Tag Archives: real salt lake

Salt Lake shake things up

At The Rails’ own Ian Harrison weighs in on the success of MLS side Real Salt Lake in the CONCACAF Champions League. Make sure to check out his weekly column, Egos & Icons, for Toro Magazine.  He knows stuff.  Stuff about sports. When you read his column, you will too.

Brent Lanthier

Leave a comment

Filed under CONCACAF, Major League Soccer, MLS

Of insults and injuries


After an international break that saw several England players stretchered off with injuries, it’s back to business in the Prem this weekend. And right at the top of the schedule is what could be a volatile affair at Goodison Park, if Man. United’s repentant Wayne Rooney puts in an appearance at his former stomping grounds. Verbal stomping is sure to fly from the stands as the onetime Donkey of South Africa, now the Big Man of Basel, makes his Merseyside return. United lost 3-1 the last time they paid a visit to David Moyes’ men, who have just one point from three games.

Former United coach Carlos Queiroz may be feeling a bit insulted today, having been sacked as manager of Portugal, one week after he was hit with a six-month ban for disrupting a drug test. His lawyer is already on the case, looking for compensation.

And Serie A footballers are so insulted by new transfer limitations that they’re threatening to strike. AC Milan defender Massimo Oddo, spokesman for the player’s association, said the shut down is scheduled for Sept. 25 and 26.

But back to those unfortunate souls being stretchered off as England beat Bulgaria and Switzerland. First to go was the unfortunate Michael Dawson, expected to miss six weeks. The old Wheeler Dealer Arry Redknapp had barely finished writing ‘Gallas’ in his next team sheet when Jermain Defoe, fresh off his hat trick last Friday, was carried off in Switzerland with an injured ankle. He’s now expected to miss the entire Champions League group stage, which begins Tuesday at Bremen. The only comfort for Spurs is that Bremen defender Per Metersacker has picked up a knock on international duty and won’t be fit.

In between Dawson and Defoe’s stretcher-assisted departures, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott was carried off with an injured ankle while the aforementioned Rooney was still celebrating his Swiss strike. It’s turning into a bit of a rough go for the Gunners, with Robin Van Persie set to miss six weeks and Nicklas Bendtner still sidelined.

There was international injury pain for Liverpool, too, with Dirk Kuyt shelved with a sore shoulder.

And finally, there’s Becks, who still harbours hopes of future England glory, despite mixed messages from the gaffer, and who is close to shaking off his own injury woes and returning to the pitch for the LA Galaxy, who host Columbus on Saturday night. LA, Salt Lake and the Crew are all tied atop the league with 44 points, although RSL has played one more game. TFC, who have seven matches to go, are currently in ninth place, out of the playoffs, with six Western teams competing to qualify. Toronto is home to DC United on Saturday.

Ian Harrison

Leave a comment

Filed under Bundesliga, English Football, MLS, Premier League

Broken Promises for TFC

A week of frustration for TFC

It started out as promising as anyone on Toronto F.C. could’ve imagined.

Playing 4 games in 12 days is a tough task for any club, especially when your squad is battling injuries. But the win versus Cruz Azul has been the team’s only real positive since it began a string of games almost two weeks ago.

After taking it on the chin from New York, Toronto traveled to Panama on Tuesday to play Arabe Unido in the CONCACAF Champions League. Arabe is one of the weaker teams in TFC’s group, and the club was looking for an away win to give them six points and first place in their opening two games.

Poor field conditions forced the Panamanians to move from their usual stadium, and it looked like the change would help eliminate home field advantage: only 300 or so supporters were on hand to watch a brutal game from both sides.

Coach Preki has been saying that his club is serious about the Champions League but you wouldn’t be able to tell at the start of the game. Preki only slotted three regulars in the lineup, opting to give star players like Dwayne DeRosario and Mista the night off, and hoping the subs could grind out an away win.

Preki gets red card for time-wasting

That never happened. The only time TFC had any kind of spark was when DeRosario came on at the half… but by then it was too late. Arabe scored the only goal of the game early and held on for a 1-0 win, while Toronto seemed disinterested and finished the game with nine players when Nick Labrocca and Fuad Ibrahim picked up red cards.

