Will Bruin became the first rookie to start on Opening Day, but history stopped there as neither Bruin nor the Dynamo offense could muster offensive magic.

By Kim DeRaedt

Houston Dynamo had its fair share of critics following a second-rate2010 season for the distinguished club, and questions and qualms swirled around like the sea of orange towels before anxious fans could settle in from their tailgate gaieties on Saturday.

The clean slate that purifies each team from any previous season’s woes was tainted just five minutes in when the Philadelphia Union drew first blood.  Defender Danny Califf drove the dagger into the Dynamo’s upbeat spirit by notching his first goal in 29 career appearances for the Union.  Defensive counterpart Sheanon Williams launched a throw-in toward the heart of the box, and Justin Mapp’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar.  Califf alertly reacted and buried the ball from close range to the left of a helpless Tally Hall in the Dynamo net.  The goal would stand for 85 minutes to lift Philadelphia to a 1-0 victory.       

It was not the show that seasoned MLS coach Dominic Kinnear hoped to unveil nor was it the will of the four players selected from a swarm of Dynamo newbies to feature in the starting lineup.  However, when the Dynamo veteran trio failed to capitalize on the best chance of the night, the team’s fate was all but sealed.  In the 67th minute, Geoff Cameron linked with Brad Davis whom delivered a pinpoint low cross from the left only to see an onrushing Dominic Oduro squander the golden opportunity well high of the frame.  Disappointment and fragmentary became the theme of the home-opening documentary.

The story began with the 2011 Houston squad composed of 10 players whom had yet to make their club debuts.  That number was reduced to six when international signings Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica) and Hunter Freeman (Norway) took the field alongside offseason acquisitions Jason Garey (Columbus Crew) and Will Bruin (11th overall SuperDraft pick).  Bruin, a 21-year-old forward out of Indiana University, became the first rookie to start on Opening Day in Dynamo franchise history.  He led the team with six preseason goals but could not produce a wonder strike in his 61 minutes in front of Robertson Stadium loyalists. Find out more!


Schooled! A lesson in GERMAN

Posted: March 10, 2011 in Schooled!

We don't understand you! Take that whatever way you'd like!

 By Kim DeRaedt

It was a Bombenschuss, but the Torjäger is no stranger to sniffing out the back of the net.  Each Anhänger stood and cheered when the Angreifer beat the Schlussmann to lead the Heim to the Meisterschaft.  Gooooooool! Ole! 

Well, minus the latter exclamations, this German-American statement reads, “It was a difficult (long-distance) shot, but the (frequent) goal-scorer is no stranger to sniffing out the back of the net.  Each fan stood and cheered when the striker beat the goalkeeper to lead the home time to the championship.”  With the 2006 World Cup having passed through Deutschland, this summer’s Women’s World Cup plopping on German soil, and the inevitable dominance of the country’s squads across age and gender divides, the Germans can certainly walk the talk in the globe’s greatest game.  It’s about time we learn to talk a bit of their talk too!  (Note:  Studies have shown that talking the German talk does not correlate with walking the German soccer walk i.e. don’t expect the USNT to be confused with Die Mannschaft, “The Team”, anytime soon!)

Here’s a bit of lingo likely to (not) impress the Fußball -loving German public:

Soccer player:  Kicker
Spectators/Fans: Anhänger (s.), Zuschauer, Publikum    
Referee:  Schiedsrichter, Schiri (sl.)

Goalkeeper:  Torhüter, Torwart, Schlussmann (sl.)   
Sweeper:  Libero
Defender:  Verteidiger
Midfielder:  Mittelfeldspieler
Forward/Striker:  Angreifer, Stürmer, Spitze

On the Field
Field/Pitch:  Feld
Ball:  Ball (Bälle)
Bench:  Bank

Essential Expressions
Throw-in:  Eckstoß
Free kick:  Freistoß
Corner kick:  Eckstoß
Offside:  abseits (adj.)
Penalty kick:  Strafstoß, Elfmeter
Halftime:  Halbzeit

To kick:  kicken, bolzen, treten, schlagen
To substitute:  auswechseln
To win:  gewinnen
To lose:  verlieren

Neat Nomenclatures
Bombenschuss:  a difficult shot, usually from a long distance
Hexenkessel:  an unfriendly stadium (“witch’s cauldron”), usually the opponent’s home stadium
Joker (sl.):  substitute who comes in and scores goals
Strafraumschwalbe:  “penalty box swallow”, i.e. diver
Torjäger:  goal scorer (who scores often)
Torschützenkönig leading goalscorer (“goal king”)

We say foosball (Fußball); they say kicker.  But really, isn’t it just /təˈmɑːtoʊ/ or /təˈmeɪtoʊ/ in the end.  Same difference! 

