Real Salt Lake
The nice thing about age-group soccer is that another chance to make good is always right around the corner.
For the US, that means shifting focus from the failure of the U-23s to the next crop of U-20s. Or as I'll be referring to them in my head, "Luis Gil's Group."
The Real Salt Lake youngster is by far the most experienced player in Tab Ramos' squad, announced by US Soccer on Monday, which also includes three other MLSers: Jack McBean of the LA Galaxy; Jonathan Top of FC Dallas; and Victor Pineda of the Chicago Fire.
Here's the whole squad, courtesy of US soccer:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Tomas Gomez (Georgetown; Webster Groves, Mo.), Jake McGuire (Chivas USA Academy; Pomona, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (9): Christian Dean (California; East Palo Alto, Calif.), Bryan Gallego (Akron; Kinnelon, N.J.), Jordan McCrary (North Carolina; Marietta, Ga.), Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Tigres UANL; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (North Carolina; Edmund, Okla.), William Packwood (Birmingham City; Concord, Mass.), Jeffrey Payeras (LA Galaxy Academy; Hawthorne, Calif.), Derek Vogel (Pateadores; Long Beach, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Seth Casiple (California; Rocklin, Calif.), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Mikey Lopez (North Carolina; Mission, Texas), Collin Martin (D.C. United Academy; Chevy Chase, Md.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Wil Trapp (Akron; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6): Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Ethan Decker (New York Red Bulls Academy; Manahawkin, N.J.), Daniel Garcia (FC Dallas Academy; Dallas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), James Rogers (New Mexico; Salt Lake City), Jonathan Top (FC Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas)
One player not on the list? Charles Renken. The 18-year-old midfielder is still settling in with the Portland Timbers, seeing action in reserve games and regular run in practice. But apparently he's not ready for the U-20s quite yet.
Le coup d’envoi de la saison a été donné et il n’a pas fallu attendre longtemps pour assister à la première surprise : le LA Galaxy, qui n’avait plus été battu à domicile depuis le 14 novembre 2010, a mordu la poussière contre le Real Salt Lake. Buddle a ouvert la marque à moins de 20 minutes du terme, 120 secondes avant que son équipier Franklin ne marque… le premier but contre son camp de la saison. Lors d’une fin de match tonitruante, les virevoltants Morales et Espindola ont fixé les chiffres à 1-3.
Il n’a guère fallu attendre non plus pour voir le premier but de l’année, œuvre de Sébastien Le Toux à Vancouver face à Montréal. Jamais dans l’histoire de la MLS n’avait-on marqué aussi vite lors d’un match inaugural ! Forts de cette avance, les hommes de Martin Rennie ont été patients et ont porté le coup de grâce en début de deuxième mi-temps. Battu 2-0, l’Impact espérait de meilleurs débuts en MLS.
Le bonheur québécois de la semaine est donc à aller chercher chez André Hainault qui, dans les arrêts de jeu, a offert la victoire 0-1 à Houston sur le terrain de Chivas USA (décidément, le Home Depot Center était maudit ce week-end). Houston n’est jamais aussi dangereux que quand ses défenseurs montent sur des coups de pieds arrêtés. Même fin de match complètement folle à DC United, où Sapong a offert la victoire 0-1 à Kansas City après la fin du temps réglementaire.
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Last year, before the season started, I very cleverly predicted that LA would win the West, the Shield and the Cup. I predicted that Houston would win the East. And I came up with a few other good ones that panned out.
Unfortunately I made these predictions on Twitter, and 4000 posts later, I was no longer able to have my moment of glory. Not gonna make the same mistake this year.
Real Salt Lake
US Open Cup
Defender of the Year
Rookie of the Year
Coach of the Year
And the most important question... will another forward come out of the blue and rack up double-digit goals? Wondolowski and Dom Oduro have done so in the last two seasons. This year's version will be... Tommy "Disco" Heinemann.
Feel free to bookmark this and throw it in my face 9 months from now.
Cheers, and enjoy the soccer.
Who's up for a bit of punk rock fiddly-dee to go along with their footie?
If that'd be you then make your way to Crew Stadium on May 26 to catch a full, 90 minute show from Celtic punk stalwarts Flogging Molly presented by CD101 after the Columbus Crew - Chicago Fire match. VIP field access tickets will be available for purchase at www.thecrew.com/floggingmolly.
Apparently Flogging Molly drummer George Schwindt is a Columbus native and has been a Crew season-ticket holder for the last five years. This leads me to a great idea, at least in my mind, for the next All Star game: half time punk rock drum-off between him and Branden Steineckert. Loser's band has to open for the other band wearing the kits of the winner's club!
TUCSON, Ariz. – Lionel Messi. Arjen Robben. Sebastian Velasquez?
Real Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman made that lofty comparison of the Colombian-born, South Carolina-raised rookie attacker who has been impressing in preseason camp.
It’s that left-footed unpredictability that has Beckerman – and all of RSL – excited.
“He’s got that lefty whatever it is,” Beckerman said on Wednesday night. “I can’t pinpoint it but Messi has it, Arjen Robben. These lefties. Fabián [Espíndola] has it. They’re able to skin players.”
Not bad company for a guy who played junior college ball. But then again, not even Messi or Robben scored 55 goals over 33 games, like Velasquez did at tiny Spartanburg Methodist College.
