Thursday, May 25, 2006

US loss is no need to panic

The first match of the World Cup send off tour for the US was all backwards.

How often is it that the United States is the power and the other team is the one huddled in a defensive bunker? Of course, rather than try to explain more of this idea I think the folks over at DC enters were spot on with their point.

The Czar over at Are You Loyal? does well to explain that there are two camps that have formed because of this result. Those who aren't worried and those who are jumping on the panic button with both feet. To see where he stands, go check out his post.

Using the train of thought put forth by the AYL Magistrate I would have to put myself in the those who aren't worried camp. I think the loss will do more good than a huge win at this point. The loss in and of itself means nothing. The important thing to watch now is how the US responds. If they come out against Venezuela looking like the disjointed version of Real Salt Lake circa 2005, which they did against Morocco, then there may be cause for concern.

In a sense, this pre-season and nothing counts until Germany. Although, it would be good to see improve in these next two games.

Blogger Lesson Learned: Go with your Gut

Blogger lesson learned: Go with your gut when you have something to say.
Case: Jeff Cunningham

Earlier this week Ryan Hatch of Salt Lake based radio station 1280 The Zone, in attempts to describe Jeff Cunningham's role to the average Joe sports fan, compared the RSL striker to a relief pitcher: the go to guy you bring in off the bench to get you the win late in games. The comparison, in my mind, is quite accurate as Jeffy has scored three goals in the last two RSL wins coming on as a second half sub.

It's funny because driving home after the 1-0 loss to Columbus back on May 6 my friend and I were venting our frustrations about the lack of RSL results. Because everyone thinks they know more than the coach during hard times, whether you admit it or not, we were discussing what should be done differently. Among them was not starting Jeff Cunningham. Although the reason is rather obvious to RSL fans now, it made even more sense to us at the time.

If there is one thing Jeff Cunningham is known for it is coming into the game around the hour mark and demolishing tired defenses. Thinking back to last season, when Cunningham was with the Crapids, Jeff came on late in the All-Star game to score a pair of goals. During his post-game interview on television he discussed his role as a super sub.

Thinking that I could find the stats to back up my theory I hit last years record books on Jeff's 12-goal season in Colorado. It turns out that my theory, at least for 2005, was wrong. Of his dozen goals 8 of them were scored in games were Cunningham started. Thinking my theory destroyed I opted not to write the post. The very next week Cunningham comes off the bench around the 70th minute and scores a brace (2 goals) to the shock and awe of all MLS to give Salt Lake their first road win ever.

Now that the outcome has repeated itself RSL fans know that Ellinger may never start Jeff again.

The moral of the story for this blogger is to go with your gut. Write the story when you feel it, it makes you look a lot smarter when you turn out to be spot on. That's why we blog, right? Because we think we have something important to say because we see things differently.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Woo Hoo!

Like many other RSL fans I'm still in a bit of shock. I missed watching the game live and wasn't sure while I was watching the tape during the wee hours of Sunday morning if I was in a dream state or really seeing RSL score and continue to score.

But alas, it is true, Real Salt Lake have now won. And, even though the streak extends into the far reaches of memory of last season, Salt Lake is not the last team to win this season. The Red Bulls are 0-1-5. With the win we are now tied with Chivas with 4 points.

Some of the high points I've taken from this game. There were three goals scored and none of them by Jason Kreis. Last year nearly a third (9) of RSLs 30 goals were scored by Kreis. It's good that others are stepping up this year.

Jeff Cunningham has now scored his third goal for RSL. Seeing as it took him seven games to do this, I'd say he's on track to be more productive than the man we traded for him. Mathis scored a total of three goals all year in 2005.

And finally I really enjoyed how the guys came together. The team as been battling as a cohesive unit for much of the season, and it was nice to see it finally pay off.

Another interesting note. The last time Real scored 3 goals in a game came in a 3-0 shut out of FC Dallas back in July 2005.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

SL County Mayor Peter Cartoon

When it was announced Wednesday that Salt Lake County was going to deny RSL funding to help with the stadium project in Sandy, the news broke on most every medium and has already been blogged about repeatedly.

So, by the time I got home I figured the issue was dead and I didn't need to write about it. That was until I caught county mayor Peter Cartoon on Fox 13 News Thursday morning. What struck me was how nervous and rigid Cartoon looked as he took questions.

I would figure that a man who, in his mind, just saved the county $35 million would feel pretty comfortable about his decision. And you'd think a politician would feel natural in front of a camera. Cartoon looked neither. While he fielded the questions, giving the normal "the numbers don't add up" answers I could see in his eyes the real reason why the county denied RSL the money. As loud and clear as the beats of Samba Gringa ringing out at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Cartoon's rigid behavior screamed, "Why didn't I help Real build a stadium in Salt Lake county? Because Larry Miller told me not too!"

In all seriousness, let this news galvanize all RSL supporters. Make a special effort in getting out to the game this Saturday. We're playing the Crew (who are struggling) kickoff is at 7pm. Do everyone a favor and bring a friend...then tell them to do the same.

A thing of beauty

With that title you know that I'm not touching anything about RSL with a 10-foot poll. Not with the on field performances that have already been chronicled and blogged about and now with the recent denial of funding from Salt Lake County to assist in the construction of the soccer stadium in Sandy, which I will post about later. So, forgive me for veering off topic while I talk about the 3A high school game I attended last night

The local high school, Logan High, had been receiving a lot of attention in the newspaper around these parts for their perfect 16-0 season. With the state playoffs starting this week, and the fact LHS had not won a playoff game since 1991 - before I was even in junior high, let alone high school.

Knowing what the normal fare of high school soccer presented (a hard-nosed long-ball game), I attended last night's first round playoff game with very low expectations. I even told the Mrs. that I would probably be home after the first half.

As I found a spot on the bleachers the game was a few minutes old, but no goals had been scored. What I saw on the field was shocking. None of Logan High's passes were hardly over 10 yards. Players commanded control of the ball with quality dribbling and quick one and two-touch play through traffic. The play was creative and of quality.

On the first goal a young lad named Edwin Sanchez received the on his foot at the top of the box, with his back toward goal. A defender pressured his back tightly but with a wicked cut back, across the front of his marker this striker destroyed any attempt at opposing his quest for goal. With no one in front of him after the devastating move, Sanchez easily slipped his shot past the keeper.

I found out later that Sanchez lead his team and the Valley (Cache, not Salt Lake) in scoring. And, he's only a freshman.

As I watched Logan completely dominate with their creative short passing I should mention it wasn't the domination that impressed me, but the style of playing from the boys. They know how the game is supposed to be played. And the thought occurred to me, if this is happening in 3A Utah high school soccer it gives me hope that this style of play is getting played by younger and younger american players.