The turned-to tutor:  http://german.about.com/library/blsport_fussb.htm

Something like a green-gooey mess fell out of the sky and splatted on the SPSL's head too as the six-team league dwindled down to four in the matter of a weekend.

By Kim DeRaedt

Hi there!  “Face” here.  And you’re watching N-n-n-n-nick JR!  Doo doo doo dodo!  Heehehehe!  Or it went something like that…Ahh those were the days!  Nothing like waking up to Little Bear or falling asleep for an afternoon nap with Rugrats on in the background.  How about Figure it Out?  No really, how about it?  The SPSL has triggered the “secret slime action”, Billy the Answer Head is drawing up blank, and how does one expect the panelists to examine the clue while blindfolded?  Slimed, dazed, and confused, the SPSL needs Nickelodeon’s brightest (i.e. Steve and Blue, Dora the Explorer) to make direction out of its dysfunction. 

The Angry Beavers:  Gone is Galveston Pirate SC.  The championship contenders bid the SPSL farewell and drifted out to sea, its 9-3-3 record and impending Saturday melee against Regals FC are all but distant dots on the radar.  Discontent built a dam that obstructed Pirate SC’s pursuits, but we shall never block out the team’s short but storied legacy.  There was the squad’s initial upset over Regals FC that gave way to a heated 1-1-1 series split.  Galveston gutted out three passionate battles against Tulsa Lobos FC with high-scoring 4-4, 3-2, and 3-3 thrillers.  Corpus Christi upended Galveston leaving everyone to think “what just happened?”, but ultimately it was Galveston that left our jaws dropped in this mid-March mess. 

KaBlam!:  Never watched the show to be honest, but the name seems self-explanatory.  KaBlam like the whack in the face that Texas Lonestrikers received after it was made aware of its expulsion from the league following the team’s failure to travel to Corpus Christi for its weekend double-header showdown.  The Lonestrikers’ remaining matches will go down as 3-0 forfeit victories for its opponents.  And then there were four my friends… 

Rocket Power:
  Tulsa added two more victories and six more points to its resume after toppling Club America 5-2 and 3-1 this past weekend.  The victories, in conjunction with forfeiture points from the team’s remaining scheduled matches against Corpus Christi, were enough to propel the Lobos into the first-place position.  The team’s 11-2-2 record will sit pretty until its next action on March 19 and 20 when Corpus Christi crosses the OK border.    

Invader Zim Club America will invade Corpus Christi on Saturday before marching into Maya Park on Sunday, although it’s hardly trespassing when it’s only a cross-town trek.  And Club America’s entrance scarcely carries the connotation of an “invasion” if the team leaves empty handed, much like it did in its last attempted-raid of Fairgrounds Field and Maya Park for that matter.  Nevertheless, Club America will look to strengthen its 2-1 series advantage over the Fuel, while a victory against Regals FC will take extra-planetary intervention. 

As Told by Ginger:  There are four weekends left in SPSL play and only 1…single…solitary point separating Regals FC (game in hand) and the first place Lobos FC gang hailing from Tulsa.  Correction:  There are likely three real weeks left in SPSL play as the March 26 and 27 contests between the Regals FC and Tulsa at Maya Park should be the decisive outings to determine the inaugural SPSL champion!

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius teams with the Fairly Oddparents to try to sort out the future of the four-legged, make that four-teamed, SPSL as the 2011 Spring-Summer season approaches.  Who will fill the void left by Pirate SC and Lonestrikers?  Houston Hurricane FC, AC Halcones USA, and a yet-to-be-named Forth Worth franchise have been extended an invitation to join for the next chapter of the league, but will they grace the SPSL party with their presence?

By Kim DeRaedt

Seeing double, double duty…double trouble?!  Both of this weekend’s SPSL matchups will feature a Saturday and Sunday showdown between familiar foes on untried territory.  If the results stay the same as the teams’ previous outcomes, Jack (Corpus Christi) will fall down the hill and Jill (Club America) will come tumbling after. 

