31 March 2006

Free Copy

Update: DCist's Jason Linkins has his DCU preview up. Hurrah! And they remember Alecko, so well done there.

Dear DCist... I see that you don't have a DC United season preview up. Since I'm a nice guy, I've written one for you. I'll even use the same format (well, not really) used for that Nats season preview. See, I know you've been promising more coverage to United, but it takes time to identify those writers and volunteers. I get that. So here ya go...

Last Season: The title defense of 2005 was a long, trying campaign that featured DC United in two international tournaments in addition to MLS play. United struggled to find offense in the early going, but questions about a potential hole in the defense were partially answered by undrafted rookie Bobby Boswell. The month of April 2005 saw United win only its season opener in five MLS matches and the home-and-home legs of Champions Cup defeat to the hands of UNAM Pumas.

The team was still finding itself. Subsequent months saw improved play, but it was after the MLS all-star game when DC United went on a five game win streak that really moved them into playoff contention.

The first MLS team invited to the Copa Sudamericana lost a heartbreaker to Chile's CD Universidad Catolica in September, and would go on to finish the season in second place in the Eastern Conference. Towards the end of the season, there were signs that United was losing its focus, giving up late goals and managing only a tie in against the otherwise dreadful Columbus Crew

The playoffs opened in Chicago, and the first leg featured a scoreless draw (after a Chicago Fire set-piece goal was disallowed by Brian Hall). Fans expectations that the team would rebound in RFK were crushed in a four goal massacre at the hands of the Chicago Fire. Christian Gomez received a red card for unsportsmanlike behavior after he spit on the Fire's C. J. Brown. For this incident, Gomez is suspended for the home opener.

Off-season In Action: The only major roster move for DC United was the departure of midfielder Dema Kovalenko. Also gone is much of the reserve squad that won the initial reserve division championship, including Jason Thompson, Shawn Kuykendall, and Nick Van Sicklen.

That's not to say that things may not look different as the season gets underway. Freddy Adu's role as spot starter and substitute may transform into everyday starter, as coach Piotr Nowak has shown a willingness to depart from his 3-5-2 and experiment with both a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and variations thereof. Of the draft picks, Wake Forest product wide midfielder Justin Moose may see the earliest work on the wing. Third-year keeper Troy Perkins will start for the injured Nick Rimando in the early games, and may win the job outright. Last season's late addition Lucio Filomeno looks to open the season attacking the goal with MLS MVP runner-up Jamie Moreno.

Outlook: With a returning cast of characters that can have incredible chemistry, especially with the interplay between Christian Gomez and Jamie Moreno, and a team that will lose at most one player (defensive midfielder Ben Olsen) to World Cup duty, a failure to make the playoffs would be a monumental collapse. Competition from the talented New England Revolution, revamped New York Red Bulls (formerly the team known as the Metrostars), playoff nemesis Chicago Fire, and coach Sigi Schmid's Columbus Crew may present challenges, but expectations for United should include a top three finish in the MLS East. After that, you'll have to wait for DCist's playoff preview. If they have a DC United writer by then.

Off the pitch: There are three stories that could make interesting reading over the season. The potential transfer of Freddy Adu to a European power has always resulted in bizarre speculation in the foreign press, but as he gets older it becomes more difficult to just ignore. A sale of DC United last season fell through, and a new suitor could be announced at any time, just so long as you never mark that time on a calendar. The DC United stadium drive continues, and features a much lower-key (and less call for public money) than the rankling Nats stadium negotiations. All of these will no doubt be covered by DCist as they occur.

Set All Values to Zero

Tomorrow, MLS Season #11 gets underway. For us in DC, its Metro areas, and its ex-urbs, the wait is a bit longer, as we must continue our American Soccer fast until Sunday. But what a feast is awaiting us on that day. If you must be tied over, you can catch The Washington Times' off-season recap, the Dallas Morning News' season preview (picks DCU as 6th overall, third in the East), ot the repackaged AP content on DC United and Freddy that hit Fox Sports and ESPN (and a thousand other sources last-night.)

Also, I'm a dork (or should that be Djork?), which is probably obvious given that I write a blog. So, in another peek behind the scenes, let me admit that I have a series of spreadsheets and Access tables I poke around with from time to time. And today I reset them all for the 2006 season. It's a nice feeling, like plunging into a new snowfall, or paying off a credit card bill so that there's no remaining balance. Of course, given that I just bought my DCU tickets today (yes, as late as that) I imagine that the credit card bill payoff will wait for a bit.

Ahhhh... zeroes, lovely zeroes. Anything can replace them now.

30 March 2006

Setting the Pace


In a concept that I am completely stealing from Nats Blog, sometimes it's too easy to get trapped into the current standings and situation. Say DC United has a 3-1-2 record after six games, good enough for 11 points. What does that really mean? Is that a good enough clip to sustain to get them into the playoffs? What about the Supporter's Shield, which would guarantee Champions play? Really, those are the only two questions the regular season needs to answer, and to help answer them I've gone ahead and stolen the idea of the "Pace Team."

Basically, the pace team is a mythical team that earns enough points that it will arrive a predetermined state. For MLS, I have created two pace teams. The first is a team that will win the Supporter's Shield, and the second is a team that will finish at least fourth in the East. I looked at results for every year since 2001 (when MLS went to two conferences, though not with the existing playoff selection system.) Ultimately, that was a waste of time, since the key data points were all from 2005.

The key data was to look at points achieved by the team that finished second overall in a single table, and the team that just missed the playoffs in the East. Then find the highest points-per-game yield of those teams. Next, find the lowest points per game yield of the teams that did win the supporter's shield or made the playoffs that's higher than the maximums just found. Those are the pace numbers. Now, with future expansion, there may be an upward pressure on those numbers, but this will work well enough for now.

In 2005, the New England Revolution earned 59 points at a pace of 1.84 points per game. That's a great pace, and had they done it any other year than 2005, they would have won the supporter's shield. Instead, San Jose was averaging 2.00 points per game, and took the shield. That makes 2 points a game the lowest possible safe number for the Supporter's shield.

Similarly, in 2005 the Wizards took an average of 1.41 points per game. Good enough to make the playoffs in any other year, but not good enough to match the Metros 1.47 2005 yield. Therefore, 1.47 points per game is the lowest safe number for making the playoffs.

I'll be keeping track of how close DC is to both playoff and the Supporter's Shield pace throughout the year, and hopefully it will give a sense, regardless of the current standings, of how much ground your team needs to make up in order to get the right regular season results.

For instance, in the example proposed above, United's 11 points put them just off the Suppoter's Shield pace team's 12 points after 6 games. A win in Match #7, and things are nicely on schedule. They're also 2 points ahead of the Playoff Pace team's 9 points after six games (actually 8.82, so we'll round it up.) A loss next week is okay, since the playoff pace will only improve to ten points (well, 10.29, but you get it). After that, there isn't much slack.

2006 MLS Predictions: East is East

If anything, the east is even more difficult to forecast than the west. There are those that the top seed is New England's to lose. Others that say "No, wait, the world cup is really going to mess them up." On the other side, the SE Podcast thinks that Columbus could be one of the worst teams since the 1999 Metrostars. Or perhaps it's Red Bull New York that's the patsy of the group. The point is, the situation is murky, and I've drafted this list six or seven times, and the top seed and bottom seed and last place were never the same on any of those lists. So, in the absence of any real statistical reason to point to, I give you the haziest of all justifications: My instinct.

  1. DC United: I know what you're thinking. "D's an objective guy, and he knows that RSL and Chicago Fire fans are trying to jinx DCU, there's no way he'll pick his own team to finish first." Well, jack the superstition and bring the expectations. I do know that DC has unanswered questions, but so do all of the teams. So ultimately, as a fan, I asked myself "Do I believe this team can take the top spot?" And the answer is "yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!" At some point, I figure that it is possible to get so close to a team all you notice are the flaws. Screw that. I believe in this team, its coaches, and its staff. Are they favorites to win it? Probably not. But reasonably, you can believe that they will, and that's enough for me.
  2. New England Revolution: Plenty of talent, the World Cup may cost them a few points, but not enough to seriously damage the team. In fact, I think a few results in July may surprise people from the depleted Revs. I do think they'll give up more goals this year, but the flip side is that at full strength they may score more goals as well.
  3. New York Red Bulls: Here's where people are going to seriously question my sanity, given the preseason performance of this team, it's untested attacking options, and overall tawdry ownership situation. So let me break this out for you: Alexi Lalas is better than people, including me, give him credit for. He may not have the coach he want, but that's only because Coach Mo managed to get results to make him impossible to fire. Gaven for Buddle will pay dividends. If this team has a glaring weakness, it's that Lisi is weak in the middle, and they'd have been better off with Bradley (an impossibility given the politics of the situation, but there you go). This team has some really decent players, and I expect the system to struggle at first, then click and go on a tear.
  4. Columbus Crew: Yes, the other team that people think are going to be awful, and I have them in the playoffs. I'm a fan of Sigi Schmid as a coach. I'm actually prepared to believe in Johnny Walker (?!) between the posts. What's more, this team is largely one without an identity. But all the indications are that the organization as a whole has its act together this year, and I believe in leagues like MLS, a strong organization can actually trickle down and impress itself on a team with a new coach and no major headcases.
  5. Chicago Fire: This is a team that could almost be looking for an excuse to underperform. A tough opening schedule and immature cast of characters will give them every excuse, and even a strong finish may not help them. Last season, the stars aligned for this team, but I don't expect it to happen again.
  6. Kansas City Wizards: Yes, they have Eddie Johnson, but they lose him to the World Cup, and potentially to Europe mid-season. I expect them to struggle during the Cup, much more than the Revs. On paper, defense shouldn't be a problem, but I don't see depth and I do see goalkeeper situation with Bo Oshoniyi and, well, nothing really, that even makes the most ardent Rimando/Perkins debater say "Damn, that's a mess."

Forward the Banner of Suds

The Free Beer Movement, and in some small way, Operation: Deflower, are both seeing the sort of non-centralized success that calls for public recognition of its bannermen. Reader Dan of the DCenters writes in to let us know that he's bringing somewhere around 30-40 people to the game on Sunday (against the corporate subsidized evil of the Red Bulls) and that tasty beverages will be enjoyed. He may even write a blog post of his own about it, and rest assured that The DCenters will link to it the moment he drops us the URL.

That's not bad, not bad at all, but John at PCK manages to get his Graduate Student Government to help underwrite a group ticket buy for Sunday, and he notes that many MLS virgins will be arriving. While he notes that we will not be providing beer to these folks, I imagine that since they are Graduate Students, the ability for them to find their own is unusually sharp. John also asks if it was okay to use Freddy on the flyer. Of course it is. Use whatever seductive techniques you must to get them in the door. They'll arrive at the stadium for Freddy, but they might leave thinking of Jaime. And even if it is still a crush on Freddy, that's fine with me. He's MLS's, at least for now.

So, if you have a happy hour tonight or tomorrow, lift a glass to John and Dan. To Beer!

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29 March 2006

2006 DCenters Expectation Guide


Before posting my predictions for MLS-East, I wanted to write up my own personal expectations for DC United this year. The fact is that the team that starts the season may or may not have much to do with the team that ends the season. Sure, this isn't 180+ games like baseball, but the 32 games we have are a long time. On the superficial level, it's easy to say that this is the same team as last year, for the most part. And that team was statistically, on the surface, a pretty good team in terms of both goals scored and allowed.

Yet despite that, I think many DC United fans are troubled, in a way that goes beyond lingering feelings from the 4-0 playoff destruction from the Chicago Fire. The team hadn't played well in the games preceding that point. Some blame fatigue. Others focus. I personally feel that United had probably outperformed its talent level for several games in midseason, and once things fell slightly out of sync it was going to take a month to correct the problems. A month they didn't have. The 2004 and 2005 United teams were at their best as a finely tuned sportscar. When they were on, they were almost impossible to beat. But a slight timing issue in the engine could be an expensive problem. In short, United could bring their best game to the pitch more often than other teams, but had difficulty getting a result with their second best game against non-expansion teams.

Why there's reason to hope...

The optimist can point to a few developments that might give you a reason to think United could be better this year.

  1. Flexibility: With most of the team returning, the timing and team sympatico shouldn't take as long to develop. Nowak's system may not be so defined as it has been in the past, allowing it to adapt to games when either DCU isn't quite ticking the way we'd like, or when the other team has found a weakness to exploit. The idea that United can shift with similar personnel between a 4-4-2, 3-5-2, and 4-3-3 (as Karl implied earlier) is one that pleases me.
  2. Offensive Depth: The potential for a lethal set of goal scorers exist. If Filomeno, Moreno, Eskandarian, Quaranta, and Walker all contribute, then United will have an embarrassment of riches.
  3. The Thick Black Line: DCU's core set of defensive players and defensive minded midfielders are pretty strong. Erpen, Boswell, Carroll, Olsen, Wilson, Namoff... that's a set of players that can deny possession in the defensive third. I like that. They've shown some vulnerability to long balls played into space to speedy attackers, but I think that'll be a problem that is compensated for. I don't see many teams that will be able to build a strong possession game against the DCU backs (unofficial motto: "You shall not pass.")

Why there's reason to worry...

It ain't all gravy though:
  1. The mystery of the midfield: United was vulnerable on the wings of the midfield last year, and the projected line-ups show that most combinations will have an set of players who are, shall we say, unestablished at the position. Even Gros is only one season with regular starting time, and has been known to make odd decisions on the ball. Adu on the left poses some questions as well. It might work brilliantly. Or we might be looking for acquisitions by midseason.
  2. Can't Start Me Up I: United is a typical "slow to start" team. However, this season United has a fairly soft early schedule and then a chance to establish dominance during World Cup call-ups. They can't afford to not take advantage of early games. April and May are strangely important this year.
  3. Can't Start Me Up II: Just because I have confidence in the back-line in snuffing out an opposing attack doesn't mean it can start its own. DCU will need improved distribution from the backs to the midfield in order to create chances.
  4. Offensive Consistency: There are a ton of players that could be great for DCU this year, and odds are someone will step up to complement Moreno, who seems in good form. But you don't know who it will be, or how long it make take to happen. Will Filomeno be on target from Match #1? Will Eskandarian regain his 2004 form? Will Walker still be able to have an impact as a sub? Will Quaranta focus enough to realize his potential? The faster one of these questions has a definite "Yes" next to it, the better, but it could take some time.

What I'm Not Worried As Much About as Some...

Yesterday I noted Ives Galarcep's concerns with United handling rough physical play from other players. I agree that it could be an issue, but the indications are that it may not be as big a factor as it could be. So far, I've seen Christian Gomez, Jamie Moreno, and even Freddy Frickin' Adu fighting through tackles and not surrendering the ball while trying to draw a foul.

Who could step up?

  1. Lucio Filomeno: I think he will find a groove early in the season, which will take some of the demands off of other players.
  2. Troy Perkins: I think Rimando is a better keeper, but with a strong start to the season, Troy Perkins could change my mind, and deserves the opportunity to use this time to win the starting job outright. If he does, it will be an enormous boost.
  3. Freddy Adu: I have never said this before, but I will say it now. This is the Freddy Adu year people have waited for.

Who might slip back?

  1. Bobby Boswell: Regular readers of this blog know that I am 100% in the tank for Boz. Yet, part of me wonders if his performance may have been a bit above his own head last year. I don't want it to be true, but if there's a candidate for the sophomore slump, it's Boz.
  2. Jamil Walker: He had some great moments as a sub, but never gelled as a starter. I think this year more teams will be paying attention to his speed, and while his touch was better last year than I expected, I think that more teams will have plans for him, and it could be frustrating.

Don't Expect Too Much, Too Soon

Justin Moose may become a good role-player in the midfield for United, but it might take a season in the reserves to get it there. And if this team needs Rod Dyachenko to contribute offensively, then we're in real trouble.

Bottom Line

You can't look at United and say they're favorites for the Supporter's Shield, so the only other question that matters is "Are they a playoff team?" The answer in my mind is yes, and probably a top 3 team in the east when all is done with. That's good enough. For now.

So that's what's in my mind when I made my Eastern Conference predictions, which I will happily post today or tomorrow.

On the foot...

Steve Goff covers the Rimando injury update, with the words "surgery" and "torn" being used. MASR also covered this story (as John from PCK pointed out two days ago). Those words don't sound good. I'm a little worried, since the early "he'll stay in Charleston to rehab" is now looking like a more serious problem. So stay healthy Troy.

Also in Steve's story is a mention of the El Diablo tribute match in Bolivia, and a "new ownership soon" comment. I like "soon" better than "30-60 days", but those two phrases are probably identical in their practical meaning.

Good god, is the season almost here? Man, tons to do before we get under way, I better get working on it all.

28 March 2006

My All-time Best XI ballot

David Gilmore challenges me to discuss my ballot for the All-time Best XI poll running at DCUnited.Com. Now, please understand that I was in another city during the Arena Hegemony of the late 90s. So to some degree, my perceptions are warped because I didn't personally see many of those great early games (I know, being in a college in another state is a lame excuse, but there you go), but rather I remember what I read in news reports. So, given a 4-4-2 mandatory formation, here is how I voted:

Keeper: Scott Garlick.
Defense: Agoos, Llamosa, Pope, Nelsen.
Midfield: Etcheverry, Harkes, Olsen, Gomez
Forwards: Moreno and RDA (though Roy Lassiter was pretty tempting).
Coach: Arena

The amazing thing is that while there are a few "must haves" for me (Moreno, Etch, Pope) there are other combinations I would have felt perfectly comfortable with. The toughest choice was keeper, since I have the clearest memories of Rimando and Simpson, while Garlick is a hazy feagure who I remember from match recaps. Still... ultimately, that's where I went.

ESPN: Expect Something with Piotr Nowak

Ives Galarcep has his preview of DC United up on ESPN's Soccernet right now (and a paragraph from Eric Wynalda, in which he says something). Read the entire thing, and tell me where you think Ives would predict DC to finish. Because he doesn't say. Honestly, I think that's the right choice. DC could be the top player in the east, it could be "third-best" team, it might even finish out of the playoffs. Ives doesn't know. Neither do I. But I think there's some good analysis, especially on the "toughness" factor that is worth the read.

2006 MLS Predictions: How the West Was Won. Or at least, not lost.

Well, I guess it is time for me to join in the fun. Now, before you go off and place some wagers on these predictions, just remember that the coach of your local U12 team probably has a better sense of the game than I do. Also, the new episode of the Screaming Eagles podcast has a nice quick thumbnail summary of the entire league, so listen to it if you've missed the off-season.

The other thing is that I haven't taken much a strong analytical view to this at all. This is all gut feeling. I don't think MLS supports a sort of SABR viewpoint at this point where I could sit down and calculate Win Shares or the like. And when I listen to my instincts, they tell me to say things that could very easily be wrong. So, that being said, here's my best guess at order of finish.

The West: It is still the weaker conference in MLS, the opinions of websites with unlinkable Terms of Service aside. You know that there will be three decent teams, and three weaker teams.

  1. Houston Dynamo: Don't expect to see an impact of the move to Houston manifest itself in the first few games. Perhaps in August, when Houston and San Jose are different climates entirely, but I expect Houston to perform well.
  2. FC Dallas: No more Eddie Johnson, but still a fairly decent Carlos Ruiz. FC Dallas will settle into Pizza Hut park this year, enjoy increased attention to soccer in Texas in general, and edge out the competition for the the second spot in the west.
  3. LA Galaxy: Two things: the loss of Landon Donovan for the World Cup may not hurt as much, but I'm not quite ready to believe that Herculez Gomez is going to sustain the performance he had from last year.
  4. Chivas USA: Really, the entire bottom three finish of the west is a crap shoot, but yes, I'm really thinking Bob Bradley will get Chivas into the playoffs. Barely. Bradley has the relationships with his senior players to execute his vision, something he never had with the Metros. That should be the difference to get them in. But only just.
  5. Real Salt Lake: RSL will just miss the playoffs. I'm thinking within 4 points in the standings. The team is better, and I certainly expect better midfield play and transition. RSL might even see 40 points in results this year, but Chivas will see just a bit more.
  6. Colorado Rapids: Poor, poor Mike Petke. Really, all I see here is a mediocre team that hasn't really gotten better while their competition has improved.

Fantasy Island

Quick note to interested parties. I've been challenged to multiple fantasy leagues, and if you're interested in getting into one of them, drop me an e-mail and I'll hook you up. Hopefully, I can take one team and participate with it in multiple divisions, because I know I don't have the attention span to support multiple teams.

Starting XI

Projecting DCU's Opening Day Starters

I see that we are getting ready for the new season. Commenter Matt asked if I had a sense of Nowak's starters for opening day. I do, although I can imagine more fluidity in the line-ups we see this year as opposed to last. MLSNet takes a shot at the Starting XI for DC United, noting Rimando's injury. It's not a bad guess, but it does assume that Nowak will be in his traditional 3-5-2. Based on the preseason, I'm fairly convinced that Nowak will be incorporating a 4-4-2 into his plans. Yes, I once wrote that DC could change its area code to 442, and Nowak still wouldn't leave his beloved three man back line. I was wrong. I think DCU will open at home in a 4-4-2, and here's who I think will be on the pitch:

Goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Nick Rimando's foot injury has opened the door. Unlike his caretaker role in 2004, Perkins has a legitimate shot to win a continued starting role out of this situation. While I think Rimando will come back and get his share of the starts, I can also see Perkins and Rimando battling for starts well into July before a typical starter is decided.

Defensive Backs Josh Gros, Bobby Boswell, Facundo Erpen, and Brandon Prideaux. Left back is my one big question mark for the opening day start. Josh Gros may alternate with John Wilson until Brian Namoff returns, at which point a fit Namoff would probably become the everyday starter. The back-line for DC is interesting, and from what I can tell, it shifts between 4 and 3 people, with Prideaux acting more like a wingback frequently in the Charleston game. It should be interesting to watch. Pay special attention to the interplay between Erpen and Boswell. How well to they interact in the center of the defense?

Midfielders Adu, Olsen, Carroll, Gomez I think the Adu and Gomez experiment will continue for at least two or three weeks. What's more, I think it is already showing improvement. Gomez in the Number 10 role and Adu on the left have played well together the last few games, although perhaps not spectacularly. The right side of the midfield is a question (we may see more Josh Gros usage here as well, as well as Justin Moose.). Clyde Simms has performed well and moved himself up to the defensive mid alternate choice after Carroll and Olsen.Oops! Forgot Gomez was suspended for the opener, a few months after I took someone else to task to forgetting the same. Embarassing, to say the least. So for the opener, I think Adu moves to the #10 spot, and throw Gros on the pitch. Karl has a pretty good take in the comments below, so read those as well.

Forwards Moreno and Filomeno. Jamie Moreno looks to be in good form this preseason, and his chemistry with Christian Gomez is nothing to sniff at. Lucio Filomeno is starting partially because of potential, as well as the injuries to Quaranta and Eskandarian. Jamil Walker remains a second half impact sub. The questions are whether Moreno can remain strong all season given his advancing age, and whether Filomeno can move from "decent" to "great" as a striker. So far, he hasn't shown the killer edge, and may well be challenged by a rapidly improving Eskandarian by late May or early June.

That's how I see it if Nowak continues working with the 4-4-2, based on his lineups from Getafe through Charleston. If you think I missed something, feel free to correct me.

27 March 2006

Vindication (Sadly)

Look, when I say something hotheaded about DC United or MLS, well, I'm just a soccer blogger. So let me say that it is somewhat gratifying to see Jeff Carlisle at ESPN also weigh in on the Nowak sideline comments contraversy, and I'm pretty sure we share common ground on the matter.

Shed a Tear in your Pot of Beer

Charleston Battery 1 : 1 DC United

Thanks to the wonderful folks in Charleston, I was able to catch the streaming video broadcast of this game. Kudos to all involved with that, as it presented the first time I've been able to see the team since the Getafe game.

For the entire tournament, United has played in a 4-4-2. More thoughts on this later, but the Charleston game was a nice study in how it can work for DC, and also some of its potential vulnerabilities. For the first 40 minutes, United dominated possession and the chances, such as they were. The ball's movement demonstrated some nice passing, and created some space in the attacking third. Adu and Gomez played well together, Clyde Simms had a fairly strong game, and the defense supported the attack nicely. However, much as was the case in the 3-5-2, United could still be vulnerable to long balls played to an speedy opposing striker. Boswell's professional foul yellow was the result of such a play, and these thrusts by Charleston allowed for a much more even game, with Charleston placing some sustained pressure on DC in the final 45 minutes.

Work in the final third is still a bit spotty, and the goal was not a result of strong possession play but instead from a brilliant Moreno run resulting in his takedown in the box. Moreno than converted the PK with a ridiculous shot from the spot that resembled Phil Mickelson trying to chip out of the sand at Augusta.

The second half also featured the preseason parade of Substitutions, with Moose, Nickel, Eskandarian, Walker, Jeff Carroll, and Rod Dyachenko among those seeing minutes. Of all of those featured, Eskandarian seems to regaining some of his form, as he had some nice moments on the ball.

The back line is a cause of some concern. The starting 4 of Gros - Boswell - Erpen - Prideaux don't quite seem to have figured out the way to make the marking scheme work yet. Many of the DC fans at Big Soccer were praising Erpen's performance, and I agree that his speed and skill were fortunately present in order to shut down some Charleston attackers. However, I got the sense that he wasn't quite picking up his marking assignments when people made runs into his zone, giving them a bit too much room to operate when the ball arrived or was played into space. Boswell also looked steady, but slow to me. I'll have more thoughts on the new 4-4-2 backline later today, or perhaps later this week.

Regardless, United's tie gives them a 1-0-2 (5pts) final record in the Carolina Challenge, good enough for second place behind Houston Dynamo's 2-0-1. Red Bull New York finished dead last behind Charleston. I'd take some comfort in that if it didn't feel like they're being pushed closer to Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

26 March 2006

Reading for the Bus Ride

In case you are wondering what you get when you register for RBNY's bus trip, here's a look:

From: "Steeves, Dan"
Subject: New York Red Bulls Bus Trip to DC Confirmation
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2006

Congratulations! You have successfully registered for the New York Red Bulls bus trip to DC, as we travel for our first game of the 2006 season! We hope you're as excited as we are with the upcoming season approaching!

Please note: If you need to cancel your reservation for any reason, you will need to contact me directly. All cancellations must be done no later than 5:00pm on Thursday, March 30th. If you do not contact me directly to cancel, your credit card will be charged the $25.00 per spot initial deposit.

Trip Details:

* Parking at Giants Stadium: Parking Lot 15, between Gates C and D
* Registration at Giants Stadium: Located outside South Tower, 8:00am-9:00am
* Bus departure: 9:30am
* You are encouraged to bring your own refreshments for the trip
* Game: 5:00pm kickoff
* Departure: Buses will depart immediately following the end of the game

If you have any questions concerning the trip, please feel free to contact me or your ticket representative.

We thank you again for your support and we look forward to your joining us
on the trip!

See you Sunday, April 2nd.

Daniel Steeves
New York Red Bulls
Senior Account Manager
Youth Soccer & Community Programs

Yup, at least one of "them" is one of "us". Thanks, Alexi.

24 March 2006

If you're gonna call yourself "The Sports Network," doesn't that mean you have to actually allow for networking?

