Seeing as how we're in the offseason here at FBF, it's about time we brought in some new blood on trial. First up is the Monday Back-Pass, wherein I take a look back at the weekend's soccer events and viewing, highlighting what caught my attention. Ready? Away we go . . .
The big enchilada of the weekend without a doubt. Going in, all the momentum was firmly in the Barca camp, but my lasting impression was of a match that stubbornly refused to bow to expectation. In the early going, Barca were rampant, and it looked pretty evident that there was sangre blanca in the water. But the goals never came, leading to stage two, where it looked inevitable that Real were going to snatch one on the break. But poor finishing combined with a few good saves and tackles to put paid to that notion.
After the break, the pattern continued and the sense of the impending Barca flood built until the penalty finally came. Once again, all seemed clear. But with the PK save, it seemed obvious to all concerned that it just wasn't Barca's day. Until the winner was scrambled in, followed by a late bit of padding. Barca-Real, frustrating the inevitable for how many years now?
Big Four Flop
True to form, none of the "Big Four" in England managed to lose, but strangely, none were able to pick up decisive victories, allowing--what's this?--Villa to nip into the Champions' League places. The pick of the litter was probably Hull City and Liverpool's 2-2 draw. But with as much drama as that one provided, you've got to wonder how the Reds didn't manage to cap their comeback with a winner, given that they knotted things up before the break. I suppose some of "blame" has to go to Hull City keeper Boaz Myhill.
American-born Boaz Myhill.
Sure, he didn't grow up here and represents Wales internationally, but it's strange isn't it? An "American" (by birth) keeper strikes out at Villa after going through their youth system, only to rise up through the league ranks, where he'll come face-to-face with Villa again, who now feature not only an American starting keeper, but an American backup as well. It's a funny old game.
And finally, after the expansion draft and the loan moves of high-profile MLS players, we have our first major offseason trade. Dwayne DeRosario is heading home to Toronto in exchange for allocation money and defender Julius James. So who wins?
That's going to be a tough call, because TFC are the obvious near-term winners, but Houston may potentially see bigger benefits. How so? Well, TFC got a proven MLS vet who will get important goals and has the ability to turn a game on it's head. But I wonder what this move does to Amado Guevara? Is he being shopped or do TFC plan to use DeRo up top or out wide? I can't see Carver going to the "Christmas Tree" with two attacking mids, can you?
As for Houston, DeRo's departure clears the decks for Stuart Holden to step into his own and clears cap space for a big-money forward, perhaps even a DP. A starting midfield of Davis-Holden-Clark-Mullan still looks pretty good, and they've got decent depth as well. I wonder if the Dynamo have spotted a forward they want to splash the cash on during their continental forays. Was this just step one? They're a winning franchise, and I wouldn't bet against them.
They've also landed James, a big-time prospect, who might be called on to produce immediately if Boswell heads for the Scandanavian Defender Mines. One thing is for certain, James for Boswell certainly kicks up the potential defensive MPH, perhaps something that Houston felt was a damaging deficiency, particularly against CONCACAF opposition.
Another point to consider might be the international situation. When international dates rolled around, Houston were more likely than not to be missing Ching, DeRo, and Clark from their midfield/forward lines. I wonder if they're looking at a replacement who might not be absent so much? On the flip side, you've got to wonder how TFC, who were already one of the most hamstrung sides on international days, are going to cope.
Alright, that's about it for this look back at the weekend past. Anything else catch your eye? Any opinions on Barca-Real, the Big Four, or the DeRo trade? Let's hear it!