Friday, December 22, 2006

Head Gear traded to Toronto FC?

Ok, I know I said I wouldn't post for a week, but WTF!!!???

DC United just traded away Alecko for a partial allocation. says that this free's up even more cash for United to sign a South American.

These two South Americans the club has been courting had better be awesome.

Bye Head Gear, I will miss you. Best of luck in the Great White North.

Off for a week.

I will be off for a week, as the Christmas time will be here and there will be many a beer to drink and such.

The EPL heats up with their Holiday blitz, something like 4 matches in a week. Will Manchester United hold onto their 2 point lead? I am hoping that they will, but we will see.

The transfer window opens on Monday, January 1st. Who goes where? Does MLS pull off any major signings? Red Bull New York has two DPA's, so it will be interesting to see if Real Madrid does lose Ronaldo to one of those two spots. What about Claudio (I can't spell his name) Reyna? Will he make his move from Man City to the Big Apple? Does LA pick up a second DPA for Donovan and bring in Becks?

DC United announced a new coach yesterday, and now we are getting some bad news about the stadium situation for Popular Point. When the transfer window opens, who will United bring in from Brazil or Argentina? Will Donnet stay, as he has been given a 50-50 shot at staying?

Alot is going to happen in the world of soccer in the next two weeks, so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

US Camp news.

Taylor Twellman has withdrawn from the USMNT Camp so that he may recover from his hernia operation. Bob Bradley has added Eddie Johnson as his replacement.

Hopefully this will help Eddie get his swagger back.

Danny Califf (Aalborg BK, Denmark) and Todd Dunivant (New York Red Bulls) were also added to the Camp roster today by Bob.

Soehn is the Coach.

Ok, the announcement was at 11am. I need to stop taking NyQuil during the day.

Now that we know who the coach is, we still need the rest to happen.

- Ownership finalized

- Transfer Window Acquisitions

- Any new stadium news

I am excited for next season, lets get this started.

3 & Out: Nowak is done.

Driving into work this morning, ESPN Radio announced that the 1pm DC United Press Conference was going to announce that Peter Nowak was being replaced by United Assistant Coach, Tom Soehn. Sure enough, I get into work and Steve Goff has the news already. Peter Nowak is moving on to become an Assistant Coach with the US National Team, working under Bob Bradley.

I think that this is a good move for both groups. It gives Peter a chance to work with the Nats and use his international experience to help shape the new USNMT. He will follow Bradley to the U-23 team if another coach comes in around May, which is a move that will help the Olympic team as they prepare for Beijing 2008. It could very well be setting Nowak up to be the Head Coach of the Olympic team, if Bradley becomes the regular National Team coach.

DC United will miss Peter Nowak, considering in his three seasons he has guided the club to the playoffs three times, won one MLS Cup and one Supporters Shield. I think that the club will be able to take what he instilled in them and move forward under Soehn. Considering that Soehn has been there for three years, the transition shouldn't be a problem, as Goff mentions in his article.

So we gotta wait until 1pm to see what United says, hopefully they have more than just the new coach to announce.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bradley’s 29

So Bob Bradley, USSF Interim Head Coach has named 29 current MLS players for his training camp that will open on January 4th, 2007. Most of the names on the list are MLS based USMNT regulars, as Donovan, Conrad, Albright, Twellman, Mastroeni, & Dempsey. Some of the names on the list are surprises and then you get to the names that just didn’t make the list.

Here is the roster that will setup camp in LA on the 4th.

Goalkeepers (4) – Joe Cannon (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Troy Perkins (D.C. United), Matt Reis (New England Revolution)

Defenders (9) – Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy), Bobby Boswell (D.C. United), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Bryan Namoff (D.C. United), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Heath Pearce (FC Nordsjælland), Dasan Robinson (Chicago Fire) Eddie Robinson (Houston Dynamo)

Midfielders (10) – Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), Brian Carroll (D.C. United), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Joshua Gros (D.C. United), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Brian Mullan (Houston Dynamo), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution)

Forwards (6) –Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nate Jaqua (Los Angeles Galaxy), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

The ones that are a little surprising are Beckerman, Namoff, Carroll, Gros, & Eskandarian. For some reason I haven’t seen that much of recent MLS play to give me the feeling that these guys are ready for the international stage, even one where they will be facing a Danish domestic side. Carroll is a really good defensive midfielder, but when I look at the squad, I see Clark and Mastroeni filling that role, and with Bradley not really being expected to run out a 3-5-2 formation, Carroll seems to be the odd man out. Gros is a great MLS winger and has tons of heart and energy, but even with DC United, I haven’t seen him produce the kind of finishing that is required in international play. I expect both of these two guys to be released back to DC United before the match on the 20th, as well as Eskandarian and Namoff. Beckerman had a great year for the Rapids and he might be the one on the list that surprised me because I didn’t expect him to make the invite.

The real mystery here is not who Bradley invites, but who he didn’t invite. Shockingly enough, Eddie Johnson didn’t make the roster. The wonder kid of 2006 qualifying has made a sudden exit off stage. I understand that he is having difficulties dealing with his current situation in Kansas City and he has been getting turf toe a lot lately, but the boy could score and once he gets his swing back, he should be able to rebound. Hopefully, he will get that swing back.

When ESPN aired the live unveiling of the 2006 USMNT World Cup roster, we saw Brian Ching selected over Taylor Twellman, (because of his 4 goal explosion on the opening day of MLS, in my opinion). Now we see Bradley leaving Ching off of his roster and adding Twellman. I don’t know if Bradley had contacted Ching and Brian requested a longer holiday, but one has got to figure that if Brian doesn’t want to get involved now, why should Bradley even come calling later?

