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Friday Kickaround

*I went to sleep last night with Montreal and Santos tied at 2 and the Mexican club needing three late goals to win the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series on aggregate. They scored three goals, including two in added time, for a 5-2 victory (5-4 overall). So the semis are set: Santos vs. Atlante and Cruz Azul vs. Puerto Rico. The matchdays are March 17-19 and April 7-9.

*FC Dallas defender Marcelo Saragosa will be sidelined four to six weeks after having knee surgery. He had an operation on the same knee last October. Saragosa is slated to start at right back.

*The USA under-20 team begins U-20 World Cup qualifying at 6 p.m. tonight against Jamaica in Trinidad and Tobago. No standard TV coverage, but you can follow the game on the USSF's Matchtracker.

*The USA women continue play in the Algarve Cup in Portugal at 10 a.m. this morning against Iceland. No standard TV coverage, but you can follow the game on the USSF's Matchtracker.

By Steve Goff  |  March 6, 2009; 8:43 AM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF , MLS , USSF , Women  
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Comments

wow, the Impact were flat out exposed in the second half last night, that was some terrible defending and overall play in the lat 30. but then, they did have two clinical finishes to make it exciting, but how the heck do you give up two goals in 3 minutes? they showed a lot of heart and grit in this tournament getting this far, but last night showed the absolute difference in class of play between the two teams. great run, though.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 6, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Cannot believe Montreal let the opportunity pass them by. How do you give up 5 goals!!!!

Posted by: CityBlues | March 6, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I ALMOST turned it off at 2-2. But thought, what if they comeback? Is it possible?
So I watched, shocked at the collapse of Montreal. Crazy game!

Posted by: ussccr | March 6, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

What about Away goals? In European competitions the Impact would have won the tie at the end of regulation (2 goals at home, 2 on the road versus Santos 3 goals. Although they played like crap; but better than Houston, in my opinion Montreal deserves to go through!

Posted by: glebalto | March 6, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

there was an away goal rule, Santos scored all 5 in regulation....no Montreal doesn't deserve to go through. They were outplayed, couldn't hold posession for more than 2 seconds and had horrible defending and goalkeeping. It looked like what it was, a second division squad playing against a team with a much higher pedigree and payroll.

Posted by: DCU_VW | March 6, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"how the heck do you give up two goals in 3 minutes?"

By trying to kill the clock inside your own 18.

That was a tragic game. Montreal looked very good and well-poised (especially considering the hostile territory)... until the last 15 minutes or so, when they decided to pull everyone back to the goal line.

I think the coach/leadership bears the brunt of the blame here. Someone needed to pull the game into the midfield, but instead, they just pounded out high-school clears on every challenge and gave away corners like candy.

Too bad, I was really liking the look of Montreal. Credit to Santos though -- they would. not. give. up!

Posted by: -rke- | March 6, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Much props to USL-1. The Islanders are through (beating Marathon, the winner of DCU's group last fall for those who still believe DCU got hosed on the draw), and Montreal came close. Compare that to the exceedingly poor showing last year and this spring by MLS teams. No more pre-season excuse - if the Islanders and Impact can make a showing, so can MLS teams. It's their pre-season too. Maybe MLS can stop beating its chest long enough to look and learn from how these second division teams did it.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | March 6, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who saw Adam Braz in MLS should not be surprised by this turn of events.

Posted by: beach3 | March 6, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

That was a great game. Even though they were totally outplayed, it looked like Montreal would pull it out until the final 20 minutes. At that point Montreal had converted 2 of their 3 scoring chances while Santos was about 2 for 25. That's not an official stat but it seemed that way. At one point late in the game Santos did have a 17-0 statistical advantage on corner kicks.

Santos tied up the score on aggregate, but still trailed on the away goals rule, right about the 90 minute mark. Then the ref failed to blow the whistle on what should have been an obvious PK when Montreal's Felix Brilliant bowled over Santos' Vicente Vuoso from behind.

Santos' Daniel (the little hatchet) Luduena is one of my favorite players in the Mexican league. but last night's win was due more to Walter Jimenez and Carlos Darwin Quintero.

In spite of the lopsided outcome Santos' overwhelming dominance in ball possession, Montreal was opportunistic enough to score 2 well-executed goals and just missed advancing by the skin of their teeth. But the last 20 minutes of the game seemed to feature ALL of the field players from both teams playing in Montreal's penalty area. None of the 2nd half goals were from far out, they were all the result of close-in passing, shooting, knocking in loose balls and unrelenting pressure.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | March 6, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Wow. That's too bad. I was pulling for the underdogs!!

