Free Kicks

Friday May 11th, 2007

Martin Morales/MLS/
The Revolution will be televised
The Revolution don't have the panache of D.C. United. And they didn't splash the DP cash like Chicago or New York. It appeared as if it could be a transition year for the defending East champs. One star player left for Europe (Clint Dempsey), another was angry and wanted out (Shalrie Joseph). Then Michael Parkhurst (dislocated shoulder while in the Gulf of Mexico) and Pat Noonan (hernia surgery) were injured in the offseason. But six matches into the season, New England again is back near the top of the East. How? Taylor Twellman was MLS' best player in April, but the emergence of rookies Wells Thompson, who scored a gorgeous first goal in the 3-1 win over Chicago, and Adam Cristman has been huge in New England's 3-1-2 start. Does this team have the goods to finally capture an MLS Cup? We'll learn a lot more in the next two matches (at Los Angeles and at Houston).
... but this won't be
Even in the tournament's early rounds, it's a shame the U.S. Open Cup isn't televised by somebody, somewhere ... especially with a match as good as New York-Los Angeles with the debut of Juan Pablo Angel on Tuesday night's docket. So with the match unavailable on Direct Kick, thankfully there were some great soccer blogs out there were fans could follow the action -- including the great L.A.-focused blog Sideline Views, hosted in part by's own Luis Bueno. And he even found the time to put some highlights on YouTube, including Angel's first MLS goal -- probably the only place you will see it. And it's too bad it wasn't on TV; sounds like it was a heck of match. Los Angeles won 3-1 in extra time to knock the Red Bulls out of the Open Cup, thanks in large part to the play of No. 2 goalkeeper Steve Cronin.
Notes from around the league
Despite four matches with at least three goals last weekend, scoring in MLS is on pace for a record-low level after the first five weeks. The first 32 games have produced an average of 2.47 goals, topping the previous low of 2.61 in 2004. ... It will be interesting to see what Houston is able to do with Joseph Ngwenya, acquired Wednesday in a deal with Columbus. ... It took D.C. United a stunning 408 minutes to get its first lead of the season, which it did with Christian Gomez's goal in Sunday's 2-1 win over Chivas USA. ... Counting Tuesday's night's U.S. Open Cup loss in L.A., the Red Bulls have given up five goals after the 90th minute this season -- and just one combined in the first 89 minutes of their six matches. ... The impressive start of Chicago's Chris Rolfe has been a bit under the radar, thanks to the April performances by Twellman and Eddie Johnson. Rolfe leads MLS with six points, tallying at least a point in five straight matches.
Rank LW Team
1 1
New York Red Bulls (3-0-2)
Odd things always happen when this team goes to Utah
2 3
New England Revolution (3-1-2)
Four key points last week; awful call cost them two more
3 2
Chicago Fire (3-1-1)
The five opponents they've faced are a combined 14-7-6
4 5
Kansas City Wizards (4-1-0)
... while the Wizards' opponents are only 5-13-5 to date
5 6
Houston Dynamo (2-2-1)
Welcome back, Dwayne De Rosario. Beware, rest of West
6 7
Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-1)
Loading up on bye weeks early to get set for Beckham
7 4
Colorado Rapids (2-2-1)
Rapids could be the toughest team in MLS to figure out
8 9
FC Dallas (2-3-1)
Hoops play seven of the next nine matches on the road
9 11
D.C. United (1-3-1)
Ref Terry Vaughn may be the one who turned it around
10 8
Columbus Crew (1-1-3)
Help wanted: Have scored just three goals in five games
11 6
Chivas USA (2-3-0)
Reeling Goats need 3 pts. at Columbus in the worst way
12 12
Real Salt Lake (0-2-3)
Scored 2 in extra time; NY had let in one in 449 minutes
13 13
Toronto FC (0-4-0)
Hey, their merchandise sells more than any other team
Three other MLS salary facts I found interesting ...
1. -- Now we have a better idea why De Rosario is a little miffed at his contract. The two-time MVP runner-up is the 37th highest-paid player in MLS, and his $189,000 salary is fourth on the Dynamo. Most overpaid? Could be Dallas goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who likely will be back on the bench with the return of Dario Sala from suspension, at $220,800.
2. -- Columbus is the only team in the league without a player making more than $200,000. Eddie Gaven at $188K is the team's top earner, above even new signing Guillermo Barros Schelotto ($150K). Surprisingly, expansion Toronto FC is tied with Houston with the most players earning six-figure salaries (11). The fewest? Chivas USA with five (four if you don't count the now-departed Amado Guevara). At just over $1.8 million, the Goats have the lowest combined guaranteed compensation budget in MLS.
3. -- MLS' contracts for developmental players have been a raised some debate; some players will earn as little as $12,900 for the entire season. It's a pay scale comparable Single-A or Double-A baseball players. But let's have some fun with it: David Beckham will take home more in six minutes -- before endorsements. With a guaranteed salary of $6,500,00.04 (why the four cents, Becks?), Beckham will earn $2,407.41 per minute ... and that's based on the Galaxy's full 30-match schedule. Pro-rated to 18 matches, the most Beckham likely will play in 2007, the number jumps to a little more than 4 grand per minute.

1. Dwayne De Rosario
Houston Dynamo

2. Steve Ralston
New England Revs

3. Clint Mathis
New York Red Bulls
Thursday, May 10
Colorado 2, Real Salt Lake 1 (ESPN2) -- Rapids improve to 7-2-1 all time against RSL
Saturday, May 12
Chicago 2, Toronto 1 (FSC) -- First goal comes from Esky, but TFC's winless run continues
Chivas USA 1, Columbus 1 -- Clash of styles -- Crew's stout D vs. Chivas' speedy attack
Dallas 1, Kansas City 0 -- Hoops need to get Carlos Ruiz (only four SOG in '07) involved
Los Angeles 2, New England 2 (HDNet) -- Galaxy haven't beaten Revs since 2004 opener
Sunday, May 13
New York 3, Colorado 1 (TeleFutura) -- Bulls' fifth straight match vs. West (3-0-1 in '07)

Last Week: 2-4; This season: 13-19. Another sub-.500 week after suffering two losses in the 90th minute. Yes, you probably can do better. In fact, some of you are. Keith, a soccer diehard from Salt Lake, is beating me on his picks blog MLS Predictions.
My favorite line from this week's batch of press releases -- Kansas City, on captain Jimmy Conrad's broken jaw, which will sideline the defender for at least Satuday's match against FC Dallas: "In lieu of surgery, Conrad has agreed to eat soft foods for a month."
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