So a guy goes out and scores 16 goals in MLS and leads the league in scoring. Does he get called up for a national team camp? Not if you are Jeff Cunningham. Cunningham has been called into a USMNT camp before, being called into the 08/17 WCQ vs. Trinidad & Tobago. I understand that being 30 might scare some people off, but the guy can score some goals and is a big and powerful forward. You put him up front with Twellman or Cooper and you would see them over power some defenses. I expected to see Jeff in the camp before I saw Jaqua.

Bradley does have some selections that might not be available, namely Jaqua and Dempsey. As Jaqua is currently trying to secure a job in Europe and Dempsey is all but moved to the EPL, those two slots will need to get filled. Whatever happens, I am excited to see that the USMNT is returning to action. I can’t wait to watch them against Demark and Mexico and I hope that the match against Ecuador is signed and is played at Giants Stadium, so I can attend.

USMNT vs. Ecuador March 25th

According to, the USMNT will most likely be hosting Ecuador at Giants Stadium on March 25th, 2007. This is to be the first of two matches in the USA for Ecuador, as they will face Mexico in Los Angeles around the 29th of March. Ecuador is planning on using these two matches as prep work for the 2007 CONMEBOL Copa America.

So the schedule between January first and the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup is becoming clearer for the USMNT. If this and the rumored March 28th match against Guatemala do get scheduled, the US schedule will look like this:

January 20th @ Home Depot Center: USA vs. Denmark
February 7th @ University of Phoenix Stadium: USA vs. Mexico
March 25th @ Giants Stadium: USA vs. Ecuador
March 28th @ Home Depot Center: USA vs. Guatemala

Overall, the choice of opponents is not that bad. Mexico is a very good side and we always play them well. Ecuador made it to the 2nd round of the 2006 World Cup, only to go out 1-0 against England. Guatemala is a potential Gold Cup opponent and a very good representation of several other CONCACAF teams, which makes them a good test for the Gold Cup. Demark will be a good test for the MLS roster and for Bob Bradley and his new coaching staff.

Unfortunately, I would have hoped for some travel in at least one of these matches. Playing at home, regardless of the crowd itself being pro-Mexican or pro-Ecuadorian, doesn't substitute the experience of traveling to a foreign nation and having to truly play away from home. Considering that this year will be when more and more new faces are brought into the team, maybe playing away in Guatemala would have been a better experience?

I understand that the gate revenues and the TV broadcast revenues are larger up here in the US, which leads alot of teams to request that we host them, but shouldn't the USSF be negotiating home and away matches? We host you this year, you host us maybe 8 months later or next year? If not, we ought to start.

In any case, I am planning on making the day trip up to The Swamp for this match, if it happens. It will be the first time I am ever rooting for the Home Team at Giants Stadium. Hope to see you all there.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sorry, most likely no posts today.

I most likely won't post anything much more than this today. Work is a little hectic and being sick doesn't help it.

A few things though:

Manchester United played like DC United, at the end of the MLS season. Their finishing was off and they looked like they were shocked that West Ham even took the field. Some times you have to get punched in the mouth to remember you are in a fight. Hopefully this was the only punch in the mouth they need from here until May.

Did Barcelona take a dive? Is FIFA secretly telling the UEFA clubs to lose to the CONMEBOL clubs to ensure that people pay attention to their little tournament? I doubt that any of this has happened, I just felt like typing it. Good for Internacional, congratulations!

Club America took it on the chin in their 3rd place match in the FIFA Club World Cup. Well, now they have two weeks off, then they travel to the USA for the Interliga. They really want Copa Libertadores glory anyways.

Well, hopefully, I will have something for tomorrow. There is evidently some "Pan-Pacific Tournament" getting some rumors tossed around, I might hit that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

USA vs. Guatemala in March?

According to La Red Deportiva, the USMNT will host Guatemala at the Home Depot Center on March 28th. According to the FIFA calendar, this date falls into the Official listing of dates for FIFA sanctioned matches. As FIFA has the 24th to the 28th set aside for two matches, and clubs must release their players 4 to 5 days before the first match, I see no reason for Bradley to not have all of his players available for this match and hopefully one more on the 24th.

One does have to question why the USSF would be scheduling a home date against a CONCACAF team when we know that we will be able to have the entire roster available and the European powers are free. Well, they might not be free as UEFA should have already scheduled the two dates as Euro 2008 qualifying dates. Switzerland and Austria, as hosts, do not need to qualify and should be available, so a trip to Europe should still be an option for the 24th of March. That said, I wouldn't schedule it.

My suggestion is to try and schedule an away match in either Central America or South America. Bob Bradley will only have roughly 5 to 6 months to get his coaching staff and line up ready for the Gold Cup and Copa America. The USMNT will not play a European side in either tournament, so being able to get matches in against countries we are either likely to face or who play a similar style of football to those who we will face in the two tournaments is a better option.

I would try and schedule a match with Costa Rica in San Jose for the 24th. Better yet, how about having the USMNT travel to Lima, Peru and take on the Peruvian National Team? How about Uruguay in Montevideo? Get the team out of the country, play in a foreign territory and have them see how it is in hostile conditions. Yes, I know the match in Phoenix will really be a "road game" but the players will still stay in American hotels and still be surrounded by Americans. Have them play the 24th outside of the USA. After giving the guys a taste of the outside world and what they might expect from the Copa America, then bring them back and have them play in Los Angeles.

Goalkeeper news and other stuff.

Manchester United have signed Edwin van der Sar to a one year contract extension, keeping the 36 year old Dutch keeper at Old Trafford until the end of the 2008 season.

Kevin Hartman has been shipped to Kansas City to play for the Wizards. As Hartman became expendable due to the arrival of Joe Cannon two weeks ago, everyone had to expect this. Hartman will most likely take over the starting job in replacement of Bo Oshoniyi.

