Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BASA! Nearly a week's worth of votes!

Due to a close encounter with a vegetable slicer to the tip of one of my fingers it's been a challenge to type these last few days. Now that I'm back, here's - nearly - a weekly review of my BASA votes.

Young Player of the Year

(Under 23 on July 1, 2006. From this list, those eligible are Jeff Curtin through Altidore)

1- Kenny Cooper
2- Freddy Adu
3- Marvell Wynne

Kenny Cooper and Freddy Adu were not hard picks for the BASA Young Player of the Year award. Not only were Cooper's 11 goals second to only team mate Carlos Ruiz's 13, but 6 of those goals were game winners. With far less hype than previous years Freddy had a very solid year. His steady play at midfield has been a key contribution to United's success this season. As for the third spot, there were a lot of deserving young players. But, Marvell simply seemed to play more like a veteran than most.

Midfielder of the Year

1- Christian Gomez
2- Dwayne DeRosario
3- Andy Dorman

Another quick and easy vote for midfielder of the year. Gomez has been an incredible force for a loaded United team. And although it doesn't count in the voting, he's carrying that form into the playoffs scoring 100% of DC's first round goals.

Like I mentioned in my arguments that Dominic Kinnear be considered for Coach of the Year, I'm completely impressed with the Dynamo. The team has gone through a load of adversity and produced results all thorugh it. De Ro is the catalyst for his team. He's always hustling and putting the ball in the net - 11 times over.

Dorman's getting my recognition because through the ups and downs of his Revs teammate performances and health it was Dorman who was the steady engine who drove that drove them through the crap, playing in all 32 games and leading New England with 10 assists.

Old Player Of The Year

(33 or over on July 1, 2006. From this list, those eligible are Onstad through Abundis)

1- Jason Kreis
2- Chris Armas
3- Paco Palencia

The criteria used for this award was mainly my impressions of their play this season. None of them would really jump off the page with their statistics, and yes they each have probably had better years when they were younger. But, I could not deny that Jason Kreis gave everything he had for RSL this year and because of that he did a lot of dirty work while Jeff and others got much of the glory. Armas is a player that you rarely should notice and you rarely do. His job at holding midfield isn't glamorous, but he has done it well this year. I know it's not common to have an RSL supporter voting for Chivas, but every time I saw Palencia play he would always do something that would impress me.

Forward of the Year

1- Jeff Cunningham
2- Carlos Ruiz
3- Kenny Cooper

A forward scores goals. Jeff Cunningham scored 16 goals. That was more than anyone else this year, thus he is the top man at his position. For the other two spots I followed my gut, and that meant not voting for Razov who was third in league scoring with 14. The combination of Ruiz and Cooper felt more dangerous to me. Of course, this could have a great deal to do with that fact that the Dallas Duo scored a combined five goals on RSL this season.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Grinsy Klinsy Talking with USSF


The news broke late yesterday. I guess if there is a reason to put the national team on a 4 month hiatus it would be to wait for Klinnsmann.

The question is this: Has the lack of games over this period been worth it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

BASA: Defender of the Year - Explanation of My Votes

Defender of the Year

1- Eddie Robinson
2- Facundo Erpen
3- Ugo Ihemelu

Like in the case of goalkeepers discussed earlier this week, to find the best defensive players you initially need to look at the teams that allowed the fewest numbers of goals. Going by this philosophy, the best defensive teams are New England, Los Angeles, DC, and Houston.

From all reports we can assume that the Herculean effort of Matt Reis is what kept Revs opponents off the board. Thus, choosing a representative from this team wouldn’t make sense – unless you could give it to Reis.

This leaves us with the Dynamo, United, and the Galaxy. Ihemelu was a stalwart for LA throughout the season playing more minutes than anyone else while slowing down attackers.

As for DC their entire back line could have been listed for the award. It was a toss up between Bobby Boswell and Erpen. Although Boswell was chosen as his teams top defender I think that Erpen brought an offensive edge. The Argentine added 3 goals and a pair of assists to his solid defensive efforts.

Robinson represents the collective fourth best defense in the league. The reason he deserves the top spot is that his support was somewhat lacking this year. Robinson picked up a lot of slack while supporting Onstad in front the net.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

BASA: Rookie of the Year - Explanation of My Vote

Rookie of the Year

1- Jonathan Bornstein
2- Mehdi Ballouchy
3- Marvell Wynne

All that needs to be said about Bornstein is that he started in more games and played more minutes than anyone else on his entire team. He’s listed as a defender but has seen time all over the park while amassing 6 goals and 4 assists. Bornstein is a major reason for Chivas' improvement this season.