What do you think? Is Velasquez the real deal?
There are some days when I wish I weren't one of the hosts of ExtraTime Radio. Usually, it's when Simon Borg -- bless his big heart -- starts making absurd declarations like, say, Clint Dempsey should sit on the bench for the USMNT.
But there are other days when, for whatever reason, I miss the show and I really, really wish I could've been there.
Yesterday's episode is one such day. I would've given anything to be there when Sporting KC's Aurelien Collin started giving Simon fashion advice. "Suspenders!" It's the only time I've ever heard Simon ask for advice. Magnifique!
Then, New York Red Bulls manager Hans Backe drops this whopper: He wants to win the US Open Cup. Considering how he shrugged off the USOC last year, that's pretty amazing.
If you haven't heard it, check it out here.
It may be I'm reading too much into this quote. I'll admit it. But did Rauwshan McKenzie just take a shot at Jason Kreis?
“This is the first time that I’ve had a defensive coach,” a smiling McKenzie said on Monday after inking a deal with Chivas USA three days earlier. “It’s easy to understand what he’s talking about and he obviously helps me because he played the position when he was playing, so it’s a bit easier than having like a forward as a coach.”
The move to Chivas makes sense - McKenzie played for Real Salt Lake in 2010 while current Goats head coach Robin Fraser was an assistant under Jason Kreis. Wait, isn't Kreis a forward?
Yes, actually. Kreis has 108 career MLS goals and was the league MVP in 1999 while with the Dallas Burn. Since then, he's made a pretty successful transition to coaching (see: MLS Cup, 2009).
Back to McKenzie, though: The 6-foot-4 center back has made exactly 11 appearances in MLS, so I think it's fair to characterize his field time as "limited." And whatever else he's done as a coach, Kreis did some of that limiting. If McKenzie harbors any bitterness about his lack of minutes, his former coach probably has a role in that.
And then we have this quote about how he's enjoying not having, like, a forward as a coach. Which is interesting in part because Kreis - yes, the forward - coached the team that set the current record for fewest goals conceded in a single season.
Game on? I hope so. There can never be too many grudges in MLS, as far as I'm concerned.
Dato curioso: cada uno de los cuatro clubes de la MLS que disputará el torneo de pretemporada Desert Diamond Cup en Tucson, Arizona tiene en sus líneas a al menos un jugador latino que no jugó en la MLS en 2011.
New England Revolution contará con John Lozano y Fernando Cárdenas, dos colombianos provenientes del América del Cali.
A su vez, los New York Red Bulls tienen a su propio colombiano en el experimentado Wilman Conde, quien ya había jugado en la MLS con Chicago Fire y regresa para alinearse con los toros de la Gran Manzana.
Por su parte, el Galaxy tiene al brasileño proveniente del Alajuelense de Costa Rica Marcelo Sarvas y al debutante mexicoamericano Rafael García.
Por último, Real Salt Lake cuenta con cuatro jóvenes latinos que participaron en el SuperDraft este año: el uruguayo Enzo Martínez, el brasilero Diogo de Almeida, el argentino Emiliano Bonfigli y el colombiano Sebastián Velásquez.
Los clubes emeleseros tendrán la oportunidad de mirar a sus jugadores en acción para tomar decisiones finales sobre quien será titular, quien será reserva y quien se ira del equipo. La pregunta es simple: ¿Quién de estos latinos tendrá el mayor brillo en Tucson?
Sebastian Velasquez didn't take a typical route to MLS. It doesn't appear that it will matter in the end.
Velasquez tweeted on Monday that he had been offered a contract with Real Salt Lake after being taken 36th overall in January's SuperDraft.
Needless to say, he was a little excited.
I Feel So Blessed!! RSL Offered Me A Contract!! Should I Sign It?? JaJaJaJaJa DUHHHHHHH :)))))))))))
— Sebastian Velasquez (@TiaN_Futbol) February 20, 2012
Another day, another video featuring Salt Lake City's most high-profile punk rock supporter, Rancid's Branden Steineckert. The chant is called "Believe" and it was written by Steineckert while the accompanying video was shot & edited by T. Issac Halsima, one of my favorite video guys working in & around MLS. In short, it is an awesome, inspiring piece of promotional footage that does exactly what it should: get viewers hyped.
So how did the chant come about? Here's the story from Steineckert.
I just finished this song/chant I wrote for the team/fans. I've been working on several, and I've got more. But this is my favorite that could be a team anthem. I wrote it to be noble, strong, intimidating sounding as if the pride within the RSL family will tear down any opponent. But yet I made sure to keep it from being in any way offensive or cater to one "type" of fan. Something tattooed, die-hard fans can sing proudly along with conservative fans, children, elderly people and anyone of any kind of background. I also kept it very simple so the words are easy to learn and memorize as well as a catchy melody to remember and catch on throughout the stadium. This is 100% original lyrics and melody I wrote, so you will never hear another club in the world sing this outside of RSL. Here are the lyrics:
IF YOU BELIEVE THEN JUST STAND UP ON YOUR FEET
AND SHOUT IT LOUD REAL!
HERE AT THE RIOT THE BATTLE HYMNS BEGUN.
WE'RE HERE FOR RSL!
Whether or not you love RSL --"Hi!" Rapids fans-- you have to love the creativity and the passion that went into this. More please.