Friday April 13th, 2007

Early pain for the Red Bulls
If you had 22 minutes in the "First Claudio Reyna Injury Scare" pool, you're a winner. The Red Bulls' designated-player signing was impressive in his first MLS match until a nasty collision with rookie winger Dane Richards severely limited Reyna's effectiveness -- and New York's attacking options in the 0-0 draw with Columbus. Reyna, who suffered a "left leg contusion," told Big Apple Soccer on Tuesday his injury was "pretty ugly at the moment" but hopes to be able to play on Sunday against FC Dallas. That's not what Bulls' fans were hoping to hear so early in the season -- especially with creative midfielder Markus Schopp also sidelined with a sports hernia. However, Reyna clearly showed he can make a big difference for N.Y. when healthy. Those two words will dog the Red Bulls all season.
Air sickness
The MLS schedule-maker isn't doing FC Dallas any favors early. After opening the season in Salt Lake City, the Hoops face the Galaxy in L.A. Thursday night at the Home Depot Center (where they've never won) -- then trek cross-country to meet New York in the Red Bulls' home opener Sunday. That's three matches in three time zones in an eight-day span. If it weren't for a gift point vs. RSL (thanks to an awful blunder by Nick Rimando), Dallas could have been facing an 0-3 start before it finally opens its home schedule against Colorado on April 22. Then again, Dallas is on the road just five times after July 4.

Friday AM update: So much for that bad start. With its 2-1 victory Thursday night in L.A., FC Dallas now has a chance to earn seven points on its grueling season-opening road trip if it can beat New York on Sunday. That would be a huge accomplishment for Steve Morrow's side, one which many figured (including here) would struggle early this season after its offseason makeover.
First impressions
Final quick-hit observations from Week 1: The back of his jersey simply says "Gomez" now thanks to a stodgy new MLS rule, but Herculez Gomez was fun to watch in his Rapids debut. ... Columbus' Ned Grabavoy deserves all the praise he's earned after his stellar opener. ... Justin Mapp carved up New England's defense with attacking runs -- a performance reminiscent of his breakout national-team effort in the Denmark friendly. ... It's amazing how 10 seconds of brain lock can ruin an otherwise solid 93 minutes like it did for Real Salt Lake. ... I could understand only about 10 words of the broadcast, but it still was ridiculously enjoyable to watch Galaxy-Dynamo on Telefutura.
Before the window closes ...
The Eastern Conference could get a lot more interesting before MLS' transfer window closes Sunday. Argentinean playmakers could be coming to Columbus (close to landing Guillermo Barros Schelloto) and Kansas City (set to announce the signing of Carlos Marinelli), moves that should instantly boost their postseason chances. Meanwhile, New York reportedly is interested in obtaining Brazilian Edmundo as it continues its desperate search to help fill its forward hole. At 36, though, "The Animal" is more of a stopgap than a solution.
RankLW Team
Houston Dynamo (0-0-1)
Held L.A. despite 'heavy legs' from CCC duel in Mexico.
D.C. United (0-1-0)
Defense looked shaky, but Emilio showed he's for real.
Colorado Rapids (1-0-0)
Turned in the most impressive performance of Week 1.
Chicago Fire (1-0-0)
Didn't take long for Justin Mapp to make things happen.
Los Angeles Galaxy (0-0-1)
Missed a big shot to steal three road points in Houston.
Chivas USA (1-0-0)
Speedy Cuban Maykel Galindo will be intriguing to watch.
New England Revolution (0-1-0)
Three Revs made their first career starts in loss to Fire.
New York Red Bulls (0-0-1)
Time for Clint Mathis to be inserted into starting lineup.
Columbus Crew (0-0-1)
Is this the year Eddie Gaven finally takes the next step?
Kansas City Wizards (0-0-0)
Face difficult test vs. angry United after the Week 1 bye.
FC Dallas (0-0-1)
When will teams learn? That Ruiz guy is not too shabby.
Toronto FC (0-1-0)
Inconsistent in debut; midfield didn't play well vs. Goats.
Real Salt Lake (0-0-1)
You won't see more painful ways to drop two points.
The thumbs-up, thumbs-down edition
1. -- On uniforms. Thumbs up: Really dug those new-look claret-and-blue Colorado Rapids kits in their debut. Classy. Thumbs down: New York's decision to ditch the red was disappointing (Red Bulls will wear white at home and blue on the road). Even worse, the lettering job on the road unis was laughable. Seriously, they couldn't fit "Kovalenko" in one straight line across the shoulders?
2. -- On television. Thumbs up: MLS finally gets some national-TV high-definition love. All of ESPN's Thursday night games, beginning with Thursday night's L.A.-Dallas match, will be in HD on ESPN2. Thumbs down: HDNet's feed for the Columbus-New York opener was a scrambled mess starting four seconds into the match (from what I can tell, I was not alone) -- and MSG's production quality was almost unwatchable (blurry picture, announcers broadcasting from a studio in New York).
3. -- On highlights. Thumbs up: Gotta love the hardcore fans who support MLS enough to post weekly videos on YouTube. Have 80 seconds? You can see every goal from Week 1 -- with music to boot. Nice work, climbingtheladder. Who needs a weekly highlight show on TV? Thumbs down: OK, I do. C'mon, MLS, where's the weekly highlight show on TV? Time for MLS Wrap to come back.

1. Brad Guzan
Chivas USA

2. Ned Grabavoy
Columbus Crew

3. Jeff Cunningham
Real Salt Lake
Thursday, April 12
Los Angeles 2, Dallas 1 (ESPN2) -- Landon Donovan will finish his chances this week
Saturday, April 14
Columbus 2, Real Salt Lake 1 -- Sigi's Crew were impressive in their Week 1 draw.
D.C. United 3, Kansas City 1 (FSC) -- Expect United to rebound after opening-day woes
New England 1, Toronto 0 -- Two huge errors cost TFC vs. Chivas; one burns them here
Houston 2, Chivas USA 1 (HDNet) -- This could be the weekend's most entertaining game
Sunday, April 15
New York 1, FC Dallas 0 (TeleFutura) -- Wet weather may make for another sloppy match
Colorado 2, Chicago 1 -- Rapids' hot start continues with back-to-back impressive wins
Last week: Two results right, no correct scores
The new MLS anthem sounds like a mix between the Champions League theme, with a dash of Olympics and a touch of Star Wars. The anthem was recorded live by the Prague Orchestra. At first I thought it was just another cheesy Euro rip-off, but I'm warming to the idea. It's definitely unique for American sports.

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