Thursday, November 30, 2006

CONCACAF/UNCAF Finals: Club Thoughts and MLS Scheduling

CONCACAF held the return leg of the finals of the UNCAF tournament last night, with CD Olimpia of Honduras hosting Puntarenas of Costa Rica. Puntarenas had a 3-2 victory in the first match and only needed a draw to win the UNCAF title. Gol TV had the match live last night.

Olimpia scored in the 3rd minute off of a rebound and knotted the aggregate at 3 all. As the match progressed, both clubs started to really slow down, until Puntarenas went down to 10 men for something off the ball, as both Gol TV announcers were puzzled over the ejection. After the red card, Puntarenas played better and had more chances on goal, but they never really threatened the Olimpia goalkeeper. The match ended with winning Olimpia 1-0, and they went directly to penalty kicks to break the 3-3 total goals tie. Olimpia should be training on these as I type, because those guys looked like they had never taken one in their lives. Puntarenas won the penalty shoot out 3-1 and picked up the UNCAF Championship.

As both of these clubs are scheduled to take on the two MLS clubs bound for the CONCACAF Champions Cup, I plopped myself down in front of the TV and figured I would “scout” these two clubs. Not to take anything away from either club, but I really didn’t see anything special from either club. The biggest deciding factor might be the fact that the two MLS clubs will be in preseason and these two will be in mid season form.

The first reason I wasn’t impressed was that the match looked like two MLS clubs playing each other in August. They had some good passes and took some quick shots, but they never really had total control of what they were doing. The trapping and a majority of the passing were no different than anything I have seen in MLS. Most of the trapping off of the passes were quite poor as the players would have to make an extra effort to control the ball, not unlike in MLS. A lot of the passes, while they had some good ones, were pretty bad. Some were well behind guys who then had to sprint just to keep the ball in play, and some where guys weren’t fast enough to catch. All in all, I don’t that much a difference in the play last night than anything I have ever seen in MLS.

The Olimpia goal was a pretty sloppy one, only made possible because the Puntarenas keeper misplayed the ball at the post and allowed the rebound across the goalmouth. I will give credit to the guys who scored (sorry, I missed his name), as he did have good positioning to take advantage of the rebound, but the defender on him should have cleared the ball. If you take out the sloppy goal, Olimpia really failed to show up last night, at home.

All in all, I didn’t see anything that really made me worry. Neither club showed me anything that caused any type of alarm. Puntarenas has a very quick and speedy Brazilian forward, but nothing else jumped out at me. The pitch in Honduras, while not as horrible as Crew Stadium at times this last season, looked less than desirable and bouncy, but didn't bounce anymore than the "Infield" at RFK does. I did find it “funny” how the pitch was surrounded by SWAT guys in camo gear and M-16’s, that wasn’t something you see in MLS.

The biggest deciding factor, based on what I saw of these two clubs, will be that DC United and the Houston Dynamo will be in preseason form for their matches. If they were to have their match ups with all four clubs in mid-season form, I think that the MLS clubs would have no trouble with them, but they are not. So who’s fault is it that the CONCACAF Champions Cup is scheduled for before the MLS season? Is it CONCACAF’s fault? I mean, they are the ones who schedule the tournament, so of course, it should be their fault, but sadly it isn’t. It is Don Garber’s fault.

MLS itself handicaps it’s clubs when it comes to the CONCACAF Champions Cup because of their scheduling. The requirement to play their season from April to November, when the rest of the region (who takes part in the CCC) plays a split season that has clubs in form during the tournament, handicaps the MLS clubs. Until MLS adopts a September to May/June schedule, MLS clubs, under the current CCC schedule, will always be at a disadvantage. I blame MLS, but it isn’t 100% their fault, because of stadiums.

Until MLS has all of it’s clubs in Soccer Specific Stadiums, they will never have 100% control of their scheduling. Once they get the remaining clubs into their own SSS’s, then they will, if they wish to have clubs always be competitive in the CCC, move to the September to May/June schedule. The biggest question is will they?

I know it is cold in New York in December and February. I know it is cold in New England and Colorado in the winter. People claim that fans wouldn’t show up for the matches if it is too cold. Why? The NFL (and I know that MLS is nothing close to the NFL in fan support) gets over 50,000 plus fans to attend weekly matches in all three of those cities. I know that Toronto is really cold in the winter, but it isn’t that much higher in latitude than Foxboro and can’t really be any colder than Colorado or Salt Lake City. So why can’t MLS, once it gets all of it’s clubs in their own SSS’s, move to a September to May/June schedule? They could even take a month off in January or six weeks from Christmas to February and still have the league be in line with the rest of the region.

I know that people bitch and moan anytime people clamor for MLS to move to a more traditional fall to Spring schedule, whine about “Euro Snobs” and “Why try and be European?” I am not talking about being a Euro Snob or trying to recreate the EPL or the Bundesliga here in the USA, I am talking about configuring the league, once they have all the tools to do it, to provide it’s clubs the right tools to compete with the rest of the region. This is sort of the whole Jerry Maguire saying, “Help Me, Help You!” Let’s have MLS help it’s clubs help themselves in the CCC.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Man United win; Arsenal fail once more.

So, 4 days removed from the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Manchester United picked up their 8th victory in 9 league matches defeating Everton 3-0. Christiano Ronaldo finally stopped flailing in front of the goal and actually scored for once. Patrice Evra and John O'Shea dropped the other two goals on the Toffees. Tim Howard, on loan to Everton from Manchester United, had to watch from the stands as EPL rules prohibit players out on loan from taking the field against the club that owns their contract.

It is good to see that United were able to rebound from the 1-1 draw and keep their charge at the top of the league. Getting three more goals is a good sign that the offense is still churning out results and that the goal lead that United has over Chelsea keeps getting larger. Getting several key players some rest, namely Scholes, Giggs and Saha as well as having some of the lesser used players step in and keep the course is a good thing as well. Up next for United is a home tie with Middlesborogh.

Elsewhere in the EPL, Chelsea bounced back from their Sunday match with United and bounced Bolton 1-0 to remain 3 points back from United. Michael Ballack picked up their goal. If Chelsea keeps winning these 1-0 matches, the goal differential with United will be astronomical. Considering that both clubs are matching each other stride for stride and have one match separating them, the goals difference might play a larger part than some might want to think. If United continue to pick up 2 or 3 goals a match to Chelsea's 1 per match, Chelsea might be able to catch United on points, but the goals will do them in.

So now we come to the death of Arsenal. Fresh off of their 3-1 loss to Bolton on Saturday, Arsene Wenger's men ran in out and promptly lost again, this time 2-1 to fellow London side, Fulham. Already having 4 losses in the league, before Christmas all but dooms Arsenal to being 100% out of the league championship race. The way that United and Chelsea are playing, that 16 point gulf that Arsenal must make up looks impossible. Arsenal shouldn't fret too much, they have some interesting company as Liverpool share the same point total as Wenger's men, but having already played more matches that Arsenal. If Rafa's boys will even consider contenting for the title, they will need to play some sparkling football in December, and hope that United and Chelsea slip up something awful.

In reality, the EPL has already turned into a two horse race, even before December. With Chelsea having an 11 point lead over Portsmouth and Bolton for second place, there are really two races going on here. The race for first between Chelsea and United and the race for 3rd, 4th & 5th, with four points separating eight clubs. I am interested in seeing United retain their led over Chelsea (and hopefully extending it). I am also interested to see how Reading does in the race for the European slots, as they are one of those eight clubs in the hunt for the 3rd, 4th & 5th spots (they are two points behind Portsmouth & Bolton). Looking at all of this, coupled with the five clubs fighting to avoid relegation, I say that a single table works just fine and the MLS should observe and take notes.

This is too funny.

Carlos Tevez has been ordered by his fellow West Ham team-mates to wear a Brazil jersey in training for throwing a temper tantrum after being substituted during their match last week.

Maybe Mo Johnson should have made Amado Guevara wear a DC United jersey after he left the field and sat with his wife in the stands last season.

Too funny.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nowak tells Adu to avoid Man U

I just read an article in which DC United Head Coach, Peter Nowak, is quoted as suggesting that should Manchester United offer Freddy Adu a contract, he should decline in search of a deal from a smaller club, with Ajax and PSV being two that Nowak recommends as better fits.

Now this is an issue that is tough for me. I am a die hard DC United supporter and have followed Freddy since before he signed with MLS. I am a Manchester United supporter and if there is ever a chance for the Red Devils to get a creative midfielder that will be able to help the club, I am all for it. I am also a USMNT supporter, one that feels that Freddy has the chance to be the creative attacking midfielder that we desperately need.

So this whole DC United or Manchester United situation for Fred is an interesting situation for me. On one hand, the DC United hand, I honestly do not want to see Freddy return to the club. I think that as long as Gomez remains running the midfield and Donnet comes into the fold and gets on the same page as the rest of the club, then the midfield is in good shape. If Nowak was creative enough, he would drop Jaime into the midfield and once this "Brazilian Striker" appears, have him and Alecko start up front. So I would hope that Freddy does leave soon, around his 18th birthday. If what I expect to happen comes true, then he will play most of the MLS season away with the USNMT anyways, so United should start planning for him to leave now.

