Saturday, August 26, 2006

D.C. United vs. L.A. Galaxy

Tonight D.C. United (13-2-8, 1st East) takes on their closest rival in terms of on-the-field success in Major League Soccer, the Los Angeles Galaxy (7-11-5, 6th West). The two teams tied back in June 11th, 1-1, at the Home Depot Center. The Black-and-Red are fighting for the Supporters' Shield, while the Galaxy are simply aiming for a playoff spot. These two teams have trophy cases that are absolutely stuffed compared to the other teams in MLS.

D.C. United
1 CONCACAF Champions Cup (1998)
1 Interamerican Cup (1998)
4 MLS Cups (1996, '97, '99, 2004)
2 MLS Supporters' Shields (1997, '99)
1 U.S. Open Cup (1996)
5 Eastern Division Championships (1996, '97, '98, '99, 2004)

L.A. Galaxy
1 CONCACAF Champions Cup (2000)
2 MLS Cups (2002, '05)
2 MLS Supporters' Shields (1998, 2002)
2 U.S. Open Cups (2001, '05)
5 Western Division Championships (1996, '99, 2001, '02, '05)

It's worth noting that L.A. has the upper hand in the all-time series, 13-11-3. However, D.C. beat L.A. twice in the MLS Cup final, in the inaugural game in 1996 and then again in 1999. It should also be noted that the Galaxy have never missed the playoffs, while D.C. stayed home from 2000-02. Without question these two teams are the premier franchises of Major League Soccer.

Things to look for tonight include the return of Santino Quaranta, who was traded to the Galaxy recently, and the treatment of Landon Donovan by the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava. They don't take kindly to the poster child of American soccer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

United Down Red Bulls

Last night was what I expected from a United-Red Bull matchup. After a fairly even first half, the Black-and-Red toyed with the Red Bulls for the final 45 minutes, coming up with a 3 - 1 victory. Goals were scored by Josh "Ew" Gros and Jamil Walker, who netted two. D.C. United advances to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup and will travel to Chicago to face the Fire on September 6th.

View from Section 330-something.

This game was definitely a step in the right direction for the team. Most of the usual starters did not play. Troy Perkins, Freddy Adu, and Chrisitian Gomez did not see the field. Ben Olsen and Jaime Moreno were subbed in during the 60th minute and seemed to set the pace for the final two goals scored in the game. The mere fact that D.C.'s second team can beat their biggest rivals by two goals is exciting. Now all we need is for the first team to get out on the pitch and dominate someone. They'll have a shot this Saturday as D.C. United takes on their closest rival in terms of success, the L.A. Galaxy.

Bruce Arena got some boos and a lot of cheers for his return. It's hard not to like the coach, but if he sticks with the Red Bulls for a while I'm sure I'll grow to despise him.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

D.C. United vs. Red Bull New York

Tomorrow night marks a non-league meeting between D.C. United and Red Bull New York aka New York Red Bulls aka MetroStars aka NY/NJ MetroStars or whatever the hell they're called this week. The winner of the match advances to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

These two teams have sparked a bit of a rivalry, as they compete for the Atlantic Cup. United has won three of the four competitions and hold the lead in 2006. This season, the Black-and-Red hold a 1-0-2 record with the Red Bulls. Although this particular match will not count towards the competition, expect tempers to flare regardless.

Earlier this season, D.C. United's Alecko Eskandarian (YouTube highlight vid) celebrated a goal against the Red Bulls by taking a big swig of the Red Bull energy drink . . . and then spiting it out disgustedly on national television. Also, the company that owns the Red Bulls and the Red Bull eneregy drink, Anschutz Energy Group, paid for over 800 fans to travel for free to Washington, D.C. to see the two teams compete. This didn't sit well with D.C. supporters and there were reported incidents after the game in the parking lots.

Finally, this game marks Bruce Arena's first visit back to RFK Stadium as a visiting coach. He led D.C. United to three MLS Cups, winning two and losing one, in his three years as head coach from 1996-1998. After his run with the U.S Men's National Team, he took the job as Red Bull's head coach. It'll be interesting to see how Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles great him.

I fully expect D.C. to turn things around after their little slide of three straight ties. Since this game is for a knock-out tournament, one team is guaranteed to win, and everything looks to be in D.C.'s favor. A loss to the Red Bulls would be disasterous.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

United Tread Water With Rapids

D.C. United had the perfect opportunity to get revenge on one of the two teams in MLS that defeated them this year, the Colorado Rapids. Instead of unleashing a beating in a statement game at home (the first league game at RFK since beating Columbus back in mid-July), the Black-and-Red came out cold and uninspired and managed just a 1 - 1 draw with the 3rd place team the Western Division. The tie gave the season series to Colorado and left United supporters with the feeling that this team is not nearly as good as they seemed in July.

View from Section 137, Row 7, Seat 1

The team played very well in the second half. Christian Gomez scored on a cross in the 56th minute to tie the game before being subbed out with a hamstring pull. Despite outplaying the Rapids for the last 45 minutes, the team couldn't push ahead in the mid-afternoon heat.

Coming into this game, United's home record in the league was 8-0-1. The Rapid's road record in league was 1-6-1. This was a gimmie game and the team blew it. Was the ref bad? Yes. That was definitely a Penalty Kick for Freddy Adu, who was getting fouled all game. Was it hot as hell down on that field? Yes, and the team dealt with that to get the equalizer in the 2nd half. But these are issues that great teams will overcome to win.

