Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Magath out at Bayern.

Well, I missed this when it came out.

Bayern Munich seems to have fired Felix Magath today, after dropping 5 points from their last two matches in the Bundesliga. Bayern now sit in fourth place in the Bundesliga. Magath has been replaced with Ottmar Hitzfeld, the same man who Magath replaced.

Magath guided Bayern to two consecutive seasons in which they won the German double; the Bundesliga championship and the German Cup. Bayern have already been bounced from the German Cup tournament earlier this season, so a defense of that double is not possible. Bayern have advanced to the knock out stage of the UEFA Champions League and will face Real Madrid.

Ottmar Hitzfeld will guide the club at least until the end of the season. Hitzfeld was replaced in 2004 by Magath.

I can take this event in two ways and both of them have something to do with a guy who is currently a shitty Chelsea midfielder, Michael Ballack.

On one hand, this has everything to do with the departure of Ballack to Chelsea. Without his presence and creativity in the midfield, Bayern has been unable to really get any type of presence on the pitch this season. The absence of Owen Hargreaves due to injury and mentally because of the expressed interest from Manchester United hasn't helped the Bayern midfield this season. Mark Van Bommel was brought in to "try" and replace Ballack, but his touch just isn't the same. The sudden retirement of Deisler was yet another blow to the weak midfield to boot. So the Bayern Munich club that has slipped to 4th in the Bundesliga and has been dumped from the German Cup is not the one that won two straight German doubles. This firing has more to do with Ballack leaving the club than anything else.

Or does it?

Is this the final act in a very revealing performance that has shown that Felix Magath isn't really that great a coach? Sure he guided Bayern to two straight doubles, but did the success of the last two seasons have that much to do with Magath running the ship or with Ballack in the midfield? Magath never won a championship as a manager until he was given the keys to the most talented club in Germany. Now that the club no longer has the main creative spark, he has been unable to guide FC Hollywood to the top of the league. Are we seeing that Magath really cannot coach a squad the doesn't have a truly gifted and talented midfielder running the match? I think we have.

I hope that Hitzfeld can turn things around for the club. They have to face an equally unimpressive Real Madrid squad that will probably have a new coach either before or right after that face Bayern, so if Hitzfeld is to steady the ship, that will be where he has to hit the mark. One has to expect that if Hitzfeld fails to get Bayern to the Semi Finals of the Champions League and fails to climb to at least 2nd in the Bundesliga (which I still think they can win) he will be sacked at the end of the season and a new face will be brought in.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Manchester United vs. Portsmouth Highlights

Pretty good highlights package from the weekend FA Cup tie between Manchester United and Portsmouth.

Real Salt Lake = Real St. Louis?

Well, this will be yet another reminder for Garber & Co. to ensure that any new club that joins MLS must have a Soccer Specific Stadium approved and already under construction. Real Salt Lake’s SSS has just been torpedoed by the Mayor of Salt Lake County, calling the proposed $30 million dollar investment in the stadium infrastructure an “unsafe investment.” Current owner, Dave Checketts has said that he might sell the club, but nothing major will happen at least during the 2007 season. Moving is an option along with a sale.

I still find it funny that this is a shock to anyone. Checketts had been running into brick wall after brick wall in his attempts at getting a stadium. I honestly see only two outcomes from this SNAFU: either the club will be moved or the club will be contracted. The biggest factor would be if Checketts retains ownership of the club or not.

If Checketts retains ownership, expect him to move the club to either St. Louis or to Seattle. St. Louis is the more logical location, as he owns the St. Louis Blues NHL team and there is a stadium plan already in the works outside of the city, one that has local government support. Seattle is another option, but one that is less likely as there is no stadium truly available and none in the works.

If there is contraction, which will lead to another surplus of available, seasoned players for the rest of the league. As MLS is planning to add their 14th club in the 2008 season, I can see Garber doing almost everything possible to retain the RSL club, which wills most likely lead to them moving and getting rebranded. I think that Garber & Co. will be less likely to allow for contraction as they were when the two Florida clubs ended up folding. This makes me feel that we will see RSL move to St. Louis next season, have Kansas City (who is currently homeless and could be facing a relocation/rebranding as well) or Chicago get moved back to the West. If St. Louis is the city that RSL relocates to, that would leave Cleveland, San Jose and Philadelphia as the primary front runners for the 14th expansion slot. Everyone should expect Garber & Co. to lobby hard for San Jose to return, which would help balance out the league and the conferences.

Now if we consider that Checketts has stated that he is uncertain if he will retain ownership of the club, this could be the perfect option for San Jose to return to the league. Think of it: The Lewis Wolff and John Fisher are currently working to bring the Earthquakes back and they are working on a deal for a new SSS in San Jose which would be ready by the 2009 season. They could buy RSL from Checketts; move the club to San Jose for the 2008 season, which they would play in Spartan Stadium. The 2009 season would see the opening of the new stadium and have the Earthquakes move into their new home.

If this did happen, we would still see the West composed of six clubs and in the 2008 expansion, we would see Cleveland join the league and see Kansas City move to the Western Conference. This would also hinge on whether or not Kansas City remains in Kansas City, but that is another can of worms that we can open later.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Soccer New & Notes: 1/29/2007

This is alittle late, but work is actually getting in the way today.

Gooch loaned to Newcastle.
US International defender, Oguchi Onyewu was reportedly moving to French Lige 1 side, Marseille as of Friday, now appears to be moving to EPL side Newcastle. Instead of opting for a permanent move away from the Belgian Jupier League, Onyewu will be moving to Newcastle on loan for the rest of this season. Onyewu was in Newcastle today for his medical.

As this is just a loan move, I hope that leads to something bigger. Six months in the EPL will be good for Gooch, as he will still get to go up against some of the better sides in Europe. Newcastle will still face Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea in the league as well as a UEFA Cup clash with SV Zulte Waregem in the UEFA Cup. As Standard Liege were eliminated in the first round of the UEFA Cup, Onyewu should be cup tied and would not be eligible for the tie with SV Zulte Waregem.

I am hoping though that this either leads to a permanent move to Newcastle, or a move to a larger league and to a club that will provide him with some chance of Champions League matches next season. If this is just for six months and ends up not moving him up in the league structure in Europe, I really will not see the point.

DC United begins 2007 training.
DC United started their 2007 campaign today in sub freezing weather as they prepare for the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the MLS season. They will be spending the first week in DC, then head down to Florida for the next week of training.

Manchester United moves on in the FA Cup.
Behind two Wayne Rooney goals, Manchester United downed Portsmouth 2-1 in a very even match. United looked a little lackluster through most of the match, until Rooney was sent onto the pitch in the second half.

They will face their third EPL side in the FA Cup tournament, this time facing Reading. Their match either the 17th or 18th of February at Old Trafford.

Where's Onyewu? is now claiming that Gooch is having a medical in Newcastle for a loan deal from Liege. Where is he going? Is he going anywhere?


Friday, January 26, 2007

Gooch to Marseille

CNN/ is reporting that US International Defender, Oguchi Onyewu had been transferred to French club Marseille. The transfer fee is reported at $4 million. It is unclear when Gooch will be joining his new club. It seems that the contracts will be signed over the weekend and he will be starting once he arrives.

I feel that this is a good move for Gooch. Marseille are currently second in Ligue 1, so if they can keep their position, Onyweu will definitely see Champions League football next season. This gives him a higher profile club and league to play in, which should allow him to increase his skills and better his experience. I also think that this move should rule out any chance of Gooch getting a call up for the February 7th USMNT match against Mexico.

Happy for you Gooch!


No Davids for FC Dallas

Edgar Davids signed an 18 month contract with Ajax today, moving from Tottenham. FC Dallas had been in talks with Davids about coing to MLS, which seemed to have failed.

I am really not that upset over this non-signing. Davids is really not the type of player that I think MLS should be trying to lure here with the DPA. I really cannot see Davids having the type of performance impact on the field with FC Dallas, in the way that Beckham and Reyna should have for their clubs. I think that Davids has lost more of a step in comparison to the other two guys.

It is interesting that MLS has now lost two potential DPA targets (Ronaldo & Davids), making them 2 for 4. There are only 5 days left before the close of the transfer window so if anymore DPA's are going to come into the league, they will most likley have to wait until the summer transfer window. Steve Goff of the Washington Post mentioned that most MLS clubs wouldn't use their DPA this season, because the $400,000 is still a huge cap hit on a club that has a cap of $2.2 million. Considering that MLS should increase the cap again after the 2007 season, I think more clubs will try and take advantage of it in 2008.


Always ask who your tattoo artist supports before you get a tattoo...

Want to know why? Go check this out.

Tattoo coup
Local rivalries, of course, are a worldwide phenomenon, and few are more fierce than that surrounding the Buenos Aries clásico between CA River Plate and CA Boca Juniors. And so, returning to the lavatorial theme established earlier, we bring this delicate tale from Argentina. A teenage Boca fan was pondering how best to show his love for the former home of Diego Maradona, and decided to have the club crest tattooed on his back. So he approached a professional, who sure enough got to work.

Perhaps there was a little pain, but it was all worth it, and when it was done the young supporter, who we feel best remains nameless, returned home to show off his new adornment to his parents. Unfortunately the tattooist was a River Plate fanatic, and had etched an, er, old fella, that is to say a gentleman's organ, well something every rude anyway on to the Boca-backer's back. The victim, who is considering mounting a lawsuit, told Terra newspaper: "I could not see what he was tattooing because he didn't have a mirror. I only saw it when I got home and showed it to my parents."

Crumbs. A police spokesperson, not sharing Off the Ball's delicate sensibilities, announced: "The tattooist supports Boca Junior's rivals, River Plate, so he got annoyed when the teenager asked him to tattoo Boca's symbol and decided to tattoo a penis instead. Unbelievable!"

That had to hurt.

DC United SuperLiga match moved to Houston

DC United was unable to secure an alternate venue for the final group match of the SuperLiga against Houston, so the match was moved to Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, August 1st. RFK Stadium had been selected to host this match, but unfortunately, MLS never bothered to check the RFK schedule and failed to see that the Washington Nationals, the MLB ball club, will be in the middle of a three game series with the Cincinnati Reds that night.

DC United tried to get the match moved to Richmond, Baltimore or Philadelphia, but none of those options materialized. So now the match will take place at Robertson Stadium.

This sucks for the United supporters, as we were getting the chance to see all three group phase matches at home. However, I actually see this as a better thing for the club. This will give them at least one away match, which will make things more interesting and challenging. Would it have been easier to play all three matches at home? Yeah, sure it would have been, but since MLS never bothered to even check logistics of their scheduling, United now have a road game. It's not like the end of the world, its just Houston.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is the USMNT schedule too soft?

This is a question running the halls of the internet rumor mills. Considering the question, I decided to take a look at the current schedule and compare it to the 1999 schedule and the 2003 schedule, considering those were the last two World Cup rebound years.

First the current 2007 USMNT schedule looks like this:

1/20 vs. Denmark
2/7 vs. Mexico
3/25 vs. Ecuador
3/28 vs. Guatemala
6/6 – 6/24: CONCACAF Gold Cup (minimum 3 matches)
6/26 – 7/15: CONMEBOL Copa America (minimum 3 matches)

So the USMNT has already started their 2007 campaign with a 3-1 victory over a Denmark squad made up of domestic based players, in Los Angeles. That is fine considering that the USMNT was made up of 95% domestic players as well, and the two that didn’t play in the USA, played in Denmark. Their next match is set for a second home match against their biggest rival, Mexico. This match is being played in Phoenix Arizona, so everyone should expect to see a very large and loud pro-Mexico crowd, giving the match an away game feel.

After the February match in Arizona, the team takes almost two months off and returns to action in Tampa, Florida for another home game against 2006 World Cup 2nd round participants, Ecuador. As this match is the first of two in the FIFA official match dates, one should expect to see both teams’ field full squads of first choice players. Three days after that match, the USMNT travels to Dallas, Texas for their fourth consecutive home match, this time against Guatemala. This match is also on an official FIFA date, so the USMNT will be able to field its strongest side.

The month of April and May are currently clear of any USMNT matches, which isn’t to say that there aren’t any in the works, but right now, they ain’t got anything scheduled. Rumor has it that Ireland will be an opponent in late May, as they are scheduled to face Ecuador in NYC, but as there haven’t been any reports to confirm this, we will leave it off the schedule.

That leads us to the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is played in the USA, so the USMNT will have their group stage matches (3 matches) all on home soil. Assuming that they make it to the final, which is held in Chicago, the USA would have played 10 matches in 2007, all at home. Worst case scenario has the USMNT knocked out of the tournament in the group stage, which would only give them the three matches; they still would have never played away from home.