Preseason prediction time is upon us. I ran across one set of predictions that I'd like to quote and argue about. The page makes the argument that the West Coast will be competitive, and DC United will disappoint, and some other stuff. I don't agree with it, but it sounded like something to argue about. Sadly, that website's Terms of Service say that I:

"You may not transmit or send messages, inquiries, scripts, "spiders," automated query programs, web crawlers, robotic programs, robots, or other similar devices to the Website or its associated server, or otherwise use or access, electronically or manually, this Website or its associated server, along or with others, in any manner which: (i) "scrapes," copies, collects, stores, transmits or reproduces any Materials or data displayed on the Website; (ii) imposes an unreasonable or disproportionate load on the Website's infrastructure or server, or otherwise adversely affects, restricts or inhibits any other user from using and enjoying the Website; (iii) in any way diminishes or reduces the value of the Website or any Materials displayed on the Website or otherwise injures the Website, TSN or its property; (iv) is threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit or indecent; (v) constitutes or encourages conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law; (vi) violates, plagiarizes or infringes any of the rights of TSN or third parties including, without limitation, copyright, trademark, patent, rights of privacy or publicity or any other proprietary right; (vii) contains a virus or other harmful component; (viii) contains any information, software or other material of a commercial nature; (ix) contains advertising, promotions or commercial solicitations of any kind; (x) constitutes or contains false or misleading indications of origin or statements of fact; (xi) contains material irrelevant to the subject matter of the Message Feature; (xii) contains any virus, Trojan horse, worm, time bomb, cancelbot or other harmful or deleterious programming routine; or (xiii) otherwise violates the limited scope of permission hereby expressly granted."
Given that I have no idea whether you guys are real eyes or robot spider eyes, that means any link I put up could be in violation of their terms. So I guess I won't argue about them after all.

Oh, and speaking of defamation? The person that wrote your terms of service is a moron. And they're probably not legally enforceable. And if you really thought they were, you're an idiot.

Sometimes, it's fun to be immature.

Caffeine and Alcohol

Just a reminder that the Caroline Challenge Cup concludes this weekend with DC United battling the Charleston Battery. The Coffeepot Cup is also on the line. The tradition that is the Coffeepot Cup is discussed over at We Call It Soccer (who points the finger at Mr. Pope) and also during one of the SE Podcasts (who mention a Mr. Agoos as the culprit in, I believe, the first podcast.) I like the idea that perhaps it was a collaboration in an Office Space Fax Machine sort of way.

Also, this weekend I have something I want to reproduce. But it'll have to wait until the suits are away from the desks.

Quick Side Note: This is apparently the 400th post at The DCenters. How'd that happen?

House Money

As a United fan, I suppose there are a few things that are expected of me. Casual bravado, historical arrogance, antipathy for the teams from Los Angeles and New York (er, New Jersey, nevermind, make that York, no, check that, Jersey). And the fastest way for me to lose whatever rep I have with United fans is to give our traditional punching bags from the north credit for anything, especially if it isn't entirely deserved. So when I say the following, I realize that some might look on it as a betrayal of my team. Okay, here goes: "I am a bit worried about the home opener." There, I said it.

It's not that the New York Red Bulls have impressed with their preseason acumen so far. Aside for a decent draft, their early friendlies have been, from what I can tell, sub-par. Yet part of me still remembers that the last time the Alexi and Mo show came to RFK, United was on the short end of that stick. Which means I can't write my traditional "Why are these fools even considered our rivals?" post. The last time we faced each other, with DC trying to secure the top seed in the East, it was the Northern team that finished on top.

See, right now the Metros remind me of a middle-aged man who has lived his entire life in a cubicle duly filling crappy orders from upper management (John C. Riley). He wears his suits in a dutiful rotation, brown on Monday, Navy on Tuesday, Gray on Wednesday... Suddenly, an old college acquaintenance shows up, a guy with spikey hair, a brown leather jacket, and a reputation for wildness (Joaquin Phoenix). He's accompanied by a silent type who occasionally for fun punches his fist through a wall and has an unspecified criminal past (Clive Owen). Suddenly, our middle-aged account rep is partying all hours, talking to girls for the first time, using powdery substances (Diego Maradonna) from plastic bags, and generally making a mess of things (Guy Ritchie). You know it will end badly (Layer Cake). Yet, before it does, at some point our man is going to go bat-shit psycho on someone (Philip Seymour Hoffman), perhaps his boss (David Warner), perhaps his entire office (the Mormon Tabernacle Choir), while his two bad friends cheer him on over a cell phone (Motorola). Yes, in the end it will fall apart, but you don't want to be around when he finally snaps, do you? Me neither. So that's why I'm a bit worried about the opener. RBNY has little to lose, and this might be the one game where they go psycho. I get nervous around psychos. It's a thing with me.

23 March 2006

Sudden Realization

Strange feeling this morning -- like waking up with perfect memory of exactly what you said the previous night, to whom, in which tone of voice, while you had a blood-alcohol level higher than your BMI. Also, the knowledge drink doesn't always repress your memories to a funny situation of temporary amnesia and a strange person in bed next to you, but instad crystallizes those memories into high contrast lines and tones while forcing you to regard your actions with utmost sobriety and analysis. It is in that spirit I ask myself the following: Did I choose yesterday not to liveblog the Germany-USA friendly, but instead cover the DC United game? A game that was a meaningless preseason exhibition? Huh... And I'm only wondering about that choice now? What's wrong with me? And where'd this headache come from?

Update: While I might have not taken the ticker approach to the USA game, I-66 covered it nicely. The "3:59" entry is, well, perfect.

Rimando Injury Update

A DC United official has confirmed to The DCenters that Nick Rimando has suffered a "foot injury." Details are apparently hazy, but it looks like Rimando is remaining in Charleston and not returning to DC for treatment. DCenters Speculation Take? This sounds like a minor injury, a turned ankle / ligament strain kind of thing. Probably hurts like hell, swelled up nicely, but no tears or breaks. More details if and when they are obtained.

Update: Not much more detail, but a good summary of injury news in the most recent Behind the Badge at DCUnited.Com. The Namoff situation is a bit worrisome.

Hit and Misc.

DC United 1 : 1 Houston - My liveblogging was done on a whim, and isn't particulary insightful, but it is up here. DC United's recap is online and a better read.

WHITHER TINO AND NICKY?My original thought on hearing Troy Perkins was getting his second start was that Nick Rimando had definately fallen behind in the GK race. However, the replacement of Perkins by a trialist suggests a Rimando injury, probably minor since there's no major story on it that I can find. That being said, a Rimando injury would also move Perkins into a better place to get starting time almost by default, even if it is only a preseason knock, since I can't imagine Nowak wanting to start Nicky back into things cold with RBNY coming to town. Also, why no Santino Quaranta last night when everyone else was getting into the act? Is he still sidelined?

MEDIA COVERAGE: It would be nice if the Houston Chronicle, after noting that two of their players were ejected, would also notice the excellent sportsmanship of Mr. Piotr Nowak is allowing Coach Dom to put two new players on the pitch and not play 9 on 11 for the entire second half.

GERMANY 4 : 1 USA A hopeful first 45 minutes that turned into an ugly second 45. No change in the DCU World Cup Squad odds, as while I thought Zavagnin let Germany move him down the flanks too easily, Ben didn't have much of a chance to shine. Bobby Convey was very active, which was a nice surprise as he truly stepped up. Eddie Johnson wasn't bad. I agree with Commenter Paul that Mr. Ching was invisible for most of the game. The game was a cold cup of water, because it proved that while a strong MLS Team (+ Keller and the Reading Duo) can hang with a top world power for a time, eventually talent will out. Yet I imagine that we knew that going in, and while I certainly hoped for a different result, and thought even a draw would be reasonable (and was something I was prepared to treat as a triumph) the 4-1 loss isn't as disheartening as it might have been. It this had been the Poland game? Then I would have worried.

22 March 2006

The Dynamo at the Battery Stadium, Sponsored by Duracell

DC United 1 : 1 Houston Dynamo (Final)

Listening now to the Houston/DC match-up for the Carolina Cup challenge. Nil-nil so far. Interesting developments? Sounds like a 4-4-2 (or, more accurately, a 1-3-4-2) with Perkins starting in the net. The Perkins start says that he definately has the inside track for starting (though with Nowak you never know.)

30th Minute: The Houston Moreno finds the net after a messy corner. But the REAL Moreno responds after Houston gave up the penalty.

35th Minute: Some pushing and shoving on the sidelines. The announcer sounds thrilled by the idea of a brawl, noting it would be the first at the stadium. Dwayne De Rosario gets a straight red! Hahahahhahha! That's hilarious.

36th Minute: No wait! There's more! Ricardo Clark picks up a second yellow in the same altercation, and he's sent off. 11 men for United, 9 for Houston. Please tell me we can convert this.

Half-Time: They haven't converted yet, and we're in the half.

46th Minute: Strange development. Nowak and Kinnear agree to allow Houston to move back to full strength. Strange. Dominic Kinnear now owes Nowak one.

55th Minute: Ryan MacIntosh subs for Troy Perkins. So perhaps the Rimando edged out theory doesn't work here, and the "Rimando with minor injury" theory can be floated.

60th Minute: We're well into the "let's use our sub" portion of the friendly. Walker and Dyachenko in. Consider these games not about the tournament or a cup, but more a typical preseason friendly.

70th Minute: Alecko in for Jamie. Game is dreadfully dull at this point. Houston not subbing as much. Perhaps not at all except for their players that were ejected.

75th Minute: Yawwwwwwn. DC's subs are holding their own against Houston's starters, but nothing much to speak of. Houston with their first real set of subs.

78th Minute: Devon MacTavish comes into the game. Brandon Prideaux shaken up on a play, and he exits.

82nd Minute: Jeff Carroll enters the game for brother Brian.

83rd Minute: United getting a bit of pressure on Houston.

85th Minute: About three corners in the last five minutes for DC. If I had any confidence that DC could convert a set piece, I would think this is good stuff.

90th Minute United with a few last chances in the closing minutes, but nothing doing. 2 minutes of stoppage.

Full Time Draw and both Houston and United remain at the top of the Carolina Challenge Cup table. United takes on Charleston on Saturday. Charleston defeated the Red Bulls earlier tonight. Interesting first half, tedious second. I'm such a snob.

Blue Sky Commerce

Look, you all know me. I'm pretty careful when it comes to commerce and ads and Cafe Press shops when it comes to this particular website. Not that I have anything against people making money from their efforts, far be it.

So when I say that I think these "Viva Bruce!" T-Shirts at Blue Sky Soccer (HT: Du Nord) are pretty snazzy, you know I mean it. Yes, I will be picking one of them up. After I get birthday presents for my wife. And figure out my ticket plan with DCU. But the shirt is on the list.

Building D Goats, and the Goats D

First, Ezra Hendrickson. Now Carlos Llamosa. You know, if Chivas were to make a trade to get Eddie Pope or Mike Petke, they could field an all DC United Champions back-line. It's certainly a way to build a team.

21 March 2006

Rainbow's End?


In all the speculation regarding the new New Jersey/Philly team, it has repeatedly been pointed out that no ownership group is identified with the team to come into the league in 2009. But I think the deep game is something along the lines of "let's have an open stadium for when we have to move a financially underperforming team." If anyone else has proposed this theory, I'll be glad to give them a link, but I haven't yet seen it out there. Of course, to make that easy, you'd need to have an Eastern Conference team that was financially underwhelming and had previously been looked at for relocation. Perhaps one that has $5 playoff tickets. Just thinking...

Always Numbering Himself Among the Masterminds

Note: PCK has tagged us with a blogmeme. Yes, one of those things. I'm always torn about these, because they are kinda fun to do, and occasionally to read, but almost always off-topic. So there's no actual soccer content in this response. If you want soccer stuff, please scroll down to the ealier entry on Satellite Radio Musings. Or check back later.

Four Jobs I've Had

  1. Consultant
  2. Programmer
  3. Publication Designer
  4. Grocery Bagger

Four movies I could watch over and over:

  1. Casablanca
  2. True Stories
  3. The Usual Suspects
  4. Evil Dead II

Four places I have lived:

  1. Silver Spring, MD
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. (and 4) Arlington/Alexandria, VA

Four TV shows I love to watch:

  1. Lost
  2. Good Eats
  3. Brunch With DC United
  4. Whichever Science Fiction Show That Seems To Be Quality (Currently: BG)

Four places I have been on holiday: As an American, I never go on holiday, I go on vacation. And I watch soccer. [/jingoism] That being said...

  1. Myrtle Beach, SC
  2. Nashua, NH
  3. Cape Cod, MA
  4. San Francisco, CA

Four websites I visit daily:

  1. Soccerblogs.net
  2. Du Nord
  3. Big Soccer
  4. Random political/sports/Nats website (Pandagon, Instapundit, Kos, Hit and Run, Capital Punishment, Distinguished Senators, Just A Nats Fan, Etc [See Nats Links Right])

Four favorite foods:

  1. A good steak.
  2. A good salad.
  3. Clam Chowder, New England Style as God Intended
  4. The Patatas al ‘Cabrales' at Jaleo.

Four places I would rather be right now:

  1. Home, in bed.
  2. Germany, for the next few months.
  3. London, watching theatre.
  4. Australia, to see if everyone really is known as Bruce. I'm told they are.

And four blogs I am tagging: This is a casual sort of tag. If you want to do this, go ahead. But don't feel obligated because you see your name here, just ignore it if you so desire:

  1. We Call It Soccer
  2. Real Salt Lake Blog
  3. Climbing the Ladder
  4. Global Century (Hah! A policy Blog! Bet ya didn't see that coming!)

On the Satellite (Wo-ho) Radio...


Both Joe and RSL's Deuce are thinking about MLS over satellite radio. And why not? RSL Deuce notes that Sirius currently has EPL. Joe thinks the league would put the broadcasts up for free. I'm pretty sure Tino Palace has been ranting about the same things in a few columns.

Frankly, I'm with them. Even while DC United has a radio deal (newly announced, WMET 1160 AM) the fact is that 1160's effective range doesn't even cover the entire city. When I do want radio, I'm getting the feed from DCUnited.COM (which, when I still had dial-up, was a pain).

Of the two major satellite services, I think MLS fits better on XM than Sirius, despite Sirius's EPL presence. This is not just because I have an XM subscription, although that's part of it. The other part is that XM is making a strong spanish-language push, and Major League Baseball has complimented XM nicely in that respect. MLS could do the same. Sirius wouldn't quite have the nice fit in that respect with NFL/EPL. Plus, XM is based in DC, so I know DCU games would be nice and plentiful. Add in the World Cup Coverage, and it seems like a good move. So, please XM, let's get MLS on channels 189-200 somewhere. And let the kids from XMU (Channel 43) do strange bumper music for it.

20 March 2006

It's in the [Satellite] Net[work]!!!

Okay, so normally I don't link to press releases, but the recent one from XM (to which I am a subscriber) is too cool to ignore. Not only will XM be broadcasting the worldcup, and having a soccer show, but Dave Johnson's "It's in the net!" call will accompany the broadcasts. DCU Alum Jeff Agoos will also be on the dial. So, yeah, I'll tune into that.

Agents: Three Hours Until Drop


Given the news that Red Bull New York was offering a free trip to DC for the United home opener, the DCenters called on DCU ex-pats to infiltrate this trip. Now, without compromising operational security in this matter, let's just say that there has been a response in The DCenters inbox. Still, greedy bastard that I am, I want more, so this is a reminder to all of DCU's New York area ex-pats that at noon today, and only today it seems, registration will open for this trip at redbullsnewyork.com (not providing a direct link on the off-chance that Red Bull is checking referrer IDs). There is apparently a $25 refundable fee for the trip.

Again, if you take up RBNY on your offer, please contact The DCenters to let us know. We're tracking the situation up here, and you should be pleased to know you are not alone. Also, we may try to set up a support network, if needed. You know, alternate return options, potential seat moves once you get to RFK, that sort of thing. I don't want to say too much right now, but this could happen. Even if only one person manages to take Alexi's money to root for our beloved United, this operation will be a success.

Update: Their site is live now, at 12:10PM

18 March 2006

The Limit of Rebranding

DC United 1 : 0 Red Bull New York

At least, that's the early word out from the Carolina Challenge Cup. No public story out yet, but two red cards to Red Bull players apparently didn't help the Superclub's chances. Credit the goal to Moreno. Next up? Dynamo Houston on Wednesday.

Update: DCUnited.Com has their recap up. Here's the big question in my mind: Has Troy Perkins won the starting job away from Nick Rimando? If Perkins starts Wednesday, it seems that the answer will be yes.

17 March 2006

Some Technical Problems, But Not With Matt Nickell

Hmmm... I could have sworn I had this post up a few moments ago about Matt Nickell still being with DC United, despite some perceptions to the contrary. But now it appears to have disappeared. Strange. Either someone in my posse is trying to get back at me, or something strange is going on. Or Matt has "E1337 H4XX0R SK1LLZ!" and doesn't like it that people would even think he was gone. Or maybe I'm having strange symptoms of a hang-over that only manifests itself in imagining blog posts. No idea.

Note: I can not spell. See comments.

This Not Just In: Kenny Bertz No Longer With DCU

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Kenny Bertz has been released while DC United rounded out their developmental roster. The DCenters didn't see Kenny having much of a shot this year with DCU, but that's somewhat of a function of the depth at defense, where there are a number of people that DCU can try to see if they can move up. Of course, we wish Kenny luck, and perhaps other teams that were interested in him (Portland?) will give him a shot.

Update 4:20PM: Comments are good things, as Jason kicks in with an update on Mr. Bertz. Also, Timbers Blog doesn't think Kenny will make it out west.

16 March 2006

Well, Maybe One


For most of the off-season, I've been pretty skeptical that any DC United player would make the National team for Germany. The call-up of Ben Olsen to Germany doesn't convince me that he's going, but it does support the idea that he's closer on the bubble than anyone else. Right now, I'd say he probably still doesn't go, but if he has a stronger performance, then there are probably two ways he can make the team:

  1. An injury to a defensive midfield player
  2. Out performing Matroeni and Zavagnin.

That seems possible, and so I am moving the odds on Olsen making the Nats to 3:1... still only a 25% chance, but better than any other DCU player at the moment.



SI.COM does a round-up of soccer press coverage in their Truth and Rumors column. Note how they capture the Nowak situation:

MLS has fined D.C. United Coach Peter Nowak an undisclosed amount for comments he made during a preseason game against Real Salt Lake last month. Real Salt Lake coaches had accused Nowak of saying that one of their players, Atiba Harris, should be "sent back to Africa." Harris, who is black, is from the Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Nowak vehemently denied the accusation.

No mention that there is any sort of dispute about what he said. No mention of Kevin Payne's comments, or Jamil Walker's comments. No actual link to the Post story itself (scroll down because The DCenters has one two posts ago.) Nope, from this paraphrase of the Post, one would only conclude that MLS has fined Nowak because he did speak in a racist manner. Congratulations, Mr. Garber. This is how it's going from now on. I'm so happy your vague statement has managed to put things so neatly to bed.

Yes, I'm still on this subject, and I wish I could move on, but I do want to show that even respectable publications are managing to continue what is either a case of slander, or a case of absurdly light punishment, all because MLS can't write a coherent statement if you spotted them the subject, predicate, and a few propositional phrases.

Shame! Shame!


So considering I woke up this morning and I'm still pissed off at Garber and MLS for their handling of the Nowak situation. From the comments, it is clear I'm not the only one. But, if I'm going to be fair about this, I have to ask myself this question: "Could I have done better?" Just this once, I think the answer is yes.

You can read between the lines and safely assume that the league has no idea what actually happened. If there was proof of a racist comment, Nowak should and probably would be gone. Certainly a suspension would be in order. A fine indicates that they feel like Nowak said something bad, but they don't know what. Okay. So let's assume that MLS after their investigation was left with an accusation from Ellinger/RSL and a defense from Nowak/DCU with no way of telling what actually happened. How do you resolve it? By being transparently honest. What would be wrong with the following statement?

After conducting a thorough review, the league does not find convincing evidence that Piotr Nowak uttered a racial slur at Real Salt Lake's Atiba Harris. However, Mr. Nowak's admitted actions were not in keeping with the league's ideals of sportsmanship and fair play, and he has been fined an undisclosed amount. In pursuing this investigation, the league interviewed parties from DC United, Real Salt Lake, and neutral observers present at the game.
There, admit it was a difficult situation, and you didn't have any conclusive evidence. Be honest, we expect that to be the situation. As it stands, it sounds like you could well be harboring a racist, and that's not right.

Other reactions?
+ Over at Are You Loyal: "I am pleased to see that this is over and the league and fans can now return to arguing about important things... like actual soccer issues." Rebuttal: This may be over from a formal point of view, but it is hardly over for good. This now leads a scabbed over wound that could fester. By wording their actions as they did, MLS now allows people far away from the soccer scene to say things like "You know, Piotr Nowak is a racist, the league fined him for it but didn't say much because they didn't want the embarassmant." Or things like "You know, Ellinger race-baits all over the place. Any time he hears something he doesn't like, he'll play the race card and the league has to act whether anything happened or not." It's over only in the most strictly formal sense.
+ Bruce's Belly: Piotr, keep your lawyer's number handy.
+ MLS Fangirl: How are you supposed to react? Note from DCenters Exactly. While this sports thing is a business, I've always believed that Payne and DCU had some integrity. Now that they could be harboring a racist, it sort of tarnishes the entire fandom aspect. While I'm pretty sure that both Nowak and Payne are still men of integrity, the league's wording makes me wonder.

There's more stuff to talk about today (the departure of Kenny Bertz, the astounding Operation: Deflower coup that may have been pulled off by the kids over at PCK) and I will get to it. The week is no longer boring and slow.

15 March 2006



Commisioner Garber has issued a statement on the Nowak incident during the RSL preseason friendly. It reads:

After conducting a thorough review, we find that D.C. United Head Coach Peter Nowak made improper remarks during the D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake pre-season game on February 17, 2006 in Bradenton, Florida. The League has fined Peter Nowak an undisclosed amount.

Let's look at what I wrote on February 21 on how MLS should handle the investigation:

Let me reiterate: It is now incumbent on MLS to be definitive in their findings, and to act appropriately. Nowak, even if he said "to the hospital," might merit a significant suspension, but MLS must make it clear that is what the suspension was for. Simply issuing a vague statement that "Today, Piotr Nowak was suspended 5 games for conduct detrimental to the league" won't cut it. I would also like MLS to say precisely what the allegation was, and what information was used to evaluate it. In the manner, we can all have confidence that the correct decision was reached, for the proper reasons, and the appropriate sanctions issued.

Today's statement does not meet that standard. It is a ridiculous attempt to punt on the matter. The league needed to indicate whether or not Nowak said "Back to Africa" as was alleged, or "Back to Hospital" as he and Payne maintained. This vague statement can be interpreted however you want: either that Nowak was fined for ordering an unsportsmanlike tackle on a player, or that he was fined for out-and-out racism. As a result, DCU and its fans have no reason to look for Nowak's ouster (and based on this, I'm not going to call for it), while any detractor of DCU or the league can now freely opine that the league and the team coddles racists.

This cowardly action by Garber is despicable. If there wasn't proof he said something racist, but you do think he said something wrong, then say it. Don't allow the worst possible interpretation to hang out there permanently blotting Nowak's character. Or, if you thought the evidence did indicate that Nowak said something racist, then publish that, and let DCU and its fans take their appropriate action (in my case, I'd be calling for Nowak to resign.) This is exactly the worst of both worlds, but I do hope that more will be said. I hope MLS releases more information than just this. As it is, the situation is ridiculous.

UPDATE: Goff tries his best to fill in the details, but the league wants this kept quiet. Read it all, but key graf on my first read:

Sources close to the situation, who declined to be identified because they have agreed not to discuss the incident publicly, said the league found itself in an awkward situation because there was no audiotape of Nowak saying the remarks for which Real Salt Lake had accused him of making. At the same time, one source said, the league was concerned about a possible public perception that it wasn't seriously addressing the issue.
No, instead I have the perception that the league is completley and utterly clueless about the consequences of its actions. Yes, I'm pissed off, and I do intend to weigh in on the comments, but I think I'm too mad to think rationally. I'll sleep on this and get back to you.

Disproportionate Force

NY/NJ Soccer reports that Alexi Lalas may be trying to bus in Red Bull New York supporters to DC United's home opener. The ownership might offer a complete free ride for this event. Now, I may think that even this offer will result in a negligible turn-out compared to the Black and Red faithful filling RFK, but none-the-less it is an attempt to throw down the gauntlet. And this is what you do to deal with that:

You may have been on the fence about going to the home opener. Well, you will be buying a ticket and attending April 2. You may think that clapping along while sitting on the quiet side feels a bit silly. You may furtively turn your head to see if anyone else in your row is echoing Salvadore's drumbeat. Not any more. You will clap. You will cheer. You will support United. You will not let some random section of RFK dominate the cheers for even a minute. Not even after they (theoretically) score a goal. Silence is anathema.

Yes, it is a pathetic little provocation. Even if we didn't try it probably wouldn't matter. Still, the way to deal with this is with overwhelming force. We don't sit around and let people try to take home away from our team. No sir, we're going to show exactly how pathetic this plan is. And the only way to do that is to so completely own our field that other clubs never even consider this type of plan.

To DC United ex-patriates in New York, I call on you to infiltrate this event. Take the Red Bull's money, enjoy the bus trip, and then put on your Roy Lassiter jersey once you reach your seat. In fact, if you're planning on doing this, drop me a line.

I give Alexi Lalas all the credit in the world for trying this. I ask you to now make it a a gutsy, risky, and expensive mistake for him by completely drowning them out. In ten years, the New Jersey franchise has never really achieved even an important symbolic victory over DC. That doesn't change with new ownership. Vamos United.

Make it Up on Volume

I got very little for today. For most of the morning, it's been a blank screen. Which is probably a good thing. Things are tidy and quiet. Training continues apace, DCU prepares to head down to Charleston for their Cup Challenge. I have no idea how good this team is right now, and even if I watched the Cup Challenge this weekend I still think I would have no idea. Probably the best place for me to be would involve watching practices, but this entire day job thing sort of precludes that.

April itself will be a testing period for DCU: Four home dates against various levels of competition. A home date against an improved conference foe (I disagree with MASR on the final position of the Red Bulls, but that's for another post). Should give an early sense if DC has any glaring weaknesses. A home date against Chivas USA provides an opportunity to experiment with ways to address those problems. The Dynamo come to town to provide what could be a stiff challenge, and I like this as the first game to truly assess the team. On the road to RFK north for a RBNY date, and then back home against another good team in FCD. Here are the key questions I will watch in April:

  1. Who's playing on the wings?
  2. How does Nowak manage his substitutions?
  3. Do we have a fixed starting XI, or is it a rotational system. The last three dates in April will be a key test of this.
  4. Does Perkins get one or more starts?
  5. Who's starting that may not be around by the end of the year?
Those are the questions I will be watching. What are you looking for?

14 March 2006


Since I'm on the topic, here is the latest rap from Clint Dempsey on current events (HT: The Belly):

Kick it!

MC Deuce is thug life for REAL.
Don’t complain about the hurt you FEEL.
If you mess with me –
I will SEAL the DEAL.

If you handle the ball, don’t act DENSE
I get cautions for more than DISSENTS
Into your skull I will put DENTS
Till you see dead people like in SIXTH SENSE

So listen close, pay attention YO’
I don’t take shit from any ol’ JOE
I’ll be Godzilla to your TokYO
Just KNOW my FLOW is fantastic-O.

I’ll spread your face like TAYLOR TWELLMAN’S
The same way I spead mayo from HELLMAN’S
My rhymes from the street – hardcore as a FELON’S
I bust people open like Gallagher with MELONS

Now all the haters, actin’ all FICKLE
I gets a suspension from STEVE NICOL
But don’t think you got me in a real PICKLE
When I take you out it don’t feel like a TICKLE.

Just sayin’ y’all…Respect.
Peace. Deuce Out.

Put on Your Black (And Red) Turtleneck, It's the Santino Quaranta Poetry Corner

In these pre-season quiet days of reflection, we thought it might be nice to read more of the poetry of Santino Quaranta. Tino sent in one of his more recent poems1, and we thought we'd let you snap your fingers at the end.

Send Back to Hospital

To be a striker
is to know hatred
from the keeper, from the backs,
and from the USA Men's N&A Board.

They say I'm no good on a wing
or a prayer as a number ten.
They enjoy MC Deuce thug-life.
They call it soccer.

Freddy flies free for formidable feeds from Filomeno.
If Coach said that last phrase
Ellinger would have heard different
Like: Polish people punish pedestrians per persnickety personalities
Alliteration is racism.
Or just lame.

