Soccer By Ives Archives for January 2007

Nice war of words between Benitez and Mourinho

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Those of you pumped up about Wednesday's Champions League semifinal between Chelsea and Liverpool will surely get a kick out of the growing war of words between Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

Benitez even took a shot at Chelsea fans after Mourinho did the same to Liverpool fans:

"At Stamford Bridge, we showed that our supporters won their battle, even though Chelsea had their fans all with flags to wave," Benitez said.

Does anyone still miss Amado Guevara?

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When Amado Guevara was traded to Chivas USA for a designated player slot there were plenty of angry Red Bulls fans who couldn't understand why the team would unload its best player.

As if the team's 3-0-1 start weren't already evidence enough of why the move was a smart one, we get a very telling incident involving Guevara in Chivas USA's 3-0 loss to the Galaxy on Saturday night.

FIFA reveals USA as potential emergency host for World Cup 2010

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For the first time in recent memory FIFA president Sepp Blatter entertained the possibility that South Africa might not be ready to host the 2010 World Cup. Blatter didn't say the African nation won't be ready but he did reveal that several countries, including the United States, are ready to step in if anything goes wrong with the current host country.

Monday Morning Centerback

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Good morning all. It is the last day in April and guess who is A) unbeaten and B) who has yet to register a point in MLS?

If you answered the Red Bulls and Columbus Crew for A then you are right. If you answered D.C. United and Toronto FC to B then you are also right

While the Red Bulls' unbeaten and unscored upon start is thoroughly impressive it is the Crew's truly surprising 1-0-3 start that has me thinking that the East just might have five playoff teams this year

For those of you who didn't notice MLS changed its playoff guidelines to allow for the possibility that the fifth-best team in one conference could replace the fourth place team of another conference in the opposing conference playoffs if the fifth-place team has a better record.

My latest ESPN column

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Here is some more light reading on the Red Bulls. As much as I don't like writing about the Red Bulls on ESPN.com too much how can you not given their start? You can rest assured that I will stay away from the Red Bulls on ESPN.com for a good while (that roar you hear is cheering from fans from DC to Boston).

Also in that column are this week's game previews.

This weekend's soccer TV schedule

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Hello all. Sorry I haven't posted the weekend soccer TV schedule the past few weeks but it seems like something crazy is always happening on Friday. I will try to make sure that this schedule is posted every Friday afternoon so you can plan your weekend accordingly.

Here are the games. It is all European expect for an MLS match that should be entertaining (Chivas USA vs.

Decisons galore for Bruce Arena

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You're Bruce Arena and you must figure out your starting 11 for the Red Bulls with Juan Pablo Angel having a work permit, Markus Schopp healthy and Clint Mathis NOT suspended. Who do you start?

Here's my starting 11:

-----Angel----Altidore-----

VDB-----------------Richards

------Reyna---Kovalenko

Dunivant--------------Freeman

---------Parke-Mendes------

----------Waterreus---------

Mathis, Stammler and Schopp are on the bench.

Red Bulls 1, FC Dallas 0

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Hunter Freeman continues his stellar run since taking over for Marvell Wynne at right back by blasting home a game-winning goal to give the Red Bulls a 1-0 victory. The goal was actually the first of Freeman's MLS career.

Yes, it's the best start in franchise history and it is getting tougher and tougher to ignore this start.

My game balls go to Freeman, obviously, Dema Kovalenko and pretty much the entire back-line.

Red Bulls 0, FC Dallas 0 at halftime

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The Red Bulls defense is just plain smothering FC Dallas and creating some chances along the way in a pretty tight match.

Carlos Ruiz is favoring a tender hamstring, which basically means I look like a genius for making him my captain in SBI MLS Fantasy soccer.

Jozy Altidore is looking dangerous yet again and I think it's just a matter of time before he gets a cross he can work with.

Your Questions Answered

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Hello folks. It took a little while but I have finally finished answering your questions. I will be looking to put a cap on the next Q&A so I can get it done sooner so keep that in mind then next time I do one so you can get your questions in quickly.

Here they are, your questions answered:

TIM- 1. Could the Red Bulls have traded Taylor Graham or Mike Magee instead of Marvell Wynne or did the Red Bulls have to offload Wynne's salary to remain under the cap with the signing of Juan Pablo Angel?

Champions League semifinal: Liverpool at Chelsea

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We're almost at kickoff at Stamford Bridge and I have to say that I think Liverpool will steal the win on the road. No Essien and no Ballack is going to make things tough for Chelsea. Yes, Joe Cole has looked good lately, and Makelele is still there, but Liverpool turns it on for Champions League matches and has been playing very well lately in all competitions.

Ireland vs. Ecuador at Giants Stadium

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The Irish national team and Ecuadorian national team will meet in a friendly at Giants Stadium on Wednesday, May 23rd at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the match go on sale on April 28th.

