Posted on: April 16, 2008 11:41 am
Edited on: April 16, 2008 11:47 am

Rocky Mountain Teams Shaking Up The MSL West

How good it is to see the team Real Salt Lake who seemed to be one of those teams headed towards perpetual cellar-dwellerism and mediocrity make a strong start in the MLS's still young season.

Though they lost to the Chivas, defeating Freddy Adu's former team DC United 4-0 is certainly a fine outcome and omen for this team as well as a tie with the Chicago Fire, the Fire, a team that has in recent years, been traditionally strong and who appear to have turned it up a notch this season.  And all of this from the club that could not hold on to Freddie Adu who opted out to play football in Portugal for Benfica last year.

First place in the West is also a surpise with the Colorado Rapids displaying impressive performances on the pitch and only losing to Kansas City. So, good for the Rapids who have uniforms very much like the English Premier Team West Ham United.

Standings and games may be checked out at these websites. http://www.soccerway.com/national/u
 and http://web.mlsnet.com/standings/

Additonally, there will be a Thursday night game on National TV: with the Columbus Crew playing well this season versus DC United - http://web.mlsnet.com/mls/schedule/




Posted on: April 16, 2008 11:26 am

Cruyff tells why he missed 1978 World Cup

The legend, Johan Cruyff (also spelled Cruijff I believe in some places http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_
) who may not be as well-known in the USA at least, as Pele and Maradona and a few others, a virtuoso of "Total Football" and striker for such teams as Barcleona, Ajax and yes, NASL (meaning North American Soccer League) teams the Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Dipomats,  a player who's dynamic moves one can track down on youtube has explained why he missed the 1978 World Cup held in Argentina.

The full story can be read at Dutch international website; Soccerway http://www.soccerway.com/news/2008/

There are questions concerning the 1978 World Cup and how it was put on: but it does not take away from the fine performances of some teams including Holland who made it to the final. One can only wonder how Holland might have done without Cruyff however, the article ends on this sentence to reflect on:

"The team did fare well without Cruyff, once again reaching the final where this time they lost out to Argentina."






Category: Soccer
Posted on: April 15, 2008 11:14 am
Edited on: April 16, 2008 11:50 am

Euro 2008: Groups C & D

Here is a link on CBS's coverage of the Euro 2008 which will begin in a little under 2 months from now  http://www.sportsline.com/soccer/st

The host nations are Austria and Switzerland who automatically qualify, the other teams had to go through qualifying tournaments that saw Scotland who played rather well in their group and England fail to make these finals.

I have not fully checked out the schedules and often predictions can hinge on the order of which games might be played, but here are some preliminary thoughts subject to change say, if a team loses one of their main stars to injury.

I will place in parentheses after each team's name their most recent (April, 2008) FIFA ranking. http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/r

Group C

Netherlands (10), Italy (3),  Romania (12) , France (7)

Definitely, the "group of death" and one other thing, the order of the groups is apparently from the seeding.

Any one of these teams, could be trouble plenty in other groups.

Romania's national soccer team has produced great players like Gheorghe Hagi, was very competitive in the 1990s with him.

Currently, they won their qualifying group G rather handily and a group that included Holland who is also in the group C mix and a traditional power.

Though all of these teams are very good, the Romanians don't get to this stage very often. I don't know if they can win out frequently against the competition but they may well be able to get two draws and squeek out a win somewhere. There is always a "Balkans" power that figures into these tournaments with in fact, Greece winning the last Euro. I may even give the countries in this region too much credit, giving positive reviews of Turkey and Croatia already.  Romania fits into this mode.

Holland, on the other hand, has encountered plenty of trouble and was lucky at times to escape teams such as Albania. The key to Holland's success is the coaching by Van Basten. In the World Cup, he did not play Ruud Van Nistelrooy often and it cost them big.  This is not Total Football nor does it even hearken to the successes enjoyed during the late '80s/early '90s period of success. I don't expect them to advance.

Then, we come to seeing the two World Cup finalists are back in this group together as interestingly, they were foes in group B in qualifying and of course, I am speaking about Italy and France.

These teams are closely matched, however France for some reason lost two games to Scotland.

Soccer is so popular in Italy that every position is somewhat strong, even if the Roma star forward Totti is not playing and positions like defender with Cannavaro and of course, Goalkeeper with Buffon are very strong. Sure, the USA managed to tye them in the World Cup. Sure, at times, the Italians have faltered in the Euros as in 2004 but I don't believe this will be repeat. 

So, I believe, a very important game here will be the Italy/France game and so the order of games played as stated in the previous posting can be of importance.

The dates are in fact going to be http://www.soccerphile.com/soccerph

June 9: Italy vs. Netherlands, Romania vs. France.

June 13:  Italy vs. Romania, Netherlands vs. France

June 17: Netherlands vs. Romania,  Italy vs. France

Under the cirumstances, that the Italy/France game determines who will advance at the 3rd game and this would be a tossup, though I would lean towards France in a final group game.

Group C winners: Romania and France (or Italy)

Group D

Greece (8)  , Sweden (24) ,  Spain (4) , Russia (25)

So many are critical of the FIFA rankings as not being truly reflective on the strength of teams and in spots in the rankings they may not be accurate but overall they seem accurate and this is a case in point.

Even before applying the rankings, it is clear that Spain and the last Euro Cup champion Greece are the favorites. In fact, Greece is additonally a favorite in this whole tournament because they are the only team that scored more than 30 points/standings wise to take their competitive division http://www.soccerway.com/internatio

Sweden is always a "solid" 2nd tier team and always seems to make these tournaments and are to be commended for it. They should not be readily discounted because they also seem to always advance out of the group stage as well, not to remain long after that.

While the old USSR thanks partially to Ukrainian players were often formidable, Russia has not excelled in these competitions and I don't believe it will now, even with their ace coach Hiddink who has taken both Australia and South Korea to new heights.

Spain and Greece should handle these two underlings without much trouble. Spain long so talented but being dubbed underachievers for so long, will probably break out of that status in this Euro. In fact, along with Poland and in fact Greece, are favorites for the whole thing. Spain indeed were knocked out by France in the last World Cup: but that game indeed had some calls that were questionable against Spain that cost them the game.  I would also commend Spain for good sportsmanship in the last World Cup versus the antics of some country's teams. I believe once I read that they won a trophy for that, but I have not been able to confirm that.  Additionally,   La Furia Roja now sport top players not only in Spain's La Liga; but across Europe, with the likes of Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonzo aiding Liverpool greatly and an Arsenal standout such as Cesc Fabregas let alone those playing at home such as Villa, Cuyols and even Raul is available. Other positive signs might be friendly wins versus England and Italy though we should not forget they have had their problems drawing with Iceland in the sleet and losing in fact to Northern Ireland. I would be confident that coach Luis Aragones can coach them to the Semifinals, if not in fact, lift the trophy with this team.

Group D winners: Spain and Greece


Quarterfinals : Romania vs. Greece, Greece wins.

                          Spain vs. France or Italy: Spain 


I am not predicting the Semi Final stage as of now because according to the Soccerphile website, it seems that there may be rematches which does not seem proper but there will be plenty of time to follow up on this. 

Category: Soccer
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com