Directly after the end of the Gold Cup, the USMNT will travel to Venezuela for the CONMEBOL Copa America. This will be the first time that the USMNT will step foot outside of the USA in 2007. They will be in a group with three other CONMEBOL nations (the draw is on February 14th) but assuming that they go out in the first round, they will have added three more matches to their schedule. Unless they go completely tits up (great British phrase btw) they should make it to the second round, so lets say they will have played 14 matches by the middle of July (assuming they make it to the Gold Cup final).

Based simply on the schedule up to July 15th, that is the USMNT schedule.

Here is the schedule that the USMNT had in 1999, the year after taking 32nd in the 1998 World Cup in France:

Feb 06 99 W 3-0 Germany Jacksonville, FL
Feb 21 99 W 2-1 Chile Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Mar 11 99 W 3-1 Guatemala Los Angeles, CA (USA'99)
Mar 13 99 L 1-2 Mexico San Diego, CA (USA '99)
Jun 13 99 W 1-0 Argentina Washington, DC
Jul 17 99 W 2-1 Derby County Denver, CO
Jul 24 99 W 2-1 New Zealand Guadalajara, Mex. (Conf. Cup)
Jul 28 99 L 0-1 Brazil Guadalajara, Mex. (Conf. Cup)
Jul 30 99 W 2-0 Germany Guadalajara, Mex. (Conf. Cup)
Aug 01 99 L 0-1 Mexico Mexico City, Mex. (Conf. Cup)
Aug 03 99 W 2-0 Saudi Arabia Guadalajara, Mex. (Conf. Cup)
Sep 08 99 D 1-1 Jamaica Kingston, Jamaica
Nov 17 99 L 0-1 Morocco Marrakesh, Morocco

So the USMNT actually started off one month later than they did this year. They started with six straight home matches, four of those matches having opponents that advanced to the 2nd round of the 1998 World Cup (Germany, Mexico, Argentina & Chile), two of them making the Quarter Finals (Germany & Argentina). One of their six home matches was against an English club team in their preseason training, so that should actually not even count (no offense to Derby County supporters).

The USMNT didn’t venture abroad until late July when they traveled to Mexico for the FIFA Confederations Cup, which they finished in third place. In the Confederations Cup, they faced four teams that had qualified for the 1998 World Cup, losing to Brazil and Mexico, beating Germany and Saudi Arabia. Considering that most national teams that have taken part in the Confederations Cup have sent squads that have been less than their first teams, these results can be double sided. The fact that the US was able to post two victories over Germany with a combined score of 5-0 does show that the US was making good strides in 1999.

Their last two matches of 1999 were also outside of the country, one in Jamaica and one in Morocco. These, in my opinion are two of the better matches that the USSF scheduled for the USMNT that year. Traveling to Kingston and having to play in front of 20,000 Jamaican supporters is such a different environment than playing at Crew Stadium. On that same note, traveling to Morocco was a great idea. Africa is one of the parts of the world that the USMNT hasn’t been able to get that much experience playing in. Considering that the 2010 World Cup is being held in South Africa, something tells me that two or three trips to the continent should be arranged before 2010. If the US wins the 2007 Gold Cup, they will take part in the 2009 Confederations Cup, which is held in South Africa, so they will get some exposure.

All in all, the 1999 schedule matches up better than the current 2007 schedule. The 1999 schedule had some better opponents scheduled outside of the Confederations Cup, namely Germany, Chile and Argentina. The schedule also had the team traveling to more locations outside of the USA. Based on this, I am hoping that the USSF does schedule one more match before the Gold Cup, hopefully against a potential Copa America opponent and one that did make it to the World Cup.

Now switching gears to the 2003 schedule:

Jan 18 03 W 4-0 Canada Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA
Feb 08 03 L 0-1 Argentina Miami, FL, USA
Feb 12 03 W 2-1 Jamaica Kingston, Jamaica
Mar 29 03 W 2-0 Venezuela Seattle, WA, USA
May 8 03 D 0-0 Mexico Houston, TX, USA
May 26 03 W 2-0 Wales San Jose, CA, USA
Jun 08 03 W 2-1 New Zealand Richmond, VA, USA
Jun 19 03 L 1-2 Turkey St. Etienne, France (Conf. Cup)
Jun 21 03 L 0-1 Brazil Lyon, France (Conf. Cup)
Jun 23 03 D 0-0 Cameroon Lyon, France (Conf. Cup)
Jul 06 03 W 2-0 Paraguay Columbus, OH, USA
Jul 12 03 W 2-0 El Salvador Foxboro, MA, USA (GC ’03)
Jul 14 03 W 2-0 Martinique Foxboro, MA, USA (GC ’03)
Jul 19 03 W 5-0 Cuba Foxboro, MA, USA (GC ’03)
Jul 23 03 L 1-2 Brazil Foxboro, MA, USA (GC ’03)
Jul 26 03 W 3-2 Costa Rica Miami, FL, USA (GC ’03)

So in 2003, the year after their Quarter Final run in the 2002 World Cup, the USMNT played 16 matches. Four of those matches were played outside of the USA. Seven matches were in FIFA tournaments (Confederations Cup and Gold Cup). Seven of their opponents qualified for the 2002 World Cup (Brazil, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Turkey, Cameroon, Mexico, & Argentina) and four of them made it to the second round of the tournament (Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, & Paraguay). The list of opponents is one that is pretty balanced and did have a few heavy hitters in the group, namely Brazil & Argentina.

When comparing the 2003 schedule to the 2007 schedule, the pre-tournament schedule that looks the more challenging has to be the 2003 schedule. The trip to Jamaica is a tougher trip, just as I outlined for the 1999 schedule. The Argentina match in Miami could not have been in front of a pro USA crowd and the Houston draw against Mexico was far from a pro USA crowd. Granted the 2007 match against Mexico in Arizona will be just as “friendly,” so these two sort of cancel each other out in terms of schedule strength.

That still leaves the Argentina match and the trip to Jamaica. The 2007 schedule doesn’t really have anything like either of these two matches. The Tampa match against Ecuador might be able to create a less than pro USA atmosphere, but Argentina and Ecuador are not on the same level when it comes to player performance or skill. Seeing how the USSF has yet to really schedule an away match (other than the Copa America) for the 2007 schedule, I would have to say that the 2007 schedule is definitely softer than the 2003 schedule.

So, in comparison, the two most recent World Cup rebound years, 1999 & 2003, had tougher schedules than the current 2007 schedule for the USMNT. The 1999 schedule had tougher opponents scheduled for the first part of the year, and had more away matches scheduled. The 2003 schedule had 1 more away but still had better opponents scheduled, and in tougher venues. I have to say that unless the USA reaches the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which should guarantee a match up with Mexico in the final, the USSF should begin looking for tougher opponents for the USMNT to match up against.

Another avenue of choice for the USSF to strengthen the 2007 schedule is to schedule at least 1 or 2 more away matches, in addition to the Copa America matches. Even if they are away matches to play Panama in Panama City or play El Salvador in San Salvador, these types so of away matches would provide the USMNT with a different environment than playing at home. Players learn more playing away from home, in less than friendly conditions and it will help prepare the players for the Copa America and Gold Cup.

All USMNT 1999 & 2003 schedule information taken from


Soccer News & Notes: 1/25/2007

MLS 2007 All Star Game
MLS is set to announce the 2008 MLS All Star Game today at 1:30pm in Colorado. They should be announcing that the match will be held at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and that the MLS All Stars will be playing Celtic.
Ronaldo sold for €7.5 Million
Gol TV is reporting that Real Madrid have agreed to a €7.5 Million transfer fee to for Ronaldo to transfer to AC Milan. FSC is reporting that the fee is just €7 Million. Ronaldo is expected to be able to arrive in Milan today for his medical.
So much for RBNY getting Ronnie. At least the got Reyna.
Chelsea into Carling Cup Final
Chelsea blasted Wycombe 4-0 to win their semi-finals series 5-1 to advance to their second Carling Cup final in three years. It appears that the Blues will be facing Arsenal in the final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, as Arsenal secured a 2-2 draw at White Heart lane against Tottenham. The second leg of the series is set for next week at Emirates Stadium.
Spurs free to Round of 16
Tottenham were gifted a bye to the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup after Feyenoord were tossed from the tournament due to their supporters being too unruly. This decision is subject to an appeal from Feyenoord.

USMNT Roster announced.

USMNT Interim Head Coach announced his roster for the February 7th match against Mexico at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. All in all, the roster is only five players different than the one that was called into camp for the Denmark match. Mullan and Noonan have been left out due to injury and Califf and Pearce have returned to Denmark to start their pre-season training with their clubs. Taylor Twellman has been added to the roster after recovering from hernia surgery.

Goalkeepers (4) – Joe Cannon (Los Angeles Galaxy), Matt Pickens (Chicago Fire), 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), Todd Dunivant (New York Red Bulls), Bryan Namoff (D.C. United), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Dasan Robinson (Chicago Fire) Eddie Robinson (Houston Dynamo)

Midfielders (7) –Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), Brian Carroll (D.C. United), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Joshua Gros (D.C. United), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)

Forwards (6) –Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas Cit y Wizards), Nate Jaqua (Los Angeles Galaxy), Chris Rolfe (Chicago Fire), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution

The status of any European based players coming in will be decided a week before the match. Bradley has requested that eight players be released from their clubs in Europe for this match, there is no word on who those players are at this time.

I like the inclusion of Twellman as I think that a top strike-force of Cooper and Twellman would be a very strong tandem up top. If Bradley moves Donovan in right behind them, I think that the three of them should be able to provide enough problems for the Mexican back line to bring their midfielders back in support, cutting off their lines of attack.

I am a little unhappy that Califf and Pearce left the squad already. I thought that the Mexico match would be a really good for Pearce to be able to follow up his claims at being the best left back the US has. Playing against a Denmark B team is one thing; playing against Mexico and having a good match would definitely add weight to his statement.

Assuming that the European based players do not get released, here is the starting line-up I would trot out against Mexico:


Robinson - Boswell - Conrad - Bornstein


Beckerman - Mapp


Cooper - Twellman

Now considering that we all should expect to see a few of the European based players, this line-up would change. I think that we will see the following players called over from Europe:


I would have expected to see Deuce and Gooch, but Deuce just moved to London and probably still needs to get used to the surroundings and his club. Gooch will depend on if he moves and what type of move happens for him. If he goes to Chelsea, he probably wouldn’t be brought over for this match. If he is signed with Lyon (and considering they have lost two straight matches, they might push for his services) there is a chance they would leave him with Liege for the rest of this season on loan, in which case he would be in better shape for a quick trip across the pond.

In any case, I really think that this match might be the one that breaks the camels back in relation to our home record against Mexico. Something tells me that Hugo will either get his guys so fired up to win that they will blow it, or he will get the one victory that he blasted Lavolpe for never really getting. Either way, I doubt we will get as lucky as we did against Denmark. It will still be a good match and do what it is intended to do, get the guys ready for the gold Cup and the Copa America.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Soccer News & Notes: 1/24/2007

Reyna it is
Red Bull New York will be introducing Claudio Reyna today at 1pm, according to Ives. RBNY will be using one of their two DPA's to cover Reyna's salary, which will leave them with one more DPA to bring in another player. Reyna will be brought it to become the club Captain and run the midfield, pretty much making him a direct swap for Guevara. It looks as if Arena is planning on having his midfield run by Renya and van den Bergh, who they traded for several weeks ago.
This is a good thing for RBNY. It brings in a high profile American player to the club, one that most core US soccer supporters will be able to identify. It also give Arena a guy he can trust out on the field and will allow them to bring in an other high profile European player. Even though I don't particularly like RBNY, I hope that Claudio stays healthy, as he does seem to have quite a history of getting injured.
Rocky inspires Watford/DeMerit to victory
Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd sent the entire first team to watch the latest installment of the Rocky series, Rocky Balboa, before their EPL match with Rovers. I guess watching a 60 year old boxer lit a spark in his players, as they secured only their second victory yesterday over Blackburn Rovers. American Jay DeMerit scored the match winner in the 70th minute off of a header. Watford are still last in the EPL.
If you haven't seen Rocky Balboa yet, take a look. It is more like the first movie than any of the other ones. I still like Rocky IV though, something about Ivan Drago saying, "I must break you," that makes it great! Now Watford needs to get Sly to come to one of their home matches, Rocky did wear yellow after all!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

MLS Player News

DC United re-sign Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll re-signed with DC United today, after testing several different waters over in Europe. Details were not released. At least we have our defensive midfield back, assuming that Soehn decides to stick with the 3-5-2 formation.
Here is the DC United Press release.

Red Bull get new stud?
Red Bull New York will be announcing a new player tomorrow at 1pm at Giants Stadium. You can listen live on Anyone wanna bet it's the return of Reyna?


USA vs. Denmark Video

I found this over on YouTube, its pretty not bad.


Possible MLS moves

It is being reported that Manchester City have terminated Claudio Reyna's contract, which will now allow him to move to MLS on a free transfer. Red Bull New York seems to be the likely club to pick up the 33 year old former USMNT captain. It remains to be seen how RBNY will handle his contract and if they will be forced to use one of their two DPA's.

In the rumor department, it seems that if Liverpool fails to offer Robbie Fowler a new contract, DC United might step in and try and sign the forward to a contract that would see him play out the rest of his career in DC. Fowler is a great forward, well he was, but I am not sure this would be a great move for DC United. I don't doubt that Fowler wants to continue his career, but I get the strange sense that he would become the second coming of Steve Guppy.

Gooch in talks with Chelsea, is that a good thing?

With Captain John Terry out for at least another month and the Chelsea defense leaking goals like a sieve, Chelsea has begun transfer talks with Standard Liege in attempts to bring in US international Oguchie Onyewu. Liege has had several other transfer inquiries for Onyewu, most notably Real Madrid and Middlesbrough over last summer and Fulham and Lyon over the January transfer window. AC Milan had been rumored to be negotiating with Liege and Onyewu, but nothings to have come from those talks. The Chelsea offer is rumored to be around $3.95 million dollars.

I am not sure about this move. On one hand, playing in Belgium has been a great experience for Gooch, as it has provided him with the perfect foundation for starting his international football career. I do think that the time has come to move on, during this transfer window or over the summer at the very latest. The only question is where does Gooch move? I would hope that Gooch is able to be transferred to a club that is not only going to be able to get him into more high impact matches, but will also allow him the chance to increase his first team experience. He rejected the move to Real Madrid because he was worried that he would be brought in for cannon fodder and his actual match time would be limited. I have a feeling that Gooch would see the same type of situation with Chelsea.

Let’s check the situation. Chelsea is a club that can provide Gooch with very high impact matches. They still have to face Arsenal, Manchester United & Liverpool in the EPL. They are also still in the running for the Carling Cup and the FA Cup. Not to mention their UEFA Champions League (CL) draw with FC Porto. The CL chance is a huge one, but it is unclear if Gooch would be eligible to play for Chelsea as I do believe that he played for Liege in the UEFA Cup, which might have him cup tied for the rest of this season. So based on everything that Chelsea is still involved in, they have the opportunity to provide Gooch with the higher level of football that he needs to increase his development.

However, this is a situation like a good shortstop being brought into the Yankees to cover for an injured Derek Jeter. Once Jeter is healthy, he will return to the starting line-up, regardless of how the other guy is doing. John Terry is the Chelsea captain. Once Terry is fit for play, he will return to the starting line-up, regardless of how Gooch is doing. So for speculations sake, say Gooch is signed this week, he would be eligible to play for Chelsea on the 31st against Rovers. Chelsea has three more EPL matches in February and one CL match with FC Porto. It is understood that Terry will not be able to return until February, and even if he cannot return until the end of the month, that gives Gooch only about four matches to play until he gets a spot on the bench. Four matches and then back to the bench. Jose might bring him in for a random match here and there, maybe their FA Cup matches until the final, but no real shot at really cracking the first team, due to the fact that Chelsea have to play their millionaires and Gooch happens to play the same position as their Captain.

I don’t think that he would continue his development with Chelsea as he would if he went to another club that wasn’t so talent heavy. Fulham wouldn’t have been a bad place to go, but their transfer offer was a joke, so I cannot blame Gooch for rejecting it. Lyon have an offer for him, all be it one that has him stay in Belgium until the end of this season, then move over to Lyon. Would Lyon be any better a situation than Chelsea? Yes, I think so. Gooch would get to finish out this season in Belgium and then move to Lyon over the summer and start fresh with the club as they start training camp. He would be able to fight for a starting spot with everyone else, rather than be brought in for cover until the real guy comes back from injury.

I believe that it would be in Onyewu’s best interests, from a developmental standpoint, to not move to Chelsea and to pursue one of the other transfer options that seem to be in development, most notably Lyon. Transferring to Chelsea, while on one hand would move him to one of the glamour clubs of Europe, would most likely see him sitting on the bench for most of his time at Stamford Bridge. Onyewu would be better off moving to a club that he will at least have a fighting chance at a starting spot, which Chelsea really won’t be able to give him with their Captain as their central defender.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Manchester United vs. Arsenal Highlights

Here is a video compilation of the highlights from the Manchester United match at Arsenal from Sunday.


Over the weekend Soccer Stuff: 1/22/2007

US U-20 team destroy Panama 5-0; Qualify for U-20 World Cup

The US U-20 team routed host Panama 5-0, behind two Freddy Adu goals to win their CONCACAF qualifying group and qualify for the U-20 World Cup that will be held in Canada. In the first match of the day, Haiti upset Guatemala 2-0. The U-20 World Cup runs pretty much at the same time as the Copa America, so don’t expect to see Freddy, Michael Bradley or Jose Altidore suiting up for the senior squad in Venezuela.

Both Chelsea and Manchester United both lose.

The EPL title race might have become a much closer horse race. Chelsea fell 2-0 to Liverpool on Saturday as Chelsea’s aura of invincibility is fading every week. So with a chance to extend their six point lead to nine, Manchester United lost total focus in the last 10 minutes of their match with Arsenal and lost 2-1 off of a Thierry Henry header.

I see two very different results from these two matches. Chelsea is pretty much in a free fall. They dropped six points over Christmas, then routed Wigan 4-0 last week, then failed to show up against Liverpool. Unless Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko or Michael Essien step it up and start a turn around for Chelsea, they are not going to repeat as EPL Champions. I specifically mention these three as they are the ones who are providing the least amount of help on the squad. Once John Terry returns, or Chelsea buy a replacement central defender (Onyewu rumors surfaced last week) they might be able to shore up the backline, but they are going to have to get more out of Ballack and Shevchenko.

Manchester United, on the other hand, I think just lost sight of the end of the match. As I was watching this one yesterday, both clubs seemed to matching each other stride for stride. I was expecting a 0-0 draw. Once Rooney’s header went in, I was now expecting a 1-0 win for United. I was expecting this because besides that goal, neither club was really able to mount any really dangerous and consistent attacks. In the last 15 minutes, that changed. I think the entire atmosphere at Emirates Stadium changed. United stopped pressing the Arsenal forwards and their midfielders. Arsenal kept running at the United players, and the United defenders were sort of just going through the motions. Hell, the announcers were already giving United the three points and talking about how Chelsea was now nine points back. Arsenal never stopped running and United were going at half speed. I don’t particularly like Arsenal, but they gained some respect from me as they didn’t give up.