On the Manchester United hand, I am hoping that they get help for the run against Chelsea in the EPL and someone who is not cup tied in either the FA Cup, Champions League, or the UEFA Cup (yes, 3rd place in the group might be all SAF can get from his guys now). However, I do not think that the midfield is really the problem, or if there is any space. SAF has Scholes, Carrick, Ronaldo and Giggs that are firmly entrenched in the starting 11. Granted Giggys isn't a spring chick anymore and will need some matches on the bench, playing the some-time starter isn't what Freddy needs right now, nor is that what Manchester United needs right now. They need a striker, Torres from Atletico Madrid or Tevez (who is not available until the summer) from West Ham come to mind. So I do not think that Manchester United need Freddy at this point.

That leaves me with the USMNT hand. This also goes with Freddy himself. The kid has skillz and he will be one amazing attacking midfielder in the USMNT, but not after only 3 season of starting for DC United and not after spending time with the Manchester United bench or reserves. Freddy needs to go to another type of club, one that is smaller and that will provide a lot of playing minutes for the boy. Peter Nowak is correct, Ajax or PSV would be perfect environments for Freddy. They have the big club feel, but they still have the small club positioning. They both provide chances to play in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup, which will both be huge for his development. Going to Holland would be a better fit for Freddy, not Manchester United.

I want to see Freddy develop into a midfield threat like Ballack is for Germany, like Essien is for Ghana or like Lampard is for England. Getting to that level means playing against these guys, in Europe. In one season with Ajax or PSV, Freddy will gain more experience than he has in three seasons with DC United. That isn't a knock against my favorite club, it is just the truth.

Monday, November 27, 2006

News & Notes: 11/27/2006

Some random news that I have found....

US Women's National Team wins 2006 CONCACAF Gold Cup, defeating Canada 2-1 in overtime. Both clubs will represent CONCACAF in the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.

Kansas City will announce that Curt Onalfo, an assistant coach for the USMNT will become the third head coach in the history of the club.

CONCACAF club, Pachuca have advanced to the finals of the Copa Sudamericana and will take on Chile's Colo Colo in the two legged home/away series final.

Pachuca have also advanced to the semi finals of the Mexican Premiere Division and will face Toluca in one of the semi finals. The other semi final match is a true Mexican Classico as Club America are set to face Chivas.

DC United defensive midfielder Brian Carroll is currently training with Olympique Marseille of the French Lige 1. Carroll will be out of contract with MLS at the end of the year and if the trail goes well, could be signed during the January transfer window.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

1-1: United draw with Chelsea

So after the 90 minutes of highly anticipated football, Manchester United remain 3 points ahead of Chelsea in first place in the EPL. Louis Saha scored a wonder goal in the first half to give United the 1-0 lead. In the second half Chelsea leveled the scoreline at 1-1 off of an excellent corner cross from Lampard that Carvahlo got on the end of. Saha actually got a head on it and prevented Van Der Sar from getting a hand on the ball.

I will accept the draw, it still gives United the 3 point lead and didn't reduce the goal advantage that the have in the title chase. The thing that bugs me the most is that the game should have been 3-1, for United. Christiano Ronaldo blew, absolutely blew two wonder crosses that fell to his feet right in front of the Chelsea goal. Had he actually did anything with either ball, United would have had a 2-0 lead and that would have put Chelsea on more of a frantic pace.

The thing that bugged me the most of Ronaldo blowing both crosses is that he did the same thing several times last week at Sheffield United, however Wayne Rooney was able to salvage the match and get the 3 points. I want to know why Ronaldo hesitates and doesn't keep his focus on the ball? Once or maybe twice, I can understand, but for the last two EPL matches, Ronaldo has blown the very same type of open goal situations. WTF?

Overall, today's match was a very good one. Both clubs showed why they are 1 & 2. The match did show me why United needs to drop alot of coin and buy Torres from Atletico Madrid. When United was in dire need of a true attacking kick start, SAF was only able to put O'Shea and Fletcher on the field. Granted Fletcher scored the match winner last season, he isn't much of an offensive spark.

MLS Opponents announced for CONCACAF Champions Cup

According to Fox Soccer Channel, DC United will begin their CONCACAF Champions Cup campaign away at Honduras' Olimpia the week of February 20-22 then host the return match the week of February/March 27-1. At least we will be a little less frozen in the return match. Flares still burn at 29 degrees right?

MLS Cup Champion, Houston Dynamo will also begin their campaign away, against Costa Rica's Puntarenas. This will be the first time that Houston has taken part in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, as they just "finished" their first season in the league. Hopefully the Dynamo won't lose De Ro over the off-season and will be able to do well in this tournament.

It is a good sign that CONCACAF gave the MLS clubs the away match first, usually they had been making the MLS clubs play away second, which in some type of thinking, is an advantage to the club playing at home second.

I cannot wait for the 2007 season to kick off.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Toluca dumped from Sudamericana

Colo Colo dumped Mexican club Toluca from the Copa Sudamericana last night, beating the 2-0, for a 4-1 aggregate scoreline. CONCACAF's only other club in the tournament, Pachuca, hold a 1-0 lead on aggregate and host Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense in the return leg of their home/away series. Pachuca are hoping to be the second straight Mexican club to advance to the Copa Sudamericana finals, as PUMAS reached the finals last year, losing to Argentine ubber club, Boca Juniors.

Hopefully, Pachuca can pull this off tonight and reach the finals. If Mexican/CONCACAF clubs continue to excel in this tournament and the Copa Libertadores, the more we might see CONMEBOL open up more spots for CONCACAF clubs in their tournaments. Hell, CONCACAF might want to consider inviting some of the smaller nations to send a club or two to the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

New FIFA Rankings: USA #31

The USMNT dropped two more spots in the latest FIFA rankings, placing them at #31. Considering how bad they did in the World Cup and that they haven't played 1 minute of soccer since, well, #31 isn't that bad.

Hopefully with the Demark match scheduled and the Mexico match rumored, they will start moving back up the ladder. As 5 of the 11 other Copa America teams are ranked higher than the USA, moving up the rankings is a very good possibility. There are 4 more teams that the USA will face in either the Copa America or the Gold Cup, within 15 spots of the USA. They should be alright.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

If Manchester United were a Computer

They would have this on their screens right now.

That is the BSOD, or the Blue Screen of Death and it usually means that your PC is dieing.

Losing 1-0 to Celtic tonight in the UEFA Champions League is pretty bad. Now they have to regroup and face Chelsea. What happens there is anyones guess.

The Song Remains the Same

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is in the headlines yet again, for the same reasons. Today there was supposed to be a press conference that highlighted improvements and progress that the organizing committee and the country as a whole have made, yet the SA Organizing committee failed to show for the press conference. Not only did they fail to show, but they pissed the media off so much that the entire press corp. walked out on mass, after sitting there for 70 minutes!

This tournament is beginning to look more and more like a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode in the face of FIFA. The SA Organizing Committee is a train wreck, one that is worse than a Paris Hilton TV show. How do you fuck yourself this badly? They know that they have yet to receive one piece of real positive press, and they pull a stunt like this? Can they even organize how to make a cup of coffee without screwing it up?

Considering the situation and how this seems to be getting nothing but is my prediction for what will happen with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

I think that by Jan/Feb 2007, the price tag will balloon to $2.2 Billion and keep rising. FIFA will have its elections in May; then in June or July, FIFA will do an "in-depth investigation of the ability and safety of South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup." Blatter will voice his opinion against the inquiry, but will say he has no power to stop it.

By October 2007, FIFA will announce that based on their findings, South Africa will not be prepared to host the 2010 World Cup, and will now be hosting the 2014 World Cup. FIFA will then entertain any offers for an emergency host for the 2010 Cup.

Germany, France, England, Australia and the USA will be the five nations considered for the new emergency host. England will be dropped first as they are attempting to bid for the 2018 event (which would be a better planned event with more time). UEFA, wishing to see England host the 2018 event, will work to get Germany and France moved out of the running as well, in order to not jeopardize England’s bid in 2018.

That will leave the USA and Australia. As Australia would not have large enough capacity stadiums for a FIFA World Cup (and FIFA is all about money) they will be offered (silently) the 2022 World Cup. The USA will host the 2010 World Cup, at NFL stadiums and pretty much be out of the running at least until 2038 World Cup.

I know that this does have three Anglo nations hosting three in a row, but England isn't a lock for the 2018 WC, and it would make sense for Brazil to have that one, but then again, Brazil supposedly needs to build 12 new stadiums, so can they even afford to host the Cup?

DC United Waive 3 Players

Andy Metcalf, Matt Nickell and Robert Ssejjemba were all waived today by DC united, according to their website. Metcalf I can understand, as well as Ssejjemba, but Nickell not so much. So far four of last seasons Supporters Shield winning side have been released or moved on.

Ssejjemba makes no sense at all. He was signed late in the season, barely saw any time on the pitch with the first team and is now dropped. Me thinks that United could have been better off just not signing him and saving some money.

Anyway, lets hope now that the next piece of news is one of the following -

1. Shirt Sponsorship Announcement
2. Stadium Announcement (What stadium?)
3. Brazilian Striker signing.

Well, off to watch the Champions League.

Reyna to Red Bulls?

According to Grant Wahl at CNN/, Claudio Reyna is in negotiations with MLS to return to the USA and play for Red Bull New York. It was announced a couple of months ago that Renya and his wife had purchased a $1 Million dollar condo in Manhattan (if I am not wrong), so it has always been a brewing rumor.

'Claudio Reyna might well be on the way back to his native New Jersey to sign with the New York Red Bulls. Captain America (now retired from international play) is in the final guaranteed year of his contract with Manchester City and may fancy a reunion with Bulls boss Bruce Arena, his former coach with the U.S. and Univ. of Virginia. "There are ongoing discussions with the league," says Yorks of Proactive, which represents Reyna. "Claudio is very interested in coming to MLS at some point, and in particular to the Red Bulls."' - CNN/

If Claudio has a step left, and considering that he is always considered for the starting 11 at man City, he might; this sounds like a great thing for the Red Bulls. (Excuse me as I have to go puke for typing that last sentence). With Reyna playing the controlling/defensive midfield role, which allows Guevara the freedom to roam in the attacking midfield position just like Christian Gomez, the RBNY offense will be a lot more dynamic. Toss in Altidore and maybe, maybe Ronaldo and Red Bull New York will be a contender next season.

* Edit - Eric posted a link in the comments section that confirms that Claudio did infact purchase a $1.4 Million dollar pad in Manhattan.

* Edit II - I have since fixed the spelling of Reyna. I need an editor.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Tevez to Old Trafford? Why Not?

I was checking the usual websites for football/soccer news from the weekend and found an article that is reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson is not ruling out the possible acquisition of another striker during the January transfer window. As Saha and Rooney are really SAF's only options up front, bringing in another striker would make perfect sense. The current rumors have a second bid launched for Atletico Madrid's top striker, Fernando Torres. That makes sense as SAF wanted to buy him over the summer and he would still make a good purchase. However, with Athletico most likely still refusing the sale, and the understanding that Torres would be an expensive bench player, the move doesn't look good.

With the need for another top forward for the Red Devils, I am beginning to wonder why SAF doesn't make a call to West Ham and offer to take Carlos Tevez off their hands? They haven't really used him all that much, even though he did start against Chelsea this last weekend. Ever since the drama before his move to West Ham, I felt that United should have tried to buy him, and I heard that they were offered his contract. Speaking of contracts, this whole train of thought came about from a rumor I saw on CNN/ -

"West Ham is reportedly set to take advantage of a clause in the contracts of Argentine internationals Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano and part ways with the duo in January.--" - CNN/

Now, if this does end up being true, this would be the perfect situation for Manchester United and West Ham. West Ham gets to unload a player that they are not using, and make some cash back. United on the other hand, get to bring in a true striker who can rotate through matches with Rooney and Saha. They can also get someone who is not Cup tied in any competitions (as far as I know) so he could play in the knock out rounds of the Champions League and in the FA Cup. United already has Gabriel Henize, who played with Tevez in the World Cup this last summer, as well as the 2004 Summer Olympics. Henize would be able to help Tevez adjust to life at Old Trafford, something that I understand hasn't been able to happen for Tevez at West ham.

I know that I am reaching here, and I have heard that FIFA does have regulations limiting the number of transfers a player can be a part of over the course of a year, but if this is not true, SAF would be out of his mind to not try and get someone of Tevez' skills. West Ham are reportedly being bought by an Icelandic group, so they will surely want to make changes to their club to correct the current downward trend that they are following.

"Tevez and Mascherano have been notable failures and their arrival has even been blamed for unsettling the squad." -

If that quote is true, then it would make sense to move them out ASAP. A move to Old Trafford for Tevez might be just the thing to get him back up to form, and to bring the EPL championship back to United.

Long Weekend Stuff

So I took a long weekend away from really doing anything other than relaxing and getting drunk, but I am back. Here is what I missed.

MLS Draft
So Toronto FC picked some guys, traded some guys and seems ready for some other guys to come into town. DC United lost a future prospect in Rod Dyachenko, but retained Clyde Simms and Nick Rimando, the two players who most expected to leave the club for the Queen City. With Brian “Sweater Vest” Carroll possibly moving to Aachen, Germany, Clyde will most likely be moved into the starting defensive midfield slot alongside Benny. With Nick, I feel that DC united actually has some options here for Nicky. As he is one of the better goalkeepers in the league, he should be a valuable option for trade bait. You add the new Beckham Rule allocation and DC United could do very well for itself in the trade market this off season. I can see United sending Rimando to one of the other 12 clubs for maybe two prospects and trading off the Beckham allocation to either LA or RBNY for either a creative midfielder or a forward. I don’t like the guy, but would anyone truly say no to having Amado Guevara and Christian Gomez running the midfield, along with Donnet and Gros on the wings?

Manchester United Win
In a comeback victory over Sheffield United, Manchester United setup their weekend match up against Chelsea exactly how they wanted it, with a 3 point cushion. United looked off at times, and what the hell is with Ronaldo missing two open goals like he did Saturday morning? Rooney missed two great chances, but the biggest difference is that he actually made up for both of them with his two goals, which were absolutely wonderful!

Now Manchester United has their Tuesday Champions league match at Celtic, and considering the SNAFU that they dropped in Copenhagen, I fully expect to have the same starting line up take the pitch against Celtic. Manchester United really needs to win this upcoming match, probably more so that Celtic does. If Celtic fails to get out of the group stage, they should be getting the 3rd place spot and entry into the UEFA Cup. Playing in the UEFA Cup is not that bad a thing for Celtic, as they have been in the tournament numerous times, making the final in 2003 against Porto.

If Manchester United were to fail for the second straight year, heads would surely roll at Old Trafford. United have been sub par in the Champions League for the last 4 to 5 years, usually dropping out in the Round of 16. The best way for SAF to ensure that his club actually gets to the Quarter Finals this season is to win the group, thus avoid playing one of the other group winners. I expect a 2-1 victory from the Red Devils tomorrow. Then it is on to Saturdays clash with Chelsea. That should be one helluva match.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


So the MLS/FMF tournament that has been rumored for some time has had "info" leaked over on Logan's Revenge. The format looks like it will be two groups of four, each team playing each other. I would assume that the matches would be home and away, however we have heard that this tournament will be played entirely in the USA in 2007, so home and away wouldn't really be possible this go around.

Here is what might be the tournament line-up:

Group A
FC Dallas
CD Chivas Guadalajara
Los Angeles Galaxy
CD Cruz Azul

Group B
DC United
CF America
Chicago Fire SC
CA Monarcas Morelia

Evidently, Garber & Co. decided that the four MLS clubs that would take part in the tournament this year would be chosen from the following:

2006 Eastern Division Season Leader (most points)
2006 Western Division Season Leader (most points)
2006 US Open Cup Winner
2005 MLS Cup Winner

The two Conference leader spots makes sense, this is a way that MLS can increase the importance of the regular season, outside of just trying to get to the playoffs. I am happy to see the USOC spot created, as it increases importance of that tournament and if this is true, actually opens this tournament up to a USL club taking part as well as MLS clubs, considering that USL clubs could win the USOC.

The last one is a weird one. The 2005 MLS Cup winner? Uh...why? Is that because that happened to be the LA Galaxy? Is that because they wanted the Galaxy to be a part of the first tournament and have the Home Depot Center as a main part of the tournament? If these are all the real reasons that the 2005 MLS Cup winner is one of the slots that qualifiess, then I still have no problem.

One thing that I think most people have to understand is that this tournament, the 2007 edition, is the first one. MLS and the FMF will want to ensure that they have fan support and sponsorship support for this first edition, and to ensure that they have enough support for a 2008 edition. I can understand why they "chose" the MLS clubs for the first edition. As long as the first tournament, the launching tournament, is the only one where they cherry pick the clubs, then it is ok. I expect to have MLS announce the rules regarding who qualifies for the 2008 tournament and whatever the tournament champion wins, before the 2007 tournament.

I am a little puzzled why MLS wouldn't have selected the 2006 MLS Cup winner, but this goes back to the whole desire to have the Galaxy involved in the first tournament, so they came up with the legitimate "slots." Again, if these are the selection criteria that Garber & Co. are using, I look forward to hearing why they omitted the 2006 MLS Cup winner.

Assuming that DC United does take part in this tournament, then they will be busier next season than they were this season. They would be involved in the following events:

- MLS regular season
- US Open Cup
- CONCACAF Champions Cup
- MLS/FMF "Superliga"

They will have 30 MLS matches, 2 CONCACAF Champions Cup matches (at minimum), 1 USOC match (at minimum) and 6 MLS/FMF matches. That is 39 matches, I hope that the club is ready for it.

I am looking forward to this tournament, especially if DC United does take part and gets to host Club America in a home match at RFK.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Weekend Preview

I am taking some time away from the computer this weekend, so here is my preview for the weekend events.

MLS Expansion Draft
Toronto FC gets its pick of 10 players from the current 12 MLS clubs on Friday. Here are my picks, if I was picking for TFC:

Jaqua, Nate
O'Brien, John (along with a ton of Duct Tape)
Petke, Mike
Coiner, Ryan
Vanney, Greg
Rimando, Nick (GK)
Serioux, Adrian
Nagamura, Paulo
Franchino, Joe
Lisi, Mark

I hope that FCT doesn't end up grabbing Simms, which is a highly likely event. If Brian Carroll's trial with Aachen works out, then we would then end up losing two of the three main defensive midfielders that we have. If Nowak does not adapt the formation to a 4-4-2 from the 3-5-2, we will be out one of the main midfielders in his formation.

Matches I'm watching
I will be watching the Bayern Munich vs. Stuttgart match at 9:30am on Gol TV, at least until FSC starts their coverage of the 10am EPL match. FSC is carrying Manchester United at Sheffield United. With this being the last match before the showdown with Chelsea, SAF is calling this one of the more important matches of the season. SAF wants to go into the match with Chelsea with a 3 point lead, so regardless of the result (barring a loss by more than 7 goals) united will retain its lead in the league. They also have a midweek match against Celtic, one that they really need to get the 3 points in to ensure that they win their Champions league group.

I sure hope that United are not completely overlooking Sheffield United or Celtic. The United of last season that had trouble hitting the side of a barn started to creep into last weeks match against Brad Friedel and Blackburn. Friedel is an awesome goalkeeper and was beaten on one awfully difficult shot, but the finishing was just not there last week. Rooney had two open chances and miffed both. Hopefully the United that dropped 5 goals on Fulham, 4 goals on Bolton, and 3 on Portsmouth will return for both this weekends match and the encounter with Chelsea. I doubt that FSC will carry the Man Utd. vs. Chelsea match, so I gotta figure out where I am going to watch it at. Summers food is horrible, so I hope to find someplace better.

Congress Passes land Swap Deal.


I guess when a group of old guys lose their jobs, they start doing their jobs.

Congress passed the land swap deal with the City of Washington, D.C. which now clears the way for the rest of the development of Popular Point, which will be the home of the new DC United Soccer Specific Stadium. With the bill passing Congress, W needs to sign it now.

I guess 2009 might, might be on target.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

About Damn Time! USSF Schedules a USMNT Match

I received an email today from the USSF for a presale for the first USMNT match of 2007. The US will play host to Denmark at HDC on January 20th, 2007. The game is set for 4pm EST. This has got to be the precursor to the USA vs. Mexico match that was rumored by the LA Times for February 7th in Glendale, Arizona.

This makes sense. Have the MLS based players all report to camp somewhere around the 10th of January, get a ton of conditioning in for 10 days and play a match against what should be a largely domestic based Demark squad at the Tool Box. Then continue with the conditioning and training until the 5th of February, when the squad should be joined by the Euro based players and they all meet up in Phoenix for the match with Mexico.

Most people will assume that both of these matches would have US squads that are made up of all MLS players. I disagree, especially if Klinsi is running things. Klinsmann will want to have the Euro based guys in for the matchup with Mexico and because their clubs must release the players 48 hours before the FIFA friendly date. Given that this would be his first chance to get those guys into camp, it would be logical that he brings them across the pond for this match.

I am excited for this. The match against Demark, assuming that they use only their domestic players against our domestic players, should be a good test and match for fitness for our MLS players. The Mexico match, with our Euro's, in Phoenix, should be one helluva great atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Still Blowing Hard to the May Election

FIFA President, Sepp Blatter once again came out in defense of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup. He says that the progress that South Africa has made up to now is more than Germany had made at this time in their build up to the 2006 World Cup. He says that South Africa only needs to build 5 stadiums and renovate 1.

Blatter is simply running his mouth so that he can ensure that his re-election in may comes with the support of the African nations. Blatter is so found of saying everything that South Africa is doing to improve itself to meet FIFA standards and how if you know where the crime is, then you know where not to go and thus, you are safe. Sometimes I wonder if he even lives on this planet.

Blatter should be asking if South Africa needs to spend some $1.1 Billion on Soccer stadiums, two of which will be so large that after the World Cup, they will never be filled to capacity again and will become a gigantic "white elephant." I am sure that we will hear that after the World Cup, the 70,000 stadiums will have their capacities reduced and such. But won't that cost the South African government more money? Money that they should be spending somewhere else?

Let's get one thing clear here; I want to see a successful World Cup in South Africa. I do not want them to lose the World Cup, but the more I see FIFA impose higher standards and guidelines on a developing nation for a sporting event, the more I ask myself if the money isn't going to the wrong places. I understand that because of the World Cup, the transportation system in the country will become safer and improved. I understand that because of the World Cup, that 10,000 more police will be hired and should provide a safer environment for all South Africans. The two things that has me uneasy about this is: I feel that the amount of money that the government is spending on the soccer stadiums should be spent towards other domestic issues. The second thing is that with all the improvements that are being introduced because of the World Cup, should be introduced regardless of the World Cup. Why should the South African government be forced to increase security and safety, just because of the World Cup? I can't understand this.

As for Germany having less done at this point 4 years ago, well that was because Germany already had the infrastructure in place and running. They really only needed to renovate their stadiums, as Alliance Arena was being built by Bayern & 1860. Yes, the stadium hosting World Cup matches was a reason for the two clubs to build the new stadium, but the clubs had the ability to build the stadium, not the German government. I don't really think that Blatter knows what he is really talking about.

I know, lets have Blatter and Bush debate each other, first one to either make up a word or a statistic gets a pie in the face.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fox Soccer Channel Stepping it Up

It appears that Fox Soccer Channel will be expanding its MLS coverage for the 2007 season. By adding a full three hours worth of coverage for their Saturday broadcasts, it looks like FSC will be providing a much broader amount of coverage for the league. With the matches being 2 hours each, it appears that FSC will have a 30 minute preview show, broadcast live from the stadium and a 30 minute post-match show that will cover highlites and recap other MLS matches that weekend.

This is a very good step in the direction of providing more and up to the minute information that viewers can get from the TV, thus keeping the viewers watching the TV instead of resorting to only having the info available on the internet. The more coverage that MLS has, the more chances they will get more viewers and retain them once they start watching.

This might be the best news for the league in the upcoming season. Now if we could only have FSC get some quality commentators.

Woeful MLS Marketing

I spent part of my lunch break wandering the aisles of Target in search of Centrum, Gatoraid and a Masterlock. As I came upon the sporting goods section, I found myself infront of their soccer balls and I saw that they were indeed carrying the MLS adidas balls. They had several size 4 MLS colored soccer balls and two size 5 LA Galaxy color schemed balls with the Galaxy logo.

I live in the DC area, which for those who haven't heard, has it's own MLS club, DC United. DC is on the East Coast, LA on the West Coast. Why the hell would you be advertising a club on the other side of the country and not have the local club ball? I would understand if all the DC United soccer balls had sold out, but why even carry the LA Galaxy balls?

Someone at MLS Marketing has dropped some serious balls here.

A True CONCACAF Champions League

The CONCACAF Champions Cup was designed to emulate the UEFA Champions League, the Copa Libertadores, UEFA Cup, Copa Sudamericana and pretty much any other regional club championship tournaments. The biggest difference between the CONCACAF tournament and the tournaments in other regions is that the CCC doesn’t really offer that much to the CONCACAF clubs that play in it, other than the chance to play non-league clubs. With the UEFA Champions League, you have large cash prizes for the winner, so you always get every club fighting tooth and nail for the trophy.

I recommend that CONCACAF, in order to actually make the CCC a more viable and profitable regional tournament, should expand the tournament from the current eight club format to a 16 club format. In doing so it will obviously increase the number of clubs and leagues that get representation in the tournament and it will make the tournament a lot more attractive and possibly enhance its image outside and inside the region.

The current format for the league is:
- Mexico Apertura Champion
- Mexico Clausura Champion
- MLS Cup Winner
- MLS Supporter Shield Winner
- Central American Club
- Central American Club
- Central American Club
- Caribbean Qualifier Champion

I propose the following format for the expanded tournament:

- Mexico: Apertura Champion
- Mexico: Clasura Champion
- Mexico: Interliga Runner-Up
- Mexico: Interliga Runner-Up
- USA: MLS Cup Champion
- USA: Supporters Shield Winner
- USA: USOC Champion
- MLS/FMF #2
- Canada Champion
- Central America
- Central America
- Central America
- Central America
- Central America
- Caribbean
- Caribbean

The Additions
Mexico, in any expanded CCC should have the largest number of spots of any federation, as they are the best league in the region. In addition to the two current spots (Apertura & Clasura Champions) I suggest adding the two clubs that finish as the runners up as the 3rd and 4th spots for the CCC. This still gives the runners up something for making the two finals of the Interliga and expands the chances for the Mexican clubs to play in regional soccer.

In the USA, MLS currently has a monopoly on the CCC spots, as the MLS Supporters Shield winner and the MLS Cup winner get those two spots. In a “slight” way of breaking that monopoly, I suggest adding a third USA slot for the USOC champion. This gives the MLS clubs another avenue into the tournament, and gives the USL and lower division clubs a “chance” to qualify for the USA spot. Doing so will give the USOC a much needed boost in importance in domestic soccer, something that the tournament drastically needs.

The next added spot should go to the runner up of the proposed MLS/FMF tournament. This gives both Mexico and the USA a chance at another CCC slot, as it is understood that the winner of this tournament might eventually get a spot in the Copa Libertadores. Giving the runner up a spot in the CCC is a pretty good reward for making the finals. This also makes it a toss up as to if Mexico gets five representatives or of the USA gets 4. As Toronto FC will be joining MLS next season, this also opens up an outside chance for a Canadian club to reach the CCC.

Building off of the idea that Toronto FC could take second in the MLS/FMF tournament and gain entry into the CCC, I suggest a new spot for a Canadian Champion, much like the Interliga played by the Mexican clubs for their two berths into the Copa Libertadoers. The tournament can be a round robin tournament among the six Canadian clubs that are in the MLS, USL1, USL2 and PDL:

- Toronto FC (MLS)
- Toronto Lynx (USL2)
- Vancouver Whitecaps (USL)
- Montreal Impact (USL)
- Thunder Bay Chill (PDL)
- Abbotsville Rangers (PDL)

Have them all play each other (5 matches), schedule the tournament for August or September of the previous year, considering for weather in Canada. The club with the highest points from the five matches (3 points win; 1 point draw) gets the CCC spot. Standard tie breaking rules apply for this tournament.

This would be a great way to raise the level and visibility of Canadian soccer. Having their domestic clubs challenge each other would be huge for national bragging rights, especially if Toronto FC gets knocked off by one of the PDL clubs.

Currently, the Central American clubs have to duke it out in the Torneo Interclubes de UNCAF and only 3 clubs get entry into the CCC. I suggest increasing their number of spots by two, upping their representation to five. As Saprissa showed last season, the Central American clubs are not pushovers and have as much of a chance at winning the CCC as anyone else.

The last increase would come from the Caribbean Qualifiers. Currently the winner of the tournament gets the one spot. I recommend changing the number of spots to two, so the two clubs that get to the final get entry into the CCC.

Tournament Format
After CONCACAF expands the size of the tournament, they should then alter the format of the tournament, by having a group stage at the beginning, used to eliminate eight of the clubs. Break the clubs into four groups of four and have them play 6 home and away matches to figure out which two clubs moves out from the group stage, just like how the UEFA Champions League operates. Having more matches provides for more TV revenue and advertising revenue. This type of situation would attract more investors, thus making more money for CONCACAF (which Jacky likes) and more money for the clubs. After the group phase, then have the knockout matches like they do right now.

Copa Sudamericana Entry
As of right now, it has been a loose practice for CONMEBOL to invite the CCC clubs that advance to the Semi-Finals without winning, to the Copa Sudamericana. In my revamping of the CCC, I would establish as a concrete agreement between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. Having the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place CCC spots get guaranteed entry into the Copa Sudamericana would be an excellent incentive for the CONCACAF clubs and their leagues.

Reason for Concern
Changing the size and format of this tournament would create a bigger buzz for the CCC. Clubs in MLS, Canada and the Caribbean nations would be able to use the CCC as a recruiting tool for future potential players, especially with the FIFA World Club Cup berth for the winner. Increasing the regional club championships should also help CONCACAF in its standing in FIFA.

If CONCACAF fails to overhaul the CCC and make it a credible tournament for the region, they will be facing the chance that several of the individual federations in the region decide to try and get involved in the new MLS/FMF tournament that is being started in the 2007 season. With a rumored One Million dollar cash prize for first place and also a rumored entry into the Copa Libertadores tournament, that tournament might pose more competition than CONCACAF wants. If the MLS/FMF tournament does not involve the CONCACAF officials, they will be left out of any of the revenues (Jack hates losing out on money, look at what he did with his World Cup tickets). If CONCACAF doesn’t adapt now, they will lose out later.

Quick notes: CONCACAF Champions Cup

With the MLS 2006 season now in the books, most US soccer fans are either switching over to fulltime support for European or South American clubs. Some move on to being able to watch the NFL or NHL or NBA. For domestic soccer action, we have to wait until the end of February for the CONCACAF Champions Cup tournament to start with DC United (Supporters Shield Winner) and the newly crowned MLS Cup Champs, Houston Dynamo taking on some of the best in CONCACAF.

The CONCACAF Champions Cup is supposed to be the region's answer to the UEFA Champions League or the Copa Libertadores. However, with a true lack of sponsorship or reward, the CONCACAF Champions Cup has floundered in being recognized as THE regional club tournament.

I have some ideas on how ol' Jack Warner and his CONCACAF-Mafia cronies can fix their little tournament, from a competition standpoint. I will post them later today.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Well, they finally scored in the MLS Cup Final

So, after 346 minutes, spanning three MLS Cup Finals, Taylor Twellman scored the first goal ever for the New England Revolution in an MLS Cup Final. Kanu Smith deserved the goal, as it was his hard work that set it up. So New England had five minutes to hold onto the 1-0 win and pick up their first ring.

New England forgot that the overtime wasn't golden goal, and a minute six second after Twellman put them ahead, Brian "I went to Germany instead of you" Ching put in a beautiful header to tie up the match at 1-1. So the match went to penalty kicks and Houston won 4-3 after Noonan and Heaps miffed and had their goals blocked, respectively. So Houston picked up the second CONCACAF Champions Cup spot and New England goes home with a third empty hand.

I do wonder why Deuce didn't take the last penalty kick. Deuce was one of the better players on the field, was his ankle that fragile that wouldn't allow him to take a PK? Have we seen the last of Deuce? Is the Texan Rapper heading overseas?

Ok, so I understand that the match tonight was the last match in the original TV deal with ABC/ESPN, and I hope that this issue has been resolved in the new deal. What I am talking about is that ABC cut right away from the match after the end. They didn't even show the trophy ceremony. WTF??? If I were a Dynamo supporter (I would have been at the match), but DVRing the match, I would have wanted to see the trophy ceremony on tape. Garber, make sure that ABC doesn't cut away next season when DC United are getting one for the thumb.

Who are the idiots on TV?

I am sitting here watching the MLS Cup Half-Time Show, with the TV muted because some jokes are bouncing around, under some giant influence or something. Can't MLS get anyone decent to perform? Big'n Rich? Metallica? Bon Jovi? Oh wait, I forgot, they only play for the NFL, the league without supporters, just fans.

Anyways, so with the scoreline 0-0, (which Rod Stoner was so nice to point out that the last two 0-0 halftime scorelines also had the Revolution playing in them), I figured I would checkout the specs of the Beckham rule that was announced this morning.

So MLS is expanding the salary cap (good) and will allow each club to have the "High Profile" player added to their roster. Clubs can sell these allocations, if they feel that they don't need a trophy head player, so that other clubs can use these extra allocations to bring in more high profile players, limited to 2 per club. As LA, Chivas, and FC Dallas already have players that will fill those spots, expect several other clubs to end up selling their "Beckham" spots to LA, Chivas or Dallas. New York should be one of the clubs that ends up picking up two of those roster spots.

I am not sure how well this will work out. I am hoping that increase in the salary cap will allow the clubs that don't go and get high profile players, will still be able to sign high impact players and remain competitive. If DC United sells off their allocation, but still finds another Christian Gomez, then I am fine with this program. If we start to see some of the clubs get buried by the clubs that get high profile guys, then MLS will have to resolve the problem. Garber & Co. have set this up to expire in 2009, so it does have a built in "re-examination period. Hopefully they will keep this under watch for the next two seasons.

Friday, November 10, 2006

USL might have an entry into the CONCACAF Champions Cup

CONCACAF has added USL side Puerto Rico Islanders to the Caribbean Qualification for the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup. This makes sense as FIFA recognizes Puerto Rico as a separate federation in CONCACAF, regardless of the fact that Puerto Rico is a US territory. The Islanders will host the matches in Group C, with the following four clubs taking part:

Group C:
Bayamon, PUERTO RICO 8-14 December

Puerto Rico Islanders (PUR)
W Connection (TRI)
Hoppers FC (ATG)
Fruta Conquerors (GUY)

It is my opinion that if the Islanders were to make it to the full tournament, it could possibly lead the way for some type of expansion to allow for a slot for Canada to have a club or some clubs in the tournament. An expanded CONCACAF Champions Cup with better sponsorship would be pretty good for the regional clubs and make more money, something that Jack Warner loves to do. I am currently working on an idea for how CONCACAF could expand the tournament and will post it after the MLS Cup is over.

Next Season News

So, the basics:

Toronto to EastPlayoffs;

Top two from each Conference, then next best 4 teams.

30 matches, down from 32

Champs league style format midweek w/MFL

I do not like the idea of having the four next highest clubs, as it still belittles the rest of the season. It does strive to push, but not that much. The same teams would have made it into the playoffs from this season, so what gives? DC would have still played RBNY, FCD would have played Colorado, Chivas would have played the Revolution, Houston vs. Chicago would have been the only changes. Not that big a difference. The Houston vs. Chicago matchup would have been a good one, but this still doesn't scan.

30 matches...I am really interested as to how they are going to do that.

Champions League with are the midweek games going to be handled with the Thursday night matches? I understand that the matches will all be in the USA, which to start is not that bad, but I want to see MLS clubs playing in Mexico with the Mexican supporters dropping bags of urine on the players. That, if anything, builds character.

So some news, but not what people wanted. I hope this gets cleared up and explained further.

Let the Arms Race Begin!

Actually, the Adu race. is reporting that if Freddy Adu's two week training session goes well, they will sign him over the January transfer window.

I am not really sure how this would work, but if this was a chance, and he can get playing time on the first squad in Old Trafford, I say he should move. I honestly do not want him back for DC United next season, as I think he needs to get put in a situation that he is challenged all the time, as the central attacking midfielder.

This should be an interesting story over the next month or so.

1pm, We find out how next season goes.

"David from Columbus, Ohio: How will you work with the unbalanced schedule next year? Should we expect more midweek games?

Don Garber: Next season, we will be challenged by an uneven number of teams, the Gold Cup, Copa America and four prime-time national games on Thursday night, Saturday nights (FSC and HDNet) and Sunday nights. We'll announce our competitive format tomorrow, including the number of games, playoff format, conference or single-table setup, etc., so tune in live to" -

So, stay tuned...1pm, be there or go to the NASL.

MLS Awards Recap and other stuff....

So the biggest unkept secret in US Soccer, other than Jurgen Klinsmann waiting in the wings at USSF, was announced yesterday as Christian Gomez was presented the Honda MVP award. I went back and checked how I did on my prognostications for the awards this season, and I didn't do badly. I made five predictions, and only missed one.

My Predictions
MLS Honda MVP: Christian Gomez (Correct)
Defender of the Year: Bobby Boswell (Correct)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Troy Perkins (Correct)
Coach of the Year: Bob Bradley (Correct)
Comeback Player of the Year: Chris Armas (Incorrect)

So I missed Richard Mulrooney knocking off Chris Armas for the Comeback player of the Year award. I figured that with Chicago's run in the USOC, Armas would get some consideration over Mulrooney, but I failed to count on two things: first, the USOC run means dick when affecting MLS season awards; and second Mulrooney was coming back from a torn right ACL and to come back and be the man in the defense, that is pretty big.

I didn't make any speculations on the Rookie of the Year Award, as there were no DC United players up for it. Bernstein won, just as everyone expected. However, I do feel that the league should have considered Kenny Cooper. Yes, Cooper had spent several seasons with Manchester United, but I honestly cannot remember any time that Cooper saw on the field with the Red Devils. So he moves to MLS and FC Dallas, for his first season here, I would still consider him a rookie. I understand that they figure your rookie season being your first professional season, and they might be right. Other leagues in the USA don't, the MLB for example gave Ichiro the Rookie of the Year honors, after playing several pro seasons in Japan. That situation is one I do not agree with, as Ichiro was not a rookie, just a rookie in MLB, just as Cooper was to MLS. I would hope for a happy medium here. If the guy has some "pro" experience, but less that 2 years of actual field time, he should be considered for a rookie honor.


MLS announced that the MLS Cup has sold out, with all 20,500 seats taken. I am happy that they were able to sell out the match, but damn, 20,500 for a championship match? MLS, please start holding this event in larger stadiums, please?

Don Garber will be making the State of the League today at 1pm EST. I expect to hear more information about the MLS/MSL tournament next year and maybe some movement on the San Jose club issue. Expect him to highlite Toronto FC and their stadium as well as Colorado's stadium next season as well.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Your 2006 MLS MVP: Christian Gomez

At Pizza Hut Park, Don Garber announced that DC United midfielder, Christian Gomez was named the 2006 MLS Honda MVP.

Wow, like no one saw this coming.

The other two guys who were nominated, Real Salt Lake's Jeff Cunningham and Houston Dynamo's Dwayne De Rosario were excellent this season, Cunningham dropped 16 goals this season, but since his club sucked, his individual performance was pretty much overlooked. The other reason it was overlooked was because Gomez and De Rosario had absolutely excellent seasons.

De Rosario was such a key part of the FC Fanta run that they had, all the way to the MLS Cup final this weekend. The only reason why he wasn't the MVP was because Gomez put in one of those "Superman" type seasons.

Ok, now that Christian has been recognized as the best there is, I now expect to have the United front office resign the guy and pay him more.

Congratulations Gomito!!!

Klinsi in 2008?

The Redskins Insider on the Washington Post had a quick little blurb about Klinsmann not becoming the USMNT coach until 2008. It is at the bottom of the article.

"For all my soccer-luvin' peeps out there. Some well connected people tell me Klinsi has essentially agreed to the US job financially, but it's being held up 'cause he does not want to take over full-time until Jan. 2008. On the surface, no big deal, since WC qualifying will not really be underway yet, but the USSF is making a bold step by going to the Copa America this summer - as well as the Gold Cup - so would want Klinsi to start sooner. Klinsi would be around, but Sigi Schmidt would coach the team full-time in 2007. Anyway, that's just what I've heard ... " - Jason La Canfore

I really don't know if I like this. Name the guy in November of 2006, but wait for him to take full control another 14 months away? Have his assistant run the squad for 14 months that include the CONCACAF Gold Cup (which a victory gets us the 2009 Confederations Cup) and the 2007 Copa America?

No, I have decided that I don't like this. I know that even if Klinsi had whomever it was as his assistant running things, they would be using his program, but there is no substitute to having the man himself run the training and bark the orders from the sideline. If Klinsmann becomes the USMNT head coach, I want him to start in January of 2007, so that he starts getting guys ready for the two tournaments this summer and gets his coaching staff ready for play in Beijing in 2008.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Adu to train with Man U.

First reported by Steve Goff, DC United midfielder, Freddy Adu will spend two weeks training with Sir Alex Ferguson and current EPL leaders, Manchester United. Adu will join up with Man United on the 18th of November, after he is done with commitments to the US U-20 squad.

Even though it is very clearly stressed that this is not a tryout and Freddy will not be staying in England after the two weeks are up...this is pretty interesting to keep in mind. Freddy will definitely impress the powers that be at Old Trafford and this should help MLS with the future bidding war that will develop this summer when Freddy turns 18.

Hopefully SAF will teach the kid to think faster and pass faster in a match. I think the training will do him some good, see how the big boys do things and how everyone has a team mentality and doesn't pout when the coach tells them how it is.

Blame the Fans?

I wasn't going to comment on this, because I really didn't feel like adding to the debate. However, the more I think about this, the more I find it unnerving.

Andrea Canales wrote an article about how there are several reasons why DC United flopped like a fish out of water in the last months of the 2006 MLS season. She cites several reasons; fatigue, lack of new players, living in the past, Peter Nowak and the DC Fans.

That last one is what bugged me. Everywhere I have checked, DC United fans have been praised for bringing the greatest atmosphere to RFK and any other stadium that they travel to. Despite how bad United are doing on the field, the DC United supporters groups, Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles (whom I am a member of) and La Norte always are there, singing, chanting, screaming and jumping up and down, supporting the club. So now Ms. Canales is saying that the supporters groups are at fault for not booing the club that they "support?"


One thing that has made me love soccer in the United States so much more than the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL is that regardless of how bad the match is, the fans remain fans and they always support the club. Yes, in my seat at RFK, I bitch about how Freddy is slow to pass a ball. I whine when there is a missed shot or when Jaime tries for the 1 millionth time to dribble through 3 defenders at the top of the box. Yet I still went to 14 home matches this season, have my season tickets set for next season, and am currently trying to figure out ways to travel to Toronto, LA, New Jersey, Chicago and Columbus for road games next year, at a minimum. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a MLB game and guys in the stands do nothing but bitch and berate the home team, while wearing the home team's hat and jersey. American soccer fans are supporters, those others are spectators.

American soccer fans, specifically the three DC United supporters groups, are the greatest in the league because they cheer for the club, regardless of the results on the field. They feel that it is their job and responsibility to cheer and make as much supporting noise for the club, and that is the way to help the club get out of a funk. If they decided to only cheer when the club is doing well, they would be called NFL fans, instead of Supporters Groups. I do not want to be known as an NFL fan, I want to be known as a member of a DC United supporters group.

So getting back to Ms. Canales' article. The last I checked, the supporters groups aren't paid to do anything. They pay the club to attend the matches, because that is what they want to do. Why blame a group of people who pay to go to a sporting event, to support the club? Hell, if anything, the supporters groups, based on your logic, should be asking for some compensation. They supported the club when they did not deliver on the field.

The simple fact is that regardless of how the game is going, if DC United is playing at RFK, then you will get the sounds and chants of Barra Brava, the Screaming Eagles and La Norte, for 90 minutes, loud & proud. You will expect to see several smoke bombs go off, cups of beer tossed in the air when a goal is scored, and streamers tossed at the field. You will see flags flown during the match and if you don't want to see the flags in front of you, sit on the "quiet" side of the stadium.

The day that none of these are not found, at every match, then the league should start calling itself NASL. The players on the field are professionals and they and their coaching staff should be professional enough to get up for a match, regardless of how the people in the stands, supporters or spectators, treat them.

Manchester United blow title defense.

Ok, so Manchester United lost to Southend, who sit in last place in the English Second Division, which is technically the third division of English Football. They lost 1-0 on a free kick, which beat their second string goalkeeper. Yes, Rooney and Ronaldo started the match, and it did look as if the rest of the side was pretty much EPL standard, infact, the very same starting line-up really wouldn't be too much of a surprise on any given Saturday in the EPL.

So why did they lose? They lost for the same reason that other bigger clubs get knocked off by smaller clubs, because the bigger club, in this case you can call them Manchester United, is expected by damn near everyone to absolutely roll over the smaller club, which in this case you can call them Southend. Southend, who are the smaller club, outside of the players themselves, were probably given no chance in hell of beating Manchester United, the bigger club, so they most likely played with reckless abandon and had nothing to lose.

These types of things happen, so getting dumped out of the Carling Cup, regardless of the fact that Manchester United were the defending champions, is not the end of the world. United are still leading the EPL with 3 points, a huge goal advantage, are still alive and in control of their own destiny in the UEFA Champions League and are still awaiting to enter the FA Cup. The three main events are still on the schedule and United are doing their jobs in two of them. Not having to play in the Carling Cup matches this season might be a better result for the rest of the season. Just like last year when not playing after the group stage probably made it an easier schedule for United to chase Chelsea, not having to play in the Carling Cup matches should allow for a less congestive schedule.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

First one down: FC Dallas Fire's Clarke

Forgive, I have been in meetings most of the day. When I got back I was pleasantly surprised to see that FC Dallas became the first club this season to lower the hammer on it’s coach, Colin Clarke. While most of the coaching carousel happened during the season (Yallop to LA, Arena to RBNY, Mo to Toronto), Clarke was one of those changes that everyone figured would happen during the off season, considering the self destruction that FC Toro suffered in the playoffs.

There should be at least one more coaching change this off season, two or three depending on the USMNT. Real Salt lake, if smart, should be printing off the Pink Slip for Ellinger considering that he has basically sucked for the entire season. So he should be the next to go. DC United might or might not be changing from the Nowak regime, which is still up in the air. Then you have the USMNT and its head coaching selection.

As most people are expecting, the USSF will probably hire Jurgen Klinsmann as the Head Coach. However, it has been rumored that if Klinsi becomes the head coach, one of two current MLS head coaches will follow him to become his assistant head coach. Sigi in Columbus and Bradley at Chivas USA have been mentioned in different forums as to be Kilnsi's top picks for a deputy. If either one leaves, that will open up yet another head coaching slot.

I would really like to have some new blood brought into MLS. Maybe bring in a coach from the Mexican Premier League or from Brazil, to give another Latin flavor to the league? How about the Head Coach of the University of Maryland, the defending National Champions? Hell, if Bradley leaves to go to the USMNT, bring in Diego Maradona as the new Chivas USA coach. I am sure he has some coaching ideas.

DC United Off Season News

As always, the best source of information for DC United news is to go to Steve Goff of the Washington Post. Goff has a piece that outlines some of the "things" that United face in this 10 week off season before they return to start training for the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Some of those issues:

- The Sale of the club. It is assumed that the sale of DC United to the real estate firm run by Brad Davis. Hopefully this sale will be finalized and completed over the next 10 weeks, as this sale has impacts on some of the other issues that United have to deal with.

- The Return of Nowak? Coach Peter Nowak's contract expires at the end of December, and assuming that the rumored European club coaching interest doesn't pan out, Nowak should be returning for his fourth season. I am going to reserve judgment on this particular issue, as I have stated my case before for why I don't think he should be fired, but I want to do more "soul searching" on this.

-The Freddy factor. Freddy seems to think that he has the power to bend European labor laws and sign with a Euro club before he turns 18. As I understand it, and I could be wrong, Freddy cannot sign a contract until he turns 18, as he is not an EU citizen. I still stand by my thoughts that Freddy will remain a member of United until July, when he signs a contract with Chelsea, then gets loaned out to a Spanish or Italian side for a year.

Honestly, I don't want Freddy back. I, as a DC United supporter, am tired of the little brat and his slow thinking on the ball. I would much prefer having Donnet in his place. I think time over in Europe will force Freddy to think faster on the ball, and make him a much better player, and as a USMNT supporter, that is what I want him to become.

- Carrolling for a new gig? Goff mentions that Brian Carroll might be shopping himself to some of the other clubs in MLS, as his contract is up at the end of the season as well. I wish him the best; I would like to have him back, but if he was one of only 2 guys we lose this season, Clyde being the other, I would not worry that much.

- New Deal for the MVP? Christian Gomez is entering the final season of his contract, and United feel that they must restructure his contract, and extend it, to lock him up after 2007. I want this guy to remain at United until he turns 33. They need to lock this guy up.

- Donnet or not? Matias Donnet and United need to work out a new contract for Donnet for the next season, as it appears he signed a short term contract for the end of the 2006 season. I hope that he returns. He is 26, has a proven record and I feel that if he is given the chance to truly gel with the other players and grow into whatever system United uses next season (GOD PLEASE, 4-4-2!!!) I think we will be able to see Donnet show us how good a player he is.

- New Striker. Brazilian or American? It seems we have some options. Who ever it is, please, take shots like Twellman did in the 4th minute? I like this idea, and it plays into my desires to see Jaime drop back into the midfield. Have Jaime, Gomez, Donnet and Olsen run the midfield, with Erpen, Boz, Namoff and Gros on the back line. Esky and (insert new strikers name) up front.

- Tournaments Next Season. - United start their play in the CONCACAF Champions Cup the last week of February, and hopfully will have at least 4 matches in that tournament. Goff mentions a couple of matches in Libya (I wouldn't do it, but that is me) and the MLS/Mexican League tournament next season. It appears that the 2007 version of the tournament will only take place in the USA, with 4 clubs from each league. The four from MLS will be invited to participate, with the following four being the rumors right now:

- DC United
- LA Galaxy
- Houston Dynamo
- Chicago Fire

Although, I have seen Chivas USA's name in there, as well as FC Dallas. I assume that later this month, when Garber & Co. announce this event, we will find out who is in it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

US National Team Rumors

In a report I first saw at du Nord, the LA Times is reporting that US Men's National team will be playing a match in the soon to near future.

"The men's national teams of the U.S. and Mexico will play each other in a friendly international at Phoenix on Feb. 7. The game has yet to be officially announced by either federation. Both teams will have new coaches in place by then, with Hugo Sanchez favored to be named Mexico's coach next week and Jurgen Klinsmann is the front runner for the U.S. post." - LA

This type of a match makes sense, as neither side have played since the end of their World Cup runs, why not play each other on a FIFA friendly date?

Now I gotta figure out how to convince the girlfriend to let me go out to Phoenix in the middle of the week in February. Hmmmm.....

I really wanna know what he is smoking.

Los Angeles Galaxy President, Alexi Lalas, was quoted by the BBC as saying that, well read the quote yourself -

""For many people the Los Angeles Galaxy are looked upon as the jewel of MLS," he said." - Alexi Lalas, from the BBC

Everytime this ass clown opens his mouth, I either want to cry because he is just talking to hear his voice, or scream, because he truly believes the drivol that he spews forth. Last time I checked, the LA Galaxy have the following 5 championships/trophy's:

- 2 US Open Cup
- 2 MLS Cup
- 1 CONCACAF Champions Cup

You can through in two Supporter's Shield's as well if you feel like it. That would make the Galaxy the owners of 7 championships/trophy's. Very nice.

Yes, that is more than most in MLS, but if you toss out the two Supporters Shield's, then the Galaxy would have 5 Championships, which would be the same as the Chicago Fire, who have:

- 1 MLS Cup
- 4 US Open Cup

Granted the Supporters Shield inclusion does increase the Galaxy to 7 championships or trophy's. Chicago, if you add it's Supporters Shield trophy, moves up to 6. So simply saying that the LA Galaxy are the jewel of the league, with 7 championships/trophy's, when one team is right behind them, isn't that strong a statement.

Damn, I forgot, and Alexi must have as well, but the Galaxy don't even have the most trophy's in MLS. That record is held by DC United.

DC United have the following championships/trophy's:

- 1 US Open Cup
- 4 MLS Cup
- 3 Supporters Shield
- 1 CONCACAF Champions Cup
- 1 Interamerican Cup

Who's the jewel bitch?

So you guys have your own stadium. Very nice. So do three other clubs, idiot. One of those clubs that has their own stadium in Chicago, you know, the club that has the same number of trophy's as you do (sans Supporters Shield)? Two more stadiums enter the league next season. Red Bull New York will open their stadium in 2008, and by the marketing pictures, that will be a much nicer stadium that the Tool Box.

Alexi Lalas can try and label whatever club he works for "Super Club" as much as he wants. He tried at New York and now he is trying in LA. The last "Super Club" in the USA was the Cosmos, which folded along with the league it supported. Watch out how you use the whole "Super Club" moniker there bub, you really wanna be the guy who kills MLS?

MLS Cup 2006: FC Fanta vs. Sam Adams FC

I really don't even care anymore right now. I suppose later this week, once the numbness goes away and I can really think, then I will start to really care. Man, do we need a striker.

Anyways, FC Power Station destroyed FC John Denver, 3-1 and if you watched the match, FC Fanta should have had about 4 more goals. De Ro, Ching, Dalglish, and the rest were a holy terror on the Rapids. If it wasn't for Kirovski's PK at the beginning of the match, this would have been 3-0, exactly what Pat Onstad truly deserved. Joe Cannon was about the only bright spot for the Rapids, as he held out through about 5 1 on 1's with Dynamo attackers.

So it is FC Fanta vs. Sam Adams FC in Frisco "Don't call us Dallas" Texas.

FC Fanta 3 - 0 Sam Adams FC

Sam Adams FC doesn't know how to score when the MLS Cup Finals banners are up in the stadium, so they should still fail to find the net. De Ro will get another ring, then make his way up to Toronto to help start the club up in the great white north.

Glad I didn't buy a ticket to the Finals.

Carnival of Soccer #6: Getting Butts in the Seats

It’s Carnival time again, boys and girls! This go around we are looking at new ways to bump up the marketing of MLS, ways to increase fan interests and get them in the seats. Being limited by the constraints of not tampering with the league schedule or league format, we have to focus on targeting three specific areas:

- Youth Soccer Players and Family’s
- The Hispanic Communities
- “Core Soccer Fans”

Youth Soccer Player and Family’s
One point to make here is to try and get the youth soccer players to identify more with the local MLS team. Take advantage of the fact that each club has so many local youth soccer leagues in the surrounding areas. Have an MLS player volunteer as an assistant coach for a local youth team, as an honorary assistant coach for a season. Have MLS player attend one youth soccer practice a week to help with the training and offer insights both to the players and to the coaches. On the first visit out to the youth team, have the MLS player distribute club t-shirts to all the players, give them shirts that they can wear to school that shows that their team has a MLS player as a “coach.” Have the MLS player also present the youth team’s head coach with a MLS warm up shirt, something that the coach can wear to the youth practices. Along with the shirts and the warm-up top, the player can provide the coaches and the players with contact information for the club ticketing office.

Having this type of interaction would be huge in getting the kids interested in going to the MLS matches. The youth player can go home and ask their parents if they could all go to the next home match. The parents could then use the contact info that the MLS player has provided to inquire about the “4 pack” ticket plan. I think that MLS should try and give this thing a bigger push. Offer the 4 pack plan (4 tickets + 4 hot dogs + 4 sodas) but throw in a MLS mini-ball, all for $60.00. Include a free parking voucher and have the MLS mini-ball be one from the local club, instead of a generic one that has the MLS logo. $60.00, including free parking, for a sporting event is very, very hard to pass up. The mini-ball would be a great souvenir for the family.

For those families that do not have youth soccer players, greater community advertising should be done to reach them. A perfect example of an untapped source is the DC United partnership with Gold’s Gym. United has a partnership with Gold’s Gym, and at RFK before matches, you hear advertisements about joining the Gym and how to contact and find the nearest club. The DC United website has a link to the Gold’s Gym website on its main page that rotates with other advertisements. However, in two of the area Gold’s Gym’s that I have been to this season (2006) you would never even know that the two had any type of relationship. DC united could have a full color 11” x 17” advertisement posted at the front desk and in the locker rooms of every Gold’s Gym in the DC area. They aren’t even advertising the playoff’s in the gym’s. United could also offer discount tickets for Gold’s members, which could bring more people out to the matches. This is an untapped source of potential fans that would require minimal resources, but has the potential to bring in more fans every week.

One of the bigger challenges for MLS is to get the mainstream local media to provide a larger amount of coverage. Again, here in the DC area, it is Redskins first, then the Nationals, then the Wizards, than the Capitals, then the College football and basketball programs, then maybe, DC United. The Redskins suck right now, the Nationals suck and are out of season, the Wizards just started their season, as have the Capitals. The local mainstream (ABC, NBC, CBS) news sports reporting might have coverage of United, simply because they are in the Conference Finals. However, during the majority of the MLS season, they truly only have the Nationals as the local sport to compete with, so getting the local mainstream sports broadcasts to cover United, with game highlights and weekly player reports, the same type of coverage that they give to the Redskins and others, might go along way towards getting more people out to the matches. I am not even talking about daily updates, they could just have one report on a Wednesday night to recap the previous weeks events and to preview the upcoming weekend’s match.

Hispanic Communities
I think the biggest problem that MLS faces with increasing it’s marketing in the local Hispanic communities is that most of these communities are made up of immigrants from other nations; and as they bring their culture with them to the USA, they also bring the loyalties and support for soccer clubs from their home countries. MLS should try and manipulate those allegiances and try and get those fans to adopt the local MLS club as their “local” club. A Hispanic soccer fan from Argentina, now living in Los Angeles can still be a die-hard Boca Juniors supporter. He can still wear the blue and yellow and support Boca as they play in “La Bombonera, yet he can also support the LA Galaxy or Chivas USA as his local club. Just because you like a local club doesn’t mean you have to cut all ties with the original club that you supported. MLS should try and push for the local club identification with the Hispanic immigrants.

Another way to try and market the MLS clubs to the Hispanic communities is to try and cultivate club to club partnerships between MLS clubs and South American clubs. FC Dallas is doing this right now with Tigres of Mexico. FC Dallas could offer to take one or two of Monterrey’s lesser used players, players who only really get time on the reserves bench, and give them one or two months work in MLS. Monterrey could reciprocate with FC Dallas and provide some playing time for some FC Dallas players for a month or two. Getting the chance to be exposed to different styles and playing environments will do nothing but increase in the development of players. It will also give the local fans a way to identify with the other club, give them a tangible link between the two clubs.

A different part of these club to club partnerships would be to have friendly matches between the two clubs. Also using the FC Dallas/Tigres mold, they held a home and away series of friendly’s between each other this summer, contesting the Rio Grande Plate. If more MLS clubs were do this, it would spark interests in the local Hispanic communities. Imagine how many people would show up for a match at RFK Stadium between DC United & River Plate? What about a match at Red Bull park between Red Bull New York and FC Porto (ok, Portugese, I don’t think, are considered Hispanic, but the ethnic draw is still the same idea here)? Houston Dynamo vs. Club America? Chivas just played a match in Phoenix against Club America, imagine if Chivas USA played a match against PUMAS in Phoenix, which would be a match that would bring out the local Hispanic community to the match.

“Core Soccer Fans”
These might be the hardest group to convince to attend the matches. One way I suggest as the first step for reaching the non-MLS soccer community is to start producing more MLS advertising on ESPN during UEFA Champions league matches. Advertise the ESPN televised match of the week, as well as the local club home matches. Work with Fox Soccer channel to carry the same advertising during their EPL broadcasts as well as their broadcasts of the Argentine league. With targeted advertisements during these shows, you get the MLS brand and local events presented before, midway and after the matches that those non-MLS soccer fans are watching.

A second point would be to have the local clubs nurture direct relations with the local area soccer stores. I know of three in the DC area that loosely support MLS and DC United, but nothing major. MLS should have DC United merchandise all over the store. Links to the local stores should be on the DC United website and flyers for their stores should be handed out at RFK. DC United should coordinate player appearances at these stores, and should suggest that the local youth clubs go to these stores for soccer gear. Having this type of grassroots connection in the community would be able to get those soccer fans who are non-MLS fans introduced to the club.

The idea of the club to club relationships can also be carried over to this demographic. Getting clubs that core soccer fans want to see and have them play against MLS clubs is a way to introduce the fans to the MLS clubs. Having Barcelona play two Mexican clubs in MLS cities, regardless of having MLS clubs play double headers with these matches, does not provide a proper introduction for the clubs. Having Barcelona play the Red Bulls is a good thing. Hell, the Red Bulls were tied 1-1 at halftime, which happened to be when Bruce Arena put in all of his subs. Having DC United play Chelsea or Real Madrid or Celtic were really good ideas and should be done more often. Red Bull New York playing Bayern Munich at Giants Stadium is a good idea. These types of matches should be held as often as possible, without affecting the MLS season. The friendlies between MLS and USL teams, those are the ones that should be put on the back burner, in favor of matches against clubs like Liverpool, Rangers, Ajax, Lyon, Roma and so on. Getting these fans out to these matches would go along way towards getting them to return for MLS matches.

All in all, doing some of these types of ideas would go along way towards getting more fans out to MLS matches and to watch them on the TV. Providing broader advertising, anywhere from a poster at the local Gold’s Gym, to a poster at the local Albertson’s to having Red Bull New York jersey’s and sweatshirts for sale at the local Target or Dick’s Sporting Goods store, you get more people to see the league, the clubs and the opportunity to see a MLS match live. If we can have some 200,000 youth soccer players in the country, we should be able to get 20,000 people to attend a soccer match. We just have to present the matches right, and they will come.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Well, that sucked.

Watching DC United lose 1-0 sucked. Watching United make lazy ineffective moves in the attacking third sucked. Watching the Revolution score on a drab counter attack sucked. Watching the Revolution celebrate with the Eastern Conference Trophy sucked.

The thing that sucked the most was that in the 71st minute, I knew we wouldn't score, thus we were going to lose. I knew because I realized that even though our defenders and midfielders were winning the ball and pushing it forward, no one, I mean no one, was making a run off the ball towards the Revolution goal. I am not certain if this is because our midfielders would not make passes into the box in favor of an outside pass to try a cross; or if it was the other way around. No one made the runs, so the midfielders wouldn't even try the inside pass.

I really don't know. DC United actually looked pretty good tonight. They played great defense, except the shoddy goal that was allowed from Twellman. Erpen did not play the usual game that he had, meaning he didn't have his usual 2 brain farts and gift a chance on goal. Our attacking efforts sucked big time.

Steve Goff has been talking about the chance that United will sign a Brazilian forward for next season. I am really hoping that this happens. In first thoughts right now, I want to have Jaime move into the midfield, since he plays there anyhow, and have Gros move to the bench. Have a better true striker up front with Alecko. Someone who will take first shots. I also want Freddy to get into the habit to accept the pass, and already know who and where to pass to, after his first step. Have Donnet move into the starting 11, given that he knows what he is doing, just make sure he has the fitness.

We have three months, I will see everyone out at Maryland Soccerplex for the first match of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. I hope that Nowak, or whom ever they have at the helm, have figured out what the hell is going on, and how to get everything out of everyone.
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