CONCACRAP Champions' Cup
Tickle - DC took a while, but they finally managed to completely eviscerate Harbour View's back line with an explosion of goals in the middle of the second half. The defense looks solid, Quaranta is giving early signs that his acquisition may have been a real steal, and the goals are finally starting to hit the back of the net. Pachuca will be an entirely different animal, but current evidence points to them not exactly setting the pitch on fire with their play.
Tackle - Houston held up their end of the bargain for MLS as well, though they had more of a struggle with an admittedly more competent opponent. They can thank Pat Onstad and some questionable officiating for making things much more comfortable, though isn't it nice to be thanking the officiating rather than lambasting it for a change? Sure they've got a deep and talented range of midfielders, but the forward and back lines may be a bit thin for the marathon season ahead, and color me skeptical about that center back pairing. 'Ware the perils of blog.com/loss_of_focus.htm, my orange-clad friends!
Tickle - Returning from out of town and with my wife still on the road, my daughter and I held our second "Soccer Sleepover", scarfing waffles while taking in Roma-Lazio, and pausing briefly for a bit of FIFA '08 on the Wii before bunking down to let the gentle light of the Dynamo's match with Municipal spread its soporific glow over us.
Tackle - You'll notice that I said "light" above--with no mention of sound. That's because I'm not a cruel parent and thus was foresighted enough to turn the volume way down to avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous Miles, Bretos, and whatever other loonball the geniuses at FSC managed to dig up, reanimate, and equip with a microphone. Imagine the damage a fragile young mind could experience being subjected to such an onslaught! Please FSC--won't somebody think of the children who might be watching?
Tickle - It's a three horse race now, though Spurs did their level best yesterday to submarine Chelsea's charge. Realistically though, does anybody (besides Arsenal fans) think that the Gunners can survive their recent collapse? Blood is in the water and ManU and Chelski are not sharks of the forgiving ilk.
Tackle - But doesn't it just suck that it's always the same old faces in the same old places? No matter how well a less well-funded side does--be it the likes of Blackburn last year, or Everton this year--the most they can hope for is to snatch at a place in Europe. On the one hand, it's a beautiful thing to have the big, nasty villains with miles of history cruising about in their Death Star, blowing up the little guys. That's tradition. That's dramatic tension. That's a story. That gives you Yavin and a proton torpedo up the big boys' sphincter. But that's just one match--one battle. Where's Endor? Where are the little guys lifting the trophy? The story smacks of the current dross churned out by Hollywood--all promise and window dressing, with none of the satisfying nougat center.
Tickle - Hands up if you're not still laughing at Hugo Sanchez. I almost wanted to see El Tri scrape their dramatic way into the semis, if only to crush their inflated hopes utterly in the next round. The problem is, with the way Nowak's charges are performing, I'm not sure we would handle Mexico. As it is, we just have our friends from the Great Frozen North to squeak past and the US boys can book their tickets to China. It hasn't been inspiring stuff, but the results have fallen into place so far.
Tackle - I'm still hugely disappointed in the US performance in qualifying and wondering a bit about Nowak's decision-making and tactical choices. Should we be satisfied that he managed to get the US into the semis while the Mexicans tripped at the first hurdle, thus demonstrating that maybe the region isn't as lopsided as many would believe?