Hopefully this match serves as a catalyst for United to re-center its Chi and remain focused on the tasks at hand. They still only have a six point lead over Chelsea. Chelsea only has a five point lead over Liverpool and a six point lead over Arsenal. This is anyone’s race now. They also have the UEFA Champions League to start preparing for in the next month, as well as their FA Cup 4th round match at home to Portsmouth. All three of these title’s are in reach, they just need to stay focused.

South American leagues returning to action, as do Mexico.

Argentina started their pre-season tournament, as River Plate knocked off Boca Juniors 2-0. I DVR’d this match off of Fox Soccer Channel, so I have some good football to watch this week. Sao Paulo knocked off Ituano 1-0 in the first round of the Brazilian Paulista championship. Chivas de Guadalajara drew 1-1 with Toluca in the first weekend of the Mexican Clausura championship. Club America routed San Luis 4-1 in the first weekend as well.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

USA 3 – 1 Denmark

Well, this was the result that US supporters should have expected. I for one thought it would be a 2-1 or 1-0 game. The score means little, other than the fact that It shows that Bornstein knows how to get into a good position and that Cooper can finish when he gets a break away. The result means little as well, other than that the USMNT has two more weeks of training camp before they face Mexico.

Here are my thoughts, by half.

1st Half

I really wanted to know why Eddie Johnson was starting. He looked very slow and made some really bad decisions. The step over he did in the first half looked like it was at half speed. He should never have been called into camp. One guy who looked very good was Ricardo Clark. Clark did a very good job monitoring the midfield and took matters into his own hands with his run towards goal that led to Donovan’s PK goal. The PK itself was a very weak penalty and I would have not faulted the Danish coach for complaining about it. Donovan stepped up and took a hard shot, but was lucky enough to get it through the keeper’s hands. Donovan was another guy who looked better than most. He was at least not shying away from the ball, but his runs at players should have been stronger, if and when he made them at all.

Bobby Boswell had a very good half in the defensive line, with the exception of being out of position on the Danish goal. His positioning for the rest of the half was very good and he helped his stock today by being very large for the defense. Jimmy Conrad was just as good, but he totally blew it on the Danish goal. He was so out of position that no matter what Reis tried to do, it was an open goal. Reis wasn’t that impressive for me. He made some erratic choices and showed why he is good in MLS. The International game is faster than Reis can play, and I think that showed very well today.

One of the guys who looked the best in the first half was Jonathan Bornstein. The battle for left back between Bornstein and Specter should be a good one. If Bornstein continues his development on the course he has set, he should be getting some calls from Europe for his services. The two best guys of the first half were Bornstein and Clark. Jaqua and EJ were lost after the first 15 minutes, which is something Bradley better correct in the future.

The most important stat of the first half was that it took “the three wise men” 26 minutes and 2 seconds to mention David Beckham, which was 26 minutes longer than I expected.

2nd Half

EJ starts as badly in the second half as he did the first half, and should have been subbed off, as Bradley did with Jaqua. Justin Mapp was a breath of fresh air and provided a great run at the Danish defense, something the US attack had been lacking. Mastroeni needs to dial down his bulldog attack on the opponent. He made a really bad slide tackle from behind, which is pretty much what got him in trouble in Germany. Bornstein showed a very Frankie Hejduk quality in getting up at the goal and scored on a great cross that Mapp provided.

Kenny Cooper finally saved us from the disappearing act that EJ has done once again and he showed why he will be in future USMNT camps. He was a very good menace for the Danish defense. I believe that his goal was more of a product of the Danish back line getting tired than his ability to position himself, but none the less, he took advantage of the opportunity. He showed that he can take on the 1 on 1 and convert the shot, not unlike Deuce showed against Ghana.

Final thoughts

The match again, is what we all should have expected. He had better fitness than the Danes and won with it. Donovan, Bornstein and Cooper all converted shots, and for a team that had absolutely no attack for the last three matches it played, they did all right. I was happy to see Bradley play the guys in the 4-4-2, which gave them a better offensive chance. The second half of the match was much better than the first. Was that because EJ and Jaqua were off the field and Cooper and Mapp were on, or was that because the Danish squad was in less than game fitness for the match and as the match went on, they lost their breath? I think it was the later, but this shows that if we are in better physical shape, we can get the best of our opponents.

I expect to see some of the guys in camp to rotate out and see some guys like Twellman and Ching move in, especially for the Mexico match. Mexico is not calling in their European players, but it seems that Bradley might bring in a few, so that should be an interesting mix for the MLS players. Hopefully Bradley will be able to correct some of the mistakes in the next two weeks of camp.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Confirmed: USA vs. Ecuador at Tampa, Florida

The USSF just announced the match. Get your tickets now!

Still not certain if I can go. Hmmm.....still thinking about it.

Barra Brava on Roid's?

I saw this over at Ramblings of a Soccer Junky and it reminded me of Barra Brava and their halftime tunnel drumfests.

All Star Game Thoughts and other things.

So there is another source for the info I posted before about Celtic taking part in the 2007 All Star Game, go check out Black Panther for what I am talking about.

The whole All Star Game issue has been mentioned once or twice by me and as I have stated before, I really don't like the idea of the game. MLS puts it at a really bad time of the year and has always seemed to neuter the match some how, last year by scheduling it a day before the Chivas USA vs. New England Revolution match, which kept Deuce, Razov and Twellman out of the match, just to name a few. MLS seems to always have a problem with their scheduling; it’s as if they really don't have anyone paying attention to when they schedule things.

I know that these scheduling issues "should" be resolved once all MLS clubs play in their own stadiums, but something in the back of my mind says that they will still find new and greater ways to fuck up their own cup of coffee.

That said, they are finding their own new way of screwing themselves this year by adding the SuperLiga to the busiest time of year. Let me map out the problem -

July is going to be the busiest month of the season. The MLS season will be in full swing by this point. The Copa America will be held from June 26th to July 15th. You then have the U-20 World Cup scheduled for June 30th through July 22nd. Assuming that MLS has any players playing towards the end of either tournament, those players will either be out of the country or will not be in any condition to play in the All Star Game, which is rumored to be scheduled for the 19th.

Right after the All Star Game, four of the clubs will be going head first into the SuperLiga, which starts 5 days after the All Star Game. I know that this will not affect the league as a whole, but you have got to figure that players like Donovan, Cannon, Perkins, Boswell, Gomez, De Rosario, Clark, Cooper, & Ruiz will all be taking part in the All Star Game. Guys like Adu, Altidore, Donovan, Cannon, Perkins, Boswell, Clark, & Cooper will probably have some type of involvement in the U-20 World Cup and or the Copa America. So you have these guys playing in international tournaments, then rush back for the All Star Game, then most of them rush right into the SuperLiga, then the league again and maybe the USOC.

