Matchday: 9-12

Today's a pretty big day in the world of soccer, as the European leagues return to action after the International break and MLS continues it's stretch run with a full slate of games. 

A few matches that I'll be watching (other than the Fire-RSL game of course...) will be Tottenham-Manchester United (11:30 a.m. on FSC), Arsenal-Manchester City (9 a.m. on Setanta) and Real Madrid-Espanyol (1 p.m. on ESPN Deportes/ESPN360... I still have yet to catch a Madrid match this season...).

You can click here for a list of all of today's games on TV and feel free to share your thoughts on any of them below-- I'll be more than happy to have a conversation about any team/match/player/whatever with you via the comment section.

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  • Given the result of the Tottenham/Manchester United match, which team do you think it had more of an impact on? Does it validate United as a serious contender again this year after losing Ronaldo (and their overall poor form lately)? Or does it do more to deflate the balloon of potential for Tottenham to break the big four this year?

  • In reply to ForzaRosso:

    Forza Rosso --

    I think today's result will impact Tottenham a little more than it will United. I think Man U would have remained a contender for the title regardless of the result today (though it certainly was a great one for them, winning 3-1 while playing a man down for much of the second half...) while Tottenham needed at least a point today to really breakthrough -- at least in my mind.

    So, in summation, I think that today's game will do more to deflate the hopes of Tottenham. I think they'll still have a good year (should be a top 6 team) but they won't break into the big four this time around. As for Man U, they'll be in contention til the very end, but I think they'll lose out to Chelsea for the title in the end -- I just don't see anyone stopping the Blues this year...

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    As a follow up, do you see Manchester City's convincing win over Arsenal as justification for their big spending hype?

  • In reply to ForzaRosso:

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch that game so I can't really comment on the specifics of it. But in my mind, if Man City continues to improve as a team, continues to get results and challenges the big four this year, that's justification enough for the big spending. I'll add this though, if they don't crack the big four at some point in the next 2-3 years (not saying they have to do it this year) then I think the free-wheeling done this summer can only be viewed as a giant failure.

  • In reply to ForzaRosso:

    We have 30 minutes to kick off in Salt Lake and the starting lineups have been announced. Here they are:

    Fire:

    GK: Busch
    DEF: Robinson, Brown, Conde, Banner
    MID: Mapp, Pause, Pappa, Lowry
    FWD: McBride, Rolfe

    Good to see McBride back in the lineup tonight after missing two months with the shoulder injury. Blanco isn't in the starting lineup apparently due to an issue he had with his visa to get back into the states after the World Cup qualifiers. Also good to see Conde back in there.

    Real Salt Lake:

    GK: Rimando
    DEF: Wingert, Olave, Borchers, Beltran
    MID: Mathis, Williams, Johnson
    FWD: Findley, Campos, Espindola

    No Beckerman tonight for RSL as he is out with a yellow card suspension.

    No word on the benches for either team yet. I'll post those when they are announced.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Blanco Visa update --

    Cuauhtemoc didn't have his visa (not the credit card...) renewed and couldn't get back into the US after playing with Mexico in their recent qualifiers. Hopefully Temo can get this worked out soon, I'll try and update the situation later on in the week.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    This is all per FSC's pregame show by the way.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    What is he paying his managment for? BS

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Benches have been released. Here they are.

    Fire --

    Carr, Nyarko, Washington, Husidic, Dimitrov

    Dykstra isn't listed on the bench, but I'm assuming he's there. If he isn't, pray to god that Jon Busch doesn't get hurt.

    Salt Lake --

    Russell, Movsisyan, Morales, El Khalifi, Alexandre, Cox

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    13th --

    RSL midfielder Clint Mathis -- who went down with an apparent ankle injury in the 10th -- won't be able to continue in the match. Salt Lake will bring in Jean Alexandre for Mathis.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Thoughts through the first 15 --

    The Fire got off to a bit of a rough start as Salt Lake applied a ton of early pressure and got a solid shot on goal and a couple corners out of it. It was good to see the Fire respond to the pressure in about the 7th minute though, and the team started to get some solid possession of their own. Now it looks like the Fire is fully settled into the match and -- at this point -- I'm confident that they'll be able to walk away with some points. Still a long way to go though.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Thoughts after 30 --

    The Fire has started to take a little control of the match, creating many more chances than Real Salt Lake in the 15 minute interval since the last post. The Fire's best chance of the last 15 (and of the whole match...) came in the 24th minute when Mike Banner hit a perfect set piece into McBride at the far post, but McBride showed a little rustiness and somehow hit his header from very close range over the bar. Hopefully the rustiness from McBride wears off as the game goes along, though I would be surprised if he got to top form tonight...

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    44th --

    GOAL FIRE!!! CHRIS ROLFE!!!

    Rolfe gives the Fire the lead by chesting down a beautiful Marco Pappa cross onto his right foot and flicking the ball inside the far post. Really great goal for the Fire, both the cross and the finish were absolutely fantastic. Good timing for it too, as the Fire will go into the break with the momentum on their side.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Halftime thoughts --

    Overall, I thought it was a very good first half for the Fire. They survived the early Salt Lake pressure and started creating chances of their own, with their play culminating in Rolfe's goal. They have to come out strong in the second half though, as Salt Lake will be completely desperate to get an equalizer. I've liked what I've seen so far though.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    46th --

    One change for Salt Lake as Movsisyan comes in for Campos.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    Thoughts after 60 --

    Salt Lake starting to get back into the game a little bit. They should have scored through the substitute Movsisyan, but he spoiled his fabulous turn by hitting a close range shot wide. Other than that chance the Fire defense has looked good. I especially like the way Wilman Conde is playing in the center of the back line.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    61st --

    Salt Lake makes their final substitution as Javier Morales comes in for Jean Alexandre. Purely attacking substitution for Real.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    69th --

    Nyarko comes on for Mapp. Mapp had a good night providing numerous crosses and giving Salt Lake problems along the wing all night. I do like the substitution though, and Nyarko's speed/hustle should give the Fire attack a little spark.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    72nd --

    GOAL SALT LAKE. JAMESON OLAVE.

    Former Fire player Andy Williams lofts a ball into the box and Olave makes no mistake, one-timing the ball into the back of the net. It's another bad equalizer given up by the Fire -- who had three defenders standing around and not marking on the play. Salt Lake with all the momentum now...

    74th --

    Carr for McBride. Not the ideal return for Brian, but it will probably take him a few games to get back to top form.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    87th --

    Washington comes on for Pappa. Looks like the Fire is playing for the tie as they bring on the defender Washington for the winger Pappa. I thought Marco played a good game, and that assist was really, really impressive.

  • In reply to SamuelStejskal:

    FINAL: Fire 1 - Salt Lake 1

    After 90 minutes of some very physical, up and down, action the Fire walk away from Utah with a hard-earned road point. The team will be disappointed with the late equalizer they gave up, but all in all, I thought it was a pretty fair result. I'll have the full match report up in about an hour, so stay tuned for that.

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