By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s Tuesday Soccer Notebook
MIAMI — We’re taking a quick trip around the US and Africa in this week’s Soccer Notebook.
Real Salt Lake, playing their first ever playoff match and in their new Rio Tinto stadium were locked in an entertaining battle with Chivas USA that somehow remained scoreless until the 90th minute.
Yura Movsisyan, who scored the injury time winner to put RSL into the playoffs, did it again on Saturday with a flash of brilliance.
Movsisyan, received a pass from Javiar Morales in front of the goal, let the ball through his legs and flicked it behind him into the far end of the net with his heel giving Zach Thornton no chance.
In a match that featured some fine attacking play from both teams, especially RSL in the second half and some great goal keeping by Thornton, it needed Movsiyan’s brilliance to unlock the match.
Chivas USA will head home for the 2nd leg needing to score at least twice and win by at least a goal to avoid losing in the first round for the second straight year.
The Houston Dynamo’s road troubles continued as they needed an 85th equalizer from Sierra Leone born striker Kei Kamara to draw with RBNY. The Exit 16W outfit went in front thanks to a header from Juan Pablo Angel in the 48th minute and had a strong match from Dane Richards.
Their effort looked as if it would hold up until Kamara toe poked the equalizer after a goal mouth scramble. An opportunity lost, perhaps for RBNY and now a tall task confronts them. RBNY have won just once outside of New Jersey and the two-time defending champion Dynamo lost only once at home all season.
The Columbus Crew did what good teams do, get results when they aren’t necessarily deserved. Steven Lenhart drove a 16 yard shot off a pass from Alejandro Moreno two minutes into injury time to give the Supporter’s Shield winners a 1-1 ddraw with host Kansas City.
The host Wizards had taken the lead through Davy Arnaud’s 10 yard header off a Claudio Lopez cross in the 53rd minute. But the match turned on Hercules Gomez’ red card for a two-legged tackle on the Crew’s Gino Padula, allowing Columbus to continue their siege on Kevin Hartman’s goal until the equalizer home.
Still this has to make Crew supporters nervous who remember seeing their side grab the Supporter’s Shield four years ago, only to lose in the first round.
The playoffs got underway with a physical 0-0 draw between the Chicago Fire and the New England Revolution before a small crowd at Gillette Stadium. Though the match wasn’t exactly an advertisement for “the Beautiful Game” it was nevertheless an intense affair between two sides with plenty of playoff animosity.
The teams forced nine saves and 22 fouls between them. New England on the one hand might be happy to grab a draw given the amount of personnel missing due to injury and suspension but being unable to put Chicago under pressure on the score board will spell trouble when the scene shifts to Chi-town Thursday night.
While the regular season had an exciting finish, much of that was overshadowed by announcement that Galaxy midfielder David Beckham was considering a short term loan deal Italian club AC Milan. That loan deal was completed this past week and Becks will report to Milan in December.
Beckham has claimed that the he wants to stay in shape over the long MLS off-season and will return to LA for the 2009 season. Popular opinion, however, is that he wants to stay in shape to keep his place in the England National team squad.
Beckham is just a few caps shy of the most appearance for an England outfield player and the cynical view is that Beckham wants that record, even if he plays the last few minutes of each match. Some even wonder if Beckham is even coming back to MLS.
With the Galaxy again not in the playoffs and many feeling that Beckham’s huge contract is preventing the team from bringing in better players, the timing was not exactly ideal for team unity.
LA’s other superstar, Landon Donovan was not happy with the timing and coach Bruce Arena wondered aloud how this possible loan deal helps LA or the league. Arena now claims he’s fine with the deal.
In this writer’s view, this is much ado about nothing. Beckham said he was coming back and short loan terms deals are not THAT unusual. If this had been anyone else outside of David Beckham, no one would care…
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
The Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago and the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica are still alive heading into the final match of the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago are in the driver’s seat for a final round berth out of Group 1 after beating an inexperienced but already qualified United States team 2-1 in Port of Spain.
Goals from the old guard of Russell Latapy and Dwight Yorke left T&T in second place needing only a draw in their November 19 match against Cuba or a US victory over Guatemala to advance.
The Reggae Boyz started slowly in Group 2 but have picked up steam, having beaten Mexico and Honduras in consecutive matches to put themselves in position to advance.
Jamaica needs a home win against already eliminated Canada and hope Mexico either ties or beats Honduras to advance. Haiti and Suriname are already eliminated from Group 3 that have seen Costa Rica and El Salvador advance.
The two teams from each group advance to the final round where six teams will battle for 3 spots in the 2010 World Cup.
AFRICAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
The ultimate prize in African Club soccer looks to be headed back to Cairo once again. Egypt’s juggernaut Al-Ahly, looking to capture their sixth title beat Coton Sport of Cameroon 2-0 in the first leg of the African Champions League Final on Sunday. Goals from Wael Gomaa and Angola’s Flavio in the first 15 minutes seemed to put the tied out of reach early.
Coton Sport is the first team in 28 years to contend for the title and that pride came through in the second half as they created several chances. However, Al-Ahly kept them at bay and will take a two goal lead to Yaounde for the second leg on November 16.
MLS Playoff Scoreboard
(Black goal scorers CAPITALIZED)
First Round, Leg 1
New England Revolution 0 Chicago Fire 0
RBNY 1 (Angel 48′) Houston Dynamo 1 (KAMARA 85′)
Real Salt Lake 1 (Movsisyan 90′) Chivas USA 0
KC Wizards 1 (Arnaud 53′) Columbus Crew 1 (Lenhart 90+2′)
GO OUT AND PLAY SOCCER!