16 May 2005

So Many Corners You'll Cut Yourself: Revs 1, DC 0

The game starts, and the red and black seem jazzed. The Revs were back on their heels for most of the first half, with the middle 5 of DCU making strong runs and playing great mid defense. The problem here, and I hate to do this, was not Freddy Adu, or Christain Gomez, or even Esky. The problem was Moreno, who couldn't seem to find any space, couldn't make those crafty crosses that are his trademark, couldn't play a strong run, seemed uncomfortable around the ball, and made two or three awful plays (including a giveaway around 34' that made me cringe). And so there was a lot of activity in the final third, but not much pressure on the keeper.

DC's ratio of Corners to Shots on Net: 2.6
Revs ratio of Corners to Shots on Net: 1.25

Think about that. It took twice as many corners for DCU to get the same number of shots on net that the Revs had. This is a bad thing, since if DC can't get a ball on the net from a corner, defenders are going to be more willing under pressure to give them up, rather than trying to play the ball out and potentially make a mistake.

  • The Wiz over The Crew 4-0 (My pick, 1-1)
  • Stars over Fire, 3-0 (My pick, 0-3, right score, wrong team)
  • Rapids d. Chivas, 2-1 (Again, the other way around, 1-2)
  • Real d. Galaxy, 2-1 (!!, I was right that it was surprising, but I thought a draw. Congrats St. Lake)
  • FC Dallas, Quakes draw 0-0 (The only correct pick I had, 1-1) Quakes hold the MLS Unofficial Championship.
This Week: 1-5
Season to Date: 4-8

13 May 2005

Rivalry. Revelry.

MLS is calling Revs-DCU "one of the league's hottest rivalries to date." This is interesting, since as you know its always the Metros that are supposed to be DCU's rival. And they key word is "supposed." MLS has tried a number of social engineering experiments, including the idea of creating rivalries. But rivalries aren't really created, they're earned. It may have nothing to do with a sport. Pittsburgh/Cleveland is based all about geographic city rivalries. But the point is, you can't turn the rivalry business over to the marketing department. MLS tried to do that with Metros/DC, but the problem is that it isn't a rivalry when one side owns the other. Even the Cowboys/Redskins rivalry has diminished over the years. What kept the Yankees/Sawks going was the sense that Boston was about to break through, and once they did, the rivalry maintained itself through parity. DC owns NY/NJ so far, and the Atlantic Cup isn't going to change that. I think that the ReAL/Colorado rivalry might work, if only because the Rapids are playing like an expansion team.

But the Revs... now here's a rivalry. At the Conference Finals, there was a caution about 1' into the game. The game itself was tense. The rematch met expectations. A good game this weekend, and suddenly the Revs/DC rivalry could be the biggest in MLS. Two quality teams with history, both competitive, both with some history. This rivalry has been earned.

Team Loyalty

Over on Nasty Nats, Rocket has a great post on what the Nats mean to him, and how he became a Nationals fan. It's an interesting topic. Obviously, I am a DCU fan, but the why, the how. Why does the red and black have a dedicated fan base, while the Metros (in a city that must have tons of soccer fans) seem so paltry? I'm not sure how team loyalty works.

For a long time, my foremost loyalty was to the Washington Capitals. Then came the Stanley Cup run of 97, during which I was over at my fiance's apartment (she had cable, I didn't) watching hockey, and I saw Dale Hunter grab the Eastern Conference Trophy over his head, and somehow it ended for me. These were the people I rooted for growing up, the players that really meant something to me from elementary school onward. I had cheered for Langway, Scott Stevens (when he was a Cap), Pete Peters, Dino, Michael Pivonka, and definitely Hunter. And now we finally made the Cup, and even though the Caps didn't win, it was enough. It meant something to a kid who never saw his team get out of the Patrick division (except once, and then getting swept by the Bruins). And while I still am a Caps fan, somehow there was a narrative resolution on my childhood that was finished, and hockey became busy with shooting itself in the foot.

Somehow, DC United, under Bruce Arena, crept into that space for me. I grew up in the DC Area, but now lived in another city. And while I was becoming fond of that city's NFL franchise, and even, to some degree, its MLB team, it didn't have MLS. And I loved watching soccer, so DCU moved into my consciousness. Strangely, it was the Hudson years that cemented DCU as #1 in my heart. Here was a team with a glorious tradition, and a charismatic head coach, and they were struggling. But I felt like they came to play, that the players were really trying. And so when I returned to DC, and two years later they won a championship, it mattered. Yet somehow the story didn't end there, like it did with the Caps. Because there is more of a narrative thread to soccer. A championship opens doors, into the CONCACAF Champs cup or whatever. There were so many interesting players for DCU, a coach in his sophomore season, a league that must have wondered what happened to the WUSA and could it happen to them. The story goes on.

