Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Tuesday 31 May 2011

International Absences & the Importance of a Balanced Schedule

     32 players from MLS rosters were called up to their respective national teams for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup; several others will report to their national team for various other duties, some will not make the full squad, will choose to pull out or get injured and be back with their club teams in due time. Such a drain on an already limited selection pool for managers is a necessary evil for a league that is not able to respect the international calendar. There is much consternation at the pig-headedness of continuing to play matches while much of the league’s premium talent is away on international duty. While this is a concern, it is much more important that the league focus on maintaining a balanced schedule of competition, rather than worry if not all players are available for every match.  

MLS Weekly Review - Weekend Round 11 - Of a Unified Destruction in Toronto, Regicide in Salt Lake, a First in Portland, a Bit of the Ole’ Back-&-Forth, & the Battle for ‘El Capitán’.

     The first match early on Saturday witnessed the destruction of Toronto FC 2-6 by the Philadelphia Union. Toronto playing their eighth match in the month of May, the eleventh in 34 days, fell behind early. Goals in the 2nd, 11th and then again in the 44th minutes saw TFC go in for the half down 0-3 to a chorus of boos from the home fans. Gabriel Farfán, picked out by Jordan Harvey’s cross, was left alone in the right side of the box to grab the first, his first in his MLS career. Justin Mapp doubled the lead with his first of the season and Kyle Nakazawa rounded out the first half scoring when he was left alone in front of goal. Toronto made two changes at the half, Julian de Guzman and Dan Gargan made way for Javier Martina and Danleigh Borman, who was returning to action from an absence due to personal matters. The shuffling resulted in TFC piling on the pressure, with Maicon Santos grabbing a brace, firstly rounding Faryd Mondragón then knocking in a loose ball in the box. The comeback was halted abruptly as Mapp picked up his second off a poor clearance from Stefan Frei, which he fired into the top corner. Toronto continued to press forward leaving gaps in an already porous defense. Danny Mwanga redirected a low, goalmouth cross by Sébastian Le Toux in the 72nd minute, prompting Aron Winter to throw caution to the wind and bring on yet another attacking substitute with Alen Stevanović replacing Ty Harden. TFC switched to a 3-3-1-3 and pressed forward. Mwanga wrapped up the scoring with a last minute strike handing TFC their worst ever loss and earning Philly their first win at BMO Field. It was Union’s second away win of the season, precipitated by a largely unprecedented offensive explosion. Having tallied just 8 goals in their previous 10 matches this season; this 6-goal outburst was modestly foreshadowed by their 2-1 victory over Chicago Fire last Saturday, their first 2-goal output of the season. The Union solidified their lead atop the Eastern Conference, while Toronto FC’s fans were left to watch the Champions League Final on the big screen questioning their team and their manager.

Perspective - Teitur Thordarson Tossed at Low Tide

     Vancouver Whitecaps parted ways with their head coach early this morning at a press conference. An abrupt end to his four-year tenure in charge of the club was a bit of a shock to most of the media and fans. There had been rumblings of discontent, but it was thought that Vancouver had learned from the mess that is Toronto FC and would not rush into any rash decisions. It takes time to step into this league and find success as mused here; however, the Vancouver frame of mind did not think much of MLS’ qualities. Optimism was high following the opening day defeat of TFC; even as the two clubs’ records ran almost parallel, the new-car-smell of BC’s team was inducing a blinding high, which appears to have worn off inducing a stark, despairing come-down, and the realization has hit, the team is not doing well.

FIFA: Dancing Shadows on the Wall of the Cave

    The current posturing of the major players in this FIFA soap opera is as captivating as the OJ trial was in its day. One cannot help but worry, that this drama is nothing more than it appears, an orchestrated show, designed to fool the populace once again as maneuvers are made to continue the good ship on its intended path.

Sunday 29 May 2011

Thoughts? – Decipher the Blather

"When a Swiss farmer's neighbour has a cow while he has none, the less fortunate farmer will work twice as hard so that one day he can buy a cow as well. When another farmer, elsewhere, on an island, say, has no cow but his neighbour does, that farmer will kill the neighbour's cow out of sheer malice. I'd rather be a Swiss farmer, like it or not"  – Sepp Blatter, care of The Guardian’s Fiver.

Mondragón Channels Danny Cepero

    At today’s Toronto FC match, the less said about the result the better, Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón almost scored off a long goal kick that bounced high over Stefan Frei’s head as he rushed out to collect it. Frei managed to scramble back and smother the ball before it crossed the line. Shades of Danny Cepero’s goal, the first goal ever scored by an MLS keeper from open play, as his kick bounced similarly high over the head of Columbus Crew keeper Andy Gruenebaum in his debut game on October 18th, 2008.

Friday 27 May 2011

First Person View – Rarified Air

    I finally caught the action from Toronto FC’s match in Colorado; GolTV’s Game in an Hour came through in the end. I know, I know, what kind of fan misses a match, I was busy cooking some dinner for the family. It was only the second match I’ve ever not been able to watch live, I had to work for a disappointing TFC performance in Houston two seasons ago. As for home matches, I’ve only not been present for two, one my sister’s wedding, though I did manage to sneak away in time to catch it live, and another in season one, we were sharing tickets with another fellow and he used all the seats for the Houston match… something about Houston.

Thursday 26 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 11 - Of Offensive Struggles, Shut Out Streaks, Penalty Kicks, and a Mad Six Minutes in New York.

    Three matches were played this midweek all on Wednesday evening. Seattle fell 1-0 to FC Dallas at Qwest Field; Brek Shea scored the lone goal in the 18th minute. Seattle, decimated by injuries, has struggled to amass any offense this season. They attempted 19 shots last night, out shooting Dallas 15-3 in the second half, yet they failed to hit to get the necessary equalizing goal. It was only the 3rd time they have been shut out in their 13 matches. The real issues is regular scoring, the last time Sounders had a multi-goal game was April 30th, when they Toronto FC visited and fell 3-0, that was only the 3rd match that Seattle had scored more than 1 goal.     Injuries to Steve Zakuani, O’Brian White, Nate Jaqua and Mauro Rosales, as well as the preseason departure of Blaise N’Kufo, has decimated the Seattle attack leaving Fredy Montero as the go-to guy, a role with which he has not always been comfortable. He will need to step up his prosperity in front of goal if Seattle wishes to push for the title this season.

The Match that Never Was

    Some thoughts on the VC-NCC (Voyageurs Cup – Nutrilite Canadian Championship) match that was abandoned and replayed, hopefully dryer, the very next day. The rain started just moments after the match; it was not the usual rain, for these drops were big ones, evil ones. Everything was fine, unless you dislike being wet, until the close of the first half, a crack of lightning pierced the south-western sky, slowly approaching. It seemed odd to halt the play then, but that was the decision made, a poor one as what came was much worse. Following a half hour delay, the players again took the field, a veritable swimming pool, the ball stuck, the players hydroplaned, the sky and the play degraded, both looked dangerous, things were going to get reckless. And so, the match was put on hold again, “let’s try and wait it out” someone suggested, others knew the game was up.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Thrown Out: Whispers on Super injunctive Twitter

    There is a storm brewing over the apparently overheard whispers of Sir Alex Ferguson regarding a journalist who had the temerity to ask how important Ryan Giggs was to Manchester United in light of recent super injunction revelations. Some would argue that SAF was in the wrong and has had a Gray-Keys moment of his own, forgetting he was sitting in front of a barrage of microphones, recording even the most unintelligible of syllables from the mouth of the great man.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Manchester City’s Transfer Policy

With the silly season about to kick off a quick look back at the recent transfer dealings of Manchester City paints a cunning, yet devious strategy. Dating back to the summer window in 2008, City has embarked on a system of targeted purchases designed to fulfill two purposes. Firstly, to amass a group of talent, with enough quality and experience to allow them to push into the upper echelons of the English Premier League, while simultaneously weakening their immediate rivals.

Thoughts? - A Wink & a Nod

     Sepp Blatter blathered on this week about how he once refused a bribe, that he could not refuse, but he returned the money or something like that. The whole saga is really quite tiring, seeing an elderly gentleman, struggle in a modern media world that he just does not understand, being made the fool.

Monday 23 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 10 - Of More of the Same, a Little Something Different, a Touch of Redemption, New Faces on the Score Sheet, and a Not So SuperClásico

    The 10th week of MLS action was less congested than those previous; the 8 matches were all played on Saturday and Sunday, some things, however, did remain the same. Portland Timbers are still unbroken at home; this latest 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew was their 5th win at JELD-WEN Field, a perfect 5-0 record. The Timbers exploitation of dead ball situations also continued, they have scored 6 of their 13 goals from set pieces. Defender Eric Brunner’s header in the opening minute of the second half, against the team that left him unprotected in the expansion draft last year was set up by a Jack Jewsbury free kick, which was redirected across the goal by Kalif Alhassan for Brunner to put in. Jewsbury and Alhassan lead the team in assists, each tallying their 5th on Brunner’s goal, leaving them a lone helper behind league leaders David Beckham and Brad Davis, tied with Vancouver’s Davide Chuimiento. Real Salt Lake, despite unveiling their new golden jerseys, continued to struggle in a storm affected match in Dallas. The lightning caused play to be stopped in the 83rd minute, the same minute as the stoppage in the match versus LA Galaxy some weeks ago. A rematch of last year’s Western Conference Semi Final, which was won by Dallas, was a testy affair, both teams battling for the 0-0 result. Salt Lake had never earned a single point in Dallas before this match, their 2nd straight scoreless draw and the 3rd time in the last 4 matches they have been kept off the score sheet. Despite this offensive slump Salt Lake are still maintaining the strong defense that has made then so dominant, keeping their opponents at bay, earning clean sheets in 6 of their 8 matches played. FC Dallas remains unbeaten in 6 matches, with goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who recorded his 5th clean sheet of the season; they have not allowed a goal in 399 minutes of action.

Friday 20 May 2011

Concussions in MLS

     A good result for Chivas USA on Sunday night was made even better by the return of defender Michael Lahoud, who overcame post concussion issues to assist his team in earning that jaw dropping 2-3 victory in New York against the Red Bulls. Concussions have become a serious issue in the sporting world in the past few years, the NHL and NFL are taking extreme measures, such as protective legislation and increased medical oversight to ensure the safety of their players.

    At the moment, there are 6 MLS players out of action for concussions and post-concussion symptoms: Jimmy Conrad (Chivas USA), Devon McTavish (D.C. United), Calen Carr (Houston Dynamo), Thorne Holder (Philadelphia Union) Patrick Nyarko and Michael Videira (both Chicago Fire). Jimmy Conrad, perhaps the highest profile players currently out, definitely the most entertaining and garrulous of the bunch, recently discussed his situation on his podcast. Making light of the situation as he usually does, Jimmy expressed the confusion and concerns associated with the condition, his desire to get out on the field, the indeterminate nature of the injury and the ramifications of collective damage suffered for one’s post professional career. 

Thursday 19 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review – Round 9 - Of Cascadian Cups, Galactic Earthquakes in California, High Earners Paying Off, Philadelphia’s Young Stars & a Power Outage in New York

     The Seattle Sounders vs. the Portland Timbers, the big derby MLS has been waiting for played out to a 1-1 draw late Saturday night.  This first match of the Cascadian Cup played in the pouring rain of Seattle, was a lightning paced battle, though it failed to live up to the unreachably massive expectations surrounding the event. The slick turf at Qwest Field did little to assist the proceedings as the ball proved difficult to control leading to a midfield duel in which neither side could claim dominance. The undoubted highlight was the massive tifo display arranged by the Emerald City Supporters that covered a whole end of the stadium, paying homage to their ‘Decades of Dominance’ over their Pacific Northwest rivals. The large patch of Timber’s Army who made the short trip did well to not be smothered by the incessant noise of the home fans, especially as their numbers were limited to some 500 or so fans. The match was played in good spirit, neither side receiving a booking, though the forearm smash by Osvaldo Alonso on Diego Chará was evidence of the fierceness of the competition. Seattle took the lead off a well work goal by Álvaro Fernández in the 52nd minute. Portland’s nemesis, Roger Levesque swung a ball in from the right hand side, which collapsed the Timber’s defense onto Fredy Montero, who won the header, flicked on to the unmarked streaking Fernández, who slotted past a hapless Troy Perkins. Portland responded quickly, in the 65th minute their captain, Jack Jewsbury, caught the Seattle backline napping with a free kick, floating a ball onto the head of defender Mamadou ‘Futty’ Danso, a carbon copy of the goal the two had combined for against Philadelphia last week. The Timbers have used set pieces to their advantage, scoring 8 of their 12 goals from free kicks and corners. Unveiling their Rose City Red second kits, the Timbers did well to earn themselves a point in the hostile confines of Qwest, and the hoards of Rave Green clad fans left disappointed at not continuing their supposed dominance. Comments to the media have spurred on the budding rivalry, with Portland’s Head Coach, John Spencer openly mocking the use of excuses such as weather and injury by his counterpart in Seattle, Sigi Schmid. Sunday, July 10th, note that date; the return fixture goes down in Portland.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

First Person View – Injuries & Workhorses... Updated - & Silviu Petrescu

     The excellent Richard Whittall wrote a piece on The Score’s Footy Blog dissecting the Toronto FC collapse against the Chicago Fire at BMO Field on Saturday night. He mentioned the effort put into the match by Jacob Peterson, to which I commented that Peterson may be the most improved TFC player from last year to this and that the ridiculously heavy schedule may have been one cause of the draw. With Peterson felled by an apparent hamstring injury in the first half of Wednesday’s match in Vancouver when he tried to accelerate to reach a pass and Tony Tchani also hampered by a leg injury minutes later when his foot seemed to get stuck in the pitch, I can’t help but wonder why these matches are allowed to be played on artificial surfaces.

     Peterson has been a work horse for Toronto this season, filling in nicely in the midfield, covering the entire pitch and filling in wherever necessary. His loss for any significant amount of time, during such a busy stretch of the season would be a major issue for TFC. No professional footballer, soccerer doesn’t sound right, likes to play on turf, they would much rather play on natural grass. If injuries keep occurring on these unforgiving grounds surely to protect the players rules must be brought in to remove them from top level matches.

     Second half is about to kick off, back to the match.

You can find Mr. Whittall’s work at the aforementioned Footy Blog, as well as at Canadian Soccer News and his personal blog, A More Splendid Life.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Perspective - Voyageurs Cup / Nutrilite Canadian Championship: Ad Victorem Spolias

     Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps take the field on Wednesday night for the first leg of the Canadian Championship. Both teams are desperate to put mediocre starts to their seasons behind them, claim some glory and satisfy the desires of their fans, but would it really be good for them?

Monday 16 May 2011

Cristiano Ronaldo & Emmanuel Adebayor pay homage to PK Subban & Carey Price


     This goal celebration as Real Madrid routed Sevilla on May 7th was oddly reminiscent of the Montreal Canadians young stars triple low five mixed in with the shoulder bump they used to celebrated their clinching of a playoff spot against the Chicago Blackhawks (Both videos can be found below). This raises the interesting question are Real Madrid sitting around late at night watching NHL hockey games? 

Sunday 15 May 2011

MLS Scheduling & TFC Congestion

     Toronto FC played their 7th match in 21 days this evening against the Chicago Fire. A match every 3 days, when travel to Edmonton, Seattle and Dallas is considered, it is no surprise that when the rains picked up and the field got heavy, Toronto just did not have the energy in their legs to combat the onslaught beset upon them by a Chicago team that has been finding its feet after a spell of retooling. It is a stroke of luck that most of TFC’s games have been at home; one has to wonder what schedule makers at MLS head office were thinking when they made this year’s edition.

Friday 13 May 2011

Toronto FC Hates Bouncy Castles

     Bad times in Frisco have plagued Toronto FC’s visits to play FC Dallas. TFC has conceded 6 penalty kicks in 9 games to the former Hoops, 5 in the 5 matches played in Texas.

     2 in 2007; 1 in 2008, a last minute game tying goal conceded when Julius James was judged to have pulled down Adrian Serioux; 1 in 2009, a Marvel Wynne handball call from a ridiculous distance that gave Dallas the lead in a tight match; no penalty was awarded in 2010, though Martin Saric did receive a red card, and again a soft call last night, Adrian Cann adjudged to have fouled a slippery footed George John.