To Corpus Christi, it might not seem like a fall but rather a “small hop”.  That’s because at 2-11-0, the Fuel are already about as low as a team can go.  The squad’s -35 goal differential barely scrapes by the Lonestrikers -34 mark as the league’s worst.  Speaking of scraping by, the Lonestrikers can hardly hold their head any higher above the water than the Fuel and would be at rock bottom if it wasn’t for their pair of narrow 2-1 escapes against Corpus Christi.  But those victories were during the fall and winter months, and with spring upon us, the Fuel hope to uphold an “our nest, our points” policy.  This time the Lonestrikers will have to put on their road warrior armor as they trek down to the southern coastal hotspot to battle the Fuel at 3 p.m. on Fairgrounds Field on both Saturday and Sunday.

Road warriors with an Energizer Bunny battery would better describe Club America and its 1/2 day bus ride as the wheels spin ’round and ’round before stopping in Tulsa, OK–Home of the Lobos.  Club America didn’t much appreciate the tire tracks that Tulsa left on its turf on that November weekend in Houston when the Lobos rolled over the hometown team 4-0 and 2-0 respectively.  Since then, Tulsa has been gunning it full-throttle, while Club America’s engine has been creeping in reverse.  Club America’s already humongous hill will reach mountainous proportions as the squad must now face Tulsa in Tulsa.  Stealing any points from the Lobos sends the SPSL into pandemonium, lets the lions loose, and release the bats harbored in Hades.  What will happen when the match is lit to SPSL play this weekend?

The scene may be beautiful, but its reality is unlikely. Fans of Real Salt Lake or the LA Galaxy stand a much better chance of capturing MLS Cup snapshots according to the preseason rankings.


By Kim DeRaedt

It may not exactly be something to go to Vegas over and Jim Rome probably isn’t burning with anticipation about its release, but the MLS preseason rankings still offer an interesting, if not valuable, peek at the upcoming season’s stories and successes or lack thereof.  Nevertheless, to be ranked as the preseason champion carries little weight if the team plummets in the postseason poll.  Why bother ranking teams aside from providing some water cooler conversation bits to kick about?  Can they really predict the future and just how good are the psychic minds of the business at doing so?

Taking the past three (completed) years’ preseason rankings into consideration, analysts estimated each team’s position and were, on average, nearly +/- 4.5 places away from the club’s actual finishing rank.    

Note within the last few years that predictions are slowly slipping from the resulting reality. 
2008: 3.78571429
2009: 4.4
2010: 4.87500
Average:  4.35357143

So the question begs, what’s worse?  For instance, is it more disappointing when a team finishes in 8th place having been predicted to win the league, or is it a greater letdown to finish lower in general, perhaps to finish in 14th place having been predicted to occupy the 15th slot?  Either way, here is a look at the standings from a unique perspective.  The Expectation Fulfillment Standings (EFS) represent how much better/worse each team has done over the past three years compared with analysts’ preseason prediction for each respective club.  To explain, if FC Dallas was predicted as #9 but finished #5, the club would receive a +4 toward its EFS total.  If FC Dallas was picked at #11 the following season but fell to #14 in the end, the team would be scored -3 and the EFS total would drop to 1.   

Expectation Fulfillment Standings
Columbus Crew                          15
LA Galaxy                                  11
Kansas City Wizards                      8
Real Salt Lake                              7
Colorado Rapids                           5
Seattle Sounders*                       5
FC Dallas                                     3
San Jose Earthquakes                   1
(Goal achieved)
Philadelphia Union*                       0
NY Red Bulls                               -3
Chicago Fire                                -4
NE Revolution                             -4
Toronto FC                                 -6
Houston Dynamo                         -7
Chivas USA                                 -10
DC United                                  -16

*Seattle includes 2009, 2010; Philadelphia includes 2010

With the 2011 season around the corner, the preseason rankings have travelled through the press.  What finish have they predestined these teams to?  Which club will shake up the status quo?

1. Real Salt Lake
2. LA Galaxy
3. NY Red Bulls
4. FC Dallas
5. Seattle Sounders
6. Colorado Rapids
7. Sporting KC
8. San Jose Earthquakes
9. Houston Dynamo
10. Philadelphia Union
11. DC United
12. Portland Timbers
13. Chicago Fire
14. Chivas USA
15. Columbus Crew
16. Toronto FC
17. New England Revolution
18. Vancouver Whitecaps
Rrranking resources: 
2011:  http://www.sbnation.com/soccer/2011/2/7/1978840/mls-preseason-power-rankings-real-salt-lake-only-unanimous-tier-1-team
2010:  http://www.examiner.com/mls-in-national/2010-mls-preseason-power-rankings
2009:  http://mls.theoffside.com/major-league-soccer/mls-offside-preseason-power-rankings.html  
2008:  http://mls.theoffside.com/major-league-soccer/luis-bueno-gives-his-mls-preseason-rankings.html

Everybody's talking. The stereotypes are out, but the results are not in. Who will rule the SPSL school?