MLS cracks the whip

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Suspensions were handed down today following some incidents from the past weekend's MLS matches. The league suspended Columbus forward Andy Herron for four games for his intentional elbow on Revs defender Jay Heaps and suspended Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan for two games for his harsh tackle on Real Salt Lake midfielder Andy Williams.

Were the suspensions fair?

Wednesday it is

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Good morning folks. I'll be heading to Red Bulls practice in an hour or so and wanted to give you a heads up on a few things:

First, the Q&A will be posted tomorrow morning. I have already begun answering questions but figured it would be best to post it all at once than in pieces. We hit a new high for questions and I seriously need to consider capping them after a certain number because I always wind up needing to take longer to answer them because more questions come every time.

Red Bull practice notes (Angel's arrival)

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Well, Juan Pablo Angel's public arrival to the Red Bulls was pretty boring actually. Except for a handful of fans and a small horde of Spanish media the event was rather tame.

No word yet on his visa. One promising development was word that Angel would not be returning to England after receiving his work permit. He is in the USA to stay for a while now.

Champions League semifinals

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Manchester United plays host to AC Milan today in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal clash on ESPN2 (2:30pm). Man U must try to defeat the Italians with more than half its starting lineup out injured. Anyone expecting another blowout ala the Roma quarterfinal has another thing coming.

Who do you think wins? I think Man U holds for a draw.

Angel will NOT be training with Red Bulls this week

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Bad news for you Red Bulls and Juan Pablo Angel fans who planned on going out to Montclair State tomorrow. According to the team, Angel cannot train with the club in a formal setting until he has his work visa. He will be with the team at training but will not actually train. So unless you want to go to practice to watch Angel do some stretching and jogging you might want to change your plans if you intended to go to the practice.

U.S. national team to face Sweden in August

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The U.S. men' national team will travel to Goteborg, Sweden to face the Swedish national team on Wednesday, Aug. 22nd. It will be the team's first trip to Europe of the year and will be, for now, the first U.S. match following Copa America.

The U.S. team's next match is June 2nd against China in San Jose, California before the team begins defense of its Gold Cup title.

Dane Richards not on the Red Bulls injury report

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The knee injury suffered by Dane Richards in Saturday's 1-0 win against Houston will not be an issue for the speedy Jamaican winger. Team sources say he won't be on the injury report and is good to go against FC Dallas on Thursday.

The only addition to the injury report is French midfielder Elie Ikangu, who suffered a seperated left shoulder in the Baby Bulls 2-0 reserve team victory against Houston.

Altidore, U.S. Under-20s to play Argentina

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Jozy Altidore will look to carry over his club heroics to the youth national team stage when the U.S. Under-20 national team faces Argentina in a friendly at PAETEC Park in Rochester, New York on May 15th.

The friendly will serve as part of the U.S. team's preparations for this summer's Under-20 World Cup in Canada.

Here is the roster U.

From Mr. Wrong to Nostradamus

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As most of you know, I don't exactly hide from the fact that my MLS game predictions on ESPN.com have never been reliable. It has become a running joke around the league, with a few coaches commenting on how they hope I pick them to lose. I don't mind it because I know I've earned that.

At least for one weekend though, the picks went my way in uncanny fashion.

Your chance to see Juan Pablo Angel

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If you are eager to see newly-acquired Colombian forward Juan Pablo Angel train with the Red Bulls and you have Tuesday morning free then you can make your way to the campus of Montclair State University where the Red Bulls will be practicing from 10:30am to noon.

The club isn't publicly promoting the practice session but since the practice is being held in the middle of a public university's campus it would be tough to keep enterprising fans from going and watching.

SBI Fantasy MLS League (Week 3 Results)

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Congrats to the Jeffrey Bitterling, owner of the Western Sky Rockets, for knocking me from the perch atop the SBI League standings and taking over first place by seven points. As disappointing as that was, there is some consolation in moving into the top 10 overall in the entire MLS Fantasy game (Atletico SBI is now 10th overall).

The Taurine Machine is right on our tails, just 11 points behind me.

Juan Pablo Angel is here

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Colombian international and newly-signed Red Bulls forward Juan Pablo Angel has arrived in New Jersey, getting here late Sunday night. He has not received his work visa yet but can train with the Red Bulls and is training with the team today. It is still unclear when he will receive the visa and cannot play until he receives it. As it stands he cannot play in Thursday's game against FC Dallas but he will train with the team all week.

The first place Red Bulls (sounds strange doesn't it?)

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Hello folks, it is the day after the Red Bulls 1-0 win against Houston and I must say it is a weird feeling to be covering this team now that it is slowly building a reputation as one of the league's best. I would try tempering the enthusiasm by pointing out that the 1999 MetroStars began the year 3-1 but I'm sure most you realize that this year's club is significantly better than that nightmare of a squad.

Red Bulls beat Dynamo 1-0

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A man down against the defending champions and the Red Bulls find a way to win. Jozy Altidore's goal was a thing of beauty and you have to start taking the team seriously as a title contender.

Here are some observations and highlights from tonight's match:

Jozy Altidore was beaten up so badly by the Dynamo defense that I thought his mother was going to call DYFS.

Clint's missed penalty

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For those of you who don't recall Clint Mathis' last penalty kick at Giants Stadium you should know that he missed that one too, in a scoreless draw against Dallas. I'm sure at least a few Red Bulls fans muttered "Amado would have made that one."

It should also be noted that the Red Bulls missed both penalty kicks it took at the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, with Claudio Reyna and Dave Van Den Bergh both missing kicks.

SBI's MLS picks of the week

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Not a great week for picks last week, as a 2-3-1 record isn't paying anyone's mortgage. Let's face it, the only way I'm making money with my MLS picks is if I start extorting MLS coaches under threat of picking their teams to win.

I'll keep it going though, under the deluded hope of posting a winning mark at the end of the year. At 6-5-1 for the year I'm at least doing better on SBI than on ESPN.

A beautiful day for a game

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So I just came from Giants Stadium, where I had to run an errand, and man is it beautiful out. I was impressed to see some families and groups already tailgating at 1:45pm. That's pretty early, NFL-like even. Now the lots weren't full or anything (unless you count the flea market in the southwest parking area) but it was still good to see people on the property for an MLS game some six hours before kickoff.

The Red Bulls, Ted Niziolek and the absurd rules of MLS

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Sorry for the lack of posts today but it till all day to get the blog fixed and I was pretty much wiped out after writing the stories I had to write and waiting for it to get fixed. Apologies for the lack of posts and for making you wait. I needed a break and just watched Mariano Rivera implode vs. the Red Sox.

Here is the interesting development regarding someone I wrote about recently.

Bruce Arena's line of the day

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Some of you don't get to hear enough of Bruce Arena's sense of humor so I figured I can give you some insight into it. I will try to pass along some of the better gems he delivers. Today's was pretty good. When asked if Ronald Waterreus would be able to handle the weather this weekend, Arena came through with a beauty:

"He'll probably get heat stroke," Arena said of Waterreus.

The Red Bulls' lineup vs. Houston

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Hello folks, I just got back from the stadium and man is it beautiful out. here's hoping it's anywhere close to this nice tomorrow night.

Claudio Reyna trained and is ready to go. He says he is fully recovered from the left leg contusion that kept him out of last week's game.I know there was some question about him playing Saturday but he has trained since Tuesday.

Messi's amazing goal

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If you still haven't seen Lionel Messi's jaw-dropping goal against Getafe on Wednesday, here it is.

Wow, what more can you say?

SBI Fantasy MLS League (Week 3)

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This is it. My last chance to enjoy first place in the SBI Fantasy MLS League. I just have that feeling that I'm going to plummet down the standings. Too many good owners are closing in.

But there is hope. If New England can dispose of the Columbus Crew and have Taylor Twellman score some goals in the process then I just might be able to hold on to the lead.

Richard Mulrooney heading to Houston

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Toronto FC is keeping busy. Just a day after dealing for former No. 1 overall pick Marvell Wynne, Mo Johnston's club has made another big deal. According to league sources, TFC has dealt disgruntled defensive midfielder Richard Mulrooney to the Houston Dynamo for defender Kevin Goldthwaite and Houston's first round pick in 2008.

The deal comes on the same day that Toronto FC announced the signing of English striker Danny Dichio, giving the team about six strikers.

Markus Schopp has sports hernia surgery

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Austrian winger Markus Schopp underwent successful sports hernia surgery in Germany on Tuesday and is expected to miss two to four weeks. He has yet to play for the Red Bulls this season.

His absence means Bruce Arena will have some more time before having to make some pretty tough decisions regarding his starting lineup.

The news of the surgery also means that the Red Bulls have reached the 12 hernia surgery bonus mark and is now eligible for a free surgery and toaster from German surgeon Dr.

It is Q&A Time

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Yes, it has been a while, in part because it took me so long to finish the last one, but the Q&A is back. I promise not to take as long on this one as I did the last one. Now that I'm into the flow of the MLS season I'm ready to listen to some new questions.

You know the drill. Post your questions at the bottom of this post and please try to keep your questions to two or three tops.

Shalrie Joseph ponders holdout

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The bad situation in New England between the Revs and star midfielder Shalrie Joseph just got worse. The Soccer New England website reported on Tuesday that Joseph is considering holding out over his contract dispute with the Revs.

