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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Saturday Preview and Open Thread

Written by on March 25, 2011 | 27 Comments »
Posted in General


Philadelphia Union v Vancouver Whitecaps

Both sides got off the winning starts last week and both have a right to will good about their performances.

A home win over Canadian rivals Toronto FC was an emphatic one for Vancouver FC but this they have Saturday they are on the other side of the continent to play the Philadelphia Union.

Vancouver went into last week’s game with some injury problems to John Thorrington and Shea Salinas but neither has recovered and did not travel with the team.

Perhaps more worrying for the Whitecaps is the fact that they will have to field a new centre back combination with Jay Demerit and Michael Boxall both on international duty.

The Union had a very decent home record last season – away form was a different matter. No team in the Eastern Conference lost fewer (3) games at home than Philadelphia.

If Philadelphia are to improve and push for a play-off spot then they need to maintain last season’s strike rate – over to you Sebastien Le Toux – and significantly cut back on the goals against.

With that specific aim in mind the Union has 40 year old Colombian keeper Faryd Mondragon between the pipes after both Chris Seitz and Brad Knighton were allowed to leave after less than impressive showings last season.

The acquisition of the former Cologne and Galatasaray keeper is one of the most intriguing of this MLS season.

FC Dallas v San Jose Earthquakes

Dallas reached the MLS Championship match last season only to lose in extra time to Colorado Rapids. If they are to go one step further they will also have to negotiate a stiffer schedule given that they will also participating in CONCACAF Champions League as well.

Dax McCarty, Atiba Harris, Heath Pearce, Jeff Cunningham have all gone from last season’s side which means others will have to step up – who they will be we don’t know.

However, at this stage last season few could have anticipated the emergence of players such as David Ferreira, Brek Shea or Jackson either.

Kevin Hartman was the backbone of the side last season and he started this season the same way last weekend with several key saves that preserved a draw against the Chicago Fire.

Every season preview rightly noted the contribution of Chris Wondolowski to San Jose Earthquakes last season. Wondolowski emerged from almost goal-scoring obscurity to score a league best 18 goals.

Considering the Earthquakes only scored 34 in total the impact of a drop in Wondolowski’s production could be severe.

San Jose lost their opener to Real Salt Lake 1-0 at home in a downpour last weekend. Not a good result but far better than the year before when Real Salt Lake opened with a 3-0 win at San Jose.

Euro 2012 Qualifying

Wales v England, Group G

There is an obvious edge to this game given past history. However, even a Wales win would not miraculously put them back into contention in Group G.

With no points in three games this match about improving their overall position for future tournaments while pricking the English balloon on expectation at the same time.

England currently lies second to Montenegro by three points but the game on Saturday will be the one they have in hand. A win would put England top on goal difference while Montenegro does not play again until June when they are at home to Bulgaria.

With Gareth Bale out injured much of the attention has now been transferred to the midfield battle between Arsenal teammates Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.

Some encouragement for Wales? This video is from 1980 when Wales beat England 4-1. Scoring England’s only goal was Paul Mariner.

Stat Facts

England and Wales have only met twice since May 1984 and England has won both times.

Wales have lost their last four internationals, scoring just one goal in the process.

Norway v Denmark, Group H

The match has apparently been dubbed the “The Battle of the North” by Nordic media. Currently Norway is leading this group to the surprise of many.

The man leading the charge is Egil “Drillo” Olsen who is back as coach at age 68. Olsen has been a polarizing force with his views on how to play the game but few can argue with the results he achieved the first time around.

Under Olsen, Norway made to the finals of three major tournaments in the 90s which was an incredible achievement for a country with little footballing pedigree.

Going into this match both teams have injury concerns. Along with goalkeeper Jon Knudsen Norway will be without John Carew. Hannover striker Moa Abdellaoue is the likely replacement.

Denmark’s Nicholas Bendtner is a doubt while centre-back Simon Kjær is another problem for manager Morten Olsen.


