Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Let's get it started!

Let the games begin!

The MLS season is still over a month away, but two MLS club see some legitimate action tonight when Houston and DC United play the first games in their respective CONCACAF Champions Cup series.

The Dynamo take on Costa Rican club Puntarenas this afternoon and United play Olimpia in the night cap. Both games, as well as subsequent showings, are on the Fox Soccer Channel.

Hopefully both will do well. But more importantly, we're playing soccer again!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Is Colorado the Rapids or are the Arsenal?

Who knows what Colorado's going to do now. Sure they've changed the colors, again, and it was always rumored that a name change may be on the horizon. But man. Arsenal?

The above image is a captured screen image that someday got when they went to the Colorado website. Oops! They hadn't even been able to announce this greatest, great of the greatest things ever name change yet. Shucks!

It's true that Colorado has more of a legit claim on the name Arsenal since their new stadium is built on land from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, but what was wrong with the name Rapids? It was a fine name. When are people going to recognize you don't become some legitimate sport or team simply by the name and colors but by being a good team and putting a good product on the field? One also runs into a case where those who are familiar with Arsenal from London are going to think this is just a big poser move and those that aren't familiar with that renowned club are going to wondering why the hell they changed the name to Arsenal. The Rapids was fine.

Of course who knows how this is going to work out? Chivas USA came and the league went on. The MetroStars changed their name to the New York Red Bulls and still games are played. I'm sure the same will occur with this. But geez Louise. If you win and look good doing it, people will follow and pay attention no matter what you're called or what you look like.

Monday, January 29, 2007

2007 MLS schedule released Wed. 1/31 and MLS on XM Radio?

Word out of the FC Dallas ticket office is the 2007 MLS schedule gets released this Wednesday, January 31st. Again, whether that actually happens or not, who knows. MLS and news releases don't always work out flawlessly.

Also, heard briefly while flipping through stations, that XM satellite radio will announce in a week or so that they've signed a deal to exclusively broadcast all the games from the upcoming MLS season. I know there are a lot of Sirius satellite fans out there so sorry. At least you still have the Premiere League though that doesn't do a lot of good in the summer. But don't worry, chances are XM and Sirius will merge before the end of the year, provided the SEC lets them.

I should be reiterated that the above are rumors but confidence is high in them. Let's get this thing started!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MLS 2007 schedule to be released in a few days?

Just talked to a person who works with tickets sales for an MLS team who said the 2007 schedule should be out in a few days. Of course, we'll see.

This debunks my theory of the schedule release getting pushed back due to the Beckham signing and the league in turn trying to make sure every team gets at least 1 game with Becks after his August debut.

I'm still going to hold onto my theory, though, that the TV schedules won't be released until we know exactly when Beckham is showing up to play.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Beckham, Davids, Ronaldo, oh my!

Even people in BFE North Korea have heard by now the David Beckham is joining the LA Galaxy for the 2007 campaign. Originally he wasn't going to suit up until August, but who knows about that now.

And then we have Dutch international Edgar Davids going to FC Dallas? Is he? Is he not?

And of course there's the constant speculation over Ronaldo making the move and Claudio Reyna coming home.

Who knew the DP slots would come into play so quickly? Obviously the Beckham deal was the worst kept secret and RBNY trying to bring in some studs was well known, but FCD trying to hop this crazy train is a bit of a surprise.

I like the Beckham deal more and more I think about it and the more one understands the financials a little better.

Most sane people appreciate that while he's not the best player, he's a damn good one who just happened to be able to capitalize on other assets than strictly talent.

He's the Brian McBride that made it big, i.e. he's probably the best craftsman of the game as compared to the artists like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, et al. He's not going to pull off incredible displays of dribbling and vision but when you ask him to take a free kick or hit a streaking forward pin point from 40 yards away he's going to do it better than anyone else.

It's just funny that a craftsman also became the most popular, world-wide, soccer player. Do hate on him for that. His wide-spread popularity never affected his on-field performance. He may not play the best every single game but he plays 100% every single game.

You also never have to worry about him embarrassing the club or the shirt. He doesn't do off-field antics that distract from his playing. The consummate professional.

The more money LA, other teams in the league, and MLS make the more they can put back into their clubs and upgrade the talent and quality over all. And if a bunch of hunk-happy girls who don't know anything about soccer want to help finance that, then that's fine with me.

And people seem to be talking about the attendance bump of people just wanting to come out and see Beckham as a bad thing. No matter what sport your in this happens. The home games against LA and Kobe, the Cavs and LeBron, Allen Iverson, et al. all have bumps in game attendance because people want to see them. It happened with Jordan. And that's the great thing about pro sports. A lot of the fun is seeing your team play but also see great players from other teams in person.

I hope people will calm down about all of this soon. This is the same hoopla that went on when Chivas USA was coming into the league at that situation resolved itself just fine, turning into an asset for the league.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Just another Beckham to MLS blog post. How special.

I'm sure I'm only like the 1,000th person to post about the latest on the David Beckham to MLS saga that, if you believe Fox Sports, should resolve itself today sometime.

And there's this from Beckham's appearance on this morning ABC's "Good Morning America" when he's quoted saying, "I've played now for two of the biggest clubs in the world. I've played at the highest level for 15 years, and now I think I need another challenge."

Apparently, though no dotted line has been inked by Beckham for the LA Galaxy, they have a press conference tentatively scheduled for today. This just so happens to be the same day that Becks is supposedly supposed to tell Real Madrid, "thanks, but no thanks" to their two-year extension offer.

Because his current contract with the Galacticos does expire until June, Beckham would have to miss the first two months of MLS action before meeting up with his new team.

Is signing David Beckham a good move for MLS and the Galaxy? Some will adamantly argue "no" but I'm not necessarily in that camp.

LA would be able to get top dollar for what ever jersey sponsor they sell, they'll raise ticket prices, and I can promise that whatever stadium in the league the Galaxy goes to play at will be sold out. Kinda like the attendance boost Adu made but x10. The media attention the team, and vicariously MLS, will garner that year will be a dramatic boost as well, especially internationally.

I'd also be interested in seeing him paired with Landon Donovan. While he's not the best player in the world (nor really ever been) David Beckham is still more talented than all but a few in this league. Donovan, when he wants to be, is one of the few who's talent is on par with his. I think Donovan will be happy to have someone else to share the burden of expectations with rather then often have to carry his team on his own. The Gals getting Joe Canon in net during the off-season will also help.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The waffles in Belgium are better than in Fulham anyway

So much for if I was a gambling man. Just when we're all (me included) getting all googoo over Onyewu to Fulham FC to join the already sizable group of Americans and ex-MLSers, the talks between Fulham and Gooch's Beligian team break down.

The issue seems to have been the low, low asking price Fulham wanted to pay for Onyewu's services. Agreed, $1.9 million does seem rather low for a player of his caliber. But we've already pointed out that the Middlesbrough deal was a little less at $1.8 million. I'm surprised the deal got as far as they did if money was going to be an issue. I would say, though, that if Fulham's going to dish out $4 million on Clint Dempsey, they could afford to pony up some more lolly for Gooch.

Of course a good player in the midfield may be worth more to them than a good play on the back line. They do already have Zat Knight.

I still wish Fulham could pull off the transfer, though it doesn't seem likely. If AC Milan's interest in Onyewu was serious than the Fulham talks would never have gotten as far as they did.

What Onyewu going to Fulham FC means for the USMNT.

There are some interesting thoughts on the prospect of Gooch signing with Fulham FC and it's impact on the national team.

Some people have suggested that if the reports that AC Milan and Real Madrid are also interested in his services, than he should take those more seriously than the the lower profile Fulham one. I tend to reject this for the reason that I think it would be better that he be starting at Fulham against top Premiere League competition than riding the pine at the other two mega-clubs. Experience trumps all, especially that gained from playing in meaningful matches.

The things that his signing with Fulham would mean to the USMNT is that Onyewu would be playing against top level competition, which he wasn't in Belgium. Experience at a high level will be the biggest attribute he could bring the the national team. Also, it would pair him with Carlos Bocanegra on the back line, breeding a chemistry and familiarity that could prove to be a great asset in national team games.

Dotted lines have yet to be signed though, so as of now these are all "what ifs" and "could bes". If I had to wager, though, I'd say he signs with them. He would still need to get a work permit but back when he was supposed to go to Middlesbrough, there wasn't much of a concern he wouldn't get one.

Additionally, the low transfer amount of $1.96 million seems to have caught some people off guard. However, when Middlesbrough was going to sign him, the transfer amount was only $1.8 million.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Onyewu set to learn super-seceret-American-at-Fulham handshake soon.

I mean, there's going to be enough of them to start their own club.

First there was Brian McBride then Carlos Bocanegra. Yesterday Fulham FC's ready to pony up $4 million for Clint Dempsey. Now Oguchi Onyewu looks set to join his countrymen at Craven Cottage.

Manager Chris Coleman must really like the accents. Four Americans now set to be in the starting XI definitely makes FFC unique and the new favorite team of many an American fan.

The only thing better is if all four of them make a significant difference for the team and help scoot Fulham up the table. Nothing makes a statement like success.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dempsey a more expensive commodity than we thought.

It looks like US national Clint Dempsey is set to be the biggest transfer in MLS history. At first we thought he would go across the Pond for about $3 million. Well, apparently we were $1 million short of the actual total. Provided Dempsey gets his work permit, MLS will get $4 million of owner Mohamed al-Fayed's money.

Now we're really talking about a win-win-win situation. Obviously we don't want (and neither does MLS) the league to become a place were we just build up players then sell them off for higher prices. We want our stars to stay and flourish and help build the game and league domestically into something grand. But when a player expresses a desire to play elsewhere, it's nice to be able to capitalize on that.

The only hurdle to this deal, as has been mentioned before, is that pesky work permit. And the English FA tribunal system has always been a model of consistency.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The transfer window is now upon us!

A Happy New Year to all!!!

With the start of the new year, and all the fresh starts it brings, it all means that we are a mere 3 months away from the beginning of the new MLS season. We're also a little less than 2 months away from DCU and Houston playing in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, probably just a month away from MLS team training camps starting and then all the subsequent pre-season matches, 20 days away from the first USMNT game since the World Cup, and 12 days away from the MLS SuperDraft! Exciting, exciting!

But on to the thread title:

With MLS' new Designated Player rule ("DP"), this upcoming transfer window assumes much more importance domestically than before. Possibilities are endless and we are all a flutter with trying to figure our what big names which club is going to bring in.

MLS fans' collective eyes are most intensely focused on the New York Red Bulls. We all know that they were a big part of the push for the DP, they've got tons of money, and they have not one, but two, DP slots after trading Amado Guevara away to Chivas USA for theirs.

There is an extensive list compiled out there of possible transfer candidates. A name that can be crossed off is Luis Figo, who's supposedly going to Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad.

Claudio Reyna is a name that's been bandied about but it seems like he's content staying on and Man City for a little while longer. Paulo Wanchope is another name mentioned. Mr. Fish goes a little more in depth with the Red Bulls here.

The LA Galaxy will probably might make the most significant signing (at least from a PR perspective) with David Beckham. They hasn't received near the amount of interest like the Red Bulls have because this signing has been known about for so long while the Red Bulls are unknown plus they have two slots to fill.

People rag on Beckham a lot but I like him. If he does sign, I'll travel down to Dallas to go see him, which is what MLS expects everyone else with a mild interest in soccer to do when Becks plays near them. He's not a Christiano Ronaldo, just plain Ronaldo, or Ronaldinho, but he really is one of the best wide players to play the game and one of the best servers of the ball/free kick takers the game has ever seen. The chance to see someone pass the ball and send it into the box with pinpoint accuracy is so far an improvement over the current form, who wouldn't be excited about that?

As for all the other teams, who knows. Kansas City might surprise us. Word is, the new owners were also pushing for the DP spot. DCU plans on bringing in a Brazilian and an Argentine but neither will probably be their DP.

The only other team that might pay some big money for some is Chicago. Columbus sure won't, Houston doesn't need to yet, FCD probably won't, the Revs FO is too cheap, Chivas USA obviously traded their away, RSL just got Freddy Adu, and Colorado's coaching and FO is too inept to do it right if they do it at all. Toronto FC is a bit of a wild card. Who knows what they're going to do. My gut says nothing this season, or at least this transfer window.

As for non-DP signings, I've already mentioned DCU's South Americans. FCD maybe do something but what, I'm not sure. You might have to ask Buzz Carrick over at 3rd Degree.

Once the names start popping up and the signatures get placed on the dotted lines, I'm sure we'll talk about it and what impact when can expect them to have on their team and the league.

Until then, have a Happy, and safe, New Years!!!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Clint Dempsey to be a Cottager?

Looks like Clint Dempsey will get his wish and move across the pond during the transfer window in January. Destination: Fulham FC. Everything's depending on him getting a work permit.

It appears the deal is worth £1.5 million ($2.9 million) which would be a nice chunk of change for MLS.

This is a win-win all around, even if you're a NE Revolution fan. MLS makes out with some nice coin, Clint Dempsey gets what he wants: a chance in Europe, and hopefully will get a better player for the USMNT with him.

Clint will also be among friends with fellow US national teamers and ex-MLS palyers Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra and ex-MLS player, New Zealander Simon Elliott. Fulham FC is quickly becoming the team Americans who aren't Eurosnobs will root for with 3 Yanks normally getting substantial playing time.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What's up with DC United? And a correction.

The DCU fire sale is still on. Alecko Eskandarian gets sent up to Toronto FC for a partial allocation. DC depth at forward has now taken a dramatic nose dive. There's an aging Jaime Moreno Walker? It's like they're the Florida Marlins of MLS.

We figured that DC was positioning themselves to sign up a great winger and maybe another M/F but man alive. This is starting to get silly. They're picking up allocations left and right and they still have their DP to use, should they choose to.

Good luck in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. They'll need it.


I have no idea what I was thinking we I stated a post ago that MLS will see 3 new head coaches next season. I seem to have forgotten that Curt Onalfo in KC and Mo Johnston in Toronto will be new head coaches for those teams next year also, raising our grand total thus far to five (5). Duh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wildest. MLS. Off season. Ever!

Things have been flying around fast and furious in the US domestic soccer world. Let's recap the action:

Head Coach Bob Bradley and Chivas USA trade their DP slot to New York in exchange for hot and cold midfielder Amado Guevara.

Bob Bradley becomes interim USMNT and permanent U-23 head coach after Jürgen Klinsman abruptly and shockingly withdraws his name from contention. He then leaves Chivas USA with an expensive player that only he may have been able to control.

The Colorado Rapids send previous MLS GK of the Year Joe Canon to the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy then send their previous #1 GK Kevin Hartman out to Kansas City.

Toronto FC wheels and deals with everybody. The get Jason Kreis from RSL then trade him back to them for a partial allocation. Then they pick up Adrian Serioux from Houston and trade him to FC Dallas along with some other incentives to get Ronnie O'Brien out of Big D and up into the Great White North. They also picked up Nate Jaqua from Chicago and then sent him out to the Galaxy.

Out of no where DC United trades GK Nicky Rimando and teenage phenom Freddy Adu out to Real Salt Lake from a backup GK, draft picks, and claims on money should Freddy get transferred abroad.

Steve Morrow is promoted to the head coach job at the FC Dallas club where he was an assistant under former coach Colin Clarke.

DC United assistant coach Tony Soehn is promoted to the head coaches job at DCU after Peter Nowak leaves to become an assistant under Bob Bradley for the U-23s.

There's some more things that have happened but these are the events that stick out the most to me. To be honest it's hard to keep up with the frantic pace MLS clubs seems to be doing things these days. This upcoming season will see three new head coaches (CUSA, FCD, DCU) and old faces in new places. And we've still got 3 1/2 months to go.

Twellman out, Califf, EJ, and Hot Toddy in.

Taylor Twellman took him self out of camp to help heal is groin and Bob Bradley called in Danny Califf, Eddie Johnson, and Todd Dunivant.

You may recall from yesterday I named Todd Dunivant as a notable exclusion from the camp roster. Glad to see him make it on the list.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A squad to build with (or not)

Just in case you haven't heard, Bob Bradley and US Soccer announced the list of players invited to USMNT camp to train for friendlies against Denmark in January and Mexico in February.

In alphabetical order, he's the list:

Albright, Chris D

Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Bornstein, Jonathan D

Chivas USA (MLS)
Boswell, Bobby D

D.C. United (MLS)
Cannon, Joe GK

Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Carroll, Brian M

D.C. United (MLS)
Clark, Ricardo M

Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Cooper, Kenny F

FC Dallas (MLS)
Conrad, Jimmy D

Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
Dempsey, Clint M

New England Revolution (MLS)
Donovan, Landon F

Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Eskandarian, Alecko F

D.C. United (MLS)
Gros, Joshua M

D.C. United (MLS)
Guzan, Brad GK

Chivas USA (MLS)
Jaqua, Nate F

Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Kljestan, Sacha M

Chivas USA (MLS)
Mapp, Justin M

Chicago Fire (MLS)
Mastroeni, Pablo M

Colorado Rapids (MLS)
Mullan, Brian M

Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Namoff, Bryan D

D.C. United (MLS)
Noonan, Pat M

New England Rebolution (MLS)
Pearce, Heath D

FC Nordsjælland (Denmark)
Parkhurst, Michael D

New England Revolution (MLS)
Perkins, Troy GK

D.C. United (MLS)
Reis, Matt GK

New England Revolution (MLS)
Robinson, Dasan D

Chicago Fire (MLS)
Robinson, Eddie D

Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Rolfe, Chris F

Chicago Fire (MLS)
Twellman, Taylor F

New England Revolution (MLS)

All domestic players save for Heath Pearce who plies his trade in Denmark. Some notable exceptions from the list are Brian Ching who opted out to rest his knee, Brad Davis from Houston, and Todd Dunivant.

To say this group is green is simply stating the obvious. You could also add the adjective underwhelming. I'm withholding judgment until after I see what Bradley does with them. But even then, win or lose, the results of the Denmark and Mexico friendlies who provide a very clear picture into whether Bradley is successful or not.

Losing the first game will garner apologists saying it was such a young, inexperienced group and plenty of teams lose after a regime change. Should the Nats when one could say that it was a weak national team (Denmark) that didn't really test our MLS boys and even somewhat adequate teams can win every now and then against better competition.

I've seen some people around diss on Bradley's selection of Landon Donovan, claiming his invitation is just a perpetuation of Landycakes getting an automatic invite despite not having to earn his place just because he's a system favorite. Blah, blah, blah. He wasn't the only one that didn't show up in Germany. And yes, he gets a free pass more often than not over other players that have to work twice as heard to get playing time but like or not, Donovan is still one of the US' best players when he wants to be.

I'm looking forward to January 20th. My USMNT flag has be itching to get out of the closet and fly again.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Good bye dear friend: Lamar Hunt 1932-2006

A sad, dark cloud has descended up the world today, blanketing not only the Hunt family and the Kansas City Chiefs organization but all of those who consider themselves as fans of US soccer.

Original MLS investor and patriarch Lamar Hunt died last night from complications to prostate cancer.

It wouldn't be hyperbole to say that without Lamar Hunt there would be no MLS today. His (along with Phil Anschultz's) commitment to the league, going so far as to run multiple franchises, helped keep MLS going through the delicate and tumultuous early years. Through his leadership the league has been able to ameliorate itself to the healthy state it is in today. He was the first owner to build a SSS, starting a trend that many more clubs are now realizing to their improved financial health.

MLS wasn't his first foray into professional soccer. He also owned the Dallas Tornado of the NASL, winning the title in 1971.

Though many soccer fans may have disagreed with him on certain points of late (issues regarding the playoffs, the designated player rule, et al.) that should never diminish the great legacy and incalculable amount of debt we owe Mr. Hunt. He had a reputation of being a visionary and a good track record of his investments paying big dividends in the end. Lets hope MLS can be counted in that number.

Good by dear friend. And thank you from a grateful and heavy heart.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Adu is now King of the Mountain (Wasatch Style)

Just when I'm thinking, "How boring the off-season is", seemingly coming out of nowhere DCU shipped teenage phenom Freddy Adu and franchise GK Nicky Rimando out to Real Salt Lake in exchange for goalkeeper Jay Nolly, a major allocation and future considerations, including a share of any future replacement allocation money attributed to Adu, should he be transferred.

This trade should pay huge dividends for DC. United relieved itself of considerable cap weight in top heavy Adu and pricey backup GK Rimando. This gives them more money to pass around. Plus it gives them a major allocation to bring in another South American. Plus, plus they'll get some money from any transfer fee the league gets when Adu jumps the Pond. This money could help pay for their Designated Player, should they want one. And Jay Nolly is a seasoned, competent backup that doesn't take a lot of cap space, unlike Rimando.

On RSL's side, they get marketing superstar Freedy Adu right when they need one. They also have a chance to see him realize his potential with their club and perhaps keep him in Salt Lake a little longer than everyone is thinking. Yes, it's a shame that Freddy got sent out west but the fact was that he was never going to get to start at AM as long as Gomez was at United. Going out to RSL will let him play the position he's most suited for and play it day in and day out with virtually free reign. Adu also gets paired back up with former youth coach John Ellinger who now heads the RSL club. Salt Lake made significant strides last year over their inaugural form. They still weren't anywhere near the top of the West but they did bring in some wins that weren't there their first year. Adu will now have Jason Kreis and Jeff Cunningham playing up top and Chris Klein helping him out in midfield. That's really not that bad. RSL will get to sell some more merchandise, season tickets, and get some good pub with Adu right when they're trying to get this whole stadium deal in Sandy done and their financials are released.

As a DC fan I'm somewhat bummed to see Adu go, but as long as Gitmo was at United, Freddy was never going to get to really have a bust out season, especially on the wings. This will get him more playing time in a position that will most allow him to use his creative skills. Hopefully it works out for him, especially right before he's eligible to make a move to Europe.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I really do like Bob Bradley. Honest.

I don't want my previous posts to seem in any way as a knock on Bob Bradley. To the contrary I think right now he and Frank Yallop are the coaching class of MLS (LA is lucky to have both these guys in town).

Many people are going to look at Bradley's dismissal from NY Red Bulls as a negative. They shouldn't. The New York job has been poisoned to anyone who's taken it. Bradley was never able to do with that club what he really wanted because he had people above him (Alexi Lalas for one) mucking up the works. Bruce Arena is the only person that has the clout and control to finally straighten that club out.

Such a situation isn't all that much better with the Nats job, but it is, still, a little better. The player pool Bob will have to choose from is a much juicier one and doesn't have a salary cap limitation. And just because Bradley is a former Arena assistant doesn't mean he's an Arena clone. Bradley likes to play it faster and more aggressive than Arena did. Maybe that's because it was just MLS and when you get the national level you can't get that crazy. But I don't think so.

I also don't think that Bradley will fall into just picking that same old players that Arena did. Though his time is limited, Bradley will still want to leave with a certain, albeit small, legacy. And maybe since his time is brief he'll be a little riskier with what he does. Try some off the path things. I definitely think we'll see a much younger roster than before and not just because our old guys are just to old to play anymore.

I'm interested to see what he'll do. Not necessarily excited, but definitely interested. I don't think the Denmark game will give us any insight to Bob Bradley's game or provide any indication of how great a coach he'll be. It's the first game with a new coach. Every one's at least given a pass for that.

No matter how well Bradley does, however, in the end I really feel he won't get the head coach's job for good. Gulati is going to get his big signing and try to save as much of this disastrous beginning to his term as he can. Bob Bradley, no matter how he turns out, and done a very noble deed in taking on the job under such dim conditions.

Bob Bradley: It's only kinda what you think

The USSF announced today Bob Bradley as the men's senior team interim coach and the head coach of the US U-23 team.

This certainly means Bradley will no longer be coaching Chivas USA (have fun in LA with a Guevara that only Bradley had a chance of controlling). There was some speculation that he would pull double duty as head coach of the Goats and interim head coach of the Nats then return to Chivas USA full time once a permanent US head coach was named. That's all done now with the U-23 gig which has no interim label.

We might also be able to guess with a fair amount of certainty that Bob Bradley is indeed the stopgap we figured he was between Klinsmann backing out and another full time coach being named. Bradley gives us someone with intimate experience of the US and MLS systems and can be counted on to compile a good camp roster and guide the Nats through their upcoming friendlies without any concern until a full time man is found.

Who's the Fed going to look to now to fill that head coaches spot? José Peckerman was always speculated about as being high on the list. As far as we knew, the sticking point with him was his limited English. That may not be as large of an issue now as it once was.

I think that whoever they pick, they won't come from MLS. Bob Bradley is probably the best of the MLS lot and if they're going to pass over him then they're going outside the family. Sunil Gulati may be dead set on finding someone with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives on the player pool. He thought he had him with Klinsi. Obviously he was wrong. The trick is finding the second best person that fits his idea of a head coach without wanting as much control as Jürgen wanted.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

No Klinsmann = End of the World (as we know it)?

Short answer? No. What it does equal, though, is a bunch of really pissed off people who have every right to be.

Can they be pissed off that we lost out on the best candidate and potential difference maker? Sure.
Can they be pissed off that Bob Bradley will be named interim coach? Sure.
Can they be pissed off that US Soccer may have tragically taken a step backward, or best case scenario, a step laterally, with this coaching move? Once again. Sure.

But all of the above reasons to be mad are simply smaller pieces of the much larger problem behind the legitimate reason to engage in anger towards the USSF and Sunil Gulati right now: that we've squandered that past 6 months in an exercise of organizational dysfunction.

People will hypothesize, theorize, and whatever else -ize out of what the phrase, "Klinsmann and USSF president Sunil Gulati apparently are far apart on issues of executive control over the U.S. program, which is more of an issue than money" means. If the USSF makes one thing very simple, it's that ability to become quickly confused and lost at how the bureaucracy of the federation works. Many lords fighting to control their little fiefdoms of soccer. It's own worst enemy. Therefore I'll leave that up to others to get headaches over.

Essentially, it's not that Klinsmann pulled out. It's that we had to wait 6 months for that to happen. And when it did, we didn't have a Plan B to immediately go to, so instead we get an interim coach until a full time one is found. It could be Bob Bradley or Sir Alex Ferguson in this short term role. It doesn't matter. What does matter is the title 'interim' that precedes 'coach'.

Gone are 6 months of no camps, no games, and no progress. And now the Fred is forced to essentially grab somebody and toss him into the coach's role so that we at least have someone selecting the Starting XI and roaming the sidelines during the friendly matches we've already schedule.

These upcoming matches have devolved from the infant stages of culling players and laying the bedrock for a future system into glorified training sessions, making sure the obvious players keep in shape and somewhat remember each other's faces. And the USSF gets to make money from the ticket sales.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. The USSF only did one of those thing and now it cost them.

I'm normally optomistic, but unless the USSF pulls off a miracle hire, the dismissall of Bruce Arena (sorry, the option not to re-hire) will be in vain.

Aufwiedersehen, Klinsmann!

Well, Jürgen Klinsmann has taken his name off the candidates list for the US job.

This from Allen Hopkins over at ESPN:

"Klinsmann, in a statement sent to ESPN, said: 'Sunil [Gulati] and I have concluded our discussions about the US men's national team program, and I have withdrawn my name from consideration as coach. I'm not going to go into details about our conversations. But, I certainly want to wish the next coach of the U.S. men's national team much success, and I want to, also, thank Sunil for the opportunity to exchange ideas.'"

And the kicker, no pun intended, from Jonah Freedman at Sports Illustrated:

"Klinsmann and USSF president Sunil Gulati apparently are far apart on issues of executive control over the U.S. program, which is more of an issue than money."

"Instead, a source close the negotiations tells the U.S. Soccer Federation will name Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley as the national team coach on an interim basis, which could eventually lead to his taking the job over permanently."

The sky isn't falling because of this. Far from it. But one can't help but think of this as an inauspicious start to Sunil Gulati's tenure as head of the US Soccer Federation. To fall from a list of quality, foreign, coaches to Bob Bradley is a large one. And how much control Klinsmann was trying to wretch away from the Fed is any one's guess (and I'm sure there will be many guesses).

This isn't to say that Bradley isn't a good coach, but he's already on his 3rd MLS team with Chivas USA. Amado Guevara will sure be sad to seem him leave.

More than anything, I wouldn't expect any official coach to be announced for some time now. My instincts said that most if not all eggs were in the Klinsmann basket.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just when I get excited...

Just when I get excited about this article from earlier today, this one from ESPN comes out and pours cold water all over my eagerness.

The anticipation has reached a point where once the announcement is finally made, it'll be like, "Now what I'm I going to eagerly check on every day?'

Sure, there'll be all the predictions and "what if's" and everything else that comes with a new guy. But it just won't be the same.

This coaches wait has been almost as bad as waiting to find out what's happening next on "Lost".

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ives is asking the same thing we're wondering.

Ives Galarcep over at ESPN has been asking the same thing I've been yelling: Where's our new coach?

Most hopeful quote from the piece:

"Gulati promised an announcement this week and all signs point to it finally happening."

By the way, everything Ives says is spot on about Klinsmann. We need to get moving and getting ready for Denmark.

Read more of his thoughts about the subject at his blog.

I have ideas I tell you! Ideas!

I've decided to take stab on ways to improve the domestic game while I have plenty of time to think about it. The MLS off season and waiting for our new US head coach (to be announced I guess a month before WC qualifying begins at this rate) has left me with plenty of opportunity to toss around ideas in my head.

So here we go:


As it is, if a player goes down and the trainers have to come on, the trainers will tend to the player on the field before eventually getting him off to the side where, more often than not, he pops up and is ready to come back on in the blink of an eye. An easy few minutes or more is wasted while all of this unfolds.

I say that if a player goes down and the trainers have to come on the field, they stretcher him off to the side and off the field of play before they can tend to him. This way play can be quickly restarted, the flow of the game interrupted less, and players inclined to diving/faking in order to waste time are now punishing their teams by putting them a man down instead of giving their team a chance to rest and regroup while they flail about.


This next idea may at first seem complicated, but it's really, really not. It's genesis comes from basketball where they punish teams if they keep hacking away and fouling their opposition.

Too often, I feel, certain MLS matches spiral out of control into hack fests. This is because a defender is either tired, not that good, or a combo of both and is continually hacking down an attacking player instead of getting beat. How often have we seen attacking plays and counter attacks die because the DM takes the attacking player down, allowing the rest of his team to track back? All the fouling brings down the beautiful into something ugly.

You don't foul someone because you're the better player. You do it because you got beat or couldn't stop them legally. If the whole team is accumulating like 20+ fouls a games it's because since they're not good enough to beat you head on, they just hack you, disrupt your rhythm, and hope to get lucky with a counter.

I say that we start punishing teams in game based of team foul accumulations. This is how it's done.

A stat keeper will keep track of all the fouling done during a game. When a team reaches 10 total team fouls the person on that team with the most individual fouls will receive a yellow card. If that person already has a yellow card, then the person with the most individual fouls without a yellow gets it as a team foul yellow can not be used as a second yellow against someone. A yellow is dished out at every additional 10 team fouls, with the yellow going to the player with the highest number of fouls who doesn't already hold a yellow card.

This punishes the fouling team because a yellow card on a player changes tactics and dynamics. That player must play more careful and less reckless now, a coach may have to sub that player out earlier than they wanted to or take them out at all because it's too dangerous to keep them in. The less aggressive play allows for more attacking play to open up.

An important thing to note is that any team foul yellows a person gets is not eligible for fines and does not count against them with discipline points. If a player gets sent off from a game because a double yellow/red card and that first yellow as a team foul yellow, they do not have to sit out the next game or get fined and assessed discipline points except for only the yellow card they earned on their own.

This way it only punishes the team for that one game, and not the player(s) for future games. It also helps avoid get crap from the players union because you're not taking money from their members and making them potetnial sit out future games.

I have another idea but I'll wait to share that with my next posting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hey Sunil! Where's our coach?

We've been waiting, anxiously, for the US to announce who will captain this mighty ship. We've been told that an announcement would come by the end of the month.

Well, here we are, tomorrow being the last day of the month. Where's our coach?

It's great that we've already scheduled an international friendly with Denmark for January. I wonder who'll be managing that team?

I pray that it's rgen Klinsmann. Some may disagree but I strongly feel he's the right guy for the job. Foreign sensibility, great pedigree, attack minded, an understanding of the US player, the US organization, and the approach to sports and sports training US players undertake.

It's the best of both worlds. Plus there won't be the same pressure on him like there would be with a Germany of Mexico. Don't get me wrong, we want to win, but the national media won't put the screws to him like they did in Germany at the beginning.

MLS Off Season: The dreaded Designated Player Rule

Here's looking at the developments of the MLS off season:

The Designated Player Rule (aka Beckham Rule)

This has already been talked to death about. Is it the death of MLS? The return of the NASL? Will it provide the boost to quality of play and attendance? Will it actually help the NY Red Bulls?

My personal opinion is that, no, it will not be the end of MLS. I really don't see it making that big of a difference as far as one team suddenly becoming a super-club because of 1 or 2 new, high-earning players. Soccer is one of the few, true team sports in that while 1 or 2 players can make a significant difference, they can't do it all by themselves. It's great to have someone like Beckham to send in a picture perfect cross but you'll still have a stock MLS player on the end of it.

One interesting development, though, is that Chivas USA has already traded away their DP spot to RBNY in exchange for Amado Guevara. This is a club that many of us had pegged as on the the teams not only ready to use theirs but possibly grab another. My only guess is that they're about to sell Juan Pablo Garcia off, get an allocation, then trade that and a draft pick or two to a team like Columbus in exchange for their DP spot.

Another thing to keep in mind as well is that along with the DP spot, the salary cap had also received a boost to around $2.5 million I think. Hopefully this will mean that players like Bobby Boswell and Troy Perkins from DCU will be able to get their salary bumped up to somewhere near what they're actually worth.

Almost as bad as Not Doug Logan

That's in reference to the frequencies of my posts. Which, up to now, have been no existent for a considerable amount of time.

But I'll try to remedy that in this upcoming MLS off season.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Rikki Don't Lose That Number

Or rather that's what Chicago fans are telling the Fire since they seem to have DC's. USOC action last night and the favorites fell flat.

DC goes another year without some USOC hardware in their trophy case to sit next to the only other one they won back in 1996. Houston nose dives against the upstart cellar dwellers that are Landon Donovan & Co. (aka the LA Galaxy).

This will be the second final in a row for LA who seem to perennially start off like crap and then turn it on in the end. This year their success as of late if more courtesy Frank Yallop then the Gals trying to follow an M.O.

The Fire gets to host the shindig.

The hard cores will always want to try and bleed importance all over this tournament but the fact is MLS coaches are concerned with winning the league than with anything else. DC beat up on NY to get to the semis by playing what could generously be described and a little more than a reserve squad.

This same lack of focus extends to the CCC. We'll see what happens next year with the MLS/MFL mixer.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MLS Rankings: Week 23

12 - Columbus Crew (5-12-8)

Let the Revs slip past them while they remain in the dark, fumbling around the basement.

11 - Real Salt Lake (8-11-5)

It was a nice run but getting slaughtered 6-0 by the Red Bulls just won't do.

10 - New York Red Bulls (6-7-10)

They get the nod over RSL this week for the exclamation point of a win over the Monarchs and The Bruce gets his first win.

9 - Kansas City Wizards (8-12-5)

Another simple 1 goal win. It's good that it's against West leaders FCD but other teams in the East ahead of them got simple 1 goal wins also.

8 - Chicago Fire (8-8-7)

At least they won at home. Yeah.

7 - New England Revolution (7-7-10)

It used to be that the Revs would go as far as Twellman would take them. Now it's Dempsey (for however long they get to keep him.) They did get the win.

6 - LA Galaxy (8-11-5)

This is not the same team it was earlier in the season. That's obvious by now to even those with their heads in the sand. Depending on how LA finishes, Coach of the Year will be a race between Frank Yallop, Piotr Nowak, and Bob Bradley with the nod probably going to Yallop or Bradley.

5 - Colorado Rapids (9-9-5)

Still doing just enough. I wonder how much more love Beckerman would get from the media if he were on a different team?

4 - Houston Dynamo (9-7-8)

Ching is the only Dynamo forward that seems able to put the ball in the back of the net. It's been forever since their forwards have provided goals. They also have a hard time winning without Ching period.

3 - Chivas USA (8-6-10)

Good win over Houston. It's amazing the difference a year, a new coach, and a group of hard working, ethnically diverse players can do.

2 - FC Dallas (12-8-3)

It's like Driver's Ed: Dallas is in the driver's seat but someone else gets to brake the car. They need to pick it up and win some games.

1 - DC United (13-3-8)

Talking about needing to win games. The LA game was an embarrassment and exposed more than a few weaknesses. Olsen, God love him, is not an AM and Jamil Walker is not a winger. Gomez needs to be on the field always, even not at 100%. It's the time of years teams need to be playing their best and DC isn't doing it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

This is why I'd be driving a Nova if I bet on games.

Talk about sucking big time on my predictions this past weekend. I pick DCU to win and they go off and get drilled at home by LA 5-2. I have Bruce Arena and the Red Bulls settling for a tie against RSL and they take them to the woodshed with a 6-0 thrashing. I tabbed the Chicago-Colorado game to be a low scoring affair but the other team won and FC Dallas botched a pathetic game losing to KC 1-0.

If I wagered real money on these games I'm pretty sure Hatchet Harry would sick Big Chris on me quick. There would be no stopping the massive blood loss.

Speaking of the DCU-LA game: isn't it nice when Landon Donovan actually shows up for games? To bad you couldn't find in him Germany this past summer.

The Good Ship United also seems to have run ashore. Their last league win came back before the All-Star break in mid-July and teams seem to be figuring them out. They're quickly getting into the part of the season where that's going to be a real problem. Losing Dominic Mediate to a broken leg for the remainder of the season effectively snuffed out a promising bright spot.

Congrats to Bruce Arena for his first win with the Red Bulls and what a dominating performance it was. Of course this just typifies the hot/cold existence of New York (mostly cold.) Edson Buddle picks up the hat track and even our favorite left back Hot Toddy gets his first goal of the season. Dunivant just hasn't seemed to get back in form since his pre-season injury but hopefully he's coming along. I hate to say it, but when Todd's on top of his game and Marvel Wynn has some more experience under his belt, along with Bruce Arena's masterful coaching ways, the Red Bulls are going to have the best outside backs going forward in the league which will pay huge dividends. It'll be a tandem he wishes he had had in Germany.

Last year the Western Conference was a joke and the East was the place to be. This season we flip flop that in true MLS style. Outside of DC, no East team is really worth their weight in salt while the West are duking it out and keeping it close. The success FCD was enjoying at the beginning of the season is rapidly slipping away and LA is coming on strong, quickly embracing all that is Frank Yallop and showing it on the field.

We've got 4 mid-week games this week, 3 of them on TV and none really capturing the imagination unless you're a fan of one of the teams.

The college and pro football seasons are upon us so hope you have Direct Kick if you want to see any of the games. There are some lucky enough to have FSC and HDNet though.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

You want some Mo? I'll give you some Mo!

Toronto FC has decided to bring in Mo Johnston to helm the new franchise that begins play in 2007.

This news is a few days old so I'm not saying anything that most have not already heard. I just wanted to comment on how this is a terrific hire for the Northmen (or whatever they'll be called). I've always liked Mo Johnston and thought he never really got a fair shake at Metrostars/RBNY. He broke his coaching seal at an awkward time at the club and the organization was just too fickle for him to do much with it.

Mo is a coach that has a ton of potential and I really think that over the next few years he'll rise up there along Frank Yallop, Piotr Nowak, Bruce Arena (just going on early MLS glory) and Bob Bradley as the creme de la creme of MLS coaches.

I know it might sound a bit cliche to say that when he's able to bring in his own players and set up his own personnel he'll be able to excel and win, but in MLS this is a much more true statement than not compared to other leagues when discussing a new coach's ability to succeed. The discrepancy between the really good players and mediocre players on a team is much larger than in other sports leagues where the majority of players on a team are all about equal in ability save for a handful up upper echelon performers.

An example would be league dominating DC United. There you have Jaime Moreno and David Stokes. This is not a pairing of a good player and a really good player but rather a bad player and a really good player that occasionally start together.

I expect Mo Johnston to succeed though and sooner than some might believe. Let's just hope in Toronto he won't show up to the games looking like he just drug himself in straight from club hopping all night.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Week 22: Weekend Previews

LA Galaxy at DCU
The Galaxy are quickly showing that they're a much better team than their record would suggest (which we all knew), highlighted but a beating of FCD last weekend. The bottom of the West travel to RFK to take on the top of the East (and league). DC finally remembered what it's like to win (courtesy their USOC victory against RBNY) and are looking to prolong that feeling which is a pretty good bet playing at home.
My Prediction: DCU 2 - 1 LA

Earlier in the season one would have said that if there's a game that Bruce Arena would surely get his first win against, it would be RSL. Not so much anymore as they just seem to keep clipping off wins here and there. The fake grass won't help the Red Bulls either since the Monarchs play on the same stuffs. I can still see Bruce Arena finally breaking the seal with this game though really it's a toss up.
My Prediction: RSL 2 - 2 RBNY

Pretty evenly matched teams going at it. Kyle Beckerman is quietly having a very good season. Can't discount home field for Chicago though.
My Prediction: COL 1 - 0 CHI

The Dynamo head out to the HDC sans Brian Ching again. Houston was clicking but now they found themselves in a mid-season slumber. Right now they can get away with it but pretty soon is when teams need to start firing on all cylinders.
My Prediction: CUSA 3 - 1 HOU

This is a tough game to get up an excitement for unless you a fan of either clubs. Both are just ho-humming along, waiting for the playoffs to get here. It'll show in this game
My Prediction: NE 1 - 1 CLB

The Western Conference is starting to bunch up a little so FCD is going to have to work a little harder than maybe they though earlier in the season to stay on top. Dropping a game to LA last weekend didn't help anything but they can definitely get one back against the Wizards. It's a shame the whole EJ vs. old team hook is barely more exciting than a yawn.
My Prediction: FCD 3 - 2 KC

LA at DCU is the game to tune in to if you're lucky enough to have HDNet (which I fortunately do). Expect a lot of action and scoring between a great team and a team that's trying to shake off it's underachiever label. I anticipate at least one GOTW nominee out of this one.

Feel free to post comments. I'm just an idiot.

This entire time I'm wondering why no one has decided to post comments to my titillating and knowledgeable ramblings. Well, apparently they have but before they get posted I have to get them the 'OK'. I didn't know this and I just saw today that there were multiple comments dating back several months waiting to get my approval before being seen by the masses.

I'm obviously a master of this blogging thing.

At any rate, now that I know what's up, feel free to comment away.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oh Bruce!

Not the best start to the Bruce Arena era at Red Bull New York. Thus far they've tied DCU and lost to Columbus in league play and tonight have dropped their US Open Cup game to a DCU team resting a number of starters.

Of course it will take a while to get a hold of this team, get his people in place and bring in his own players but one would hope Bruce Arena, even starting mid-season with someone else's players, would be able to get the Red Bulls into the playoffs.

One would think.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Week 21: Weekend Previews

DC's seems to excel at home even when they're playing somewhat mediocre (see DCU at RBNY). Defenses are starting to figure them out so Freddy Adu and Ben Olsen need to step up.
My Prediction: DCU 3-1 COL

Bruce Arena's MLS second coming began with an inauspicious 0-0 draw with DCU at home in Giants Stadium. Columbus will be a much easier team to get past than the current MLS leaders, but even with The Bruce, New York is New York.
My Prediction: CLB 2-2 RBNY

Brian Ching's absence due to knee surgery coupled with Monarchs scratcing and clawing their ways to recent victories means the Dynamo will struggle.
My Prediction: RSL 2-1 HOU

The Wizards are still floundering, especially with Jimmy Conrad's broken jaw, and the Goats are tough at home.
My Prediction: CUSA 2-0 KC

Clint Dempsey managed to get himself suspended from games again, this time for breaking Jimmy Conrad's jaw (Clint can relate to recovering from such an injury). This is a pretty even matchup but I just don't predict any fireworks.
My Prediction: CHI 1-1 NE

The 2nd best team in the league travels to the HDC. This may be the best game of the weekend. Landon will work some mojo but Kenny Cooper will somehow make a mark.
My Prediction: FCD 3-1 LA

I kind of hinted at it just above but the FC Dallas at the LA Galaxy game is going to be the match to watch. FCD will be clicking offensively and Landon will make some great plays here and there. Should be a pretty good show.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I'm not dead yet.

My dearest wallies,

I swear I'm still here, just not here, if ya know what I mean.

A lot has been going on in MLS and league news is flying around like bats outta hell. ESPN news, state of the league news. I'm listening to and seeing all.

I've just been covered up with other things that unfortunately take precedence over my soccer obsession (though not by much).

Hopefully I'll be back soon enough so all three of you return readers will have something news to ponder on before being distracted by something else that's shiny and pretty.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Week 17 Previews

I went 3 and 3 last week in the weekend games but I'd like to pat myself on the back for calling that Brian Ching would get a goal. Sure, the odds are pretty good that'll happen every game, but I foresaw the future none the less.

This week starts off tonight as we work through 7 games this week.

RBNY at Columbus
The Red Bulls have a new manager in Bruce Arena but he won't take over until Aug 12th. Until then they might get lucky once or twice but not put up much more in the win column. The Crew is looking finally cash in on all the hard work they've been putting in.
My Prediction: CLB 2 - 1 RBNY

Chivas USA at Colorado
The Goats will look to get out of the evil when they travel to the Mile High City. I think they'll find the right path.
My Prediction: CUSA 2 - 0 COL

LA Galaxy at Columbus
The Crew play in the second home game this week as the take on Landon Donovan and the Galaxy. I think Columbus getting 1 of 2 wins this week isn't that bad.
My Prediction: LA 3 - 1 CLB

Kansas City at RBNY
The Red Bulls also play their 2nd game of the week but this time against a KC team that's working a losing streak. Will NY take advantage of a team when they're down or will KC find an easy team to get their confidence back against? I vote for the latter.
My Prediction: KC 1-0 RBNY

NE Revolution at Houston
The Revs also try to get out of the evil down in the hot, muggy land of Houston. Clint Dempsey comes back a game early but Brian Ching is still on fire and the Dynamo don't like losing at home.
My Prediction: HOU 3 - 2 NE

DCU at Chicago
Chicago hasn't been finding the success they need to at home so far this season and hosting the league's best team but a good stretch won't be easy. The Fire might could pull out a tie but I'm stick with the War Hawks to keep to their winning ways.
My Prediction: DCU 2-1 CHI

It was a great win for RSL last weekend and the Super Hoops barely got out of Chi-Town with the win. This is the upset of the week as Jason Kreis will get some revenge over his old team.
My Prediction: RSL 3-1 FCD


Mark it down folks and set your Tivo's, the best game this week will the the NE/Houston matchup. Lot's of action, a couple of great individual plays from Dempsey, and the flying heads of Ching and Twellman.