While Mehdi Ballouchy may not have been as impressive on paper as Bornstein, his contribution was equally as vital. When RSL got control of the midfield it was usually through Ballouchy’s efforts. He tended to roam freely no matter what side of the midfield he was listed at playing. His composure on the ball and smart passes broke down some of the most solid defenses in the league.

At this point I’d like to admit a mistake I made in voting. For some strange reason I figured that rookie meant first year in MLS. So, naturally I put in Kenny Cooper, who has previous professional experience in the Manchester United system. Scaryice over at Climbingin the Ladder pointed out my mistake and so I just threw out Marvell Wynne’s name. I apologize because I really don’t know if he had all that great of a season. I know I saw him make some intelligent decisions in back and he has a pair of game winning assists. But, I should say that in comparison to all the hype shoveled on him at the 2005 SuperDraft as the top pick, I don’t think he dominated in a way that some people thought he would.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

BASA: Coach of the Year - Explanation of My Votes

Coach of the Year

1- Bob Bradley
2- Dominic Kinnear
3- Dave Sarachan

The top pick for coach of the year was a complete no brainer. Chivas USA were the absolute worst team in MLS during the 2005 season period, with a record of 4-22-6. Insert Bob Bradley and we have a playoff caliber team that finished smack dab in the middle of the table and a much more respectable record of 10-9-13 the following year. With Bradley, Chivas abandoned their initial thought of operating the team with exclusively Latin based or Latin American players and brought in a healthy mixture of young players – such as Rookie of the Year candidate Jonathan Bornstein – and veteran players like Razov and Palencia.

In 2005 Dominic Kinnear managed the San Jose Earthquakes to the best regular season record in the league. After a horrific off-season involving relocation and rebranding, the Earthquakes traveled southeast and became the Houston Dynamo. Through the move Kinnear kept much of the same core of players and at times this year looked like the great San Jose team of 2005. Any coach that can keep a team winning (11-8-13) after a move deserves recognition.

Some might question why choose Chicago Fire coach Dave Sarachan over New England’s Steve Nicol when the Revolution finished with a better overall record. The key here is personnel. For long periods during the year New England were major under achievers. Now, Nicol can’t really control a pair of his players getting offers from overseas only to get turned down by the league (who owns all player contracts), but he should have still been able to keep his boys motivated.

The Fire have gone out and had a very solid year, taking third in the East and taking the US Open Cup title away from Los Angeles.

The consensus voted Peter Nowak very highly, and some might think for good reason as his DC United were the top team in the league. My only problem is they did all their winning in the first half of the season and then coasted through the last half. United practically sealed up a playoff spot in July, then only won three times since the All-Star game. But, I probably shouldn’t complain too loud as RSL got 4 points (a win and a tie) out of DC during the middle and late in the season.

Monday, October 23, 2006

BASA: GK of Year - Explanation of My Votes

Goalkeeper of the Year
1- Matt Reis
2- Troy Perkins
3- Kevin Hartman

My top picks for goalkeepers this season were mostly mathematical. The Revolution, D.C. United, and the LA Galaxy have the three lowest totals for goals allowed during the course of the season. Attributing that stat to just the goalkeeper has never sat well with me because defending is up to the entire defense, not just the goalkeeper.

So, if you take the three teams stated above and figure which of their keepers faced the most shots that where you’d find our goalkeeper of the year.

The Revs defense allowed Reis to get fired upon 182 times, and Reis only let 35 get passed him. Perkins, with arguably the league’s best team in front of him, was peppered with 140 shots allowing one less than Reis (I’ll save you a trip to MLSnet.com, it’s 34). The irony of the group is Hartman. Few would argue that it’s been a sub-par year for the defending MLS Cup champions, not making the playoffs and all. But, the Los Angeles defense was the most protective of the three discussed here, only permitting 120 attempts on goal while Hartman was in the nets. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that Hartman played two less league games than Perkins and four less than Reis.

The BASAs are the annual awards decided by the top american soccer bloggers. You can view the overall results of the voting at Climbing the Ladder. Awards will be posted to Climbing the Ladder every weekday for the next few weeks, and you can find an explanation of my votes here at Desert Crown.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cardiac Contests

Although this weekend will test the blood pressure levels of all RSL fans as we sweat out the Houston-Colorado match on Saturday and then see if our boys can pull off the win on Sunday I figured that I would shine some perspective on the subject.

