My week started on Sunday with an ESPN telecast of the New York Red Bulls vs Chicago Fire, and will end Saturday when the Union host the Colorado Rapids at PPL Park. When it’s all said and done it will be four games in seven nights with a lot of memories.
Here are some thoughts from the week:
New York at Chicago
This one will be remembered for all of the designated players, five in all, four of whom started. It’s pretty clear that New York is now a team to be reckoned with. Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez change the dynamics. It was a pleasure to interview Henry last Saturday at the team hotel. He seems to be a very classy individual off the field, and genuinely wants to be here playing in MLS. He will help bring more world-class players to our league next season.
USA vs Brazil
The New Meadowlands Stadium is spectacular, more so when you have almost 78,000 fans watching a soccer game. I was thoroughly impressed by a young Brazil team that won 2-0. The score was flattering for the USA, as it could have been as bad as 6-0 were it not for all of the goalposts Brazil hit in the second half, plus the saves made by second half sub Brad Guzan.
Brazil has never won an Olympic tournament, but I like their chances this time around in 2012. Neymar and Alexandre Pato are two very dynamic players who are going to be a huge part of Brazil’s future.
From the USA side, I understand that we were celebrating the World Cup, but did we have to bring 15 of our World Cup players there? Brazil only brought four of theirs. Why not give some of our younger players the opportunity to play in that atmosphere?
I would hope the U.S. will go that route in their next couple of friendlies, scheduled for October.
Philadelphia vs Real Salt Lake
Wednesday’s game at PPL Park was an interesting one, especially with that rather different looking RSL lineup. Several backups played including goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, but this was still a very solid team.
Offensively, Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola were tough to play against, while on the defensive side Nat Borchers seemingly won every challenge in the air.
I was impressed with Philadelphia’s effort, especially coming off the loss at Dallas on Sunday. Also impressive was the play of Rookie of the Year candidate Danny Mwanga, who found the net early. Mwanga’s confidence continues to pick up and it was good to see him be aggressive right from the outset after missing the last two matches with a groin injury.
Philadelphia vs Colorado
Saturday’s game at PPL Park will end a tough stretch for the Union. It will be their fourth game over a 10 day period. The Rapids come in hungry, trying to get to the MLS playoffs.
Philadelphia will have to prepare for the likes of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. Casey has missed the last two games with blurred vision and headaches following a hit to the head in a recent game vs Seattle. I don’t know that he’ll start, but if he does, expect a major battle in the box between him and Danny Califf.
And if you hear some cheering for the opposition on Saturday, don’t be overly alarmed. The Rapids feature defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, who grew up in nearby West Chester, Pennsylvania. According to the Rapids' website, several family members and friends have purchased tickets to watch him play closer to home.