1This is a complete fiction. But really, Tino, send in a poem or two, or we'll continue making them up. Even if you don't really write poetry.

13 March 2006

Data Call

One of the intersting things from the SE Podcast with Mr. Mark Simpson was a question regarding prep work done for games. Simpson said something along the lines that the keepers were briefed about opposing data using an online data system that indicated the number of touches opposing players took, as well as where those touches would come from. This is a surprise for me because I wasn't sure how advanced MLS's Data Warehousing and Intelligence capabilties were. So apparently this data is out there, somewhere. Anyone know where? How much for a subscription? How customizable is it? I'd like to know...

Taste the Twine

An interesting first place "finish" noted at Climbing the Ladder. Please note that my concerns with Mr. Prideaux have nothing to do with this at all, and much more to do with his defensive abilities. Still, an interesting fact which means probably very little.

Pre-Season Form

DC United is in for a quiet week, being back from Spain and then heading down to the Carolinas next week. Which means at some point, there's going to be something to happen, and everyone will go crazy. Until then, a few notes from around this lovely soccer world.

THE DAWG IS BACK, AND DRINKING THE BULL: Maradawga returns from a brief hiatus and comes out fighting in support of the Red Bull deal. This is interesting since I know that the Dawg was a Metros supporter, which means that team loyalties do not dictate reaction to this deal. I mean, The Metrologist and Joe are a NY/DC combo against the plan. Dawg and I form the NY/DC combo supporting the deal. If William F. Buckley were around, he'd get Michael Kinsley to moderate a debate between us. With pistols.(Also, Joe manages to piss me off by writing his parody of the Alexi Lalas video before I managed to get mine into print. The fact that he does a better job at it than I would have has no bearing on this matter.)

IS INVESTIGATION IN HOSPITAL? We haven't yet heard word from MLS on the Nowak/Ellinger/Harris RSL/DCU investigation. And I've been watching. Now, while DC United was in Spain it might have been difficult for the league to interview everyone they wanted. However, anyone the league wants is available to them now. Will we get a word by Friday?

SE PODCAST #3: The 3rd Screaming Eagles podcast was pushed to me over the weekend. It makes nice commute listening, and it's good to hear the interview they've been conducting with Coach Simpson. Someone really should be working on an MLS wide version of one of these. I would do it myself if I had any idea of how.

10 March 2006

The Week in DCenters

Some interesting comments and developments from the week, so I'm going to devote a post to some of the things that I think were interesting...

DID DCU KNOW ABOUT HOUSTON UNITED? Interesting comment from Bill-DC regarding The DCenters report that United was nearly the team name of Houston. Apparently, at the Screaming Eagle annual meeting, DCU executive Stephen Zack said "he expects another United in the league but DC will always be the best." I'm guessing this means that the league or AEG must have given DCU the heads-up that Houston United was a name being seriously considered, if not already selected. Interesting, since this means the name will also be on the table for the future.

IS ALECKO SAVING DC UNITED FROM THEMSELVES? An anonymous commenter with a provocative idea:

Alecko's loss does not concern me. I feel bad for him, but I think it's to the team's benefit. He's massively overrated, as a result of his powerful shot. If you look a little further, however, you'll see that he loses the ball about 75% of the time he touches it. Compare his holding ability with that of Jaime, Gomito, Freddy, or Tino, and, well, there really is no comparison. We should have traded him when his trade value was high bc he's not good enough to get on the field now, especially if Filomeno continues to improve. Feel bad for Alecko personally, but not for the sake of the team, who will be much better, faster, fluid without him.
Wow... Now, there are a number of things you can take issue with, but this point has merit that can not be dismissed. Alecko has had cold spells in each year he's been in black and red. I look at the end of 2004 and saw what I thought was the potential of Eskandarian up-top, and during that time he had a great touch and ability to control the ball. What made him better was that while he could hold the ball and wait for reinforcements, he would go at the net more frequently than Jamie Moreno, whose offensive technique is superb but often involves holding the ball while waiting for Godot to join the attack. I'm against trading Esky for many reasons: I think he can come back, I think it would be bad style, I don't think he has much value right now. Pick any one of them. But I agree with Mr. Anonymous that we can't view Esky as a cure-all for DCU right now, and that his falling down the depth chart might not be a bad thing.

BRAND X (WHERE X=VALUE): Not going to say much more on the Red Bull New York story, but the comments here argued both sides well. I am very curious to see what happens in 2006 now. However, at the end, The Metrologist comes up with a great counter-argument to my "DCU is too valuable as a brand" argument:

...Look at Salzburg; they had 70 years of existence, multiple championships, a distinctive and well-known color scheme, a good, honest, name - in short, a fine "brand". And all that and 100,000 signatures didn't mean a damn thing, especially when a money crunch hit.
Much to think about there, and enough that I can't instantly shoot back at it.

NOT GROVER CLEVELAND: I see that rumored columnist NDL is also now reporting that Cleveland is the proposed expansion city implied by the Commish during the SuperDraft. You may remember that The DCenters had this same story two months ago. Now, I'm pretty sure that NDL and I have have different sets of sources, so at this point I look at this as a pretty much confirmed story. Cleveland is who Garber was talking about. And he was talking about them, oh, nearly 60 days ago. Watch the skies.

Under the Knife

The big DC United news is that Alecko Eskandarian is undergoing hernia surgery, but should be available for the opener against Red Bull New York. If you enjoy reading texts much too closely, one can see that Steve Goff has a forward depth chart, which is:
  1. Jamie Moreno
  2. Lucio Filomeno
  3. Freddy Adu
  4. Santino Quaranta
  5. Jamil Walker
Of course, he could have just been ticking off the forwards in his head as he knew them, but doesn't there seem to be just a bit of implied ranking in there? Although it also ignores Adu's recent starts at Left Mid.

09 March 2006

Houston United - Yes, It Could Have Happened

While reading all of the comments regarding MLS's New York and Houston moves recently, I learned something amazing from a source. At one point, we were within a day or two of an announcement that Houston 1836 was becoming Houston United. No, I kid you not. Apparently, this idea had more than token support, and plans were put in place to look at the idea and present it as a "Look, we're bringing our Anglo and Mexican fans together" idea. Two things apparently saved MLS from this travesty:

  1. Internal resistance to the idea was not simply a passive encounter
  2. Someone had already beaten them to the punch.
Now, can you imagine how I would have reacted had they gone ahead with Houston United? So complain all you want, but this is one travesty that was rightfully avoided. Whew.

Red: The Color of Desire

Black: The Color of Despair

While I've not endorsed the call for league-wide panic, I have no problem with team-wide resistence. So I commend to you The Metrologist's attempt to rally la resistence and further reading at The Kin Of Fish. Fans of the Metros, who will always call yourselves "Fans of Metros", if the past 10 years can't discourage your spirit, then I am sure this will not either, and you shall fight and inspire us with your spirit. Bonne chance.

Business Casual

Wanted to bring to your attention the viewpoint of two non-soccer bloggers that are none-the-less soccer friendly. First, Off Wing Opinion weighs in on Houston Dynamo. While the argument advanced by Eric is not a new one, it is interesting to see it as an emerging opinion on a blog:

But when you say that the name Houston 1836 is offensive, we're really only a half step away from saying that the name Houston itself -- which after all, honors the name of the man who helped lead the rebellion that created the Texas Republic in the first place -- is something to be ashamed of as well.

In a way, it's like somebody saying that Lexington and Concord 1775 is offensive. And if you don't think that 1836 is as important a date in U.S. history as well, then you're just fooling yourself.

Note that Off-Wing has a vaguely right-wing economic viewpoint. But there's trouble on the other side, as vaguely left-wing DC blogger (MattWDC) also pennies up, from a different perspective, and exploring some of the main themes relating to American Exceptionalism:

How do you think a typical American sports fan responds to all of this? Probably with some degree of bafflement and maybe with a little resentment as well. Whose country is this anyway? Do you love soccer because it's a great sport or because being a soccer fan makes you better than the fans of the big four sports? Do you love soccer because you really aren't sure whether you love America?

I find this passage fascinating, and wish Matt had explored it a bit more. Part of what made DC United work in the beginning were two things: It had a unique identity from the rest of MLS, and it was a winner (not necessarily in that order). However, as more teams have come in for Euro style names, because the DC United example worked so well, it seems like a euro-rebranding has become viewed as a panacea by marketers. Which isn't really the case. Also, I think there's a lot to think about in Matt's questions above. Certainly I'm going to keep it in the back of my mind...

The Amazing Rimando Will Now Mystify You With Feats of Magic. And Hands of Magic.


Quick note on the pretty good interview with Nick Rimando over at MLS Net. Yes, he leads DC United stats categories, but consider that we're only counting time in a black uniform there. Imagine if Scott Garlick had stayed with the team for his career. Yeah. Still, kudos for asking Rimando straight away about the competition between him and Perkins. My only quibble (and it is a small one) with Rimando's answer is that it ain't the media calling for Troy Perkins, but the smarks, if you will.

Kudos for SoccerTimes getting a clarification on why Marco Etcheverry isn't eligible for the Hall of Fame induction (Clarification [see comments]: Etch is only not eligible this year, but will be eligible next year.):

Midfield great Marco Etcheverry, who led D.C. United to three championships in MLS's first four years and whose 101 assists are fourth most in league history, retired from American soccer in 2003. He would have been eligible for this year's ballot except he returned to his native Bolivia and played professionally for half a season, said Jack Huckel, the Hall's Director of Museum and Archives.
A question that honestly had not occurred to me, but one that I am happy to see answered.

Got some interesting comments recently, and I think I'll address them in a seperate post, as well as looking at some non-soccer bloggers' (but soccer friendly people's) opinions of the various MLS moves.

08 March 2006

Like Goya, DC United Draws in Spain

United grabs a nil-nil draw in Spain against Atletico's B-squad. (HT: Big Soccer, otherwise I would have missed it.) The long called for Erpen AND Boswell back line initiative is still intact so far, which makes me happy and it sounds like they did well.

More troubling is that Alecko Eskandarian and Brian Namoff were acknowledged to be not recovering. The DCenters sounded the alarm about Alecko's continuing absence after the Getafe game, and I'm upset to have been correctly worried. One of the nice things about the Brunch with DC United series was that you got to see how good Alecko's touch was in creating scoring opportunities, and he needs to be in game situations to get that back.

Namoff's struggles are also worrisome, as I feel that there is a significant fall-off between Namoff and Prideaux's skill levels (or Stokes, or Wilson, or whomever else you see on the depth chart.) Not time to panic, but there's enough to warrant concern and a monitoring of the situation.

07 March 2006

A House Divided Can Not Stand, But an Amoeba Divided is, Um... Two Amoebas

What is becoming more fascinating about the New Jersey Red Bull story is the strange divide that seems to have shown up in MLS fandom. Some days I feel like the Soccer Blog arena, and soccer fandom as a whole, is one giant echo chamber (we like single tables, the supporter's shield, promotion and relegation, and other stuff that isn't going to happen, etc...). The New Jersey Red Bull story nicely disproves of that idea. As I write this, there are 12 comments on my previous thoughts, which is an extraordinary amount for around here. And even more remarkable is the fact that MLS fandom is splitting on this issue, and fairly passionately at that.

Mr. Fish is unsettled by the idea. We Call Him "Free Beer" Joe also hates the idea. Maradawga, a friend of the Metros and New York resident, likes it. As do I, a DC United fan. Mike H. is... ambivalent. But it is an EXTREME sort of ambivalence. Very, very interesting. Anyways, go read other people's opinions. At this point, I stand by my original feeling: That this name change is not that huge a deal to the rest of MLS and that we shouldn't really feel strongly one way or the other about it (in other words, I may think it's stupid, but I don't view it as a travesty or suicidal.) New Jersey fans can, of course, make as big a deal as they want to about this. If it was my team, I'd probably be out rioting in the streets. As I've stated already, I think DC United's brand is too valuable a resource that any smart capitalist wouldn't rebrand the team. So I'm not yet convinced that this represents a "Grave Threat To Our MLS Way of Life" or that "There is a spectre haunting the Eastern Conference: the spectre of high energy supplement drinks." Of course, I've been known to be convinced otherwise.

Update: The Belly comes out in favor of the idea, and the Kin of Fish looks at the impending regime change and feels sick.

New Jersey Public Image Ltd.

Nevermind the Red Bulls, Here's the MetroStars

I've been staying out of the entire "Red Bull to buy New Jersey Metros" debate with my typical dodge of "It ain't about DC United." Still, when the commentary has reached "Battle for Control of the Soul of MLS" proportions, when the very future of the league could be at stake, when no metaphor could be overinflated enough... well, that's when I have to say something. Specifically: It doesn't matter.

For an example of the hyperbole, the normally decent Ives Galarcep goes off the deep-end:

It sounds like the type of progress and evidence of growth the league desperately needs, but at what cost? Is it worth risking the alienating of a fan base for the sake of a big payoff? ... Will this be a new trend for MLS? At what point will the league decide that it cannot sell its history to the highest bidder? Could we see Pepsi United where D.C. once stood? Or how about FC Wendy's where the Columbus Crew now play? The idea would have sounded absurd just a week ago, but the landscape has certainly changed in MLS land.

My feeling is that this is a somewhat naive view of capitalism. Certain teams in the league have a real brand value in and of themselves. We're not going to see Pepsi United (or MasterCard United, or SierraMist United) anytime soon because the name DC United has more goodwill and economic value to potential sponsors. Stadium naming rights, one would hope, would be an attractive way of associating a team with its own brand value with your product. DC United is a successful brand, in addition to being a successful team. Compare this to the LA Galaxy (mediocre brand, good team) and the Columbus Crew (brand image value improving, historical team results not so great.)

The potential sale and renaming of the Metros has less to do with sponsors overtaking MLS and much more to do with how poorly the Metros were marketed and branded in the first place. Or weren't. The very name MetroStars was an awkward mess. The teams colors were not especially attractive. Originally combining MetroStars with "New York / New Jersey" with its unpronouncable slash in the name made the team name sound like it wasn't devised by a marketing team but instead was bred in a lab by rogue geneticists. There are little to no losses if the Metros rebrand. There would be significant losses if Columbus, DC, Chivas, or other teams whose brands are somewhat successful rebranded. So, to answer Ives, I'm not real worried about Pepsi United. And if MLS gets 25-50M USD for the Metros, I think it might be the first great move to have occured in New Jersey since Alecko Eskandarian moved out of there.

06 March 2006

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Silence. It is an eerie thing. People are uncomfortable with silence, compelled with fill it with a nervous giggle, a stage whispered witticism, or half-brained soccer speculation (what if we switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-2-πi2?) Especially me. Yet, for once, I shall endeavor to embody the sage advice of 1980s synthpop artists. Houston Dynamo? Fine, fine. Maybe they can incorporate this into their patch.

No, most of the news is elsewhere. An appreciation of DCU alum Ryan Nelsen is a nice thing to read. Perhaps the scottish creation of a new DC United, having nothing to do with our own. Not of a woman born, indeed! But really, as to the main purpose of this blog, little to publicly link to, and what thoughts I have do not readily congeal into the stick mess of opinion I typically splatter onto this page. Enjoy the silence.

02 March 2006

System Check

Getafe C.F. 3 : 1 D.C. United

What can you take away from the preseason friendly? Feelings, indications, but it is hard to say anything in terms of hard facts. The match itself was an awkward affair, players on both sides seemed to have troubles with the pitch. Getafe's strategy of playing their First XI in the second 45 made this game difficult to evaluate.

It was hard to tell whether Nowak was looking for a win or merely to evaluate players. There were some interesting starting moves. The backline of Wilson - Boswell - Erpen showed me some hope that Erpen might be playing outside come the start of the season. Freddy Adu's start at left wing confirms some earlier speculation in this very blog. It's clear that Nowak probably wants to experiment more in the midfield before the season starts, but isn't that why were doing this?

So, the way I figure it, you can break things down into three categories...

Encouraging Signs:

The Offensive Third: Moreno, Gomez, and Filomeno were effective in the opening minutes, and even after DCU leveled off were still playing the ball with some panache. Gomez's vision and execution to find Gros's run on the right side, setting up the only DCU goal, was a breathtakingly elegant ball. Filomeno's goal was nice, but I was more impressed by the way he could apply pressure without the ball. Facundo Erpen: His play at Right Back was well executed, and he kept his athleticism controlled for most of the game.
Freddy Adu Weeble Wobble: In the 17th minute was a telling moment, when Freddy took the ball and instantly had a defender on his back. In the past, we've seen him flop and lose posession, but here he kept his composure and sent a back pass to Boswell moving the point of attack.
Comcast: Gets all the credit in the world for setting this up, and Johnson/Harkes (Jarkes?) was decent in calling the game from the television monitor. It was nice to see such committment this early. Admittedly, perhaps this isn't the right time to consistently confuse Adu and John Wilson (and even later, Adu and Jamil Walker) but I can't imagine that it is easy calling the game from a monitor you can't control. Kudos to the network.

Things that Aren't Worrying

Touches and Passing: First touches were not there for United as you could see balls frequently come a good distance off a foot. The trademark tic-tac passing of a good United team hasn't developed yet. Balls were played too far, or too high, or at the chest instead of at the feet, but it doesn't matter just yet. That sort of efficiency usually isn't present in the preseason, and sometimes doesn't even show up until even a few league matches are played.
Defensive midfield: While Clyde Simms may not have had the greatest game, it's too early to declare the departure of Kuykendall a mistake. Carroll and Olsen are still finding themselves in United system as well.
The three goals: Perkins and Rimando aren't responsible for the three goals. Perkins was strung out when the defense collapsed and Rimando's first was a blister. The second made did seem like Rimando was caught in the wrong spot.

Things that are Worrying

Left Back: Prideaux did himself no favors in this match, showing that there's a case that both Wilson and Namoff should be ahead of him. Wilson was acceptable, but was twice burned when a Getafe forward suddenly accelerated perpendicular to the goal line. Namoff's injuries are troublesome, especially since he seems like the best option to be out there.
Rimando's Mind Troy Perkins seemed much more assured in the net, and while the goals against Nicky didn't both me, his tendancy to leave his line then change his mind did. Confidential to Matt - You may be right, I might be wrong. Something to watch.
Eskandarian Yes, I know he didn't play. He's missed several preseason games, and I am starting to get worried that he's having difficulty getting his body to accept game-shape. I want to be wrong on that.

Final Thoughts

It's still early, but wasn't it great to see them out again playing? Old uniforms on display, which is fine for me so far. Moose and Dyachenko both got into the game (Mr. Gilmore, you will note that Moose was wearing #8), but it was difficult to evaluate them or anyone that came in after the 60th minute mark. The last thirty minutes were upsetting, but on the upside DCU now has had ample practice defending corners.

Yup, it really feels like things are starting to get underway...