Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Revamped MLS powers get real preseason test
by Ridge Mahoney, March 12th, 2008 6:45AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS CUP]After stopping in San Antonio to play MLS opposition, including each other, in the Texas Pro Soccer Festival last week, Houston and D.C. United begin play Wednesday in the CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals sporting very different lineups than they did last year. In United's case, the look is drastically new.

Both MLS teams are away in the first leg. United faces a much easier task in Kingston at the Harbour View Stadium (Fox Soccer Channel, 8 p.m. ET); Houston plays CSD Municipal at the inhospitable Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City (FSC, 10 p.m.).

Yet for both teams, which between them have won three of the last four MLS Cups and won a combined 31 league games last year, the opposition is less important than getting their changes squared away.

During the offseason, Houston lost attackers Nate Jaqua and Joseph Ngwenya to Austrian clubs and defender Ryan Cochrane to San Jose in the expansion draft. In their places are young Argentine forward Franco Caraccio and developmental player Chris Wondolowski, and ex-United defender Bobby Boswell.

Coach Dominic Kinnear won't have defender Pat Ianniand midfielder Stuart Holden during the CONCACAF quarterfinals. They are also on CONCACAF duty -- as members of the U.S. under-23 team attempting to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games. Midfielder Brad Davis has been hobbled in preseason by a leg injury and isn't expected to play until the second leg of the quarterfinals.

But the core of Houston's 2006 and 2007 championship teams is still in place: keeper Pat Onstad, defenders Wade Barrett, Craig Waibel and Eddie Robinson, midfielders Dwayne DeRosario, Brian Mullan and Ricardo Clark and forward Brian Ching. Richard Mulrooney, who arrived in a trade last April, adds another element of continuity Houston will need in this series, and in the semifinals if it should advance.

Caraccio scored his first goal for Houston Sunday at the TPSF in a 1-1 tie with United, which began the game with most of its likely starters: goalie Zach Wells, defenders Bryan Namoff, Gonzalo Peralta and Marc Burch; midfielders Fredand Clyde Simms; and forwards Luciano Emilio and Jaime Moreno. Trialist Cezar, who cannot play in the CONCACAF competition because he has yet to sign a contract, scored for United. His trial will continue, as will that of Dane Murphy.

If Houston's look is a shade or two different, United is the MLS version of "Extreme Makeover."

Wells and Peralta are among United's newcomers. Gone are Troy Perkins, Josh Gros, Christian Gomez, Brian Carroll, Bobby Boswell and Greg Vanney, all of whom played at least 15 games last year. United is more Latin, with Argentine midfielder Marcelo Gallardo the most renowned of foreign imports that include defenders Peralta (Argentina) and Gonzalo Martinez (Colombia), goalie Jose Carvallo (Peru), and forward Franco Neill (Argentina), as well as English midfielder Dan Stratford.

Former teen sensation Santino Quarantahas come back to D.C., and powerful teenager Quevas Kirk, acquired from the Galaxy in exchange Vanney, gives Coach Tom Soehn additional midfield options. Combative midfielder Ben Olsen is still recovering from multiple offseason ankle surgeries and isn't available.

Soehn is running short of time to hone Peralta and Martinez as the central defensive pairing, work Gallardo and Neill into his attack, and balance the abilities of Wells and Carvallo before D.C. opens MLS play March 29 at Kansas City. Reserves and trialists garnered much of the minutes in Texas, but this two-game series against beatable opposition is likely to be the last of the experimental opportunities.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Vicente Del Bosque    
"I have no intention to remain as coach. No matter what the result of the Euros, ...
What They're Saying: Yura Movsisyan    
"I could never repay what they did for me." -- Yura Movsisyan, on Tony Beltran's family, ...
MLS Rookie Watch: Harrison joins race    
Jack Harrison, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, has solidified a starting job ...
U.S. Abroad: Rodriguez moves to Chemnitzer FC    
U.S. U-23 forward Mario Rodriguez, who spent three seasons in the German Regionalliga with Borussia Moenchengladbach ...
MLS Moves: Timbers loan out Asprilla to Colombian club    
Portland's wait for Dairon Asprilla to light up MLS is over. The Timbers announced Thursday a ...
MLS Countdown: NYCFC sharp heading into derby rematch    
Six weeks after the Red Bulls stampeded New York City FC, 7-0, in the first Hudson ...
Euro 2016: Results & schedule    
Belgium will play Wales in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals on Friday. The Red Devils will be ...
Video Pick: The Bundesliga's 10 Strangest Goals    
The folks at the Bundesliga took advantage of the offseason to compile last season's Top 10 ...
Datebook: USA headed to Cuba for friendly in October    
The U.S. men's national team will play a friendly game in Cuba for the first time ...
What They're Saying: Errea export manager Fabrizio Taddei    
"We are working 24/7 with a night shift and so we are every day sending out ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives