Monday, November 5, 2007

US Soccer October Recap: Marta Makes Her Mark, Beckham No-Shows, and Blanco Lights Fire

Marta Makes Her Mark.
In October, as so often happens in the USA, the world of women's soccer easily out-shone that of the men.

In that month, the US women's team made it all the way to the semi-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in China, but having got there were summarily dismissed by Brazil and their emergent national team. Indeed, the USA bowed out to Marta and company, 0-4, the budding superstar punctuating the victory with what had to be the classiest World Cup goal scored since Denis Bergkamp's YouTube classic against Argentina at France 1998.

The "early" exit for the US women seems very much to have disappointed the national federation and--though the Olympic tournament is less than a year away--a coaching change has already been announced.

Simultaneously, the biggest news in US men's soccer is that David Beckham and LA Galaxy are absent from the MLS playoffs, now underway.

This past weekend (Nov. 2-3) the final four teams vying for the 2007 MLS Cup were determined in conference championship semifinal play. In the Western Conference, 2006 champs Houston Dynamo eliminated Texas rivals, FC Dallas, 4-1, while Kansas City Wizards held ChivasUSA socreless to advance as Houston's opponent.

On the Eastern Conference side, the New England Revolution defeated Bruce Arena's New York Red Bulls, 1-0, Saturday night to advance to their sixth straight conference championship appearance. The Revolution will meet Chicago Fire in the conference final match, as the Fire--low seed in their conference--dismissed overall top-seeded DC United, 1-0.

The success of the Chicago Fire this season has surprised many. The club did not look likely to even make the playoffs in June, but--taking advantage of the same league salary rule which brought Beckham to Los Angeles--the Fire acquired Cuauhtemoc Blanco, late of Mexico City's Club America, and the Mexican national side. Blanco, 34, has scored four goals since he joined the Fire in July and totaled 13 points in just 16 games.

The Fire travel to New England Thursday, Nov. 8, for the Eastern Conference final match, while Houston will host Kansas City Wizards for the Western Conference final on Saturday, Nov. 10.

MLS Cup 2007 will be played Nov. 18 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

Just FYI, let me say that it has been a while since I posted here. My main is excuse is I've been working on other things, my 1988 VW in particular. I hope to have the shifter working properly again sometime this week and thereafter have more time for blogging, etc.

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