This was bound to happen. Since Joseph's contract talks with New England fell apart and the former Revs captain asked to be traded, not only hasn't his request been granted but the Revs added goalkeeper Matt Reis to the list of players signed to new contracts.

My take on the Wynne trade

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Did the Red Bulls give up on Wynne too soon? Did the club get enough for a player chosen No. 1 overall just a year ago? Is Hunter Freeman really the answer at right back?

There are plenty of questions following the Marvell Wynne trade but what needs to be remembered before anything else is the fact that Wynne was far from the finished product and there was never going to be a guarantee that he would develop into the next great (or first great) American right back.

Your Questions Answered (The Lost Questions)

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Marvell Wynne traded to Toronto FC

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Just four days after being benched for the first time since taking over as the Red Bull starting right back last July, Marvell Wynne has played his last game for the club that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 MLS Draft.

The Red Bulls have traded Wynne to the Toronto FC for an undisclosed package of draft picks, multiple sources within MLS confirmed on Tuesday.

Who would you start?

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The Red Bulls have just added Juan Pablo Angel to an already deep roster. You're Bruce Arena, who do you start?

We'll give you the whistle and let you play the role of Arena. No, you don't have to drink the 20 cans of Red Bull Arena knocks off daily, but you do have to pick a starting 11.

Let's hear them, give us your best starting XI possible.

Juan Pablo Angel will sport No. 9

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Get your orders in.

Introducing Juan Pablo Angel

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Angel it is

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I'm at Red Bulls headquarters in Secaucus and we have just been shown photos of Mr. Juan Pablo Angel sporting the Red Bulls uniform.

SBI Fantasy MLS League Week 2 Results

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This fantasy thing is starting to get to me.

For those of you who don't know I am a pretty serious fantasy sports nut, specifically fantasy football and baseball. I never did fantasy MLS because I was always so busy around the time people set up leagues and teams. Thanks to some enterprising SBI readers the SBI Fantasy MLS League was created and I had to invest myself into an MLS league for the first time.

Angel on the way

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The Red Bulls long and arduous search for a high-profile forward has finally come to an end. The well-publicized courtship of Juan Pablo Angel succeeded as the Red Bulls landed the Aston Villa striker. The team will hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to announce the move.

As for when he actually arrives, I have heard that he could potentially be here in time for Saturday's game, but that sounds pretty fast considering the visa issues that usually await these types of deals.

Monday Morning Center Back

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What is going on in Major League Soccer? DC United doesn't have a single point, the LA Galaxy still don't have a win, the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake have yet to lose and Eddie Johnson is scoring and setting up goals. Is this Bizarro World MLS?

Yes, it's just two weeks into the 2007 season but you have to admit that things are pretty interesting thanks to some surprising results.

Waiting on an Angel

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It is 10 a.m. and there is still no official word on the transfer of Juan Pablo Angel from Aston Villa to the Red Bulls. Sources have told me that the deal is done and a press conference was planned for Tuesday but the team hasn't said a peep and I'm starting to wonder if they missed the transfer deadline. You would think that a deal this big (in MLS terms) couldn't be botched by a missed deadline.

The Red Bulls lineup vs. FC Dallas

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Sorry for posting this so late but I had to step away for a while (and heighten the suspense). For those of you not already asleep, or boozing, here is the lineup Bruce Arena is likely to put on the field. I have this lineup on good authority and the one wild card is Claudio Reyna, who is now a game-time decision. He will undergo a fitness test to determine if he plays.

Steady Rain but no crazy wind

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Those of you wondering what the weather is like at Giants Stadium I can tell you that there is a steady downpour right now but no super-strong winds that would turn today's Red Bulls game into a farce, at least not yet. I'll keep you posted on how things go.

Red Bulls lineup

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Here it is, today's starting lineup. Yes, it looks familiar:

------------Altidore-------Mathis-----------

Van Den Bergh---------------------Richards

------------Stammler---Kovalenko---------

Dunivant----------------------------Freeman

---------------Mendes--Parke----------------

------------------Waterreus-------------------

The rain is just pelting the field and I doubt we'll see a pass on the ground go further than three yards.

Halftime notes from Red Bull vs. FC Dallas

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Mathis' goal was his first for the club since a two-goal game vs. KC on Sept. 6, 2003. It was his first goal at Giants Stadium since July 2nd, 2003, when he scored two goals in a 4-4 tie against San Jose.

For those of you wondering, the club formerly known as the MetroStars is 20-0-4 in games that Mathis scores a goal.

Waterreus came out at halftime due to illness.

Red Bulls smoke FC Dallas 3-0

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I'm in the process of writing stories and won't be able to drop the heavy posting until later tonight but I had to throw something up.

