Tag Archives: Toronto FC

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.

Garey Should Be Wanted Man This Off-Season

Trivia time: I am a former MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the nation’s top college player.  In my rookie season, I led my club in scoring.  I have scored against both Aston Villa and West Ham, led my Reserve League squad in scoring, and tallied 3 goals this season (including a brace against then league-leading New England) despite only playing the equivalent of 1 1/3 ‘s matches.

Who am I?

I’m Jason Garey of the Columbus Crew, and I deserve some respect.

The Crew relied mostly on the frontline duo of Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno to lead them to their 2008 double, but like any team, they occasionally needed cover for their starters.  When they did, Head Coach Sigi Schmid mostly relied on rookie Steven Lenhart, a successful sub who never settled into the role of starter.  Lenhart has similar size to Garey, but isn’t blessed with the on-the-ball ability, finishing touch, or aerial ability that Garey has showed flashes of.  Production-wise, Lenhart had 4 goals in over two times the minutes that Garey needed to notch 3 scores.

Garey is a goal-scorer, plain and simple.  He led the Crew reserves in scoring, scores when he starts in friendlies for Columbus, and chipped in as a sub when he had meaningful minutes.  With Houston, Salt Lake, and Toronto all in the market for strikers and teams scaling back in anticipation of economic difficulties, Garey would seem to be a viable option as cheap depth, or even a starting strike partner for Toronto’s Chad Barrett.  The Crew have a lack of MLS Superdraft choices, and do not seem to value Garey as much as they did when they made him the third overall choice in 2006, so acquiring him would not be overly complicated.  Columbus is also in dire need of center back help if Chad Marshall does not return, and would probably welcome depth at that position in exchange for their fourth-choice striker.

As a three-year veteran and proven scorer and a player who, at 24, is nearing his prime, Garey would be a solid addition to any MLS squad.  If he doesn’t change clubs, all indications seem to be that he will mostly be seeing action in Columbus’s Champions League run.

DDR Back to the Great White North

A few days ago, Houston sent 30 year-old midfielder and face of the club Dwayne de Rosario back to his hometown, with Toronto FC surrendering young defender Julius James and cash.

The winner in the deal?  Who knows?  Toronto gets a three-time Canadian player of the year and someone who has won 4 MLS Cups.  However, de Rosario’s production slowed down considerably last season and he is on record saying that he does not like Toronto’s turf.  The veteran will sell jerseys and tickets, and returning to his hometown team has to be great for Dwayne, but if he doesn’t come out of his slump, this could be just another in a long line of failed high-profile moves by Toronto FC Manager Mo Johnston.

Houston, on the other hand, got some much needed cash and a young defender who spent most of his rookie season injured.  When he did play, James showed some offensive capability in the air, as well as potential in central defense and the right wing.  James ended the year as a bench player, so he may not be an immediate upgrade for Houston, but the T&T National and UCONN grad still has plenty of upside.

The Dynamo also received cash considerations.  In combination with offloading de Rosario’s salary, this will help the Orange out considerably as they seek to find a backup keeper, a replacement for DDR in the midfield and someone to fill departed Nate Jaqua’s shoes.  Houston will also need to find some immediate depth if they want to have any chance of extending their run in the Champions League.

Oh and they need to find a new face for their franchise.  Throughout Houston’s run at the top, de Rosario was one of Houston and MLS’s marketable players.

Sounds like a busy winter for the Dynamo.

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

Carlos Ruiz to Toronto FC

The Transfer Season continues to chug along, and change continues to be the theme for the LA Galaxy, as forward Carlos Ruiz appears set to join Toronto FC.

The Guatemalan international has 81 MLS goals, an MLS Cup, an MLS MVP award and two MLS Golden Boots for the most goals in the league.  Internationally, Ruiz is Guatemala’s highest goal scorer ever, with 39 goals in 77 appearances.  However, his second stint in LA after 4 years in Dallas has been a disappointment.  Ruiz has played in only 10 games, few of those appearances have been starts, and he has nothced only one goal.

LA unloads upwards of $300,000 per season in salary cap space, a Designated Player slot, and an ego to compete with the abundance of personality already present in the Home Depot Center locker room.  Perhaps the Galaxy will use the space to sign American international M Eddie Lewis, who had been a rumored target in LA before new Head Coach Bruce Arena arrived.  With Edson Buddle scoring plenty this season, Ruiz became surplus, and LA has accordingly been attempting to dispose of him for a good portion of the season (New York and Columbus were potential destinations).

Toronto gets a forward proven in the league (even if he is looking a little chubby and dives a lot) who can pair up with Danny Dichio.  Apparently young forwards Abdus Ibrahim (17), Chad Barrett (23), Jarrod Smith (24), and Johann Smith (21) didn’t represent an immediate solution for TFC’s Director of Soccer Mo Johnston.  Although Ruiz has plenty of accolades and experience, this move seems a bit desperate for the Reds, as well as an inevitable hit to the confidence of new acquisitions Barrett and Johann Smith, who haven’t even been in Toronto for a month.  Ruiz carries a large price tag, has produced little this season, and can be an unsettling force similar to recently departed ex-TFC forward Jeff Cunningham.  Barrett, a former Generation Adidas player, and Smith, a recent arrival from Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, are both seen as rising stars in the US Soccer world.  It’s strange that the team would bring in a generously-paid player like Ruiz to take playing time away from the two of them, but Toronto is facing desperate times after slipping to a tie for last place in the Eastern Conference.

Update: Los Angeles received first and second round 2009 Supplemental Draft picks for Ruiz

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.

Edu to Rangers for $5 million?

Toronto FC and US International midfielder/Olympic central defender Maurice Edu appears set to join Scottish Premier League side Glasgow Rangers for £2.7 million (a little over $5 million). Apparently Rangers was interested in the former University of Maryland standout at the end of last year, but MLS was not ready to sell. Once Rangers approached a second time, MLS was ready to relinquish his rights. Oddly coincidental that Edu was at the top of his game at the end of last season, but he has been a bit inconsistent this year for Toronto, at times trying to do too much. Once his form became spotty, MLS listened to transfer offers. One has to wonder if the same will happen with FC Dallas forward Kenny Cooper.

To me, Edu always seemed like more of a pure central midfielder than a defensive midfielder. He is comfortable on the ball, has good pace, and passes well. He isn’t quite sure enough defensively for his role to be mainly defensive (he looked decent at center back in the Olympics, but his tackling wasn’t strong enough and he’s only 6’0, which hinders his aerial ability). It will be interesting to see how Rangers end up employing him.

As far as another top American going abroad (Canada doesn’t qualify as “abroad”), I’m conflicted. American players certainly come back from Europe with a better understanding of the training required to be top professionals, as they get much better training across the Atlantic than they ever would in the United States, and their eventual returns to MLS strengthen the quality of play in the league. However, MLS needs to be an atmosphere where top American players can reach their full potential in a domestic league, rather than one that cultivates prospects whose talents are refined abroad. As the previous generation of top Yanks returns to the U.S. (Eddie Lewis, Pat Noonan, Cory Gibbs, Josh Wolff, Kasey Keller), the newest generation continues to garner attention from abroad (Edu, Cooper, and the growing number of players who reject MLS contracts after being drafted, like Dominic Cervi and Michael Vedeira).

Kudos to Dallas for standing up and refusing to sell Cooper, it’s too bad Toronto wouldn’t do the same, but understandable that Edu, the first player chosen in the 2007 MLS Superdraft, would want to improve his game in the SPL. He’ll be a real asset to the US National Team if he can become a little more mature and consistent.