USA v Argentina

The USA and Argentina both have regional tournaments coming this summer with the Gold Cup and the Copa America scheduled.

I understand that coaches and managers need games like this but I also think that the media and fans read far too much into the result of such matches.

Odds On

It is as close to a certainty as you can find this weekend. Germany are 50/1 on (you put down $50 and you are right you get back $51) to beat Kazakhstan in Kaiserslautern.

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27 responses to “Saturday Preview and Open Thread”

  1. Bryan says:

    I was at that game in Wrexham ,I’d forgotten the score though.Thanks for the reminder.

    I see Craig Mackail-Smith failed to score for Peterborough at Bristol Rovers tonight. Wonder if he’ll do better against Brazil on Sunday.

    The second biggest game tomorrow is Oxford v Cambridge ,live on BBCAmerica.
    I’ll take the light blues.
    Think it’s about time one of them sunk again though.

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    Very soft penalty as Young intentionally slows down to get tied up by Collins. Ashley is becoming quite the diver and bad karma will definitely catch up with him!

    Montenegrin soccer player Nikola Nikezić claims he was tortured by goons hired by his former Russian club Kuban Krasnodar after he refused to break his contract.

    Nikezić, who played 31 games for Kuban, claims that two men beat him up and threatened him with weapons until he signed the papers terminating the two-year contract he signed in 2010.

    I can only imagine what the club owner would do to a belligerent Cassano, Bellamy or Balotelli!


  3. Gus Keri says:

    Lampard gives England the lead on a PK. I thoguht it was a good call.

  4. Soccerlogical says:

    Good call?

    Wow Gusey, you really need to put on your bifocals and watch the sequence in super slow-mo my friend! If you think that was a penalty and not Ashley young slowing down to get caught then I have a bridge to sell ya!

  5. Gus Keri says:

    What you saw as “slowing down”, I saw it as “protecting the ball”.

    And yes I did “put on my bifocals and watch the sequence in super slow-mo”

  6. Gus Keri says:

    England – Wales: 2-0

    England goes back to top of the group on goal difference over Montenegro.

    Russia failed to get more than a draw away to Armenia. Their lead over Ireland, on the top of the group, is now 2 points.

    On a side note: Arshavin, Nasri and Ramsey were captains of their countries. Way to go Arsenal.

  7. As long as the distance between Young and the ball was sufficient for him to be deemed in control of it it was a penalty.

  8. “On a side note: Arshavin, Nasri and Ramsey were captains of their countries. Way to go Arsenal.” Nick Webster wants to know if any qualify as spiritual leaders though!

  9. Russia draw in Armenia – good result for Ireland. Now they have to take advantage.
    Georgia v Croatia is just underway.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    re: J Collins penalty

    Bobby – Is that your personal interpretation?

    Cause to me it looks like A Young is dribbling at full speed on the keeper and all of a sudden he slows down to draw contact from a trailing Collins. I do not see any need to protect the ball or any need to slow down or change pace which he seems to do as he sees Collins closing in from behind.

    Should Young have maintained his dribble (i.e. pace) then he would have been free on goal to have a shot or perhaps been properly clipped by a trailing J Collins.

  11. Boris says:

    I have been saying for years that they needed to get rid of Bilic. The result is a disgrace. The team had no cohesion and lacked the ideas so Georgia eventually realized they could get something out of this. A 90th minute goal. Now Croatia will have it really hard in a relatively easy group. Bilic failed to take them to the World Cup and any coach would have been fired by now. The Croatian Federation have never been satisfied with below par performances so I do not understand why they have kept him around. I also did not like the attitude of the team. Everyone believed they would have the 3 points in the bag and already talked about virtually qualifying for the Euro’s. It serves them right. Now Greece can go on top with a win. Omg.

  12. Gus Keri says:

    While you were watching the Euro quaifications and the MLS, huge surprises took place in Africa.

    Egypt, the most successful team in the African Cup of Nations and the three-time defeding champion, lost to South Africa and almost was eliminated from the 2012 ACN.

    They have one point from three games and South Africa with 7.
    Three games left to play.

    It was a heart-break for Egypt. They conceded the goal on the very last kick of the game.

    Finishing second might not help Egypt. Only, the best two runners-up, out of 10, qualify.

    Cameroon, the most successful African team in the WC, also lost to Senegal. they have 4 points vs 9 for Senegal. They still have hope of a runner-up wild card, though.

    The last big name to lose is Togo. They lost to Malawi and have only 3 points from 6 games. They are all done. Even a second place finish is almost impossible to achieve.

  13. SL – As long as Young has the ball within playing distance he can do anything he wants – including slowing down. He has possession and it is up to defender to judge his position, approach and challenge accordingly.

  14. Gus Keri says:

    A great result for NYRB.

    They are missing 7 important players to international calls or injury (including 2 DPs, 2 first choice goalkeepers and 2 American national prospects) and they still were able to come back from Columbus with a point (0-0)

    Few debuts worked very well for NY, including striker Rodgers, central defender Keel and goalkeeper Horwath.

  15. Gus Keri says:

    In Europe:

    Unlike yesterday where the group leaders stretched their leads, today, we saw new leaders in three groups.

    Greece moved ahead of Croatia with one point with Georgia one further back.

    England leads Montenegro on goal difference in Group G.

    Ireland and Slovakia join Russia on the top of group B. All with 10 points from 5 gams. Slovakia has the better head to head results. This is shaping up to be the closest group.

    Germany, surprise surprise, stretched their lead to 8 points over both Belgium and Austria.

    Norway streched their lead to 3 points above both Portugal and Denmark. they drew Denmark at home 1-1

    Albania helped France to maintain their 4 points lead by beating Belarus, the closest challenger, and they joined them in second.

  16. Gus Keri says:

    In MLS:

    And the second comings continue. Two of them, actually. One in MLS and the other in life.. kind of.

    Both Carlos Ruiz and Charlie Davies scored, today. The first on a winner against Vancouver and the second in a losing effort agaist NE.

  17. Bryan says:

    Poor Wales.
    But at least they can still play rugby. Oh

    Reports that Gary Speed is considering calling up Stacey ,Nessa and Uncle Bryn for their next game are as yet unconfirmed.

    I’d have been happy with a 2-0 win before kick-off but not when they were two up after fifteen minutes.

    And unfortunately The Boat Race isn’t what it used to be.
    Too many bloody foreigners in it!

  18. Bryan says:

    …and don’t forget to turn the clock that you keep on British time forward an hour tonight.

  19. Gus Keri says:


  20. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – I appreciate your reply regarding the Collins penalty.

    I agree and it is a very logical assessment BUT then what is the point of a referee ever using the expression “Playing for the Penalty” not to be confused with “simulation”?

    Gusey – Barcelona… umm I mean Argentina are soooo “toying’ with us its embarrassing!

  21. Agudelo equalizer after Argentina has dominated the first half

  22. Gus Keri says:


    It is Bob Bradley’s decision to play defense in the first half.

    With more affensive formation in the second half, the US is taking it to the Argentinians.

  23. Soccerlogical says:

    Gus – How exactly is the US “taking it to Argentina” when Messi and Co are passing it 10 -15 times per sequence, not to mention the type of audacious “luxury”
    touches/passes Argentina are attempting are ones you would see when a team is up 4-0.

  24. Gus Keri says:


    What did you expect playing against Argentina? Of course, they are going to dominate on possession and opportunities. They distroyed the WC holders and beat Brazil recently.

    But you have to give credit to the Americans who fought hard and in the second half, they played a positive offensive soccer.

    What a day for the NYRB player, Agudelo

  25. A much better second half for the USA.

  26. Bobby says:

    Really good goal from Marco Pappa that turned out to be the winner for Chicago against Sporting Kansas City.

  27. Gaz Hunt says:

    Union got their second win of the season today. Two wins came a lot faster than last season. Still need some width in the play but signs of a much better team today.

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