Posted by: beergorila | March 6, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I missed the second half, but caught the last two goals.

Montreal were not outplayed in the first half--not in the least. Their first goal was the result of horrible Santos back pass, but all in all they deserved to be there.

Can't say about the 2nd half, but they looked completely lost for the last 10 minutes.

On two separate plays, I saw two Impact mids receive shotty clearances at their 18 with no Santos player within 5 yards. They turned and booted the ball into the cheap seats---at 25 yards out. Duh. So much for killing the clock AND giving possession right back in your defensive third. Double Duh.

Posted by: delantero | March 6, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I am sick of the excuses. At this point, the Islanders are a better team than any MLS team. This is determined by play on the field. You can piss and moan about draws, fixture congestion, etc., but the bottom line is the Islanders made things happen when they had the opportunity. If the Islanders gave the CCL more attention than MLS teams, that is the MLS teams' faults, not the Islanders. They played to win, and MLS teams just showed up.

Posted by: therealfootball | March 6, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow - what a shame for the Montreal fans who were really into this Cup run. Gutting.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 6, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I am sick of the excuses. At this point, the Islanders are a better team than any MLS team.

Posted by: therealfootball | March 6, 2009 10:02 AM


yeah, in cup play. this year. you are right though that the MLS teams deciding to take their league games more seriously than the CCL is their own fault. but that in no way means that the Islanders are somehow better than ANY team in MLS. I don't remember anyone saying that Barnsley was better than ANY team in the EPL after their run in the FA Cup last year.

Posted by: VTUnited | March 6, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

After last night I am convinced that MLS/USL teams will never win a meaningful game down there. The Impact played perfectly considering the circumstances for about 75 minutes. But then they pulled Roberto Brown off, replaced him with a defender taking away a counter attacking option and then the altitude got to them. Matt Jordan who I've liked since his Dallas Burn days seemed to lose control of his box also, a command he had in the first 45 minutes, and the damn broke.

I guess we can say at least Montreal came closer than most MLS sides have in the past.

But it was still painful to watch. Good luck to the Islanders but we know a similar collapse to past DC/Houston/San Jose/Montreal two leg ties with Mexican teams are coming.

FMF > MLS/USL

That's the tragic truth.

Posted by: kkfla7371 | March 6, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Glebatto, I think you must have misunderstood. Santos won 5-2 in regulation (5-4) on aggregate. The last two goals were scored in added time, not extra time. Big difference.

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | March 6, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

how the heck do you give up two goals in 3 minutes?

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 6, 2009 9:05 AM

------------------
Ask Leverkusen, they did it the other day vs. Munich.

Posted by: edgeonyou | March 6, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Montreal looked totally exhausted the last 10 minutes of the game. I still don't understand why the referee allowed four minutes of extra time at the end. If he had allowed only two minutes, Montreal would have gone through.

Posted by: Juan-John | March 6, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I am sick of the excuses. At this point, the Islanders are a better team than any MLS team.

Posted by: therealfootball | March 6, 2009 10:02 AM


um, when's the last time the Islanders played an MLS team in meaningful competition? have they ever? kind of hard to compare, right?

so yes, the Islanders are doing better than any MLS team in this cup competition (which is why cup competitions are great). Technically, after all, DCU are the Champions of the United States, anyone really think they were the best team in the US last season?

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 6, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

And I am personally sick and tired of people throwing the results of two USL teams at us, convinced of their superiority to any MLS team. This was the quarterfinals. In the last five years, these were the finishes from the SEMIFINALS:

2008: Houston, DC
2007: Houston, DC
2006: None
2005: DC
2004: Chicago

This year, only one these supposed "better teams" placed in the semis. It is preseason for all American teams and DC and Houston usually managed to make a fight of it, much as Montreal and Puerto Rico did. Conditioning will be an issue, as will injuries. DC simply decided that greater gain would come from prioritizing the playoffs last year. Chivas was simply not good, regardless of what league they are in, and I have no explanation for NE. Houston at least advanced, and hit the same problems as before.

Congratulations to PR from advancing (does this earn them a bid to Sudamericana?), but to say that MLS teams accomplish nothing, is just laughable. In just their second year of existence, LA finished second in the CCC. New teams place, it will happen. Just don't accuse DC and others of being worse and trying less than some minor league team.

