DC down, Edu up

April, 7, 2010
DC's dormant offense

After Danny Allsopp and Adam Cristman contributed three of DC United's five goals in a scrimmage win over Crystal Palace Baltimore on Monday, it might not be too long before the duo is given the chance to link up in MLS. Goodness knows, their side needs a spark from somewhere.

Two weeks into the new season, United fans have had few positives to take from the start of the Curt Onalfo era. A 4-0 hiding at Kansas City was a poor start but perhaps, given that the Wizards were at home and DC was integrating a number of new faces, somewhat understandable. Less acceptable to the 20,664 in attendance was United's defeat in its home opener against New England on Saturday.

With Fred and Luciano Emilio -- what would D.C. fans have given for them to be playing? -- watching from the stands, Onalfo's side failed to take advantage of the abundant possessions it had, conjuring just three shots on goal. Starting up front, Jaime Moreno and Chris Pontius struggled to have an impact, not that that was entirely their fault. On too many occasions, promising positions were wasted by the lack of a quality delivery in the final third.

To make matters worse, the Revolution snatched victory with two Kenny Mansally goals in as many minutes. A harsh lesson it might have been, but DC should learn from the impact made by Steve Nicol's substitute, who took each of his tallies with a confidence hitherto undemonstrated by anyone else at RFK Stadium on the night.

At 36, Moreno surely should be used sparingly while Pontius is more suited to a role as an attacking midfielder. Allsopp and Cristman should be given their chance to lead the line and ignite an offense that has been a little late to awaken in 2010.

Edu takes his chance

Despite bagging the winner in February's Auld Firm derby against Celtic, the past couple of months had not been entirely smooth sailing for Maurice Edu with Rangers. Thus, his fans, not to mention Bob Bradley, probably were heartened to see the midfielder not only back in the starting lineup Saturday but also scoring the only goal of the game against Hamilton.

That Edu continues to start is important, especially given the struggles for playing time of a number of other American midfielders based in Europe. Jermaine Jones' ongoing injury worries look set to dash his hopes of a World Cup spot, while Ricardo Clark (although now injury free) has seen his preparations for the tournament hindered by his inability to get off the Eintracht Frankfurt bench, where he has spent each of the past six games. Perhaps he will get his chance against Michael Bradley's Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday.

There is mixed news for the wide men, too. Clint Dempsey looks to have fully recovered from his knee injury, and Stuart Holden said this week that he hopes to be fully fit by the start of May. DaMarcus Beasley, however, has been an unused substitute in three of Rangers' past four games, with his only appearance coming in a shock Scottish Cup defeat at Dundee United.

Book club

With a number of leagues across Europe looking set for dramatic conclusions and the start of the 2010 MLS campaign upon us, let's not forget there are just more than two months until the World Cup begins.

Ahead of the festivities in South Africa, please allow me to recommend "Feet of the Chameleon," a book by Ian Hawkey that tells the story of the sport's development on the planet's second-largest continent and offers the reader a glimpse at key events in the soccer stories of a number of African nations.

Among other subjects discussed: the bare-footed Nigerians who toured England shortly after World War II ended, the Algerians who fled professional careers in France a decade later to help further the cause of their homeland's quest for independence and the establishment of African nations as a legitimate force on the World Cup stage in the latter part of last century. Hawkey intertwines eyewitness accounts with humor, anecdotes and history to explain from where soccer on the continent has come.

Moving ahead to the present day, the author contrasts the ever-growing number of African players excelling in the world's best leagues with the issues that remain back home, which include underdeveloped infrastructure and reduced crowds, as well as the ever-present threat of corruption, before concluding with thoughts on what might be the impact and subsequent legacy of the coming World Cup.



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