Saturday, August 19, 2006

Soccer Saturday

I've asserted that DCU's recent dip in form most probably can be attributed to tired legs. In today's pre-Colorado article in the Washington Post United players attribute it to artificial turf in Real Salt Lake and at Giants Stadium. Alright, I'll buy, just a little. In a one touch offense, if a player has to take an extra half-second to concentrate on his touch on a surface he's not used to, that'd make his pass a half-second late. Combine that with teams concertedly determined to press DCU on every ball, to not give DCU time to lift their heads while on the ball, and you get telegraphed passes. As for tired legs - which I still assert - well, Peter Nowak says, "You know me -- I don't tolerate fatigue," he said. "We just need to be better offensively." So there.

Namoff is out on yellows, and Wilson is still out with an injury (yes?), so Goff speculates that Gros will be dropped back on defense, giving Simms a start. If Adu's foot is still bothering him - that was the reason given for his halftime substitution v Metros this past Wednesday - that narrows Nowak's substitution options.

Still, I expect good things. The game is more important for the psyche of United than it is for the three points. A win reestablishes, a tie disappoints, a loss confirms worries. I'm thinking win.

(Let me take just this small parenthetical to say, 4pm in August: fooey. Which means Planet and the Blackdogress are wussying out, so I've a couple of extra tickets. You'd have to get yourself there and home - I've got to bug-out at the final whistle for the salt mine - but if you're interested call or email by 1:00. Before the game I'm going to throw plastic at metal at Calvert, so you can join me for that if you'd like.)

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Ives Galarcep - who's my favorite soccer columnist - this week addresses ways to make MLS appeal to American soccer fans that follow European leagues but disdain MLS. Table play, abolishing playoffs, promotion and relegation, Copa Libertadores? All sound good to me. Galarcep explains why they're all (except for Libertadores) not going to happen.

Friday, August 18, 2006

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My determined but not obsessive campaign
to make you like Juana Molina continues.

Give in.

On the other hand, I'm perfectly capable
and happily willing to obsess over Heather Duby

More here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Your President's Priorities

I've been thinking a lot about the quote about The Decider's dissatisfaction with the Iraqi response to his invasion of their country. Here it is again:

"[T]he president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd."

Where to start? Froomkin has coverage of the quote in today's column, including this:

"Bush had only one demand: 'It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq.' According to Bremer, he came back to this single point three times in the same meeting. Similarly, Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, became Bush's candidate for president of Iraq's interim government because, as Bremer reports, Bush had 'been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition.' "

This really is all you need to know about the man who is president. He starts a war under false pretenses for dubious motives (democracy only became a motive, remember, when other rationales failed) and is pissed that the citizenry of the invaded and occupied country, who are dying in a civil war at the rate of 3000 a month, aren't sufficiently paying him tribute.*

We only thought we were fucked. People are dying by the dozens a day in a war we are losing and this fucktard is concerned he's not receiving proper glory.

*(I know that if I were an ambitious con-man of scraping intelligence, the game plan for bilking Bush is the brown-nose supreme. It worked, for a while, for Chalabi, after all - and look what good that relationship did and how well it turned out. Seriously, if you're negotiating with The Decider, how could you NOT think he could be rolled?)

From what I saw (and I'll spare all of us an anti-MLS/Live rant, deeming it sufficient to say it sucks, at least on my PC), I'm concerned. Nowhere near panic, nowhere near foreboding, nowhere near feeling it necessary to taunt gods with predictions of doom. Concern.

I expected NY to come out aggressive and energized. Throw away the Barca game, this was the NY players first true game audition for their new coach. NY carried play the first half, and I would have been surprised not only if they hadn't tried but if Nowak hadn't assumed a defensive posture in the first half and hope NY's adrenelin burnt out their legs by half. And Nowak probably wanted to play reactively in the first half as he figured out what Arena was trying to proactively do.

Still. One can look at the effort United put out in the first half of the Madrid game and the effort they put out last night and conclude that they only have enough in their legs now to play full-on selectively, or one can look at the respective efforts and conclude that if Madrid had played full-on they'd have buried United. Carroll looks tired, Olsen looks tired, Adu looks tired, Gros looks tired, Gomez looks tired. Dang, that's the whole starting midfield. The passes are slow and late and telegraphed anyway. I don't doubt the effort; I don't believe that Nowak would keep a player on the field who he didn't believe was playing as hard as he could. But the breakdowns in execution are breakdowns caused by exhaustion, both physical and mental.

All other MLS teams are going to view any games v DCU as tests and will bring all the energy they can summon. The question becomes, what energy does United have to summon now, and where do they spend it? How does Nowak find more? Not necessarily for Colorado this Saturday or the Cup game next Wednesday or the LA Quaranta next Saturday, but so everyone is fresher come October and November.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Explains Much

From an article in
today's NYT:

More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. “I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States,” said another person who attended.

Beyond further demonstrating the imbecility of the man hastening America's moral collapse, this illustrates perfectly the worldview of a selfish and powerful and insatiable elite. It displays not merely a disregard for the desires and needs and histories and inherent rights of individuals and individual cultures, it shows the depersonalization of those individuals and individual cultures. They were nobody before we chose to conquer them. Their existence started with our exploitative notice. They should be thankful we've deigned to profit by them. They should be grateful we've sacrificed so much to subject them, no matter how much it kills them.
United v Demarena

It occurs to me that the primary beneficiary of United's offseason decision to not bring back Dema Kovalenko - beyond the salary cap implications - was Freddy Adu. All the minutes Dema played last season? They're Freddy's this season. I'm betting this wasn't lost on Dema when he trotted out for warm-ups for FC Metalurh Zaporizhya in February in the Ukraine. If I'm Freddy, I'm hoping I wake up Thursday morning without a limp.

The Post pre-game article predictably and understandably focuses on Bruce Arena's Red Bull's coaching debut. What is noteworthy is this quote from Arena:

Since then, MLS has gotten itself onto firmer financial ground, but, in Arena's view, the quality of play has stagnated.

"I don't think it has moved along as well as I would've thought," he said. "It doesn't seem like it's that critical at the league level to produce top-quality teams. People want to see good soccer and I don't know if the league has given it to them. We've got to work harder toward that and take an aggressive approach to make it happen."

I agree. I've been hesitant to believe that this year's United is as impressive as their record suggests, and one of the major reasons is how bad some of the teams in MLS look and how poor the quality of some of the soccer I've watched has been. What was so encouraging about that first half of soccer against (an admittedly exhibition-speed) Madrid was the crispness of United's play: if United comes out tonight as motivated and sharp, they should pick up three points easily.

If, however, Arena puts his team's success over improving the aesthetics of MLS play, a least tonight, the Metros will come out and hack and grind and foul and uglify, the same strategy most MLS teams employ against United. Looking at the personnel of the Metros, that's the only reasonable choice he has.

Count how many times Freddy finds himself on the ground and looks up to see Dema walking away.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This Year's Argentine?

Both the Washington Post and are reporting that United will sign Matias Donnet. According to, Donnet is a

pint-sized, right-footed attacking midfielder, who could be a perfect fit for United, a club without a true right winger. Left-footed Freddy Adu has been performing admirably in that role for the four-time MLS champions. But with the club seeing striker Lucio Filomeno transfer to Nueva Chicago and forward Santino Quaranta traded to Los Angeles, Donnet's presence would allow manager Peter Nowak to utilize Adu as a striker, in the event of injury to Jaime Moreno and Alecko Eskandarian; not to mention Donnet would add his own attacking prowess to the equation.

Of note in Goff's Post article:

United has been pursuing a player since June, when it released Argentine forward Lucio Filomeno . The club actually has two open roster spots, but the deadline to add a domestic player is not until next month.

I didn't know that MLS transfer windows for int'l and domestic players had different deadlines.

In any case, if Donnet is the right-wing player advertised, it seems to me that the two players most possibly affected by the signing would be Eskandarian and Walker, or, to put it into Nowak's sub-strategy of late, the one player Alecko Walker. It certainly would give Nowak various new options, including sneaking a few more minutes off for Moreno on nights when he's laboring. And someone with speed and a motor running the right flank like Josh Gros runs on the left? Sweet.

United is two for three on recent Argentine signings. If Donnet is more Gomezesque than Filomenoish, three for four will be just fine. Erpendable will do.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Streets of my town - or the one I grew up in.

Seymour Hersh on Bushco motives in the Israel-Hezbollah war:

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Hendrik Hertzberg on the begrudging awakening of (a very small percentage) of the talking class:

Even so, in this August of 2006 a palpable, ’68-like shift in sentiment is in the steamy air. Among foreign-policy élites and the broader public alike, it has become the preponderant conviction that George W. Bush’s war of choice in Iraq is a catastrophe.

William Greider states the obvious, but does it well:

An evil symbiosis does exist between Muslim terrorists and American politicians, but it is not the one Republicans describe. The jihadists need George W. Bush to sustain their cause. His bloody crusade in the Middle East bolsters their accusation that America is out to destroy Islam. The president has unwittingly made himself the lead recruiter of willing young martyrs.

More to the point, it is equally true that Bush desperately needs the terrorists. They are his last frail hope for political survival. They divert public attention, at least momentarily, from his disastrous war in Iraq and his shameful abuses of the Constitution. The "news" of terror--whether real or fantasized--reduces American politics to its most primitive impulses, the realm of fear-and-smear where George Bush is at his best.

The danger of dirty hippies: