March 26, 2007
It was only a friendly, but what a friendly it was for US midfielder/forward and captain Landon Donovan. In the first minute he punishes Ecuador for a poor clearance and drilled a shot to the upper right corner and stakes the US to an early 1-0 lead. Then in the second half he strikes twice in a span of a minute to win the game. His second goal was a beautiful passing play from his former San Jose Earthquakes teammate Brian Ching as Donovan used his speed to get past Ecuador's last line of defense and sped in alone on the keeper from just inside the midfield stripe. One on one with the keeper, Donovan coolly slotted the ball inside the far post to put the US ahead for good in the 66th minute.
Then in the 67th minute, Donovan added the cherry on top of the sundae as DaMarcus Beasley found Donovan near the top of the 18 yard box and the US captain drilled a one time shot into the upper right corner past a helpless Rorys Aragon.
And while Donovan was most certainly the Man of the Match, he easily could have had four or five goals on the game as he was thwarted on another one on one with the keeper and he might have taken the penalty that could have been given when Beasley was pushed down in the box in the second half.
All in all, the match went about as good as could be expected for US fans. Sure, Clint Dempsey should have scored from inside the 6 yard box and the central defense was scary at times for the US. But all in all, you can't argue about too much coming out of the match unless you wanted to see Frankie Simek and Jay DeMerit make their USMNT debuts.
Let the Landon Donovan debut continue
Watching the match and then reading this article made me wonder what all the people that are anti-Donovan were thinking when they were watching the match yesterday.
Was this performance going to change anything in their minds? Or, was this going to simply cement in their heads their take that Donovan only shows up in the easy times and isn't "hard enough" to produce when it really counts?
Honestly, I think the comments about not wanting to be gone all summer with the USMNT in the Gold Cup and Copa America and wanting to be around for Beckham's arrival to the Galaxy can't help matters.
But, I still think that Donovan has the most talent of anyone in the USMNT pool today and for this team to go as far as possible, Bob Bradley, or whomever is running the program, needs to get the absolute most out of Landon Donovan.
But as Bruce Arena said, it doesn't really matter what he does in a random friendly in 2007. What will matter is what he does on the bigger stages leading up to the biggest stage of all in South Africa in 2010.
Rhinos drop pre-season game to FC Dallas 2-0
In their second pre-season game against an MLS club, the Rhinos fell to FC Dallas 2-0 on Saturday evening. Who knows what to take out of these two matches as the Islanders were able to defeat FC Dallas 1-0 on Thursday and fell 2-1 to LA on Saturday.
The hope here is that the team is healthy and the time together in Puerto Rico and Florida helps bring the team together ahead of their road trip to open the 2007 USL 1st Division season.
Some updates from last week
Don't believe the hype about the LA game
Apparently the initial match report on the LA Galaxy website left much to be desired following the Rhinos' 3-2 loss to the Galaxy. First, Scott Vallow took issue with reports that he had a few miscues that led to Galaxy goals in the second half as he was subbed out at halftime for Hector Zapata. Also, Coach Calloway wondered why I asked him on Kick This! about Hamed Diallo not playing when he played the final 30 minutes versus LA.
The Galaxy have corrected the part about Zapata giving up the three LA goals. But, I'm not even going to try to get them to correct who played for the Rhinos.
News on Virginia Beach's future could come early this week
Rhinos Executive Vice President Matthew Ford was on Kick This! on Saturday and said that he expects to hear something from the league on the future of the Viriginia Beach Mariners early in the week. All he knows so far is what he's read from their local paper and he isn't really certain whether the Rhinos will be playing their season opener in Virginia Beach as scheduled or not. One thing that Matthew did know is that the Rhinos are still looking at adding another player or two, they will announce the women's head coach later today, and they hope to name an assistant coach for the men's team later this week.
Carolina RailHawks roster expanding
Although the club has yet to make the signings official, former Richmond Kicker Kevin Jeffrey, former Minnesota Thunder defender Chad Dombrowski, and former DC United defender David Stokes were listed as members of the RailHawks on rosters handed out at Carolina's pre-season game versus Wake Forest recently.
The link between the Colorado Rapids and Arsenal could strengthen
Colorado Rapids owner Stan Kroenke is looking into buying a 9.9% stake in the London based EPL club.
Earlier in the year the Rapids and Arsenal announced a partnership that has seen the Rapids training at Arsenal's training grounds.
It will be interesting to see how far this moves goes. Could Arsenal join Liverpool and Manchester United as top flight EPL clubs that are owned by Yanks?
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.