blog

Montreal Impact

27 June 12:09 pm

Nous sommes le 27 juin, date importante puisque c’est l’ouverture de ce qu’on appelle communément le mercato, c’est-à-dire la période de transferts de mi-saison. Dès aujourd’hui, et jusqu’au 27 juillet, les 19 équipes de MLS peuvent se renforcer avec des joueurs évoluant à l’étranger.

Certaines n’ont pas attendu avant d’annoncer l’arrivée de nouveaux éléments, mais ceux-ci ne pouvaient pas jouer en match officiel avant aujourd’hui. C’est le cas notamment de Jairo Arrieta (Columbus), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston) et Marco Di Vaio (Montréal). Philadelphie a aussi annoncé l’arrivée de l’international malien Bakary Soumare.

Quelles équipes ont selon vous besoin de renfort, et à quelle position ? Qui peut d’ores et déjà s’en servir pour préparer 2013 plutôt que pour réussir 2012 ? Quels joueurs désignés joindront les rangs de la MLS dans les prochaines semaines ?

Le premier à l’œuvre sera Di Vaio, puisque Montréal affronte Toronto dès ce soir (19h30). Une raison parmi d’autres de se déplacer au stade Saputo. Selon l’Impact, le TFC est un « ours qui dort ». Va-t-il marquer quatre buts à domicile pour une troisième fois consécutive face à un adversaire qui se cherche un leader en défense ?

Notez pour conclure que les belles histoires des équipes de divisions inférieures ont pris fin hier en Coupe des États-Unis, dont les demi-finalistes sont Philadelphie, Kansas City, Chivas USA et Seattle.

26 June 1:26 pm

Comme chaque mardi, Coup Franc passe de l’écrit à l’oral. Notre émission hebdomadaire est disponible ici. Au menu :
- Le match au sommet entre New York et DC United (résumé vidéo ; le 2-1 par Barklage). Quelles sont les forces et les faiblesses de ces équipes, leur bon classement actuel reflète-t-il leur réelle valeur ?
- La découverte de la semaine, Antoine Hoppenot, est notre invité. Voyez ici son but, le penalty qu’il a provoqué et sa première grosse occasion. Nous faisons sa connaissance, il nous parle de la cinglante victoire de Philadelphie contre Kansas City (résumé complet) et des changements apportés par John Hackworth.
- Nos choix pour le Match des étoiles (All-Star Game). N’oubliez pas de voter !
- Le tifo de Portland contre Seattle.
- Hassoun Camara, qui en est à sa deuxième saison à Montréal, connaît-il bien le Québec ?

L'émission Coup Franc est désormais aussi disponible sur iTunes.

24 June 9:41 pm

I just went 2/9 on my weekend picks. This was after going 2/6 midweek.

It’s not because I’m bad at picking games (though lord knows, I’m not good), but it’s because the parity in MLS is just that hard to get a handle on these days. This is a league where players like Branko Boskovic and Chris Rolfe come off the bench, where Danny Koevermans goes from misfiring back to deadeye, and where a nine-point week is enough to vault you back into the playoff race.

Turns out the Galaxy aren’t dead yet

Sorry, I know this is going to annoy a lot of you. It’s always fun to try to shovel dirt on the champs – doubly so when it’s a high-profile team.

But it turns out that was premature. LA just rattled off three straight wins, including two by shutout. It’s too early to say they’ve returned to their 2011 form, but it’s also clearly too late to take back all the nasty stuff we’ve said about them over the past couple of months.

One thing to bear in mind: David Beckham said it came down to being happy and loose in the locker room, and that it’s cleared up only in the past couple of weeks. So whatever it was that was eating away at LA’s commitment went away when Robbie Keane did. Will it return now that he has?

“Emergency Defender” proving a rock in Philly

Last week John Hackworth said that youngster Amobi Okugo would be playing in central defense for the time being as an emergency measure. If his first two games there are any indication, he may never get a chance to move back to the midfield.

Okugo is simply excellent when the game is being played in front of him, showing good anticipation and understanding of both when and how to play outlets to the midfield. He’s also big and strong enough (6-foot, 170 pounds) to bully around in the box when it comes down to that.