The Black-and-Red are winless in their last four MLS games (0-1-3) against mediocre teams like Red Bull New York, Real Salt Lake, Chicago Fire and the Colorado Rapids. Back in July when they won 7 in a row and had a 14-game unbeaten streak going, I was sure that this team was not only the best league team but also the best MLS team ever. Now, um, not so much.

This team needs to start dominating. In the next month, they play eight games of the utmost importance. I am proclaiming this stretch to be Remove All Doubt Month. United need to use these games to run away from the league, clinch the Supporter's Shield, and put themselves in position to claim their 5th MLS Cup. Unless they start playing they way they're capable, D.C. United will keep floating towards dissapointment in November.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Foo for the Soul (City)

Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters played an all-acoustic show at DAR Constitution Hall last night that surpassed all of my lofty expectations. I'm a sucker for the Foo Fighters and for acoustic rock, so there was a lot to live up to. The entire show was truly excellent. Any doubts that I had about the band playing acoustic or Dave's "YEAH! WHOO! C'MON!" vocals were put to rest by the opening song, "Razor." One of the stand outs on the acoustic disc from In Your Honor, the song sounded absolutely beautiful with Dave playing solo. It has a really mellow vibe that set the stage for the rest of the night.

My first concert ever was seeing the Foo Fighters play a free show at Tower Records in Rockville, MD in 1997. This show couldn't match that in terms of sheer awe, but I did get goosebumps a few times throughout the performance. One of those times was hearing "Marigold" as a lead-in to "My Hero." Hearing two of my favorite Foo tracks played back-to-back was surreal.

Dave was very chatty the whole night. He's always had a great sense of humor and it was awesome to hear him tell stories. The "Hold on! You forgot your jumbos!" story as an intro to the b-side "Skin and Bones" was a great way to add some local flavor to the homecoming show. Dave also told a great story about Kurt and Chris before playing "Friend of a Friend." Very cool.

The setlist was what I expected. They played just about every song off of the acoustic disc of the new album, a lot of their hits ("Everlong," "Times Like These," "Walking After You," "February Stars," "See You," and "Floaty") and only one rarity, the aforementioned "Skin and Bones."

The band played for more than an hour and a half, but the show never dragged. There was a healthy mix of solo stuff mixed in with a full band performance. Dave started a few songs solo and finished them with the band, which worked really well on "Times Like These" and "Everlong." The backing band was incredible, with Taylor Hawkins rocking out the whole time and Pat Smear staying chill as ever. The keyboardist from the Wallflowers and the violinist/singer Petra both stood out, as well.

Long story short, the Foo Fighters still put on a kick-ass show almost ten years after I first saw them. The acoustic tour is still in the beginning stage, so if you get a chance to see them do not pass it up.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit of a hypocrite on the issue of exhibition/pre-season matches. On one hand, I was ecstatic that D.C. United competed well against Celtic FC and Real Madrid when they played friendlies this summer. On the other hand, I refuse to watch tonight's pre-season match between the Washington Redskins and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Who cares? Who would ever pay to watch a pre-season football game? Is there any reason to watch tonight's "game"? Nothing good can come out of it. Best case scenario is that nobody gets hurt.

Pre-season NFL football should be eliminated. Get rid of all but one or two pre-season games and add two regular season match-ups, preferably with geographical rivals (BAL-WAS, NYG-NYJ, HOU-DAL, etc.) If a team doesn't have a geo-rival, then tough titties. They have to play a home-and-home with the Arizona Cardinals.

Now, with all that being said, the past two soccer exhibitions have been awesome. D.C. United waxed Celtic by four goals and the D.C. United/Real Madrid match-up made my mouth water. During the Red-and-Black's draw with Los Galacticos, there were a handful of really entertaining moments. The best part was Troy Perkins stopping Roberto Carlos' absolute laser of a free kick from just outside the box. That was a world-class save . . . even if it didn't mean anything.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

D.C. United vs. Real Madrid

Tonight, D.C. United takes on perennial Spanish power Real Madrid in Seattle, WA of all places. The match can be seen on Comcast SportsNet at 11:00pm. The international friendly will mark D.C.'s first action since their U.S. Open Cup win over the Columbus Crew. That is, if you don't count the MLS All-Stars victory over Chelsea, in which eight players sported the Red-and-Black shield.

In today's Washington Post article, Real Madrid is described as having "the history of the Dallas Cowboys with the recent performance of the Boston Red Sox and the notoriety of the Los Angeles Lakers."

Not too shabby.

They're stacked to the brim with world-class talent, including: David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, Raul, Robinho, Roberto Carlos, Ruud van Nistelrooy, etc. Unfortunately, Zinedine Zidane retired after the World Cup and Ronaldo won't make the trip. They truly are one of the world's premiere club teams and it's an honor for D.C. to go up against them, even if it is just an exhibition.

This match is ultimately useless, but it will be nice to see MLS's best franchise square off with a world-class power. In the past year, the Red-and-Black have matched up quite nicely with Celtic (Won, 4 - 0) and Chelsea (Lost, 1-2). It's nice to see these teams playing the best US soccer has to offer instead of MLS clunkers like the Los Angeles Galaxy.

I would have liked to include a YouTube video of Real Madrid to show what they're like, but I couldn't find any video that didn't have horrible Euro-techno as the soundtrack (Exhibit A, Exhibit B).