What a showing from Clint Mathis, who drank from the Fountain of 2000 and smoked his favorite victims one more time. Listen to these career stats for Mathis:

In 30 career games against FC Dallas, that's matches for all his past teams, Mathis has scored 19 goals to go with seven assists against FC Dallas.

Red Bulls lineup will be an interesting one tomorrow

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Assuming the game isn't cancelled because of the expected monsoon that's going to hit the area, the Red Bulls match with FC Dallas should be pretty interesting. Bruce Arena is ready to do some lineup tinkering and the result may surprise some of you.

If you think you know what the starting 11 is going to be tomorrow then post your suggestion in the comments section of this post.

My MLS picks this week

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Not a bad first week for yours truly, a 4-2 mark helped out by Colorado's good showing and Chicago's handling of a short-handed New England squad. I faired much better than I did in my ESPN picks (1-2-3).

If you're wondering where 1-2-3 came from I am now giving myself ties for matches that end in ties where I picked a winner. A math professor pointed out to me that with three different outcomes for each match that a percentage of .

Good story on the plight of the developmental players in MLS

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The plight of the Developmental Player has become the topic du jour this week and Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch comes through with a brilliant piece illustrating just what it is these players have to deal with.

I'm sure some Crew fans will praise Moss for his sacrifices (and deservedly so) but that story certainly shouldn't be used to criticize Teddy Niziolek's decision not to do the same.

Zidane to the Galaxy? About as likely as an Alexi Lalas vow of silence

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The MLS rumor du jour has brought back a popular target, Mr. head butt himself, Zinedine Zidane. A couple of reports out of Europe quoted AEG president Tim Lieweke as saying that the LA Galaxy have made an offer for Zinedine Zidane.

Things have a way of getting twisted when foreign press reports get translated. What I found funny was one translation that quoted Lieweke has saying he spoke to Zidane's entourage.

Claudio's bruised leg

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There has been a bit of confusion on what exactly happened to Claudio Reyna when he collided with Dane Richards during the Red Bulls' 0-0 tie with Columbus. Here is the rundown from Red Bull head trainer Rick Guter.

When Dane Richards ran into Reyna he ran into him knee first, driving his knee at full speed into Reyna's leg. The impact hit Reyna in the area where the thigh and hamstring intersect on the rear side of the left leg.

Bruce Arena stays mum on potential signings

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Just came from Red Bulls practice and as expected, Bruce Arena had nothing to say about the club's search for players to sign before Sunday's MLS transfer window closes. One interesting comment he made was that we should remember that Sunday's deadline is just for players outside of MLS and that trading within MLS is still an option.

Like all of you, I'm waiting for word on what the Red Bulls will do as far as buying a player.

The Red Bulls and the MLS Transfer Deadline

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April 15th is almost here and the Red Bulls are still trying to land a forward with its second designated player slot. Reports out of England have the club in the final stages of a deal with Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel but that deal is in jeopardy unless Aston Villa and the Red Bulls can agree on a transfer fee. The sides have been far apart on a fee, a source close to the team put the gap at close to a $1 million.

More on the Niziolek situation

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Who knew that a story about a fourth-round supplemental draft pick could cause such a stir?

Before I delve any further into this Teddy Niziolek story I need to clarify something. Niziolek's rights will remain the property of the Columbus Crew through December of 2008, so Niziolek would actually have to wait until the 2009 season to be a free agent in MLS.

FC Dallas at LA Galaxy a half hour away

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The first installment of ESPN2's Thursday Night MLS series kicks off tonight with FC Dallas traveling to Home Depot Center to face the Galaxy. Both teams are coming in off season-opening draws.

Who do I like in this game? I see the Galaxy winning a 1-0 or 2-1 result. I have already stated my lack of confidence in FC Dallas having a strong season.

Crew and Red Bulls in stalemate over Seton Hall midfielder/defender

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The Columbus Crew and Red Bulls are at it again (or should I say the Crew are at it again). The Red Bulls are trying to trade with Columbus for the rights to Clifton grad and former Seton Hall standout Teddy Niziolek but apparently the Crew is asking for significantly more than market value for a player they selected in the fourth round of the supplemental draft back in January (I know, hard to believe, but it's true).

Today's Red Bull goal scorers

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Josmer Altidore, Dane Richards, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (2), Jerrod Laventure

Yes, that's Sinisa with the brace. I must say, given how good Richards has looked and the promise Ubi has shown it's not looking like too bad a draft for Mr. Arena considering the team had no first-round pick.

Red Bulls down Seton Hall 5-2 in scrimmage (Notes from practice)

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Went to Red Bulls practice today and it turns out the club scrimmaged Seton Hall. They put five goals on the college kids (I'll find out who scored, I missed most of the scrimmage after being told it was starting later than it did). I'll try to find out who scored for RB (Jerrod Laventure scored against his alma mater).

