Friday, March 12, 2010

Wizards Intrasquad game - 3/11/2010

The Wizards white team beat the Wizards blue team 5-2 last night. You can check the Wizards or Mike's live bloging for details but I wanted to post some photos and thoughts.

I would be happy if the white team was the opening day team. Both Smith/Espinoza on the left and Myers/Harrington on the right worked well together. Their speedy overlapping play was dangerous all night. The middle with Auvray and Diop stopped and turned play back to the offense. Wolff and Arnaud made good runs as well. Besler and Conrad anchored the defense and supported the whole attacking shape. Nielsen was not tested much early and the couple goals that were scored on him can not easily be blamed on him. I was happy with his communication with the team considering how new he is still. Overall very pleased with the white team.

Myers and Wolff (1 PK) both had two and Smith with one.

The blue team had some good play as well. Kamara and Bunbury were the most dangerous but Zoltan, Zusi and Kraus showed some attacking ability as well.

My man of the match was Myers. Wolff, Smith and Kamara would be runner ups.

Despite the poor lighting and weather, I was experimenting with a new camera and was able to get a few shots...

From the end of the game, you would not expect Davy to be clean. And he wasn't...


Kamara and Harrington in the air. Kei was getting some air last night...


Wolff on the attack...


Kraus and Smith fighting for the ball...


Myers heading the ball past a sliding Kronberg...


The second Myers goal...


Leathers crashed into the boards and left the game to be replaced by Fuzetti...


Nielsen going to his left as Bunbury's shot deflects off of Besler to the other side...


For a Bunbury goal...


More photos here

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MLS players vote to strike

MLS players have voted to strike if a Collective Bargaining Agreement is not reached before the season starts on March 25th. I had really hoped to only post on the CBA when it was signed but I am thinking this is worthy of a post.

According to Steven Goff, the final tally was 383 - 2 in favor of striking. An overwhelmingly lopsided vote and an unambiguous message from the players to the league. I have to wonder if the 2 who voted against it couldn't read English or were way behind in their bills.

While both sides have agreed to use a mediator, it has obviously not resolved the differences yet.

I am not as freaked out about this as some others. While it may be painful, it is part of growing up as a league. All of MLS's older siblings have had work stoppages in some form or another. My fear would be if the work stoppage lasts very long. MLS and soccer may not be popular enough to survive an extended work stoppage and they certainly do not want a work stoppage through the World Cup time period.

After the Wizards scrimmage last night I spoke to Jimmy Conrad to get his take (do the download option on that audio). I walked up in the middle of Jimmy already being interviewed so the sound level start off a little quite but builds up to normal. We also talk about the scrimmage last night.

Wizards 3/10 Practice Notes - a few extra photos

I just wanted to share a few more photos from yesterday. The rest can be found here...

Coach Pascarella has a way of turning the keepers upside down...


With so many languages spoken in camp, Coach Zambrano uses some non-verbal communication as well...


If you follow Dave Borchardt's tweets you already heard about this incident. Prior to the small goal game, someone shot a ball into the small goal hard. It somehow hit the back, rolled up and shot out a little below waste high. Needless to say Ryan Smith was hit in a spot that men of all nationalities find sensitive. I am sure he found it a little less funny than everyone else...


New keeper Jimmy Nielsen encouraging Alex Horwath's pushups?


Up, down, up...


Just a shot of the ball on the line. This might become my new header on the blog...


As mentioned before, Coach Pascarella likes to turn the keepers upside down. He also likes to mix it up a bit.

Pardo over Crayton...


Crayton over Kronberg...


Pardo over Crayton...


Kronberg over Pardo...


Igor Kostrov putting one just out of Boris Pardo's reach...


Korede Aiyegbusi proving that he can play with the taller Kei Kamara


In the one full size goal scrimmage. Graham Zusi scored a goal that all the players and spectators were impressed with. This is Kei jumping in amazement...


And now Kei is learning that the goal did not count because Zusi touched it twice in a one touch game...


Boris trapping a pass of his chest...

Wizards 3/10 Practice Notes - afternoon session

Not sure how these guys will line up but this is who was in the afternoon session:
Kronberg (Crayton, Pardo backup keepers)
Leathers - Escobar - Hohlbein - Aiyegbusi
Hirsig - Jewsbury - Fuzetti - Kostrov - Zusi
Zoltan - Kamara

Just like the morning session, the teams broke into defensive oriented and offensive oriented practices with Vermes and Zavagnin coaching the defense and Zambrano and Savic coaching the offensive half.
The second group seemed to have less flair but more direct play when they scrimmaged.

Player observations:

Escobar looked okay but need to see him in a full size scrimmage to make a better judgement.

Pablo Escobar...


Aiyegbusi looks like he will be the guy that is everywhere interrupting the play. He plays larger than his stature for sure.

Korede Aiyegbusi...


Kostrov looks skilled. At times he seemed to blend well and at times he looked a little out of sync. He does seem to be more in the flow than he did the first time I saw him.

Igor Kostrov and Jonathan Leathers...


Zoltan and Kamara were both finishing well in the practice.

Zusi had a beautiful blast called back but it impressed all the players and coaches watching...

Wizards 3/10 Practice Notes - morning session

The practice was split so that the two teams that will be playing an inter-squad game tonight could practice together and practice preparing for a game.

The morning session team looks like they will line up:
Nielsen (Horwath backup keeper)
Harrington - Conrad - Besler - Espinoza
Myers - Diop - Auvray - Smith
Arnaud - Bunbury

In both sessions the coaches split up the defensive half and the offensive half players. The goalies, the defenders and a midfielder practiced moving as a unit, getting the ball up field and some tactics. Vermes and Zavagnin coached the defensive half.

The other midfielders and forwards worked on receiving the ball, movement and developing shooting opportunities. Zambrano and Savic coached the offensive group each time.
They then did a small side game with 4 small goals and then a scrimmage with full size goals.

Player observations:
This was my first look at Smith, Nielsen and Diop.

Smith is quick. Not just running speed either, it looks like he thinks and acts quick as well. In the small scrimmage he was creative and dangerous. This is an early observation based on one practice but I can certainly see why they like him.

Ryan Smith...


Nielsen looks like a competent keeper. In the keeper practice he stopped shots and seemed to be athletically capable. The scrimmage did not test him heavily but he did make a very good reaction save on a point blank shot. He also was saved by a defender when he was too far off the line once.

Nielsen during keeper practice...


Diop has size and ability. I did not see enough of him to make a real judgment.
Only my second look at Auvray and Bunbury.

Bunbury is coming off an injury but showed speed and a nose for the goal in practice.

Auvray is calm and smart on the ball, professional and quick. I am very much looking forward to seeing him in a real game.

Auvray cutting with the ball...


Davy running with the ball...


Smith almost chipping Nielsen from short range in a scrimmage...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Korede and Kei interview - 3/10/2010

Talked with K (Korede) and Kei after the afternoon practice. I meant to talk to them separately but with Kei you have to be ready...

Ryan Smith interview - 3/10/2010

Talked with Ryan after practice this morning...

Jimmy Nielsen interview - 3/10/2010

Talked with Jimmy after practice this morning...

(1 profanity warning)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Vermes interview - 3/9/10

Had a quick phone interview with Coach Vermes this morning.

We discussed trialists Craig Rocastle and Sunil Chhetri, they are still considering both of them...

Ryan Smith deal is not officially done, they are still working through some details around his citizenship with the league...

Birahim Diop is also still being considered.

Benefit of the CBA negotiations still going on is that they have been able to have players in camp longer...

There may still be another player to be looked at but it depends on a couple variables...

Peter explains a little bit about the Obodai and Houston situation...

Vermes talks about trading Kevin Hartman to Dallas. They were the first team to express a real interest...

The audio is here...

Update: trying to work with podcast host to correct inconsistent ending to the audio. The full audio file was loaded up but it seems to cutoff early when hosted.

If they do not resolve soon we will find a new host. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Monday, March 8, 2010