It's that time again everyone. It has been a little while since I had a hat trick, so I thought I would get back in the swing of things. This should be a bit more of an abbreviated hat trick, with the customary QOTD at the end. Tweed will be doing the 3 Questions piece this week, and as always we will have a gamethread for you to participate in for the game Saturday night against the much maligned Sounders. Follow me after the break for the action...
1. Aron Winter has come out and guaranteed that Toronto FC will make the playoffs. While I am sure he is trying to give his team/the fans/the club a boost of confidence, the comments come out a bit comical at best. There is a lot of hubris swirling in Toronto, and this may be his way of trying to calm things down. For the record, I don't think Toronto is as bad as their 0 point total, but they are there at the bottom of the standings with 0 points nonetheless.
When does that early hole they have dug become too big to crawl out of? Even though the East is viewed as being the weaker conference, and early deficit can be deadly. Take the Fire last season. We started very slowly, and it took a scorching hot run late in the season to even sniff the playoffs. Toronto can't afford to dig the hole much bigger if they want to have any realistic dreams of making a playoff push.
2. As much as we are all chomping at the bit to see Chris Rolfe's debut in Fire red, Guillermo Rivera over at Fire Confidential reports that it's doubtful we will see him this weekend vs. Seattle. If you have a chance, also check out his podcast too. It's good stuff and always a welcome listen for Fire fans. Once Rolfe debuts, one of the biggest points of debate in recent days will be resolved: who does he replace in the lineup? Some fans say Pappa (myself included). Others say Nyarko, which I think would be a grave mistake. We may not fully know the answer until he is ready to start, but it's safe to say it will be an interesting development to watch.
3. There is quite a bit of controversy regarding cards and suspensions after Chelsea's shock elimination of Barcelona yesterday in the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final matchup. Chelsea will face the winner of the Real Madrid/Bayern Munich showdown in the Champions League Final. Although FIFA has amended rules so players on yellow cards in the World Cup don't miss the final, these same rules differ in the UEFA competition. Although John Terry will deservedly miss the final for his red card, 3 other key Chelsea players (Ramires, Raul Meireles, and Branislav Ivanovic) will also miss the final due to yellow card accumulation. Frankly, I understand their upset.
The Fire certainly have players that aren't strangers to receiving yellow cards. Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares, and Dan Gargan are a few players that have a penchant for gathering yellow cards. Imagine them missing an MLS Cup Final or a US Open Cup Final because of previous yellows in the competition? I certainly would be raising a loud voice in outcry. It's also even more farcical to me that John Terry will not miss any regular English Premier League matches despite his red. It seems like a red should keep you out of all competitions but as you can see, the UEFA rules certainly seem to have a bit of a double standard built into them.
Don''t get me wrong, I am no fan of Chelsea. Especially given the fact that them winning the Champions League could hurt Newcastle's chances of qualifying for the Champions League themselves depending on where they finish. As a Newcastle fan, the best interests in terms of rooting for teams certainly lies with Real Madrid or Bayern for me, although I can't stand Real Madrid so I am hoping for a Bayern win as they play some pretty beautiful soccer. Despite all of this, I still think it is unfair for the Chelsea players that have amassed yellows to miss the final. And there are plenty of players in the Real/Bayern showdown that could miss the final as well if they pick up a yellow today. This is certainly a broken system that needs to be fixed.
QUESTION OF THE DAY