Reyna didn't play, which shouldn't be a surprise.

Tuesday's Red Bulls articles

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Sorry for the lack of posts today but I am taking a long-awaited day off (actually I'm devising a plan to continue my dominance of the SBI fantasy league, just kidding).

Here are two stories I wrote today in the Herald News, one a notebook on Jozy Altidore and the second a column on the Red Bulls situation at forward.

For those of you wondering, yes I do believe it is time for Clint Mathis to get a start.

Columbus set to raise the stakes

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The Columbus Crew's long-rumored move for Boca Juniors star Guillermo Barros Schelotto appears ready to happen, as reports begin to surface with more details on the matter. If the deal gets done then the Crew will have taken a major step toward leaving the Eastern Conference cellar.

It will also put some pressure on the Wizards and Revolution, who have yet to use their designated player slots, as well as the Red Bulls, who have a second DP slot collecting dust.

Carrick scores: Man U 1, Roma 0 (11th minute)

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Carrick with a sweet long-range toe-poke shot that left Roma's keeper flat-footed. The goal makes the aggregate score 2-2 with Man U leading on away goals. Things are about to get real interesting.

Alan Smith scores: Man U 2, Roma 0

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Wow, Man U just ripped Roma's defense to shreds with a nice sequence capped by a perfect finish by Alan Smith. Roma's defense looks a mess. Aggregate score is now 3-2 Man U.

Rooney scores: Man U 3, Roma 0 (19th minute)

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Roma is having a complete shocker. Man U puts together another precise attack that slices through Roma as Giggs sends in a cross to Rooney, who taps in an easy one from close range. Man U lead 3-0 and 4-2 on aggregate. Roma needs two goals to win the series. They need to stop the bleeding before they can even thinking about scoring.

Ronaldo scores: Man U 4, Roma 0 (44th minute)

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Christiano Ronaldo abuses Roma's defense and scores Man U's fourth goal of the day. This one is over and we've just reached half-time. Man U 4, Roma 0 (ManU 5, Roma 2 on aggregate). I doubt we'll be seeing a Liverpool-like comeback here.

Champions League TV Schedule

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It's time for the quarterfinal second legs of the UEFA Champions League and we are going to have some real barn-burners. Here is the TV schedule:

TUESDAY

2:30PM- ESPN2- Roma at Manchester United

9pm- ESPN Classic- Chelsea at Valencia (tape delay)

WEDNESDAY

2:30PM- ESPN2- AC Milan at Bayern Munich

9PM- ESPN Classic- PSV Eindhoven at Liverpool (tape delay)

So what do I see happening?

Monday Morning Centerback

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Good morning folks. I made it back from Columbus in one piece and can say that it was a pretty interesting weekend in MLS action. Here are some thoughts from the weekend:

Is Troy Perkins being exposed? There is no taking away the fact that he had a great year in 2006, and he had a strong showing in US national team camp, but did too much success come too fast?

Some more questions answered

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SBI Fantasy MLS League Week One

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The first week of the SBI Fantasy MLS League is in the books and no, it's not a misprint. Yours truly finished in first place in the league of 252 teams. Even scarier is the fact that I finished in third place overall among all leagues, a single point out of first place. Not bad at all considering I was just hoping to finish in the top 100 in the SBI league.

A tale of two Claudios

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If you're wondering how it is Claudio Reyna could look so dominant in the first half and so average in the second half, it had to do with that nasty collision he had in the first half with Dane Richards. Apparently that car crash left Reyna with a bruise on his left thigh so bad that Reyna practically limped from the shower to his locker room after the match.

Half-time Observations

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Just some observations from the first 45 minutes tonight:

Claudio Reyna is that good. Even the Reyna haters have to admit that he plays on another skill level.

Marvell Wynne isn't having the best game. He's not getting beaten but whenever he gets the ball it is a turnover waiting to happen.

Dane Richards is torching Rusty Pierce but in all fairness Pierce probably wouldn't start for any other team in MLS.

Starting lineups

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Here's the Red Bulls starting lineup. No surprises:

--------------------Wolyniec---------Altidore-----------------

Van Den Bergh---------------------------------------Richards

-----------------------Reyna-------Kovalenko----------------

Dunivant---------------------------------------------Wynne

----------------------Mendes-------Stammler----------------

----------------------------Waterreus------------------------

Here's the Crew starting lineup:

---------------Garey--------------Herron-----------------

Gaven--------------------------------------------Ngwenya

-----------------Grabavoy-------O'Rourke---------------

Pierce-----------------------------------------Hejduk

----------------Hendrickson------Gonzalez------------

-----------------------Greunebaum---------------------

The Red Bulls have Conway, Mathis, Vide, Parke, Freeman, Caccavale and Ubiparipovic on the bench for this match.