Anyways, for those that are curious (and I'm pretty sure I am writing to no one) here are my Sports Affiliations:
MLS: DC United
MLB: Washington Nationals (formerly Baltimore Orioles)
NFL-NFC: Washington Redskins
NFL-AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets
NBA: (eh, maybe the Wizards)
College Sports: Maryland (not where I went to school, but I went to a Div III school)

12 May 2005

Your Weekend Preview for 14 May

Okay, some interesting games on-tap for this weekend, let's take a look:
  • Wizards @ Crew: A match I would hate to watch. 1-1.
  • MetroStars @ Fire: I asked someone I knew about the Metros this year. After vomiting for the next three minutes, he responded "Awful, absolutely awful." And they are. Fire 3-0.
  • Chivas USA @ Rapids: Someday I'm going to write about how Chivas was all wrong putting together their strategy. But it won't be this week, when they upset the Rapids. 2-1.
  • Galaxy @ ReAL: You think it bothers Clint how much everyone swoons for Landon? It does me. A surprising draw, 2-2.
  • FC Dallas @ Quakes (MLS Unofficial Champs): This has the potential to be a real interesting match, and the Quakes are surprising me this season. A fitting one for the MLS Unofficial Championship. I think this is a tense game, with multiple chances missing by a hair, some fantastic Defense and tending, and some brilliant runs. Quakes hold, 1-1.
  • DCU @ Revs: I want to pick DCU after the game last week. But I find that I can't give them the outright wing. Goff says 1-1. I say 2-2, but I understand where he comes from. Special DCU Specific Pick: Dema does not play a minute in the MLS game, but will start the reserve game. Reserves will be undefeated after this week.

Record for last picks: 3-3. Season to Date: 3-3.

11 May 2005

Unofficial Championship all time rankings: MLS Cup 2003 to 11 May 2005

All time rankings as follows:

1(t) Chicago Fire (5pts, 7 Holds, Longest Streak: 5 Games)
1(t) DC United (5pts, 7 Holds, Longest Streak: 4 Games)
3 NY/NJ MetroStars (5pts, 6 Holds, Longest Streak: 2 Games)
4 Columbus Crew (3pts, 6 Holds, Longest Streak: 5 Games)
5 San Jose Earthquakes** (3pts, 3 Holds, Longest Streak: 1 Game)
6 LA Galaxy (2pts, 5 Holds, Longest Streak: 4 Games)
7 New England Revolution (2pts, 3 Holds, Longest Streak: 3 Games)
8 Colorado Rapids (2pts, 2 Holds, Longest Streak: 1 Game)
9(t) FC Dallas (1pt, 1 Hold, Longest Streak: 1 Game)
9(t) KC Wizards (1pt, 1 Hold, Longest Streak: 1 Game)
11(t)Chivas USA (0pts, 0 Holds, Longest Streak: 0 Games)
11(t)ReAL St. Lake (0pts, 0 Holds, Longest Streak: 0 Games)
** Current Champion

A few notes about this. The Crew during their 2004 unbeaten run sadly got the championship only be defeating DC United in September. The East has managed to hold the championship longer by consistently dropping the championship to another team in the East. ReAL St. Lake is the only team not to play for the championship yet. FC Dallas has played in only 2 championship games, and they are 1-1.

How the Unofficial Championship Works

Here, by the way, are the rules of the unofficial championship.

1) The first unofficial championship was determined by the result of MLS Cup 2003, the earliest cup for which the subsequent full season's results were available. As a result, the Champion was San Jose.

2) Any regular season MLS or US Open cup match between two MLS teams is a championship game. The winner becomes the Unofficial MLS Champion. A draw means that the championship is retained by the defending champion.

3) Aggregate goal playoff games are treated separately for each leg when the unofficial Champion is defending the title.

4) A team receives a point by winning a championship game. A team received a "Hold" credit by winning a championship game or drawing a game in which it is the defending champion.

5) All time rankings are based on points, with a tie breaker to holds.

6) These rules are determined by D, and can be changed at any time. In the event the full season results for earlier seasons are made available, the all time standings (and potentially the championship) will change. Ideally, the championship will be traced back to MLS Cup 1996, when DC United defeated the LA Galaxy.

Unofficial Champ: 11 May 2005

The Unofficial Championship has been bounced around like a ping pong ball. Since DC United held it for four consecutive matches dating back to the defeat of the Revolution in the playoffs, no team has been able to hold it more than one game.

DC lost the title on 4/15 to the Crew.
The Crew turned around and handed it to Colorado in a 2-0 game on 4/23.
Colorado decided they weren't interested in holding onto the title, and passed it over on 4/30 to the MetroStars (!!!) in a 3-1 game.
The Metros reverted to Form, dropping the title to San Jose on 5/7 in a 1-0 game.

So there it is, your unofficial Champs, the San Jose Earthquakes. They defend the title at home against FC Dallas, which should be an interesting game.

10 May 2005

Catching Up

Sorry to be away for so long, but I was dealing with several things like business trips and a permanent change of address. So let's review...

DC 3, Revs 4: A strange game that apparently had a wonderful atmosphere. It did feature the end of the DC scoring drought to some degree, although the fact that PKs were involved still made you wonder about their finishing ability for normal chances.

KC 0, DC 0: A draw, which was fine by me even if the game was horrible to watch on ESPN.

DC 3, Columbus 1: See, if Columbus had done anything with the unofficial championship, DC would have won it back here on a great effort that could have used some better Defensive mid play after the interval. Nice to see Adu get his first PotW award from MLS. Better to see the game on CSN, and to be somewhat amused that the grass pattern isn't exactly perpendicular to the sidelines.

Next game? @ Revs, and revenge time.

Other good news? Defensive players becoming available again, Dema being in a game and not getting a red card. Okay, so he was in for about 3 minutes, but progress is progress.