In the FIFA Club World Cup 5th place match this morning, South Korea's Chonbuk Motors knocked off the Oceania Champion, amateur side Auckland City 3-0. Auckland City finished the tournament in 6th place and without a goal.

USA vs. Mexico

The USSF announced today the second worst kept secret in US Soccer; the USMNT will face Mexico in Glendale, Arizona on February 7th. The match will take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened this year. The NCAA BCS National Championship game as well as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will also take place at the University of Phoenix Stadium in January. According to the press release mailed out to subscribers, this will be the third time that the USMNT has played in Arizona.

"The U.S. Men's National Team will be making its first appearance at the University of Phoenix Stadium and only their third overall in the state of Arizona. The U.S. last played in the Grand Canyon State more than 12 years ago, defeating Norway 2-1 at Sun Devil Stadium on January 15, 1994 in Tempe. In their only other match, also in Tempe, the U.S. drew 2-2 with Denmark on Jan. 20, 1993." - US

I lived in Phoenix for 7 years, and went to ASU, they couldn't play at Sun Devil Stadium while I was there? Anyway, it should be a good match up. The match is being broadcast live on ESPN2 at 9pm EST.

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 Match Ups

So UEFA made their Champions League draw this morning, setting up some very interesting match ups. Here were my predictions from last week:

Chelsea vs. Inter Milan
Arsenal vs. Lille
Manchester United vs. PSV Eindhoven
Lyon vs. Celtic
AC Milan vs. Real Madrid
Bayern Munich vs. Roma
Liverpool vs. Barcelona
Valencia vs. FC Porto

Here are the actual match ups:

Chelsea vs. FC Porto
Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven
Manchester United vs. Lille
Lyon vs. AS Roma
AC Milan vs. Celtic
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
Liverpool vs. Barcelona
Valencia vs. Inter Milan

I find it very funny that the only one I got right was Liverpool vs. Barcelona. The two most recent champions duking it out in the 2nd round. It is a very good draw, but I don’t see Liverpool being anything more than a speed bump for Barcelona on their way to the Semi-Finals.

I got the Arsenal and Manchester United match ups reversed, as Lille plays Manchester United and PSV play Arsenal. Arsenal we given one of the better match ups of the second round, but I question whether or not Arsene Wenger’s men will get past PSV. I know that they were really expected to do much last season and they made it to within about 20 minutes of winning their first crown, but I think that the luck has run dry.

Manchester United was given the easiest draw of the round and that is what scares me. Jonah Freedman put Man U at #5 in his weekly Power Rankings on CNN/, citing their lazy attitude in form this season. When they get an early lead, they tend to sit back and try and coast out for the win. It isn’t until they get behind that they really apply the gas and take it to an opponent, just as they did against Benfica. Going up against a club that is universally accepted as the weakest of the 16 clubs left in the Champions League, I hope that they do not sleep walk into their two matches and blow this chance to finally advance to the Quarter Finals for the first time in 4 years. All in all, Manchester United should go through to the Quarter Finals.

Chelsea has been handed a relatively easy 2nd round match up, considering that the last two seasons they have been thrown into the lions den with Barcelona. FC Porto is by any means, not a push over, but then again, they aren’t Chelsea. Jose Mourinho leads his current club against his former club, so that should be an intriguing match up, one that Chelsea wins.

Lyon gets to take on AS Roma. If you remove Tottie, all you are left with is a club without a leader and without their leader, they really don’t stand a chance. Lyon are probably the best club in Europe right now and their place in the Quarter Finals is pretty much assured. After Roma, the march to Athens gets harder for the French League 1 leaders.

AC Milan was given Scottish Champions, Celtic. Regardless of their current domestic woes in Serie A, Milan should be able to handle the Bhoys and use their European run as a way of deflecting their problems in the league.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid. That is an intriguing match up and one that should provide us with two really good matches. The only catch with this match up is that both of these clubs have shown major problems in their form this season. Bayern won their group, winning their first three matches, then drawing the last three, and showed a major lack of focus in the last match as they allowed Inter to snatch the draw in the 90th minute. If they play as they did in the first three group phase matches, then they should give Madrid headaches, especially the back line which hasn’t been the strongest of defenses. If Madrid plays as they did against Barcelona in the first Classico this season, then they should be up for the challenge. If they play as they did against Lyon in the first match of the group phase, then Real will have plenty of time to focus on the La Liga title race.

Valencia takes on Inter Milan in was might be the dark horse of the 2nd round. Inter are steam rolling their way to their first legitimate Serie A title since the birth of Christ (just joking, but it seems like they haven’t won since then). Their form in the group phase wasn’t anything to write home to Mom about, but they advanced out of the group phase and this is where they usually get down to business. Valencia on the other hand, are sitting 9th in La Liga, yet they won their group with four wins a draw and a loss. Granted that their group was not a “Group of Death,” but they still took control of the group, which should allow them some very good momentum going into their match up with Inter. I believe that Inter gets to the Quarter Finals, but Valencia are more than capable of knocking off the Serie A leaders.

So here are my predictions for the 2nd Round: (Clubs in italics advance)

Chelsea vs. FC Porto
Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven
Manchester United vs. Lille
Lyon vs. AS Roma
AC Milan vs. Celtic
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
Liverpool vs. Barcelona
Valencia vs. Inter Milan

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Boca finished; Pachuca Celebrate; Barca Demolish

Well, perennial South American power house, Boca Juniors completed their self destruction last night, losing to Estudiantes 2-1. Boca, at the beginning of December, had a 6 point lead in the Argentine Apertura. They went on to lose their last three matches (including last night) and Estudiantes rolled out 12 wins in 13 matches (including last night) to win the Apertura, their first title since 1983. Boca coach Ricardo La Volpe resigned after his club lost what appeared to be a title that was theirs.

Well, Mexico and CONCACAF for that matter, finally broke its duck. Pachuca knocked of Chilean power Colo Colo 2-1 to win the two legged series 3-2 and take home their first Copa Sudamericana championship. This marks the very first time that a CONCACAF club has won a CONMEBOL tournament. I would assume now that Pachuca will now play against Internacional in the Recopa Sudamericana as that two legged championship pits the winner of the Copa Libertadores against the Copa Sudamericana champion.

Internacional has another club on its mind as of right now, as Barcelona destroyed CONCACAF champion, Club America 4-0 this morning at the FIFA Club World Cup. The dream final that FIFA has the tournament designed for will take place Sunday morning (EST). I might actually get up to watch that...or just DVR it.

According to DC United's homepage, DC United and MLS will have a major announcement at 1pm today. As the Washington Post reported, this should be announcing that RFK will host the 2007 MLS Cup. There is also a rumor that the final sale of DC United will be announced as well, but we won't hold our breath on that one will we?

Chelsea moved to within 5 points of EPL table leaders Manchester United with a 1-0 victory over Newcastle. Drogba scored the lone goal for Chelsea.

Lamar Hunt: 1932-2006

US Soccer Pioneer and Kansas City Chief's owner Lamar Hunt died last night from prostate cancer.

All thoughts and prayers for his family.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

MLS Cup 2007: RFK Stadium

Well, at least I won't need to travel far for my first MLS Cup.

According to Steve Goff at the Washington Post, MLS will announce tomorrow that DC United and RFK Stadium will host the 2007 MLS Cup.

Hopefully DC United will be able to play in the MLS Cup held in their own house.

A whole Mess of things happening today.

This is one busy day....

The Primera Division de Argentina will hold their final between Boca Juniors and Estudiantes La Plata. Because Boca imploded over the last two matches of the season, mixed with Estudiantes firing off 11 victories in 12 matches, both clubs finished with the same point total at the end of the season, which required a one match playoff final.

The CONMEBOL Copa Sudamericana final reaches its climax with the second leg of the two legged series between Chile's Colo Colo and Mexico's Pachuca. Both clubs finished the first leg in a draw at 1-1. The second leg takes place in Chile. This is the second straight year where a CONCACAF club has reached the Sudamericana finals, with PUMAS reaching the finals last season against Boca Juniors. I am pulling for Pachuca, as a win will give CONCACAF its first South American cup championship and will go a long way towards increasing the chances of more CONCACAF clubs taking part in CONMEBOL cup tournaments.

The FIFA Club World Cup is underway, with CONCACAF's Club America advancing yesterday to the semi finals with a 1-0 victory over South Korea's Chonbuk Motors. Club America will now take on UEFA Champion, Barcelona tomorrow. The first semi final match was held today with CONMEBOL Champion Internacional knocking off African champion Al Ahly Cairo 2-1 to reach the finals.

Steve Goff has a very good breakdown of the Freddy Adu trade to Real Salt Lake at the Washington Post.

And as expected, Brazil has formally entered its bid for the 2014 World Cup. FIFA will make their "decision" next November.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

That's a very nice suit.

Rock Star #1 (Grant Wahl) has a very good article that breaks down the Freddy Adu trade. Go check it out.

Brazil to toss its hat into 2014 World Cup ring.

So we all pretty much knew that Brazil was going to bid for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This week they will make their official entry into the bidding process. So the clock has started for Brazil and based on what Reuters is reporting, they are going to need even more time to get ready than South Africa does.

I wish them all the best, I really do. I just hope that FIFA doesn't price the Brazilian's out of the running.

Goff to the rescue.

I stated in my previous piece that RSL traded their Designated Player Allocation to DC United for Freddy. I was wrong, and I went to Steve Goff at the Washington Post for clarification on what the difference was between the DPA and a Major Player Allocation (MPA). Here is what Mr. Goff sent me:

" As stated in the press releases and stories, it's a major player allocation, which means MLS agrees to pay the contract of a player that DCU identifies, up to approximately $350,000 or $400,000. Things get complicated if a transfer fee is involved.

With the Beckham rule, each team is allowed to acquire a marquee player. The league pays his salary up to 400K, and the team is responsible for the rest.

Very few teams will take advantage of the Beckham rule this coming season because of the high cost involved. Maybe NY and LA.

DCU will probably use this Salt Lake allocation to acquire a player from the Brazilian or Argentine domestic league."

Thanks for the clarification Steve. You too are a rock star in my book.

Bid him Adu: RSL trade for Freddy and Nicky

Yeah, I missed this last night.

So Freddy is no longer with DC United...good. I have said it before, I wanted to see him leave the club before the 2007 season to get the club a fresh start and to allow Freddy to continue his development. If Freddy is going to a central attacking midfielder, he will not grow in that position while he is at DC United.

The funnier thing about this is that he went to RSL, and they have a partnership with Real Madrid, which is one of the clubs that Freddy has expressed his desire to play for.

As for the other guy who was traded, Nick Rimondo is a great goalkeeper and will help out RSL a lot. I will miss him here in DC, but he was making way too much money for a back up goalkeeper role. With Troy Perkins firmly established as the starting keeper, Nick did have a less than secure role with the club. I wish him well.

So what did United get from this? Well, in a surprise move, DC United became the second MLS club to trade for a second Designated Player Allocation (DPA). This is a good step in the right direction as this allows United to be able to attempt to lure in a higher profile striker or two from Europe or from South America. I really didn't expect DC United to try and use two of the DPA's, as I figured they might have to use their only one on Freddy, but so much for that.

The move is best for Freddy. He needs to be able to play in the central attacking midfield role that everyone knows he can play in, but conditions in DC wouldn't allow. Assuming that he is mature about his new situation, Freddy should be able to increase his growth and continue his march towards a job in Europe. RSL were able to get a quality goalkeeper, but they should know that Freddy will be leaving this summer, so they had better sell as many #9 Adu jersey's as possible right now.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Three title race impacts: Weekend review.

Well, one league title was decided over the weekend, one is going into extra time, and one title race had more drama injected into it.

Chivas de Guadalajara picked up their 11th Mexican title on Sunday with a come from behind 2-1 victory over Toluca. Chivas will now play in the 2007 CONCACAF Champions Cup as the Mexican Apertura champion. Toluca took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute, only to have Chivas storm back for 2 goals in the second half. Toluca was hosting the second leg of the two legged series. The first match was a draw at 1-1.

In Argentina, former Mexican National Team head coach, Ricardo La Volpe, now the boss at Boca Juniors, said Friday that he would resign if Boca did not win the Apertura championship, as they only needed 1 point. Well, La Volpe should still technically be in charge at Boca, as they didn’t lose the Apertura championship, but they still need to play some more football. Boca were stunned Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to Lanus. Estudiantes, who at the start of the day was 3 points back of Boca, picked up a 2-0 victory over Arsenal to set up a playoff for the Apertura championship.

An Arsenal of a different type took the field Sunday, this time in England in the EPL and they faced the current two time defending Chelsea and came away with a 1-1 draw. The draw, coupled with Manchester United’s 3-1 victory in the Manchester Derby, now leaves Chelsea 8 points back in the EPL race, with one match in hand. Even if Chelsea wins their extra match, Sir Alex Ferguson and his club will have a 5 point lead on the defending champs. Going into the ultra busy Christmas schedule, that 5 point lead might be a season breaker.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bradley it is.

USSF announced that Bob Bradley is now the U23 USMNT Head Coach and the interim USMNT coach. Bradley will oversee the USMNT as they start the 2007 campaign and prepare for the Gold Cup and Copa America. He will also head up the Olympic squad that will attempt to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

We waited 5 months for this?

Don't get me wrong, if you look at this alone, without any of the previous 5 months of news, rumors and such related to the coaching search, this doesn't sound that bad. Bradley most likely will be a great U-23 coach and one who should be able to form a squad that gets to travel to Beijing in 2008. As it is most often times understood that the U-23 coach is usually the primary assistant coach of the Head Coach of the USMNT, moving Bradley into this role makes sense. Have Bradley start the program up again, get the guys working and bringing new faces and be in a perfect situation to form the Olympic squad for CONCACAF qualifying.

So based on looking at this with a very blinded viewpoint, appointing Bradley the U-23 Head Coach, with interim National team status, USSF hasn't laid as big an egg as we all thought yesterday.

Now if you take the blinders off, this type of announcement should have been made once Chivas USA were eliminated from the MLS playoffs and the USSF still needs to find a Head Coach. I want, and I think a lot of other people want to have Sunil Gulati explain exactly where the SNAFU with Klinsmann occurred. Because you have to figure that he was the guy who was getting the job, from Gulati's eye.

If they were going to hire Pekerman or Queiroz, the situation would have been different. Pekerman is still without a job, so he could have moved right in and started his reign, and started his English classes. Queiroz is currently Sir Alex Ferguson's right hand and SAF has already shown that he will allow Queiroz to take off from Old Trafford for a head Coaching position, so there is little reason to believe that Queiroz would have asked for USSF to hold off until May 2007.

This all leads us back to Klinsmann. If Gulati was not going to hire Klinsi, why did the reports of Bradley get dropped on the heels of Jurgen withdrawing his name? Why would the press conference happened today and not last week? Klinsmann was the Mann, but not anymore.

On thing to re-examine is something I saw that Mike H. at My Soccerblog posted yesterday:

"Only a few people know all the reasons, but when I read that my mind went back to Bruce Arena saying Gulati is a micromanager." - My Soccerblog

If the cause of the break down in talks was the authority issue, be it authority over match scheduling, or authority over player selection or such, it does make on think that Arena was correct in Gulati's micromanager status. Micromanagers, in fields where you have to have multiple people running many things, like a sports team, do not work.

Take the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL for example. Jerry Jones bought the team and made his own changes. Jimmy Johnson won Jerry two Superbowls. After the second Superbowl Championship (Dallas' 4th overall), Jerry started to impose more of his own ideas an opinions on the coach, he even said something to the like of, "I didn't buy the Cowboys to just own them," or something like that. Jimmy left, and they failed to get to the Superbowl the next season. Granted they won it next season, wasn't that the last time they really had a powerhouse team? Didn't they get embarrassed in the playoffs against the Arizona Cardinals, at Texas Stadium no less? Jerry Jones owns the Cowboys, and as he owns them, he has every right to do whatever he wants with them. Sunil Gulati doesn't own the USMNT, so his micromanager persona should be checked at the door.

I hope that the interim that is attached to Bob Bradley's title is a real one and not just a smokescreen (there's that phrase again). Bradley is a good coach, but he hasn't got what it takes to get the USMNT to the next level, which is to consistently perform outside of CONCACAF, against countries outside of CONCACAF. Bruce Arena got us to this level, Bob Bradley looks to be only able to keep the USMNT at that level at a time that we need to be reaching higher.

Some more insight.

Grant Wahl is a rock star.

I have always enjoyed reading his articles on CNN/, but the piece that he has produced covering the Klinsi/USSF/Gulati debacle is truly one for everyone in a USMNT replica jersey should read.

Evidently there is a USSF conference call today at 12pm, which might be the press conference that Wahl is referring to. We should know more as we eat lunch.

Edit - I linked the US Soccer announcement.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Now that I can breathe again....

Wow. That was a sudden change in temperature.

For the last two months, people have been expecting that Jurgen Klinsmann, former World Cup winner and leader of the Mannschaft, would become the next head coach of the United States Men’s National Soccer team. Hell, most people already had Klinsi’s name on the office door. So much for that idea.

This all started with Fox having an article by Jamie Trecker confirming that Klinsmann had signed a contract that the USSF was just holding off on announcing things. Then several news outlets started running reports that the deal had not been finalized and that the USSF was still working on finding the new coach. Trecker still continued to defend his article on his blog and state that we just needed to give the issue time to unfold.

Well, unravel is more like it. Trecker’s own bosses ran the story first, claiming that Klinsmann has withdrawn his name due to being unable to agree with the power sharing of authority over the national program. Then CNN/SI posted their article, one which pretty much said the same thing, but really dropped a larger bombshell on us all. Bob Bradley, the current (well, former now I guess) head coach of Chivas USA is now the interim USMNT Head Coach and could become the full time coach in the near future.

As a friend of mine said in an email, “We had a choice between instant legitimacy and more MLS bred nonsense - guess which we chose?!”

The USMNT lays down worse than a girl on prom night at the World Cup, after all the hype and build up. The USSF then fires Bruce Arena, the guy who took the USMNT from a state of wholly hell and turned it into a credible CONCACAF power, one that could beat anyone in our region on any given day. Instead of having a guy waiting in the wings, Sunil Gulati waits until December to announce that Bob Bradley is the head coach?

Jurgen Klinsmann was the best thing that could have ever happened to the USSF. He would have given instant swagger and made our boys into men. Gulati claimed that the search for the next coach was not being rushed because he wanted to be sure that it was done right. Doing the right thing would have been giving Klinsmann whatever the hell he wanted. If he demanded he be carried around the training grounds like a Roman Emperor, then you hire guys to carry his chariot.

The USSF was made a fool in Germany, and now they have been made a fool by their actions. Giving someone a temp job, as Bradley seems to have right now, does nothing but set the USMNT up for failure. I almost don’t even want to watch them play anymore. I need a drink.

I need more time to see how this pans out, but any hope the US had at really recovering from the World Cup pretty much went away today.

Klinsmann is out!

DC United News: Gomez gets new offer.

According to the Washington Post, DC United has offered 2006 MLS MVP Christian Gomez a new two year deal which would replace the final year of his current contract and add another year, keeping him in DC until 2008. Right now, Gomez makes about $182,500, and the new deal would increase his salary to about $325,000 each season, with extra incentives included to increase his take home.

Hopefully Christian accepts this offer or the two sides reach some type of agreement that both keeps Gomez in DC and still rewards him for being the awesome playmaker that he is. If Gomez were to decide to bolt after next season, then I see that the start of the "rebuilding" years once again. First Gomez, Adu will leave this summer, then Moreno would most likely retire as well.

Speaking of Jaime, United picked up the option on his contract, which will keep our Captain in the Black & Red for at least one more season. Jaime is making close to $250,000 a season. At least that is one central player we needn't worry about for now. Hopefully his wife is sending him to the Landsdowne spa once a week over the off season.

The option on Matias Donnet's contract was not picked up, but United are still negotiating with Donnet in hopes of having him for next season. Goff seems to expect Donnet to return to Argentina or go overseas. This is too bad, I hoped that Donnet would be the heir apparent to Freddy's flanking spot, when Adu jumps ship for Europe in June.

Peter Nowak has yet to sign a new deal with United, but it does appear that he will be returning next season. Both Nowak and United technical director Dave Kasper just returned from a scouting trip to Brazil, where it is rumored that they are close to signing two new players, a Brazilian and an Argentinean. Hopefully these two players are ones that can move right in and provide some firepower for the club.

There is no word yet on whether or not Olympique Marseille has offered Brian Carroll a contract. Carroll has been in France on a trial with Olympique Marseille and played in a friendly match with the French club on Tuesday. Goff is reporting that if Olympique Marseille does offer Carroll a contract, United most likely would not be able to match it. Carroll becomes a free agent at the end of the month.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CONCACAF just got punked by FIFA

The FIFA governing body announced changes to the 2010 World Cup qualifying, namely the two playoff match ups. CONCACAF, who for the 2006 World Cup, had it's 4th place side play a home and away series with the Asian fifth place side for one of the 32 spots. The Oceania champion had to playoff against the 5th place CONMEBOL side for the 32nd spot.

Now, FIFA has the CONCACAF 4th place side playing the CONMEBOL 5th place side and the Oceania champion playing the Asian fifth place side. FIFA has also said that they are considering having the Oceania champion play in the later stages of the Asian qualifying, instead of a playoff. FIFA did not change the number of nations that make the Finals.

On the surface, this makes more sense than what they had been doing. Have the CONCACAF side play the CONMEBOL side and the Oceania side play the Asian side. They are closer in geography and in relationship. Like I said, on the surface, it makes sense.

In my gut though, CONCACAF just got punked by FIFA. I can honestly say, and no disrespect for those sides that usually fall at the 4th spot in CONCACAF, but the CONMEBOL sides will lose maybe one out of ten series in this setup. T&T really cannot stand up to a country like Chile, or Paraguay, or Peru, or Bolivia. Neither can Jamaica, Panama, Guatemala, or so on. Hell, the top three in CONCACAF (Mexico, USA & Costa Rica) would be hard tested in a home and away series with these countries.

If FIFA wants to have five CONMEBOL sides in the World Cup, then they should just grant a 4th spot to CONCACAF, grant CONMEBOL a 5th spot, give Africa a 6th spot then have the Oceania champion play the Asian 5th place. That would cover all the spots that Bloefeld needs for re-election and he will be all nice and happy.

Again, these changes make sense, but then again, Taxes make sense, I just don't like them either.

Blatter setting the stage for USA 2014?

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (Bloefeld) has been quoted as saying that Brazil is not assured of getting the 2014 World Cup and if South America is not able to handle the tournament, then FIFA will look north.

"'We have said that the 2014 World Cup will be staged in South America, but if there is no candidate strong enough then we would go north instead as the logical thing,' Blatter told a media conference following a two-day meeting of FIFA's executive committee." -

So does this actually mean that FIFA would look at the USA as hosting the event? Not really, in my eyes at least. Mexico could be considered as well for the tournament. If they are to consider moving north to CONCACAF, I would think that the USA would be the one they choose for several reasons.

1. Mexico has already hosted the tournament twice and I think that before FIFA grants anyone a third time around, they would most likely grant Italy or Germany that honor. Having hosted the event in 1986 also hurts their chances.

2. When the event was held in the USA in 1994, FIFA made the most revenue of any tournament, more than the 2006 tournament, if I am not mistaken. Granted the same problem affects the USA of just recently hosting the event, but FIFA might be more interested in those large $$$ than anything else.

3. With the state of the Euro (which could be anything in 2014) more Europeans might be able to afford the cost of travel here, so it would entice more fans to make the trip across the pond.

All in all, I really don't think what Bloefeld has said really amounts to crap. He was most likely just trying to hear his voice again. However, as I have said before, with the current FIFA regulations regarding who can host a World Cup, I do not think that Brazil will be able to fiscally meet those regulations, nor do I think they should. FIFA, through its new standards, are pricing the developing nations out of the hosting race.

Manchester United are Through!!!

And there was much rejoicing!!!!

Manchester United knocked off Benfica 3-1 today at Old Trafford to advance to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League. Benfica will move to the UEFA Cup. Ryan Giggs was the big hero of the match, with an assist on Vidic's goal that tied it up and scoring the match winner.

Not only did United move into the knock out phase, but they won the group with 12 points, as Celtic lost 3-1 to FC Copenhagen and advanced with 9 points. In my humble opinion, this might have been a pretty bad move on SAF & Co. Why do you say?

Well, as they finished first, as I understand it, United will play one of the clubs that finished in 2nd place. They will host the second leg of the two legged series as well. UEFA rules prohibit clubs from the same country from playing each other in the first knockout round, so United would not be able to play Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal. That is a mute point as all three finished first in their groups. The following is a list of potential opponents for United in the second round:

- Real Madrid
- Barcelona
- FC Porto
- Lille
- Celtic
- Roma
- PSV Eindhoven
- Inter Milan

No offense meant towards any of these clubs, but the only ones I would be ok with United facing would be AEK Athens, Celtic or Roma. The rest will be tough challenges.

Now if United had just qualified second, which as Celtic lost, was impossible, the first place clubs that they could have been drawn against are:

- Chelsea
- Liverpool
- Bayern Munich
- Lyon
- Valencia
- AC Milan
- Arsenal
- Celtic

As the UEFA rules would have eliminated Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal, United could have only faced Bayern, Celtic, AC Milan, Lyon or Valencia. Lyon are the only ones that scare me on that list. The road to the Quarter Finals would have been "easier" if they finished second in their group.

As I stated before, with Celtic getting smashed by FC Copenhagen, this is all a mute point. Manchester United would have finished first with a draw or the win. The big question now is who do they play and how tough a road will things be for the Red Devils?

Here are my predictions for the 2nd Round:

Chelsea vs. Inter Milan
Arsenal vs. Lille
Manchester United vs. PSV Eindhoven
Lyon vs. Celtic
AC Milan vs. Real Madrid
Bayern Munich vs. Roma
Liverpool vs. Barcelona
Valencia vs. FC Porto

The actual draw is conducted on the 15th, so we will see if any of these (which I pulled out of my ass) are correct or not.

Edit - I mistakenly claimed that AEK Athens has advanced instead of Lille. I have corrected this mistake.

Bozilla On

MLS Defender of the Year, Bobby Boswell of DC United was on for a live chat today.

Of all the questions and topics they covered, ranging from DC101's Water Wars to his childhood episode of "GUTS" to how much Josh Gros should be sold for, the one question that I pulled out is this one:

"Mario from Washington: Hey, I'm from D.C. and I was just asking your overall opinion on the season and where do you see the team going from this point on?

Bobby Boswell: I think we had a strong year, and we became more of a group. I'm glad we won the Supporters' Shield, however, I feel that we fell short in the Open Cup and MLS Cup. Those are things we're looking to change for next year."

Now we have all heard these types of statements before, of how they will step it up in the playoffs (bullshit) and of how they know what to do (bullshit again). However, I did like that Bozilla mentioned the fact that one of the best things that came out of this last season was that the squad has grown tighter, become a group. Having the right mix of chemistry going into next season will be essential for any success the club has. With DC United looking at 3 tournaments and the MLS regular season, the chemistry might be the only thing they have to fall back on.

News & Notes: 12/06/2006

USMNT and now former Kansas City Wizards Forward Josh Wolff has been signed to a contract with 1860 Munich until the end of the 2007/08 season.

DC United defensive midfielder Brian Carroll took the field yesterday in a friendly match for Olympique Marseille. It appears that if Carroll did well, he will be offered a contract when the January Transfer window opens. Keeping Clyde Simms is looking more and more like a good idea.

NY has a good article about Jonathan Spector and how he is doing at West Ham United in the EPL.

Sir Alex Ferguson and his boys at Manchester United face their own little Champions League Final today at Old Trafford as they host Portugese club Benfica in the final match of the UEFA Champions League Group stage. United and Benfica played each other in this very same match last season, with United losing 2-1 and getting bounced from the Champions League. If United fails to pick up 1 point, they will be dropped to third place in their group and will be dropped to the UEFA Cup tournament. This season's Manchester United, regardless of their last two 1-0 losses, is a different side than the one that failed in Europe last season. I have a feeling that they will get the 1 point needed to move on.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Anyone's Guess or Still a Smokescreen

So far, the worst kept secret in US Soccer is that Jurgen Klinsmann "might" be the next coach of the USMNT. Will he or will he not? When will he or when will he not?

According to a post this morning on, Jaime Trecker is saying yes and we will all be in on his info in the next two weeks, according to an un-named source. So Jaime says Jurgen inside two weeks.

Over on, they say hold on! USSF has told them, again through an un-named source, that Gulati has not stopped collecting frequent flyer mileage and the USSF has not decided on a coach.

So who's un-named source has the better info? Why does this seem like a really lame episode of the "X-Files?" You know, the ones at the end when Duchovny left and the T-1000 was on with Scully? Where is Cancerman when we need him?

As far as I care now, I know that the USSF will name a coach by January 20th...maybe.

Gooch to Real Madrid?

According to the rumor's page on CNN/, Real Madrid are courting Oguchi Onyewu.

"Real Madrid have made a bid for Standard Liege defender Oguchi Onyewu before the transfer deadline in August.-- eurosport" - CNN/

This would be friggin awesome if this actually was true. Here is the link to the actual story.

Monday, December 04, 2006

DC United announce Season Openers

DC United announced that they will be on the road for the 2007 MLS Season opener, helping the Colorado Rapids open their new stadium, Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday April 7th. They then return home and open up the home campaign at RFK with the Kansas City Wizards visiting on the 14th. DC United will have a home match before this as they will be hosting the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions Cup series with CD Olimpia, either on February 28th or March 1st.

Cool, now let us know if Nowak is coming back, who our "Brazilian Striker" is, and if we will have a sponsor on the front of the jersey.

MLS a Trend setter?

Everyone's favorite blow hard, Sepp Blatter, has come out today to suggest that all of the major European club leagues switch the season schedules from the September to May schedule to a February to November schedule. MLS currently operates pretty much that very schedule, April to November. The Brazilian league does as well.

Blatter feels that the seasons remaining in a calendar year and giving the winter months off, would be beneficial to the players. He failed to mention how this would affect the FIFA cash cow, sorry, the World Cup. He did say that there could be a three week period between the seasons for international qualifiers.

He also touted the 6 plus 5 rule which requires clubs to field six players from the country that the club resides. Blatter feels that enforcing this rule would raise the level of play among nations that are getting swamped by foreign players. He also feels that this would assist in helping the supporters in identifying with the clubs.

Some times I think he talks just so he can hear his voice. The schedule would make some sense, but I think the current schedule is fine. I also want to know if FIFA would be willing to move the World Cup to the winter and if it was moved, how much money FIFA would lose from the Cup and the travel and weather conditions would potentially force supporters to stay home instead of traveling to the World Cup.

News & Notes: 12/4/2006

Manchester United extended their lead atop the English premiership to 6 points on Saturday with a 2-1 road victory over Middlesbrough. Louis Saha redeemed himself with a 19th minute penalty kick. Chelsea had the weekend off and will not play another league match until the 10th, when they play Arsenal.

Boca Juniors are still in search of the final death blow for their latest league championship, which would be their third straight.

The Mexican Apertura league final has been set: Toluca vs. Chivas. Chivas drew 0-0 with Club America to advance with a 2-0 goals aggregate. Toluca knocked off the defending champion Pachuca 1-0 in the second leg of their two leg series. The first leg was a draw, 1-1. Pachuca will be traveling to Chile for the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana finals against Colo Colo, held on December 13th.

The University of North Carolina Lady Tar Heels won their 18th National Championship Sunday, defeating previously undeafeted Notre Dame 2-1.

The University of California - Santa Barbara Gauchos picked up their 1st ever NCAA National Championship, defeating heavily favored UCLA 2-1 on Sunday.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cannon Traded to Galaxy

Damn it.

Ok, the Galaxy just got so much better. Hartman is expendable, as he pretty much has been all of last season. Cannon is going to instantly make the Galaxy a much better defensive side next season, to go with the offensive powderkeg that they were at the end of last season.

Damn it.

Larsson loan to Old Trafford

Former Celtic and Barcelona striker, Henrik Larsson has agreed to a three month loan spell with Manchester United. He will report in January after the transfer window is opened. His loan term ends in March, as the Swedish league starts. As Larsson's club, Helsingborg did not play in the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Cup, Manchester United will be able to have him suit up for either event (assuming that Benfica denies United a second straight year).

Finally a club starts addressing areas that it needs to fix, rather than bringing in guys who might just sit on the bench. This should save SAF from having to drop a ton of cash on Torres from Atletico Madrid and it might even open up the chance that Carlos Tevez* could move to Old Trafford in the off season. Hopefully Larsson will be able to give Saha and Rooney some rest here and there and provide some goals as well. Hell, if he provides the type of spark that he did in the Champions League Final for Barcelona, that is more than anyone could ask for.

* - Yes, I know that this is a pipe dream, but damn it, it is my pipe dream! Tevez would make a great addition to the United roster, and with Rooney, Tevez and Saha all rotating in and out of the United line up, United would be able to give them all proper amounts of rest as well as ensure that they have world class strikers on the pitch in just about every match.

News & Notes: 12/1/2006

Jonah Freedman has a pretty good article about the Red Bulls and how they are trying to acquire Claudio Reyna from Manchester City, despite other reports that Captain America is not looking to leave. He also has this weeks Power Rankings up.

Pachuca scored first in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Colo Colo, only to have Suazo knot things up at 1-1 in the 51st minute, which is how the match finished. Pachuca now travel to Chile for the second leg of the finals, which are held on December 13th.

Chivas took a 2-0 lead in the first leg of their Mexican Premier Division semi-final series with Club America.

Chicago's Solder Field will host the semi-finals and the finals of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Other venues being used for the tournament include the Home Depot Center, the Orange Bowl, and Giants Stadium.
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