Friday, September 21, 2012

Barca Outlasts Spartak 3-2

From The Washington Times:

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi came to the rescue with a late double to earn Barcelona a 3-2 victory over Group G opponents Spartak Moscow in Champions League competition, which coach Tito Vilanova termed ‘very important’ for his side’s campaign.

The hosts went ahead early on through Cristian Tello, but an own-goal from Dani Alves after 29 minutes brought Spartak back into the contest.

Barca were enjoying the vast majority of the play but Romulo’s second-half goal put a damper on them. Messi, though, put their European ambitions back on track with two poacher’s goals inside the last 20 minutes.

“To start off with a win is very important,” said Vilanova. “This was never going to be an easy game as we were playing against a Spartak side with good players including a lot of foreigners.”

Spartak’s Spanish coach Unai Emery had never beaten Barcelona during his time in charge of Almeria or Valencia and it was always likely to be a severe test.

“We are not happy obviously with the way the game turned out,” said Emery. “But if there’s something good to take from it then we made it difficult for Barcelona and we know that we have a bright future.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Strikers Clinch Playoff Berth


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Sept. 8, 2012) – The Fort Lauderdale Strikers (9W-7T-9L) clinched a spot in the NASL Playoffs for the second consecutive season with a 1-1 draw against the Puerto Rico Islanders (10W-7T-8L) in front of 4,704 fans at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday night. Puerto Rico scored in just the second minute of the match, and the Strikers answered in the 8th minute, but there would be no more scoring in the match. Fort Lauderdale will now take to the road for their final two regular season games against the Atlanta Silverbacks and FC Edmonton. Should the team finish the season in third or fourth place, Fort Lauderdale would host a first round playoff game at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29.

“I thought we played well tonight, and obviously we’re pleased to be in the playoffs for the second year in a row,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “We know we have to play two tough road games and we’ll go into these games with a playoff mentality to stay focused and work together.”

The match started with a bang when Islanders forward Nick Addlery collected a turnover 35 yards from goal and fired a shot which skipped off the wet field, hit the inside of the left post and went into the net past Matt Glaeser. Puerto Rico took the lead 1-0 and the goal was Addlery’s ninth of the season.

The Strikers would even the match just six minutes later when a ball played into the area came to midfielder Hosman Ramos whose pass took a minor deflection and fell to the feet of Pecka. The second-year Striker shot toward net and the ball struck the bottom of the crossbar and bounced into the goal.

The match remained even the rest of the first half. In the second half, the Strikers were able to create several chances with forward Andy Herron breaking in on goal more than once. Unfortunately the best chance was called for offside and the Strikers were left without a victory in their regular season home finale.

“The support tonight was absolutely fantastic by our fans and unfortunately we were unable to reward them with a win, but both teams really pushed to get the winning goal and I felt we played well tonight,” said Shore.

Fort Lauderdale finished the regular season with a record of eight wins, four ties and two losses at Lockhart Stadium producing 28 points. The mark is a significant improvement on their 23 points earned at home in 2011. In order to return to Lockhart Stadium in the post season, it is likely the Strikers will need to win their final two regular season games. A home game would be ensured should the team reach the second round the 2012 NASL Playoffs.

The Strikers next travel North to face the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 7:30pm. at Silverbacks Park.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

United falls to RSL 1 - 0


 SANDY, Utah — D.C. United played with passion and conviction Saturday night, a refreshing renewal after several limp performances on the road. But consistent with the club’s travel shortcomings this summer, United conceded a goal shortly after halftime and dropped a 1-0 decision to Real Salt Lake in front of 20,334 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“We talked about having to change our mentality on the road and the way we go about things to have success,” Coach Ben Olsen said. “We did a lot of that, and it showed. The guys gave a hell of an effort. It’s just disappointing the final stuff wasn’t there. If we play that way on the road, we will start picking up points on the road.”

 After an 84-minute lightning delay interrupted the first half, United (12-10-5, 41 points) lost its sixth straight away match and fell into a fifth-place tie with the Chicago Fire (two fewer game played) in MLS's Eastern Conference. The Columbus Crew (12-8-6, 42) overtook both D.C. and Chicago with a last-minute victory over Montreal on Saturday.

Five clubs will advance to the playoffs in late October, and what seemed six weeks ago like a sure postseason berth for United is now in jeopardy. D.C. is 2-5-2 in its past nine league outings.

There were, however, signs of encouragement. Despite playing a fifth game in 14 days and missing several regulars, United displayed more fire than in recent trips and threatened several times, most notably Dwayne De Roasrio's drive off the left post in the first half.

Will Johnson’s 49th-minute header was decisive for Real (14-10-4), which ended a four-game winless stretch and extended its mastery over United in Utah to 6-0-1 since 2006.

“We created enough chances to at least tie this game and maybe sneak out with a win,” defender Dejan Jakovic said. “It’s a tough one to swallow, even though it was probably one of our better games on the road.”

Midfielder-defender Andy Najar (tooth abscess), midfielder Branko Boskovic (virus) and forward Hamdi Salihi were the latest absences, joining defenders Daniel Woolard (concussion) and Robbie Russell (foot).

As a result, the bench was far from full strength and the starting backline required adjustment. Brandon McDonald moved from the center to the right side and Jakovic and Emiliano Dudar partnered in the middle.
Olsen stuck with De Rosario and Lionard Pajoy on the frontline, with Maicon Santos back from a toe injury in reserve.

The match had barely gotten underway when flashes of lightning drew closer to the stadium. At the 3-minute 15-second mark, referee Silviu Petrescu waved the players off the field.

Multiple storms passed through the valley as the sun faded, creating eerily beautiful cloud formations above the Wasatch Range and a rainbow beyond the south end of the suburban stadium.

The players were afforded 15 minutes to warm-up again before play resumed. From late afternoon until the weather ambush, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees.

When play re-started, both sides released pent-up energy and attacked with vigor. Real’s Javier Morales pumped a distant shot that Bill Hamid touched over the crossbar and United’s Chris Pontius cut back in the box but curled a shot wide of the far post.

In the 28th minute, Pajoy’s high pressure forced a defensive mistake. Pajoy supplied De Rosario for a wicked bid from 28 yards. With both arms extended, goalkeeper Nick Rimando appeared to have a slight touch on the ball before it crashed off the left post and caromed across the six-yard box, barely missing the right corner.

United continued to attack with confidence but lacked a final, decisive pass and finishing touch. Real’s late pressure forced United to make desperate clearances from the box. The half ended with several threats but no goals.

Real broke through four minutes after halftime on a fortuitous deflection. Paulo Junior’s cross from the left side nicked the sliding McDonald. Before Hamid could adjust, Johnson beat him to it and nodded in from four yards for his third league goal of the year.

The deflection “threw a lot of us off,” Hamid said.

United pressed for the equalizer, but Rimando blocked Pajoy’s effort deep in the box, the Colombian fired a free kick fractionally wide of the top left corner and Rimando disrupted De Rosario in the box.

“Our energy and commitment was good,” Olsen said. “I’m just disappointed their efforts didn’t come up with anything. [ellip] If we put that kind of effort and mentality into the rest of the season, we will get to where we want to be.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rowdies thump Strikers 3-0

From the

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Rowdies clinched a spot in the NASL playoffs Saturday night with a 3-0 win over Fort Lauderdale at Lockhart Stadium.

Rowdies goalkeeper Jeff Attinella picked up his ninth shutout of the season and the 14th of his career. The former USF and Countryside standout came into the game leading the league with 97 saves, and had four Saturday.

The Rowdies (11-7-6) opened the scoring in the 78th minute after substitute Raphael Cox deflected defender Takuya Yamada's header into the net past goalie Matt Glaeser. It was Cox's first goal since joining the Rowdies last month.

The deflection by Cox, who entered in the 55th minute, caught Glaeser offguard.

Tampa Bay defender Frankie Sanfilippo made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute.

Sanfilippo entered the 18-yard box after an individual run through the defense of the Strikers (9-9-7), and his shot trickled by Glaeser for his second goal of the year.

Forward Carl Cort, who also joined the team last month, scored in the 90th minute. Forward Mike Ambersley placed a through ball to Cort, who was left one-on-one with Glaeser. His initial shot was blocked, but Cort scored off the rebound for his first goal in the NASL.

In the 19th minute, Fort Lauderdale midfielder Michael Tetteh received a red card after being sent off for retaliation and violent conduct.

The Rowdies are undefeated in 11 of the 12 meetings against the Strikers since 2010.

The Rowdies return to action Saturday when they host Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.