Most importantly, though, he’s just a better player when he doesn’t have to have 360 degree awareness. This isn’t unusual – d-mids tend to mature later than other players precisely because it’s such a complex position.

But Philly already have two veterans (Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gomez) for that spot, and are paper-thin in defense. And the US… well, we know all about the plethora of defensive-minded central midfielders available to Jurgen Klinsmann.

There are, however, precious few young central defenders who’ve impressed on a game-to-game basis. Okugo’s off to a good start in that regard. Let’s hope he stays there, and we see a bit of him in the red, white and blue this January.

Why not build more Gordons?

Alan Gordon didn’t just become a good soccer player overnight. He’s always had a great passing eye, a good understanding of where to be in build-up play and a willingness to stick his nose in. Even if he’s not a 90-minute player, he’s still valuable. The past two months – and past two games especially – have been proof enough of that.

The thing is, though, that Gordon (and his teammate Steven Lenhart) were built by years of practice and occasional game time. Each of them took several years to get up to speed, and now the Quakes are reaping the rewards of both LA’s and Columbus’ hard work.

Which begs the question: Why don’t more teams take on young guys like Gordon and Lenhart then groom them for that specific role? While combing through MLS rosters, the only ones I’ve seen who are really, truly doing that are Columbus (with Tom Heinemann and Aaron Schoenfeld), Houston (Cam Weaver and Colin Rolfe) and New England (Blake Brettschneider).

None of these guys are truly ready right now – though Brettschneider is close, and Heinemann would have gotten there this season if not for his injury – but in two years, all of these guys can be looked at as Gordon or Lenhart-types.

Or, if you want to go with the original model: Brian Ching-types.

So yeah, putting a guy like that – a true center forward – out there may not be what Vicente del Bosque would do. But no MLS team is going to have Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas and Busquets to call on. If you’re not Spain, chances are you’ll need a target.

I’d want my team already hard at work making one.

19 June 6:48 pm

Coup Franc prend de l’ampleur ! En plus des textes quasi quotidiens sur cette page, MLSsoccer.com vous offre désormais une émission hebdomadaire en français. Elle sera mise en ligne chaque mardi. Rendez-vous ici pour écouter la première.

En voici le menu, ainsi que quelques liens et vidéos pour en savoir plus sur les sujets abordés :
- L’inauguration du stade Saputo rénové (photos) ; le troisième but de Montréal et la passe « Brésilienne » de Patrice Bernier (vidéo)
- Notre invité André Hainault parle du match Houston - Dallas, de sa meilleure place sur le terrain, du caractère offensif des défenseurs de Houston, des conditions de jeu dans son club qui vient d’inaugurer son nouveau stade
- L’équipe nationale canadienne, avec un retour sur Canada - Honduras
- Nouvel entraîneur à Toronto et à Philadelphie : est-ce que le choc psychologique fonctionne vraiment ? (Articles 1 et 2 sur des études menées à ce sujet)

 N’hésitez évidemment pas à réagir et à nous envoyer vos commentaires, vos suggestions et vos questions !

16 June 9:59 pm

Montréal inaugurait ce samedi soir la version 2.0 du stade Saputo, et la fête fut accompagnée d’une victoire 4-1 contre Seattle aux relents sud-américains.

L’ouverture du score était signée par le Brésilien Felipe, bien servi par Bernier. Ce dernier a donné la passe du 2-0 à Justin Mapp, mais c’est vraiment le buteur qui a fait tout le travail, en slalomant dans l’arrière-garde visiteuse (de loin ça pouvait sembler « Maradonesque » mais la défense adverse l’a laissé passer comme dans du beurre).

Bernier a ensuite joué les Brésiliens en enchaînant deux contrôles majestueux afin de lancer Wenger vers le troisième but. Et Neagle a complété la soirée d’un autre effort individuel victorieux. On attendait les Rosales et autre Montero, mais ce sont bien les Montréalais qui ont enflammé la foule.

Les 17112 supporters qui se sont déplacés ne s’y sont pas trompés et ont pu admirer une équipe à la hauteur du « nouveau » stade dont Seattle est reparti avec 4 buts dans les valises, autant que lors de tous ses déplacements depuis le début de la saison. Les supporters de l’Impact attendent déjà le prochain match à domicile avec impatience !

14 June 6:05 pm

Italy is embroiled in another soccer scandal, and Impact striker Bernardo Corradi has no sympathy for any player found guilty of the ultimate sin: match-fixing.

ExtraTime Radio was in Montreal on Thursday to talk to the Impact about the opening match at Stade Saputo, and the guys passed along Corradi's answer to a question about his thoughts on punishment for those who sully the game via match-fixing. The veteran striker certainly didn't hold back during a scrum with local reporters.

“I have my idea on this situation: I think that if someone bets on his matches, he has to be banned, and not just for 10 months or 12 months," Corradi told reporters. "For me, he cannot play soccer anymore. If you are lucky enough to be a soccer player and you earn money, and you train. … I think a lot of guys would like to play soccer for a job. You’re lucky when you’re doing this, and if you waste everything by betting on your games, you have to be punished. That’s my way of thinking.”

It's certainly black and white for Corradi, although it must be mentioned that new Impact signing Marco Di Vaio is scheduled to return to Italy in the coming weeks to testify in the probe.

11 June 11:52 am

Un deuxième joueur désigné rejoindra-t-il bientôt Marco Di Vaio à Montréal ? Une pluie de noms, souvent très célèbres, peuplent en tout cas les médias, le web et les réseaux sociaux.

Le club suit la piste Clarence Seedorf : Nick De Santis a déclaré qu’ils avaient parlé argent mais qu’aucune offre concrète n’avait été soumise. Le Néerlandais est aussi sérieusement convoité par Botafogo et Tottenham. En Allemagne, on reparle des diverses options en MLS de Michael Ballack, citant Montréal comme premier choix. Andrei Shevchenko aurait de son côté refusé une offre de l'Impact.

À moins que tout ce monde ne soit coiffé par un gardien ? Donovan Ricketts s’est blessé et le gardien de Saint-Étienne,  Jérémie Janot, est à Montréal en ce moment. Une visite à son ami Youssef Dahha, entraîneur des gardiens chez les jeunes de l’Impact. Mais Janot semble prendre la direction de Lens. Et pendant que le club refroidissait la piste Del Piero, certains voyaient Nick De Santis et Alessandro Nesta se promener au centre-ville.

Mais la véritable vedette québécoise des derniers jours, c’est Olivier Occean, qui a marqué le but de la victoire du Canada 0-1 à Cuba : trois points précieux avant de recevoir le Honduras, en quête de revanche après sa défaite 0-2 face au Panama. 

29 May 3:16 pm

Total Points – Dwayne De Rosario (89)

With Thierry Henry missing several weeks due to a hamstring injury, DeRo has taken over as the No. 1 player in Fantasy Soccer: Manager.  He’s had a weeks of 10, 15 and 20 points, and his most recent point output was the most by a single player thus far in 2012.  DeRo has 20+ more points than the next closest midfielder, making him a legitimate threat every week and a player you can build your team around.

Percentage Owned – Jay DeMerit (35.3)

DeMerit has been the most widely selected player in FS: M the entire season. Thirty-five percent of all managers currently have him on their roster. The second-closest player is Kenny Cooper (28 percent). At one point, DeMerit had the highest score of any defender, but lately he’s been slipping. D.C. United players Daniel Woolard and Brandon McDonald, Aurélien Colin, and even teammate Lee Young-Pyo have since leapfrogged DeMerit, so only time will tell if it’s his worldwide fame or his actual production that makes him the most “popular” player in MLS.

Crosses & Key Passes – Graham Zusi (33) & (34)

Zusi has calmed down slightly after a fast start, but his 33 crosses are still seven better than the next closest player. Three successful crosses equals one bonus point, so Zusi could’ve potentially gained an additional 11 points for his efforts thus far. He also leads the league in Key Passes (34) and has seven more than the next closest player in this category as well. Zusi should continue to be one of the most coveted midfielders due to his time on the ball and SKC’s all-out attack style offense.