With Toronto’s starters rested, it was back to MLS action and their quest to make the playoffs. It wouldn’t be easy as they hosted defending MLS cup champs Real Salt Lake at BMO field in Toronto. Real were also coming into this game off a Champions League battle with Cruz Azul in Mexico, losing a heartbreaker 5-4 in the final minute.

Toronto looked sharper in the opening half, with Canadian international Will Johnson starting on the bench for Salt Lake, along with teammate Robbie Findley. TFC couldn’t take advantage and went into the half tied at zero. Preki brought in Jacob Peterson and O’Brian White in the second half for some added offence, but they still couldn’t produce a goal as the team continues to struggle putting the ball in the back of the net. Real, on the other hand, has been a scoring machine this year without the benefit of a designated player… but they seemed a little unlucky, hitting four goal posts in the nil-nil draw.

In the four games Toronto has played, they have come away with three points in Champions League play and one point in MLS games. They get set to travel to Dallas next Saturday.

Len Grammenopoulos

Leave a comment

Filed under MLS

Luck of the draw? Yids learn CL fate

Welcome to the Champions League, Tottenham. And just in case you weren’t sure who the best team in the tournament was, it became painfully evident as teammate after teammate from reigning title holders Inter Milan sauntered up to the stage during today’s draw in Monaco (a painfully long event but one surprisingly well photographed by audience members) to receive player of the tournament awards. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar, defender Maicon, midfielder Wesley Sneijder and striker Diego Milito (who also won player of the year) were each honoured with a small trophy and the opportunity to pick little balls out of a cup and reveal the teams within. And when all was said and done, Spurs found themselves in Group A alongside Inter’s star-studded cast. Will the Italian treble winners still be the same team with Rafa Benitez at the helm? We’ll find out when the Serie A gets rolling this weekend.

Of course, it’s a better draw for Spurs than they would have faced in Group G, whose teams have won a combined 20 Champions League crowns and finished runner-up nine times. At least, with Germany’s Werder Bremen and Holland’s FC Twente rounding out Group A, the last three teams are fairly evenly balanced, meaning second place and passage to the knockout round should be up for grabs. Despite their lofty UEFA coefficient, I’d rather face Bremen (third in the Bundesliga last year) from Pot 2 than any of Real Madrid, Roma, Valencia, Marseille, Panathinaikos or Benfica. Twente, who won their first Eredivisie title last season but saw Schteve leave for Germany over the summer, were one of the highest ranked teams in Pot 4. It’s also a kind geographical draw for Spurs, with no lengthy excursions to Kazan, Donetsk or Tel Aviv required.

Whoever the opponent, health of key players is a big issue for Spurs with the first matchday just over two weeks away. I’ll be happy as long as Welsh winger Gareth Bale, who set up all four goals in Wednesday’s famous 4-0 win over Young Boys, is healthy and ready to run. He’s been become  simply brilliant since Arry told him to stop messing with his barnet.

Fans of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, all Pot 1 teams, are undoubtedly feeling pretty comfortable about their team’s chances of progression to the round of 16, with all three London clubs dreaming of a berth at the Wem-ber-lee final. In Manchester, the police force is already bracing for trouble when Rangers visit, based on their experience from the UEFA Cup Final in 2008, while the tie gives Sir Alex gets a chance to face his former team.

What’s also shocking is the number of big names  who’ll be watching from the wings this Champions League season, including Liverpool, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Porto, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiacos, Villareal, Zenit St. Petersburg, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe.

In today’s Europa League playoffs, a reeling Aston Villa met their match in Rapid Vienna for the second successive year, with a Stiliyan Petrov penalty miss proving fatal, while Celtic’s European misery continued with a 4-0 defeat at Utrecht. Liverpool and Manchester City, however, both booked passage to the group stages, with the Reds reversing an early 1-0 deficit at Trabzonspor and Citeh easing to a 2-0 win over Timisoara.

On this side of the Atlantic, current MLS champions Real Salt Lake watched a 3-1 lead turn into a 5-4 defeat at Mexico City’s Cruz Azul in CONCACAF Champions League play Wednesday night, meaning all four teams in Group A, including Toronto FC, have a win and a loss through two matches. As for TFC, they were busy today announcing Doneil Henry as the first academy player to sign a pro contract.

Ian Harrison

1 Comment

Filed under Bundesliga, Champions League, English Football, Eredivisie, Europa League, MLS, Premier League, Scottish Premier, Serie A