Van Den Bergh the Brave

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Anyone looking for a Red Bulls player to root for, midfielder Dave Van Den Bergh is the only player on either team who isn't wearing long sleeves or gloves. The guy has guts because it is FREEZING.

WHEW

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That loud sound you just heard was the collective sigh of relief from Red Bulls fans, players and the front office after Claudio Reyna and Dane Richards collided. I just know you Reyna haters were screaming in joy at the thought of Reyna getting hurt in his first game. Reyna appears to be fine.

Someone report the child abuse

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So I'm watching the Colorado-DC United game on ABC and the teams are walking out on the field. It is freezing there so all the players are wearing winter coats. Only one problem though, the kids who are accompanying the players onto the field aren't wearing coats, just soccer uniforms and you can tell some of the kids are in physical pain. Here's hoping none of them get pneumonia.

The SBI Fantasy MLS League is ready to kick off

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What started harmlessly as an idea of some SBI readers just three days ago has officially become a monster.

The SBI League in the MLS Fantasy Challenge is ready to go as 246 teams get ready to challenge for bragging rights. Much thanks to SBI reader Steve Essig for taking the initiative and starting the league.

If some names look familiar among the 246 it is because we have some special guests taking part in the league.

Notes from Columbus

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The snow hasn't started back up yet but it is still really cold and windy in Columbus, which won't help the look of tonight's game much. I'm really curious to see just how many Columbus fans actually come to the stadium. Hopefully enough to give the game some atmosphere. You can't really blame them if they don't come. It's going to be painfully cold, particularly in a stadium where the wind just blows right through.

Rossi scores late winner for Parma

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Clifton native Giuseppe Rossi delivered another key goal for Parma, scoring a 90th minute winner to give Parma a 1-0 victory against Livorno.

I know some of you hate the kid because he chose not to play for the United States but Rossi is still American and still a Jersey kid, born and raised. Nobody can deny that, not even him.

Let it Snow

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It's almost 1pm here in Columbus and the snow is starting to fall. It's not sticking yet but there is plenty of it falling so it's only a matter of time. I'm starting to wish I was still in Jersey.

Here's the question I know some people are asking. Does MLS have an orange ball ready to use? I would love to know. Will it be orange or yellow?

The snow has stopped

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Put a hold on the orange ball. The snow flurry that was raining down on Columbus has stopped. No snow is on the ground. This could change again but maybe we'll get lucky and it will only be five below instead of five below with snow.

My MLS picks for today

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So we're less than three hours away from the start of the 2007 season so it's time to give you guys my picks for the first week of the season.

Yes, I have already made picks for ESPN.com but plenty of information has emerged in the 30 hours since I submitted those picks so here goes the picks you should bet your life savings on (or maybe just a dollar).

FREEZING in Columbus

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So I just walked back from dinner and it is COLD. This is pretty ridiculous. It felt like it was five degrees out and apparently it will be worse Saturday night. I have a feeling we're going to get a pretty ugly game between the Red Bulls and Crew although we won't have to see Amado Guevara pass out from having to play in temps below 32 degrees.

Toronto trades Cancela to Colorado

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Just when you thought the busy MLS pre-season was done, Toronto makes one more deal, unloading former New England playmaker Jose Cancela to the Rapids for a youth international slot. You have to wonder if this means that Toronto will indeed go after Canadian forward Will Johnson, who Dutch club Heerenveen has said it won't be re-signing.

What does this mean?

The SBI 2007 MLS Power Rankings

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Without further ado, here is how I see the 13 teams in MLS falling into order in 2007. I have DC beating Houston for MLS Cup (yes, I know, a stretch).

1. DC United

Best attack in the league and a decent defense to boot.

2.

The SBI Fantasy League Guest Stars

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For those of you keeping track, the SBI Fantasy MLS league is at 191 owners. That's a pretty absurd number. Yes, I know there are bigger leagues but just two days ago there were just four teams.

As a treat for you dedicated blog readers who are taking part in the league I decided to invite some friends to participate that you know pretty well.

Hello from Columbus

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Good afternoon folks. If you were wondering where I was all day I was on my way here, to Columbus, Ohio for Saturday's season opener between the Red Bulls and Columbus Crew. There are already snow flurries here but no snow is sticking at all so for now conditions are just cold. Hopefully it gets no worse than this leading up until tomorrow's match.

Pachuca defeats Houston in overtime, 5-2 (5-4 on aggregate)

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Pachuca scored four goals in regulation to post a 4-2 second-leg victory, which forced overtime in the series against Houston. A stunning overtime strike from Christian Gimenez settles things as Pachuca advances to the final, where they will meet Chivas de Guadalajara.

It's disappointing to see both MLS teams lose in the semifinals but both Houston and DC United played good soccer and gave MLS fans something to be proud of.