By Kim DeRaedt

Goths:  Unfortunately, the Texas Lonestrikers have genuinely been in a state of mourning after team captain Francisco Rios departed for heaven on February 9.  However, the black attire last weekend symbolized the sorrow the Lonestrikers felt after two defeats to Galveston punctured a hole 12 goals deep in the GD column. 

Skaters:  Call it an Ollie, a kickflip, boardslide, inner heel—Pirate SC reached into its bag of tricks and pulled a 360 from its dismal performance and 4-3 defeat to the Lonestrikers last weekend.   Galveston was flying high and cruising smoothly as it grinded the Lonestrikers into the ground, pulverizing them with a 5-0 and 8-1 walloping respectively. 

Nerds:  Tulsa learned its lesson from its 4-2 falling at the hands of Regals FC last Saturday.  A night of studying and a new dawn on Sunday brought out a confident Lobos FC squad, well-prepared for its next test.  Indeed, Tulsa aced the exam and rejoined the race for SPSL valedictorian by pulling down Regals FC and pulling through with a 2-0 victory.    

Jocks:  Like the high school football team with its admired senior quarterback, Regals FC likes to think it rules the school.  Although this is certainly debatable after splitting its weekend series with Tulsa Lobos FC, Roy Hernandez does appear to be king of the goal-scoring corridor.  Hernandez sits on the throne with 16 finishes thus far including his two well-timed tallies that helped Regals FC secure a 4-2 victory over Tulsa in the double-header opener. 

Theater crew:  After losing to Corpus Christi last month and crawling through a parched two months without a sip of success, Club America Academy added some unexpected drama by guzzling four goals in 90 minutes to knock down the Fuel wriggle free from the league cellar. 

Book worms:  Club America better read up if it hopes its audition against Tulsa, in Tulsa, will go as well as its Fuel recital.  The previous meetings between these two squads were all about the Lobos from front cover to back.  Tulsa hopes for much of the same this time and will focus on a fast start to be the early birds getting the wriggling worms. 

Band geeks:  Overlooked, underappreciated, Texas Lonestrikers will trek to Corpus Christi in the battle of the basement bands this weekend.  While few are interested in the clamor from down under the SPSL championship contention, the Fuel and Lonestrikers each look to blow its own horn and drum its way up the point staircase. 

Cheerleaders:  Its fourth and goal with five weeks remaining in the SPSL inaugural season.  There are no timeouts, no do-overs.  Every second, every step counts.  Three teams are playing for pride; three teams are playing for points in pursuit of the SPSL Cup.  Which team are you rooting for?  Gooooo_________!

The SPSL: the gift that keeps on giving!

By Kim DeRaedt

The SPSL exudes parity and protest, rivalry and races, goals and glory, chutes and ladders—you get the point!  With five months down and one month to go, the SPSL still hasn’t lost its swagger; it isn’t too old for surprises.  March will indeed come in like a lion, but it is not wise to assume that it’ll go out like a lamb.  Throw in some St. Patrick’s Day luck, and the SPSL is all a rainbow of obscurity, a pot of unpredictability, a sight not to remain unseen!

FLASHback:  While we were out…
During the FLASH’s hibernation, nothing happened!  Or, more appropriately, nothing was decided!  Neither Regals FC nor Tulsa nor Galveston was able to separate itself from the pack.  The same can be said for the posse in the pits of the SPSL standings.  Club America, Texas Lonestrikers, and Corpus Christi are still bruised and beaten.  The SPSL has gone full-circle.  Regals FC defeated Galveston, then tied them; they defeated Tulsa, spent the night, and squandered the points.  Texas Lonestrikers surprised Galveston.  Galveston returned the favor with two shellackings.  Corpus Christi, who had been standing strong, fell to its knees.  Club America has put its right foot in and taken its right foot out.  That’s what it’s all about!

March On:  What the future has in store…
Regals FC and Tulsa will tango twice more.  Galveston will have a date with each.  The title pretenders will audition as dream destroyers.  There will be tackles and goals, times of tears, displays of guts.  Some will rise, some will fall, but only one will persevere through it all.  Come April 3, there will be one team, one crown, one SPSL CHAMPION!