Posted by: Josh8 | March 6, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Muy, muy draaaaaaaaaaamitico . I’m glad I didn’t go to bed. I must take a HAT OFF to Santo Laguna, most of whome actually showed class, often helping Montreal players up after tough challenges. I didn’t see fans throwing things onto the pitch except after the clinching goal when they threw beer. That happens in the Barra Brava section when United scores, eh? I didn’t like the outcome but when a team scores 5 goals, you gotta say they deserved to win. I’ll be pulling for Puerto Rico and Santa Laguna in the semis.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | March 6, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I am sick of the excuses. At this point, the Islanders are a better team than any MLS team.
***************************
By that logic, the Championship is better than the Premiership in England because 3 of l4 semifinalists last year were from the 2nd division.

Didn't see the game, but couldn't help noticing that on the 2nd to last goal only 6 Montreal field players were in the box and on the last goal only 4, with 3 more about 25 yards out. That's not much of a bunker.

Posted by: teo_68 | March 6, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

3 of 4 semifinalists in the FA Cup, I meant

Posted by: teo_68 | March 6, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The city of Torreon is at 3,280 ft, so i wonder if altitude played a part in the 2nd half collapse..it always gets dc.

Posted by: gode | March 6, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

FMF > MLS/USL

That's the tragic truth.

Posted by: kkfla7371 | March 6, 2009 10:17 AM


Agreed. Has an MLS team ever beaten an FMF team in Mexico?

Posted by: VTUnited | March 6, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

MatchTracker for US-Iceland is up. I wish the game had been televised.

Posted by: StevanF | March 6, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Result is up, I meant to say.

No spoiler from me in this up-to-the-minute soccer blog where someone may come into a thread that mentions a particular game and be upset by seeing a result when the had archived the MatchTracker for Friday-night reading. x___x

Posted by: StevanF | March 6, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. Has an MLS team ever beaten an FMF team in Mexico?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++


You could ask "Has any North American team ever beaten any Mexiacan team in Mexico?"

As far as I know, the answer is the same...

Posted by: JkR- | March 6, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Sky Sports is repoorting that a deal is done -- Beckham to AC Milan -- I'm not clear if it's a total transfer, or whether he's being loaned out for the rest of this season and next.

Anyone who thinks that the Islanders are better than MLS sides is a petulant boob....

Posted by: fischy | March 6, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

US 1 - Iceland 0
Kai 90'

My most insincere apologies to anyone who may be offended by what they consider to be a spoiler.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | March 6, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

um, when's the last time the Islanders played an MLS team in meaningful competition? have they ever? kind of hard to compare, right?

Posted by: joshuaostevens | March 6, 2009 10:26 AM

Not hard to compare at all...PRI beat Marathon in the midst of Marathon's season. DCU finished last in a group Marathon won.


And I am personally sick and tired of people throwing the results of two USL teams at us, convinced of their superiority to any MLS team. This was the quarterfinals. In the last five years, these were the finishes from the SEMIFINALS:

2008: Houston, DC
2007: Houston, DC
2006: None
2005: DC
2004: Chicago

This year, only one these supposed "better teams" placed in the semis. It is preseason for all American teams and DC and Houston usually managed to make a fight of it, much as Montreal and Puerto Rico did.

Posted by: Josh8 | March 6, 2009 10:29 AM


Different type of competition Josh. The old COMCACAF Cup had only eight teams, and MLS and Mexican sides didn't play each other until the semis. This time the CCL has 24 teams and a much tougher tournament schedule.


Thanks to therealfootball for telling the truth. No more excuses! At least for this year's competition, the USL-1 sides were better than MLS under the same conditions.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | March 6, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that the Islanders are better than MLS sides is a petulant boob....

Posted by: fischy | March 6, 2009 12:20 PM

or prone to relying on facts instead of name calling.

Posted by: BillyBob4 | March 6, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so hard for some people to wrap their minds around the idea that the best team in a lower division could be better than some teams in the next higher division?

In other countries, that's the *entire reason* for the existence of promotion and relegation.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 6, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's think outside the box for a second. There are 2 competitions that have both MLS and USL-1 teams: the CONCACAF Champions League and the US Open Cup. In the 13 years since MLS began play, an MLS team has won 12 of the 13 Open Cups. This is despite the fact that MLS teams routinely send out their reserves when facing early round USL competition. If people want to talk about results only as a basis of comparison, I'd say 12-1 is a pretty convincing argument.