Any RSL supporter will tell you that our team is like a good crock pot. The end result is usually delightful, but it will take a bit of time to get there. For one reason or another the guys take their time at getting going. But when they're going they are oh so good. Of the the 44 goals the team has scored this season 33 have been tallied in the second half.

The season as a whole is also another indicator of the progressive improvement in the team. If you were to separate the schedule into two halves - making the first 16 games up to July 8 in the first half and the remaining 17 as the second - RSL's results are just like a game. Seven of our 10 wins came since the half, while 9 of the 13 losses were during the opening period. Ironically, ties are split right down the middle at 4 a piece.

Forgetting about the fact that we're completely dependent on whether the Dynamo care enough to win this Saturday, RSL's task of going into Victoria Street and beating Chivas at their place is no minor feat.

Even with the good late season form, RSL hasn't won on the road since August 16 against the Crew. Not to mention that we have yet to defeat the Goats this year. After having three buckets off bitterly cold ice dumped on our season opening optimism the last time we played Chivas outside of Rice-Eccles Salt Lake have managed to draw the two times they were on the turf. Although that second one felt like a loss.

The rest of the season all boils down to Sunday. If the motivation of "keeping good form" is enough for the Dynamo to beat the Rapids than I'm optimistic about our chances against the Goats. But, isn't that the same motivation teams have to play well through the early part of the season?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Supporters Section Canopy Unveiling

I'm an easily excitable person, but every once in a while there's something that makes me so giddy I can't stop thinking about it. This time it's something other than food.

For the last home game of the regular season The Loyalists - the RSL supporters group over in E32 - will be unveiling a brand new flag. Not just any flag, but a flag of all flags. It's only rivals will be the team printed signage over the top half of the east side of Rice-Eccles.

Deuce over at AYL has more details. If you want to add something new to your RSL experience on Saturday night come on over to E32 and Pop the Canopy just before kickoff.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Draw keeps RSL playoff hopes hanging by an unraveling thread

With the comeback draw against Kansas City on Saturday night Real Salt Lake is either gearing up for the most dramatic push to the playoffs, or the slowest most painful death to a season.

I'll be honest. After Josh Wolff blasted home his goal only six minutes into the match I was ready to call it a night. Why had I stayed up till 11:30 to watch the replay only to see our playoff hopes die in such a quick fashion before my eyes?

In the sick name of fan loyalty I remained awake and glued to channel 5 hoping that a break might fall RSL's way.

Disappointed that Atiba was starting up top rather than Jeff - who turned out to be nursing a hamstring - I was just about ready to dive into all to well known list of the many reasons I don't like Atiba Harris to my brother in-law until Chris Klein made his run around the the Wizards defense. His initial shot was batted away by the Wizards goalkeeper. But, Klein gathered in the rebound to chip a perfect cross to the head of none other than Harris. The St. Kitts striker silenced me again as he touched in a set piece just before the break. The kid doubled his season goal output in one half of play.

Ironically, the last time I was this vocal about my displeasure of an RSL player he happened to scored his only goal of the season. That player was Douglas Sequeira.

Although the match remained very disjointed, I was optimistic about our chances going into the second half. Every time the scores from across the league flashed on screen it seemed that New England had scored another goal on Colorado. With the Rapids loosing and RSL in the lead an excited feeling that tonight might be special began to build in my gut. After KC pounded two more goals home I realized that I had mistook that feeling for gas caused by my chimichanga I had for dinner.

Colorado's 3-1 loss to New England was made official and Salt Lake fell behind. TV commentators Hatch and Frasier talked about how a loss would not entirely eliminate RSL from the playoffs. But, we all know that realistically it would be next to impossible if we were to get no points from Kansas City.

Jason Kreis saved my night - and Salt Lake's season - when we followed his own rebound to pop in the equalizing goal.

The Rapids - who haven't won for three weeks - are doing everything they can to help RSL into the playoffs. Our draw tonight brings us within 2 points of Colorado and that last playoff spot.

The Galaxy put the hurt on their Home Depot Center housemates beating Chivas 3-0 tonight. Los Angeles are now only a point behind Salt Lake.

No matter how you spin the scenarios, RSL needs six points out of it's final two games. If we can do that all we need is for the Rapids to loose once. If that plays out we're in and LA is a non-factor.

Anything less than three points in either of RSL's games (Houston at home this Saturday; Chivas away the week following) and you may as well stick a fork in Salt Lake's 2006 season.