Big Chances Fluffed – Dominic Oduro (7)

One of the fastest – if not the fastest – players in MLS has been a huge bust in 2012. In the four games in which Oduro has scored, he’s tallied six or more points each time. However, in every other game this season (eight games) he’s managed just two points or less. In his last seven games he’s put up one point or less on six different occasions. Oduro is getting great looks, but he’s missing every single one of them. He leads all players in BCFs and has been deducted seven points total because of it. At this point, he’s more of a risk than anything.

CBI’s – A.J. Soares (123)

My initial pick for Defender of the Year is not having a sophomore slump by any means. His 123 CBIs (clearances, blocks and interceptions combined) leads all players and he’ll likely widen the gap with two games coming up in Week 13. Only three other players have more than 100 CBIs and none of them will be under more pressure than Soares should the rest of the season. He’s an absolute ball shark, but has never really been a threat on set pieces. One can only hope that his recent goal will encourage Jay Heaps to push him up more often.

Recoveries – Osvaldo Alonso (136)

Disregarding goalkeepers, there’s a tight battle for the title of “the best second-ball winner” in MLS. Alonso currently leads Dax McCarty (133) by only three recoveries, but that’s pretty much his only competition. Kyle Beckerman has the third most with 100, and it looks as if his absence due to national team duty will only widen the margin. Alonso has gained 19 bonus points already from recoveries so expect him to keep this all season long.

Transfers In – Nick DeLeon (3,800+)

When David Estrada (3,500+ transfers) started cooling down, DeLeon became all the talk. The D.C. United rookie is currently the most added player with over 3,800 transfers. His value started at $5.5m and quickly made its way to $6.8m. Now that he’s back from injury don’t expect him to return to his previous form. When DeLeon was clicking, DeRo and Salihi were in a slump. Now that they’re back in form, expect DeLeon to take a back seat. He’s still valuable, but not as much as he was back in April.

Dream Team – Kenny Cooper (4)

No one has made the “Dream Team” more times this season than Kenny Cooper, but you have to credit Thierry Henry with helping him reach this point. Coop-dog has scored six or more points on nine different occasions in 2012, making him one of the most consistent forwards in MLS. He continued to put up numbers even when Henry was out, so look for him to only get better now that he’s returned.

25 May 7:55 pm

You have an iPhone. You use it all the time. You sing songs to it. You need it. You love it. Maybe a little too much.

Maybe you sleep with it under your pillow. Maybe you grouse to it about your boss. Maybe you tell it about that one time in college when you... well, that's between you and Siri. Because Siri understands.

Siri also understands updates. She loves 'em. And we love 'em, too.

So here's the MLS iOS app update, which was just approved in the store.

CLICK ME!

Key new features:

  • Condensed games for MLS live subscribers
  • Enhanced highlight ui
  • New live ui
  • Bug fixes

Oh, and Android users? Your update is coming. Be patient.

 

Sent from my flip phone.

22 May 12:28 pm

Somehow, Didier Drogba played in London for nearly a decade and managed to remain underrated. How that's possible I have no idea — the English press (which drives discussion about players in more than just the English-speaking soccer world) is famous for overinflating the value of guys who play in the Premiership.

So it's kind of remarkable that Drogba spent the last eight seasons as the best player for one of the EPL's two best clubs, yet was almost never regarded as such.

Now reports (including one with what is purportedly a direct quote from Drogba himself) say he's leaving Chelsea. And, of course, he's doing so on top, having led the Blues to their first ever Champions League title:

Most analysts see him landing in China with former teammate and current BFF Nicolas Anelka, but surely more than a few MLS clubs must be interested, right? Given Drogba's form, stature and ability to put the ball in the net, he'd seem to make an ideal DP.

Montreal looks like a natural landing spot, since it'd be a big boost to add a Francophone star. But another team that should at least pick up the phone is Chicago. The Fire have shown they're not nearly as far along as they looked at the end of 2011, and could use a true target man to lead the forward line.

Drogba is nothing if not that. Even if it did take the English press far, far too long to notice.