Thursday, August 14, 2008
Back from an enjoyable playoff match between CP USA and the Harrisburg City Islanders. The length of the match (FT, ET, and then PKs) gave me plenty of time to reflect on the past couple of days.
Mbuta was, unfortunately, not terribly impressive... both he and Mark appeared to leave the match with knocks. Frankly, Crystal Palace did not deserve to win, but the performance and enthusiasm of Shin Harada, who was called on to play center back and settle a backline that had given up eight goals in the last two league fixtures, made the trip worthwhile. And after I thought that Mateus dos Anjos had a really poor game in the first match against Bermuda in Baltimore, Anjos was great at fullback tonight. A Gary Brooks header and a great Teixeira cross to Healey accounted for CP's two goals. When the match went to penalty kicks, Brian Rowland managed to get his hands on one shot during the first five but could not steer it away from the goal. Rowland seemed to be bothered by the lost opportunity, but the next time he made contact with the ball, it did not go in (pictured). Sergio Flores finished things off, stripped off his shirt and ran into the crowd of over 1,300 to celebrate. When we left UMBC, Harada was wandering around the pitch pumping his fists -- hard not to love Shin.
I was quickly distracted by the news (delivered to my blackberry) that the Cubs routed the Braves in a doubleheader 18 to 2. The Cubs are now 26 games over .500 (9 more wins will guarantee a winning season) and have scored 155 more runs than they have given up. Only the Red Sox can claim a positive differential of over 100 runs (118). Just an amazing run (and people can write all they want to about CC Sabathia's impact on the Brewers, but Cubs fans have to be savoring the addition of Rich Harden who was, again, tremendous tonight).
Next up for CP is the seemingly impossible task of taking on Charlotte this Saturday away. Charlotte dominated CP during the season, beating them 3-0 both home and away. Whatever happens, it has been an enjoyable season and I am grateful for having been able to witness it.
Tuesday night we were at RFK as United took on the second/third team of the New England Revolution (for perspective, the Rev travelled with as many players as the Bermuda Hogges). It was great to be able to give full throated cheers for United again in a fairly vacant stadium... only 6,000 there. DC United, at times, looked as worrisome as ever. Gonzalo Martinez seemed to be on the receiving end of finger pointing from Jaime Moreno and, more notably, from McTavish on New England's lone goal. Guerrero was a revelation on the wing and he has certainly proved his worth in just a short time with the team. Emilio netted twice -- his second goal can be largely credited to a great run by Fred that distracted the Revolution's center halves enough to give Luciano sufficient space to score -- and Santino popped a great ball over the Rev's keeper to give United a lead that was not relinquished. Otherwise, I thought Quaranta gave up the ball too quickly in the midfield and seemed to want to distribute the ball on attack through very narrow lanes. My sister was particularly impressed with Peralta's performance in the first game we saw him play since surgery. The man of the match, to my mind, was Bryan Namoff, who was fearless throughout the game. I don't often notice Namoff on United's backline, but last night he made expert tackles and refused to back down to a frustrated Revolution side that took numerous cheapshots.
Because the Battery took care of Seattle in the other semifinal of the US Open Cup, United will host the Open Cup final with an automatic berth to the CONCACAF Champions League in 2009 at stake. United is certainly a much better side with Guerrero and Vide on the team and with Quaranta and Peralta back from injury. The return of Gallardo will hopefully be heralded this Saturday, but it does seem that the only way that United will find itself in the Champions League next season is if they win the Open Cup in early September.
Prior to heading to RFK, I sat in my office stewing at the live updates of Charlton's disastrous aborted Carling Cup run. Yeovil should not have been able to escape the Valley with a win and I fear an inability to score goals without Andy Gray or Zheng Zhi (should he even be an option) or Chris Dickson on the pitch will be a recurring theme throughout the season. In any event, Southend's announcement that Nicky Bailey's move to SE7 would be shortly confirmed removed some of the sting of the disappointing showing at home and has me a little more optimistic for the visit to Watford this Saturday.