Onto the game last night:

Up to their first goal, Santos was in total control. They were stretching the field, playing mostly through Luduena, and creating chances. Once they scored, however, they seemed to be content that the 2nd goal would just magically appear. Every time I've seen Santos, I'm struck by their arrogance; they seem to believe that possessing better technique automatically equals victory. They lost their width and began being much more neutral in possession. Perhaps the idea was to get Montreal to chase and then strike when the Impact was tired?

Rodriguez's awful backpass changed everything. Montreal, who had started to lose their composure in the face of the early onslaught, woke up and began playing with belief. Santos, meanwhile, played in a daze. The scoreline made no sense to their perspective. Surely Santos, with loads of technical ability, should be winning against these grunts from up north, right? Sebrango scored thanks to Mares keeping him onside, and the game seemed to be over.

After halftime, Santos played like a team that understood that technical ability doesn't result in free wins. They knew they had to go out and get it. It also helped that, for Montreal, Quintero was untouchable. He could do whatever he wanted for the entire 2nd half. What hurt Montreal wasn't taking out Brown (who lacks the speed and mobility to chase down the hopeful punts downfield by the Impact); it was having to chase the ball for 90 minutes. The possession advantage for Santos killed Montreal's legs, and tired players make bad decisions.

And make no mistake: this game should not have been anywhere near as dramatic. Santos could have been at 4-3 before the hour mark (Quintero's banger off the post) and at 4-4 Brillant got away with has to be the most obvious penalty not called for a Mexican team at home in history. As a neutral, Quintero's 2nd goal was justice served.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 6, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Chest_Rockwell (please make some more Handsome Boy Modelling School records soon, btw) -- the USOC numbers are definitely an argument that MLS is a better league than any of the lower divisions in the U.S. It's not as strong an argument as you might think because of the bye into late rounds that MLS teams get; but OTOH, as you note, many/most MLS teams field reserve teams in their first game or two (or three, if you're New England in 2008).

But the relative strength of the leagues is a different question from the question of how good the Islanders are at this point.

People like to make the distinction between league play and Cup play, and the example of Barnsley beating Liverpool as an example. In doing so, they're forgetting that the tournaments are run very differently. Barnsley had a nice run of I think five games. The Islanders have so far played ten games in this competition -- that's a third of an MLS season -- against competition that included teams as strong or stronger than MLS sides, and they haven't lost a single game. Does that argue they're better than everyone in MLS? Of course not. But I can't fathom how anyone could claim that they wouldn't be competitive in MLS at this point.

Based on their results in USL1 last year, if we had pro/rel, they'd be in MLS this season; and the folks who claim they'd be out of their depth in MLS would be making that argument about *an actual MLS team* that's done far better over a *10 game* stretch of international competition than any of the other teams in MLS did.

Posted by: christopher_a_metzler | March 6, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I think the gripe was with the comment that PR is better than "any MLS team". Of course they could hold their own in MLS, but they aren't better than the entire league.

If PR and Montreal were continental US based US1 teams, wouldn't the only way for them to qualify for CCL be to win the USOC? I know Montreal had a playoff with Vancouver and TFC, but how did PR get in again?

Also, for PR and Montreal, it would mean much more to win the CCL than the USL1, if for nothing other than financial benefits. An MLS side would probably rather win the MLS Cup, if given the choice between the two.

Posted by: VTUnited | March 6, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Chest_Rockwell (please make some more Handsome Boy Modelling School records soon, btw)
------------------------
They're gorgeous!!!

Posted by: DadRyan | March 6, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

C_A_Metzler:

From what I read, Prince Paul and Dan the Automator split up over some sort of business dispute, so the world will again have no outlet for Father Guido Sarducci outtakes.

I'm not saying the Islanders (or Montreal) would be an embarrassment in MLS. However, I don't think either would make the playoffs, and the line between the playoff and non-playoff teams in MLS is still generally regarded as the line between teams that are respectable and teams that aren't. On the other hand, on a neutral field I could see them outdoing Colorado, TFC, Seattle, and possibly a couple others. They would be a side you wouldn't be tempted to scoff at if they came to play your team, basically. I was pretty happy when DC beat them last week, since last year we struggled mightily with teams that played a similar style (direct, with speed up front, packed midfield, and an emphasis on waiting for opposition mistakes).

VTUnited:

Puerto Rico finished 3rd in the Caribbean Football Union's tournament (believe it or not, this is a real event). This is their only possible path into the tournament. In this year's edition, they've been given a bye directly to the semifinals, but to get into the current CCL they had to start at the bottom.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | March 6, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Montreal, seriously dudes, W T F!? ultimate FAIL!

Posted by: Pete803 | March 6, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

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