SBI League is at 114 and still counting

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Okay folks, this fantasy league thing has gotten out of control. It's really great to see so many of you jump in and take part in this, though I must admit that as the number keepers rising I keep calculating how high I need to finish in order not to feel embarrassed. I'm setting the number at 70.

I have invited a few folks to join the league that may make things interesting, particularly for you Red Bull fans.

The SBI MLS Fantasy League is ready to go

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Those of you who suggested the starting up of an MLS fantasy league for SBI readers deserve some credit. The SBI League is ready to roll with an impressive 71 teams. I have already added my team and have even inserted my starting lineup. I'm not sure if there is a limit to the number of teams but you can feel free to try and join the league if there is room for more.

The SBI Fantasy MLS League is open for business

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Well folks, after seeing SBI writers take the initiative to start an MLS fantasy league I figured the least I could do was join. I have joined the league now and will try my best to put in a good showing.

If you're interested in joining, go to the MLS fantasy site and find the SBI league.

Enjoy.

MSG finally sets channels for Red Bulls season opener

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If you have been wondering where to find MSG2 on Saturday for the Red Bulls' season opener the cable station has finally provided a list of where to find MSG2 on Saturday for all the different cable and satellite providers.

Q&A Delay

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Good morning all. I'm sorry to report that I have not been able to finish the rest of the Q&A this morning. All the MLS season preview stuff I'm working on is keeping me seriously busy. I have all the questioned set aside and will start knocking them out today and as soon as I have a good number of them answered I'll post another portion of them (Yes, there were that many questions that it can be divided into three parts).

No Way Toure

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The Red Bulls have declined to offer Liberian winger Ansu Toure a contract, team sources revealed on Tuesday. The fact that he was too old to play under a developmental contract prevented him from getting an extended look and the arrival of Clint Mathis couldn't have helped matters.

At least Bruce at DuNord will be happy to have Toure back in Minnesota, assuming he goes back to play there.

Red Bulls Practice report

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I made my way to Montclair State today to see the Red Bulls hold their first training session since returning from Charleston. Here are some observations:

Clint Mathis trained today and looked fit but it was just one day of training so its tough to say how he fits in. As I suggested over the weekend I think Bruce Arena will use Mathis, Claudio Reyna and Dema Kovalenko in a central midfield triangle.

Your questions answered (Part One)

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So I'm almost over this flu but I still wasn't able to knock out the entire Q&A. I did about half of it though so I decided to post this and get to the rest later. Look for the rest tonight or definitely on Wednesday morning, but for now enjoy:

EMILIO- Have you stopped covering the Red Bulls after the article you wrote about the $14 million in losses?

Mid-week Soccer TV Schedule

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Talk about a great week of soccer action on TV. The Champions League quarterfinals are on Tuesday and Wednesday while the CONCACAF Champions Cup takes the field on Tuesday night. Then there is also UEFA Cup action. Here is the rundown of this week's TV action:

TUESDAY

2:30pm- ESPN2- UEFA Champions League, Liverpool at PSV Eindhoven

5pm- ESPN Classic- UEFA Champions League, Bayern Munich at AC Milan (tape delay)

9:30pm- FSC- CONCACAF Champions Cup, DC United at Chivas de Guadalajara

WEDNESDAY

2:30pm- ESPN2- UEFA Champions League, Manchester United at Roma

5pm- ESPN Classic- UEFA Champions League, Valencia at Chelsea (tape delay)

THURSDAY

2:30pm- FSC- UEFA Cup, Tottenham at Sevilla

5pm- FSC- UEFA Cup, Werder Bremen vs.

Monday Afternoon Centerback (Copa America info)

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Well folks, the flu bug hit me late last night and this morning, so I wasn't in much shape to post. Apologies for the absence of a MMCB as well as the Q&A answers but I'm efforting to get over it and am feeling a bit better.

If I had written a Monday Morning Center Back it would have centered on the discussion I had on Friday with US Soccer president Sunil Gulati.

Chicago Fire signs Blanco

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The Chicago Fire have landed their high-profile signing, acquiring enigmatic playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco in a long-discussed deal that was finally completed on Sunday.

The deal will reportedly pay Blanco close to $2 million a year. He will join the Fire once the Mexican season ends in May.

What's my take? I think it is a truly awful deal and I see Blanco struggling to deal with the hard tackling and erratic officiating in MLS.

Report: Red Bulls offer deal to Marcelo Salas

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The Red Bulls' neverending search for forward help has led them to Chile, where a report has surfaced linking the club to former Serie A standout Marcelo Salas.

Released in December by Universidad de Chile, Salas is best known for his successful stints with Lazio, Juventus and River Plate. He fell off the map during an unsuccessful and injury-plagued past year with U de Chile.