Haven't we seen enough seasons where guys get run out too much during the hottest time of the year (July & August)? Isn't this also the usual time for the European clubs to travel over for pre-season training and try and make money off of MLS clubs? So when is MLS going to start scheduling to help themselves? Garber & Co. should be lightening the schedule in July, not adding an exhibition, especially one that they themselves don't really seem to try and have live up to its name. If the All Star game doesn't have Donovan, Gomez, Clark, Cooper, Ruiz, De Rosario or Twellman in the match, then the match won't even live up to its name, pretty much like last season's match.

Ok, I am off the Soap Box now.

One of the other things I saw at Black Panther (have you checked it out yet?) was that Colorado is trying to acquire Coner Casey and he would like to play for the Rapids as he is from Colorado. Colorado seems to be out of allocations so they would need to trade for one to get the MLS front office to allocate Casey to the Rapids. I suggested recently that DC United should think about acquiring Casey, as he would fit into several areas that United need to fill.

However, considering that United are trying to bring in one to two more South Americans and they might be intended to fill the same roles that Casey might fit into, I might suggest that United trade an allocation for mike Petke. Yeah, bring the Wanker back. Our starting defense is very strong, but after the three starters, we are very thin. Also, if Soehn decides to move away from the 3-5-2 and go the 4-4-2 route, we need another starting defender and Petke would be a wonderful addition to Boswell, Erpen and Namoff. It wouldn't be the first time United has re-acquired a former player, look at Moreno.


Soccer news & Notes: 1/19/2007

Hugo names squad for Mexico match vs. USA.
Mexican coach Hugo Sanchez named his squad for several upcoming matches, starting with the February 7th match up against the USMNT in Glendale, Arizona. Hugo did not call up any of the European based players, but did add Francisco "Kikin" Fonseca and Jared Borgetti who just recently returned from stints abroad. Goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez was also named to the squad.

Real Madrid dumped from Copa del Rey.
When it rains, it pours. At least it is in Madrid for Los Galacticos as they suffered yet another humiliation, this time in the Copa del Rey. Real Betis, who is currently sitting in the relegation zone (18th out of 20th) in La Liga, scored a late goal to draw with Real 1-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu. The first leg of their series was a 0-0 draw and Betis moves on due to the away goals rule.

MLS All Star Rumors
There are already rumors floating around regarding the 2007 MLS All Star game. Steve Goff of the Washington Post has mentioned that MLS is looking to have the match held midweek in July and that Denver is the likely host. Furthering that news, it is being suggested that the Rapids GM announced at a Supporters meeting that MLS will hold the match on July 19th, which is inline with Goff and would be part of the Thursday night ESPN schedule. The other main “news” is that the MLS All Stars will again be playing against a foreign club, this time being Celtic from Scotland. Having the All Stars playing against a foreign club is a good idea, if there is really any type of god idea from the All Star game, which I think MLS should never hold anymore. However, playing Celtic in their pre-season is not that great an idea. DC United pasted them 4-0 at RFK last season, so how much of a challenge are they going to be for the All Stars?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Manchester United Goals Video

Here is a pretty good video covering the four goals from last weekends Manchester United vs. Aston Villa match.

Tampa Press Beating the Grass

The USSF has yet to officially announce the match between the USMNT and the Ecuadorian national Team, but the Tampa press is sure getting the word out about the match. I am guessing that if we don't hear about this match during the USA vs. Demark match on Saturday, the latest they will wait to announce it and put the tickets up for sale will be the match against Mexico. Any later they risk cutting out a lot of out of town supporters who won't have time to get their travel and vacation time arranged.

As of right now, the USSF has the following schedule setup:

January 20th - vs. Denmark
February 7th - vs. Mexico
March 25th - vs. Ecuador
March 28th - vs. Guatemala

Taking these four matches as they are, this is really not that bad of a build up to the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa America. Two of the four teams will be taking part in the Gold Cup (Mexico & Guatemala) and two of the teams are taking part in the Copa America (Mexico & Ecuador). So playing these three teams helps the build up for these two tournaments.

There are rumors that as Ireland are scheduling to face Ecuador in the NYC area in late May, the USSF might schedule a match against Ireland as well around that time. Adding Ireland to this list is good, but I would have hoped for a match against another CONMEBOL team, as playing Ireland differs greatly from playing Chile or Peru. FIFA has June 2nd set aside for official matches, so maybe the USSF can pony up some cash to invite Columbia or Chile or Brazil to make a stop over in the USA?


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Possible Forward Idea for DC United?

As DC United are still looking at bringing in a couple more players for the 2007 season, most of the attention has been directed south to South America. DC United just signed Brazilian Emilio from CD Olimpia and he figures to be a large boost in the goal scoring department. I was checking out Yanks Abroad and I came across an article that made me start thinking about DC United.

So Conor Casey is looking for a new job, eh? The article says that he has declined an offer from RKC Waalwijk after a week long trial and is still searching for options either over in Europe or with MLS. Casey can't be making that much money over in Germany and is looking for something before the end of the transfer window. Mainz doesn't seem to be looking for a transfer fee, and he wouldn't require any type of visa to join the club.

Why not try and bring Conor Casey to DC United? His health might be one of the single largest reasons for any club to think twice about bringing him in, but it appears that his knee problems have been taken care of. He has 6 to 7 years of European club experiance which would be an asset to the coaching staff. He also speaks German, which would allow him to communicate with newly signed Emilio.

A move like this would be beneficial to both Casey and DC United. Casey would get a chance to re-establish himself on the pitch as well as possibly get back in line for some USMNT call-ups. DC United would get an American forward who has seen the ups and downs over in Germany, had to play his way into the first team of several clubs and speaks German, something (as mentioned before) will help with United's other new signing. Even though at first glance this sounds pretty far off, unless he has a major health problem that is being hidden from RKC Waalwijk (who wanted to sign him) he should be fit to play.

* - The picture has been shamelessly "borrowed" from Yanks Abroad.

Soccer News & Notes: 1/17/2007

Grant Wahl Article on CNN/SI
Grant Wahl has an article on CNN/ that covers the Beckham deal in length. The two biggest pieces of information I picked from the article is that the LA Galaxy will be rebranding themselves, sort of. The names will stay, but they will be going with a darker color, something Dark Blue.

