Just when you think the Columbus Crew or the Colorado Rapids have sorted themselves out and are ready to push up the standings, they falter.
Inconsistency has been the buzz word for both camps during the 2013 campaign.
The Crew’s 12-game unbeaten run at home came to an end last weekend, after New York handed them a 1-0 defeat. While the Rapids recorded their third 1-0 win of the season against Toronto thanks to a late Edson Buddle goal.
However the visiting Rapids have also lost three contests by the familiar 1-0 scoreline. Oscar Pareja’s second year as an MLS head coach is going smoothly. Though his Rapids side are certainly not as dynamic or explosive going forward as they were for vast swathes of last season.
But that is probably for the better. Rookie goalkeeper Clint Irwin has been a sensation. I have had the great pleasure of knowing Clint while he was with the Charlotte Eagles in the USL and he is a player that has truly grabbed his chance with both hands. Yet another clean sheet last week proved his great shot-stopping ability. He is sure to be there or there abouts in the Rookie of the season awards if he keeps this form up. And another promising youngster, Shane O’Niell, is quietly turning into a top notch defender. The future looks bright for the Rapids and they should see a trip to Columbus as a chance to return home with at least a draw.
As for Columbus, they have struggled to reignite the rampant offense that almost propelled them to a playoff spot during the second half of last season. Federico Higuain has been isolated in attack this season and Jairo Arrieta hasn’t got going. But if those two can get anywhere close to the form they displayed in 2012, Columbus can push themselves up the Eastern conference. One bright spot for Columbus has been Dominic Oduro. The former Chicago Fire striker has scored four times from eight shots on goal this season, a solid off-season pickup.
These two clubs are MLS originals and have been playoff foes in recent years. Colorado won on both occasions, so Columbus are out for some revenge against the Rocky Mountain outfit. All-time there have been 36 meetings between the two sides, with the Crew winning 11, Colorado taking 17 and eight draws. Columbus have won eight of the 18 matches at Crew Stadium, with Colorado taking six.
All that points to a lively encounter between two old adversaries. The Crew are desperate to get back to winning ways after last weeks defeat, as Higuain’s PK miss left a bad taste in the mouth. While Colorado’s solid back line is littered with youngsters and experienced heads and will be buoyed after another shutout. The combination has worked nicely so far but something tells me the Rapids will come unstuck in Ohio on Saturday, a blowout win for Columbus is on the cards.
A Richmond Kickers striker will hopefully be able to credit a back injury with saving his life.
Matthew Delicâte has been with the USL side for 10 years, and picked up a knock in training that required an MRI.
[ EURO 2016: England squad released | Germany, too ]
That scan revealed a mass on his kidney, and Delicâte is now set for 8-12 weeks on the sidelines and major surgery.
“I was frustrated after hurting my back and not being able to train and feature for the team, but in hindsight, I am very fortunate to have caught this at an early stage,” commented Delicâte. “I hope the team continues to work hard in my absence and I am aiming for a full recovery as quickly as possible.”
“Events such as this immediately put the importance of winning soccer matches into perspective,” added Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “We wish Deli a successful surgery, speedy recovery and look forward to having him score more goals for the Kickers in the months to come.”
The 34-year-old English forward played at Virginia Commonwealth University before embarking on a pro career with Richmond and the Rochester Rhinos, briefly heading home to England for a spell with National League side Ebbsfleet United.
All our best to Delicate, his family, and the Kickers.
No surprise here: the most famous footballer of all-time has acquired a wide variety of extraordinary items, many of them as unique as Pele himself.
The 75-year-old Brazilian is going to auction a lot of those items come June in England, with at least part of the money going to a pediatric hospital in his come country.
[ MORE: Marcelo giving away UCL medal via Facebook ]
Some of these items are going to get crazy money. Consider: He’s selling a one of a kind Jules Rimet Trophy given to him after the 1970 World Cup, and the boots he wore in “Victory”.
Here’s what Pele says of the sale, expected to fetch at least $5 million, according to a BBC Business story:
“It was a difficult decision to make but it takes a lot to properly care for these artefacts, and I felt I could do much more good by sharing these items with the world, as well as helping my causes that are important to me.”
Less expensive items, like a match-worn New York Cosmos jersey, are still expected to have purchase prices as high as $8-10,000. So, yeah, a lot of us are going to be left out of the process.
Then again, they’re just Earthly possessions, no? If Pele doesn’t need them, I can be content in also being shut out.
Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater are not going to France as part of the England national team for Euro 2016.
That means both Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford have been included in Roy Hodgson’s squad, putting five strikers in the mix.
[ MORE: Reus left out of Germany squad ]
Rashford, 18, is the youngest player on the roster, with Tottenham’s Dele Alli second (20).
Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson have overcome fitness concerns to get into the squad.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).
Comparing it to the 2014 World Cup opener against Ghana, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Friday’s Copa America Centenario opener against Colombia “starting a tournament with a final”.
While Costa Rica and Paraguay are far from slouches, Colombia is the best team in the United States’ group.
[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]
A win would set the tone for the group stage and, historically speaking, winning the first game gives teams a tremendous chance to advance to the knockout rounds.
In a Facebook live chat on Sunday, Klinsmann implied that his Yanks wouldn’t play for a draw against Colombia.
“We are going to go for it. We are going to do that and we are going to try and make it happen on Friday night because it would give us a big, big boost towards the game against Costa Rica and then finishing off the group with Paraguay. Similar to the World Cup, we need a good result in the first game.”
There’s no denying a win would be massive, putting Colombia up against the wall for both of its remaining games. Los Cafeteros have not kept a clean sheet in three matches, but all of those were wins. Their only losses since mid-June 2015 came against Uruguay and Argentina.