak, as the Crew used two second half goals, both set up by league assist-leader Guillermo Barros Schelotto, to dispose of the visitors.  With the victory, the Crew took control of first place in the East.  Read the in-depth match review

DC United 1-Chicago Fire 0

Fred’s 27th minute strike was the difference for surging DC, who grabbed a key road win over Eastern foe Chicago.  Brian McBride, recently arrived for Beijing, came on as a second half sub and made a few key plays on offense for Chicago.  New Liberian Keeper Louis Crayton impressed in his DC United debut.  Chicago could have taken the lead in the East with a win, but instead lost ground to DC.

Real Salt Lake 3-Houston Dynamo 4

Houston asserted their dominance in the West in a game that had 6 first half goals.  Salt Lake managed an impressive offensive showing on the road (a rarity for Jason Kreis’ team).  American international Clint Mathis made his RSL debut after a season abroad in Greece with Ergotelis.

Kansas City Wizards 1-Colorado Rapids 2

Colorado collected a much-needed road win over the struggling, young Wizards team.  Conor Casey was a one-man wrecking crew for Colorado, finishing with two goals, and Keeper Preston Burpo seems to have supplanted Bouna Coundoul in the Colorado net.  Kansas City, previously on a 5-2-3 streak, failed to escape the cellar of the East.

New England Revolution 0-San Jose Earthquakes 4

Streaking San Jose got a huge shutout win over then leaders in the East New England.  English M Darren Huckerby had two assists, and Irish M Ronnie O’Brien notched two goals and an assist.  The loss knocked New England out of the top spot in the East, although they have a game in hand on Columbus, but San Jose’s victory failed to catapult them from the cellar in the West.

Toronto FC 0-New York Red Bulls 2

Toronto FC continues their tailspin with a road loss against New York, who was down a man for the second half because of a red card for Venezueland Red Bull loanee D Gabriel Cichero.  Mike Magee and Juan Pablo Angel scored for the Red Bulls, who were able to hop over Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings and into a fourth-place tie with DC United.  Toronto’s newest face, American U-21 F Johann Smith made his TFC debut, subbing for Abdus Ibrahim, and nearly scored his first MLS goal.