     Toronto has also received 3 red cards in their 9 matches against FC Dallas. Karma for the 4-0 beat down in the first ever meeting at BMO in 2007? Hubris for constant jibes about how awesome it is to have a bouncy castle at a football match? Some other evil force at play? Who knows, though it is exhausting.

Perspective – The Present vs. the Past: Depth for Toronto FC & Over Paying for Players

     It has taken 5 long years, over a hundred players, 6 coaches, several ticket price increases and a few fan protests, but Toronto FC has finally achieved one of the key goals of a good MLS squad, depth. This season Toronto has fielded 25 of their 30 man roster, an impressive feat of rotation when one considers those who have not played, Elbekay Bouchiba, Milos Kocic, Demitirius Omphroy, Nicholas Lindsay, and Matt Stinson. Two of whom are injured, Bouchiba and Lindsay, while draft pick Omphroy, academy graduate Stinson, and backup keeper Kocic, have featured in the lone reserve match along with a plethora of academy youths. This intentional usage of the entire squad by Aron Winter, not only brings every player into the fold of the first team, allowing them to feel a part of the whole, but also keeps everyone fresh and on their toes, knowing that a bad performance or a lazy training session could mean they spend some time on the side lines.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 8 - Of Draws, Coaches Derbies, a Big Little Man, Real Obstacles, a Clash of Headliners & the Rebirth of Henry

     The eighth week of MLS action was concluded with a rash of draws, half of the ten matches, the last five scheduled actually, ended with the sides even.  No goals for DC-Dallas, New England-Colorado, and Chicago-Vancouver, while Columbus-Seattle and Los Angeles-New York each scored a lone goal. Whether the heavy schedule of matches and travel has caught up to the teams and the first plateau of the season has been reached or it was just an anomaly is difficult to say, but last season saw a similar smattering of level affairs at several points in the season, perhaps it is just that high-falutin’ parity rearing its ugly head.

Friday 6 May 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Round 7 - Of Broken Ducks, Homecomings, Injuries Overcome, Streaks Continued, Defense, & a Hangover in Portland

Ducks were broken this weekend in MLS. Vancouver’s young striker, Omar Salgado, first pick overall in the 2011 Superdraft, scored his first professional goal in his first start, from a left sided Terry Dunfield cross. Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux, scored his first of the season from the penalty mark, following a handball by San Jose’s Jason Hernandez. Early season struggles to get on the score sheet put to rest after a dynamic season last year, leading the Union with 14 goals and 11 assists in 2010, to earn his side a 1-0 victory. FC Dallas’s Columbian DP, Fabian Castillo, scored his first goal for his new team, curling a flicked header from Andrew Jacobsen into the corner of the net. Chivas duo Nick LaBrocca and Marcos Mondiani both registered in Chivas USA’s 3-0 victory over New England; LaBrocca with a header from a Ben Zemanski cross and Mondiani with an unorthodox volley from a Alejandro Moreno pass. Sophomore Colorado striker Andre Akpan notched his first MLS strike, collecting a through ball from Omar Cummings and rifling into the far corner to level the match. In the Friday night match, Houston’s rookie striker, Will Bruin, notched his first career hat trick, helping his team demolish DC 4-1.

Sunday 1 May 2011

The Yellow Wall & the Merits of the Bundesliga

     Borussia Dortmund, the most exciting team in the most exciting league in Europe.  The goal scoring prowess and exotic flair of Lucas Barrios and Shinji Kagawa; the youthful exuberance of Mario Götze and Nuri Şahin, the staunch defense of Mats Hummels and Nevan Subotić; the wild orchestrations of Manager Jürgen Klopp; the famously impressive Südtribüne of yellow-clad fans; these are the things that come to mind at the mention of Borussia Dortmund.

     On Matchday 10, Dortmund reached the top of the table, having previously trailed behind the impossible start of 1. FSV Mainz 05, and haven’t looked back. They now stand on the precipice of an unforeseen championship that has captured the attention of the football world. The most impressive facet of this impending championship is surely the youth of the squad. The average age of the regular starters is slightly more than 22 years, even with the inclusion of 30 year old goalkeeper, Roman Weidenfeller. The poise and commitment shown by such a young group of players is even more exceptional given the one player no one is talking about at the moment, their injured captain, Sebastian Kehl.