Portland Timbers v Real Salt Lake

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient

Leave a comment

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient (®) takes the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer.

MONTREAL IMPACT: I do understand that professional soccer players are not intimidated easily. And expansion Montreal has some quality men. Italian striker Bernardo Corradi and veteran center back Matteo Ferrari got skills and smarts, for instance.  But a visit to Hell in the Heartland, a.k.a. Livestrong Sporting Park, has yet to be an easy trip for anyone. Plus, SKC is well rested and looking to vent a little Eastern big dog frustration from the season’s first setback. If an early goal goes in, the pack could seize upon the weak and the wounded – and at that point, well you know … panic!

Panic quotient: “What do you mean the credit card didn’t go through? Run it again. Please.”

JOHN SPENCER: Who doesn’t love the fans in Portland? (OK, check that. Let’s make it, “Who outside of Seattle doesn’t love the fans in Portland?”) They stand in line for hours – probably in the rain; it is Portland, after all. They sing. They scream until their Stumptowns are sore. They dote on their Timbers. So when the jolly Jeld-Wen brigade starts turning on the coach, even just a little bit, dark clouds are gathering. Long story short on this one, the fans say “world-class soccer” would be a bonus. For now, just lay it all out there with a little more world-class effort and a little more world-class late-game management.

Panic quotient: Happy hour. Good times! Heading home … Flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror.

L.A. GALAXY: Well, that was nice while it lasted. A couple of wins had the Galaxy express moving school zone speed, which is better than its previously stalled state. But a draw at home and a loss in Seattle has exposed gaps galore. And it’s getting very “Donald Rumsfeld” up in the house. Let me explain: We knew all along about the known unknowns around Galaxy Manor, the Gonzalez Gap and David Beckham’s noted distractions, etc. But are there more unknown unknowns afoot? It’s starting to smell like it. (When you find Donald Rumsfeld mentioned with your favorite MLS outfit – quite possibly a first-ever – you know the Panic Quotient must surely be rising.)

Panic quotient: The day is sunny and life seems fine when you spot your loving wife eating lunch at a local spot. And comparing notes – with your girlfriend.  

College Soccer Update: Stingy Kentucky picking up speed; Cal Poly’s overhead wonder (video)

Leave a comment

Three-hundred thirty-two minutes and 26 seconds. That’s how long it’s been since an opponent has managed to put a ball into the goal behind the University of Kentucky men’s team.

It’s a statistic which not only makes an impression, but carries hope; Hope that the Wildcats will improve upon last season’s tournament work that saw them exit their conference tourney and the NCAA tournament early.

“If you go back to last year we had a really good run, but got knocked out in our conference tournament and then in the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” said fourth-year head coach Johan Cedergren. “Peaked too early and got a little overconfident.”

[ MORE: College soccer news ]

The Wildcats are atop Conference USA with a 3-0 record in league play, having knocked off a strong New Mexico side this weekend. They’ll face Evansville and Ohio State the following two Wednesdays before meeting fellow CUSA 3-0 squad South Carolina.

It’s all according to plan for Cedergren, who is experiencing the senior years of his first recruiting class. One of those is goalkeeper Callum Irving, who is one clean sheet away from making program history for the most blankings as a Wildcat.

It’s helped having a versatile team to help out. Despite injuries to a pair of key backs, junior center back Jordan Wilson and senior holding mid Kristoffeer Tollefsen have combined with Irving to keep the side well-organized.

[ USMNT: Looking back at the top moments in the Mexico rivalry ]

“Over here you are very stat focused and Callum wouldn’t have these numbers without (Wilson),” Cedergren said. “And Tollefsen plays that holding mid role that is very hard to quantify. He made third team all conference last year, but he’s one of the best players and he’s playing at 75% percent.”

Cedegren also credits Hermann Award watch lister Napo Matsoso, who leads the team in shots, with keeping teams off-balance. And between Irving and the attack, the coach hopes that this season is the year the Wildcats will peak at the right time.

Three stars

  1. Oregon State — The Beavers opened PAC-12 play with a pair of 1-0 wins, knocking off UCLA with a Timmy Mueller (remember the name goal) before knocking off San Diego State by the same score. Next weekend? Cal and Stanford, both on the road.
  2. Nick DePuy, UCSB —  The 6-foot-4 junior forward has only been held off the score sheet thrice this season, and fired off 10 shots including three goals this weekend. Two were road game-winners at UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.
  3. Chase Minter, Cal Poly — All three stars stay on the West Coast, thanks to Minter’s work setting himself up for this bicycle kick goal.

Other notes

— Creighton is back as the unrivaled No. 1 in the country amongst men’s Division I sides, claiming all 24 votes.
— Only one change in the Top 10, as Virginia moves up a spot to No. 10 and Elon falls three spots to No. 13. Leaping into the Top 25 after not receiving any votes last week is Oregon State. Kentucky, Butler and Syracuse move from receiving votes to Top 25.
— There s a single player who is in both the D-1 Top Ten in goals and assists, and his name will be familiar to those who read this space: Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone has eight goals and six assists after a 2+3 performance at St. Bonaventure on Saturday night.
— Also No. 1: Midwestern State (Men’s D2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D3), North Carolina (Women’s D1), Gannon (Women’s D2), Messiah (Women’s D3)

Samir Nasri rules out return to France squad; Likes MLS over Ligue 1

Manchester City's Samir Nasri celebrates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Aug. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
AP Photo/Jon Super
Leave a comment

When Samir Nasri is done with his time at Manchester City, he doesn’t want a return to Ligue 1. We knew that. He’s said it in March, and again over the summer.

But his willingness to stay away from home goes for club and country, as he’s not interested in a return to the national team fold. Heck, they could hire his family and he’s scoff at the idea.

[ MORE: Tax evasion charges dropped against Messi, but not his father ]

Nasri played in Marseille from his age 10 year through 2004, when he headed to Arsenal. He also scored five goals in 41 caps before being removed from the French fold by Didier Deschamps.

That hurt.

From Sky Sports:

“Even if my dad is coach, I will not return,” he said on French television. “I’ve suffered with the selections… missing a World Cup destroys you a bit. After 2012 I wanted to stop but my father told me I had to play the World Cup. I tried to be good.

“I do not see myself returning to Ligue 1. I love the Premier League. I like my life in England,” said Nasri. “I see myself going to play in the MLS, to discover something other than France.”

That makes at least three times Nasri has proffered a “come get me… eventually” plea to American powers-that-be.

Nasri is a bit of a loose cannon, but he’s also the sort of player who could punish defenses in MLS if given the chance to operate as the focal point of an attack. Perhaps with Didier Drogba in Montreal?

No, his time at the Etihad Stadium isn’t nearing an end just yet but… Yes, please. Maybe Nasri is one of those “In the league but not at the risk of my favorite team” players, but yes, please.