"Why should fans hold off buying a green-and-gold Galaxy jersey with Beckham's name on the back?
Simple answer: because Becks will never wear green and gold with the Galaxy. The team is deep into the process of rebranding itself with new colors, a new shield and new uniforms. "We made a decision that it was time to start thinking through how we create a more worldly brand," Lewieke says. "We have a good name. Galaxy works. But we need a more legendary, traditional kind of look that's more of a soccer look."

Leiweke predicts the new jerseys will be available in the next two months. What color will they be? "The last time I checked, when you're looking at a Galaxy it's not green or yellow. It's either black or dark blue," Leiweke says. Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas is more specific: "When I think of the Galaxy I think of dark blue."

Then there's the issue of a shirt sponsor, which MLS rules are allowing for the first time this season. Leiweke had said two companies were in the running last Thursday, but he told me on Friday that a third company was now in the mix for what will surely be a multi-million-dollar sponsorship. A deal will be made in the next 30 days, he said, and probably sooner rather than later." - CNN/

So the Galaxy will be going dark blue? I will wait to see the logo and the uniforms when they release them.

The other interesting factoid from the article was that the Galaxy will be conducting an Asian pre-season tour of 2008.

"Does the Galaxy really plan to go on a preseason Asian tour in 2008 just like the big European clubs?
Yep. AEG just opened an Asia office and is seeking to get into the entertainment and facilities business there. "They have a lot of new stadiums coming on-line for the Olympics, so our timing's impeccable," Leiweke says. "We'll have an opportunity to do something in Asia before the beginning of the '08 season, and that's what we'll line up. We'll get David and Simon Fuller [his closest adviser] helping us think that through, and we hope to do a four- to six-game swing through Asia." - CNN/

So the galaxy will be trekking its way through China, Japan and some other Asian countries next February or March. Wonder if they intend to do this if they end up qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions Cup?

USA stays #31 in FIFA rankings.
The USA stayed #31 in the first FIFA rankings of 2007. Brazil remained #1 for yet another month. It is interesting to note that the first three opponents of 2007 for the USMNT are ranked #21 (Mexico), #23 (Denmark) & #29 (Ecuador, rumored). Guatemala is ranked #105, so this isn't that much of a help for the rankings. 10 of the countries the USMNT could face in the Gold Cup and the Copa America all rank in the top 50.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

DC United Introduce Emilio

DC United introduced Emilio today at a 2pm Press Conference at RFK Stadium. He will join the team after he gets his P-1 Visa and his international transfer certificate. He should be able to start training camp with the rest of the club when they report to training camp on January 26th, in preparation for the February 28th CONCACAF Champions Cup match with Emilio's former club, CD Olimpia.
Here is the DC United Press Release.
Welcome to the club, hopefully you will fill the net once or twice.

Soccer News & Notes: 1/16/2007

DC United Looking for alternate location.
DC United is looking for an alternate location to host their third match in the Group phase of the SuperLiga on August 1st. DC United have been scheduled to host the 2006 MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo at RFK Stadium that Wednesday night, however the Washington Nationals will be in the middle of a three game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

According to Steve Goff, the United front office are investigating other “local” venues for this match. The Maryland Soccerplex and FedEx Field have both been ruled out, for being too small and too large, respectively. Apparently Baltimore, Richmond and Philadelphia are all being looked at as alternate venues for United to host the match.

Any one of these locations would be fine with me. Playing in Baltimore and Philadelphia could actually be used as outreach matches to expand the reach of MLS to cities that haven’t any clubs. Philadelphia is always highly listed on any expansion list, so a match between the 2006 MLS Cup champs and the 2006 Supporters Shield champs in Philly should bring out a pretty good crowd.

Sebastian Deisler retires from Bayern Munich
German wunderkid Sebastian Deisler has retired from football due to several on going knee injuries and several afflictions with depression. Deisler was scheduled to return to active duty with Bayern Munich, recovering from yet another knee injury that cost him a spot in the German World Cup squad. Deisler is only 27 years old.

I feel bad for Deisler. He has so much skill and potential, yet his knees must be made of jello or in his case, being German, Gummi. The fact that he was such a football prodigy only compounded the knee injuries and this led him into his fits of depression. Hopefully he will do well in whatever he moves onto.

The interesting side-effect of Deisler retiring is that not only will this force Bayern into the transfer market for a creative midfielder, but this might also hold up any chance of Manchester United buying Owen Hargreaves. Granted Hargreaves is still recovering from his broken leg, but his position in the Bayern midfield just got bigger. I think the only way Bayern sell Hargreaves now is if Manchester United pays the rumored €30 million for him, which would then allow Bayern to really try and buy a high priced midfielder.

Monday, January 15, 2007

United acquire Brazilian Forward

Steve Goff is reporting that in a press conference at RFK tomorrow, DC United will introduce Brazilan forward Luciano Emilio. Emilio has been playing for Honduran club, Olimpia. Olimpia will be United first opponent in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, with the first leg taking place in Honduras on either February 20th or 22nd.

I remember watching Emilio in the UNCAF Championship match and I was impressed with his pace and quickness. He was causing all sorts of problems for the Puntarenas FC defense. At least now Boswell & Co. won't have to try and cover him, now they just have to support him.

This is a good development as it is the first step in filling the one area that United were the most deficient in. Hopefully Emilio will fit in with the club and not be a bust like Lucio was last season.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Soccer News & Notes: 1/14/2007

InterLiga Champion Crowned
Necaxa won the 2007 InterLiga with a 1-0 victory over Jaguares de Chiapas on Saturday at the Home Depot Center. Necaxa won all of its matches during the eight club tournament and will be the Mexico #2 representatives in the 2007 Copa Libertadores. Necaxa will be in Group 2, which matches them up with Brazil's Sao Paulo, Chile's Audax Italiano and Peru's Alianza Lima.

Club America won the other InterLiga final, 4-2 on penalty kicks over Tigres UANL. Club America now must play a home/away series with Peru's Sporting Cristal on Jan. 24 in Mexico City and Jan. 31 in Lima. The winner of the series will enter the Copa Libertadores in Group 1, taking on Argentina's Banfield, Paraguay's Libertad and Ecuador's El Nacional.

Toluca is Mexico’s #1 entry into the Copa Libertadores and will enter the tournament in Group 7, which currently consists of Argentina's Boca Juniors and Bolivia's Bolivar. The group will be filled out with a yet to be named Peruvian club.

Manchester United remain 6 points up on Chelsea
Both Manchester United and Chelsea won yesterday. United won 3-1 behind goals from Ji-Sung Park, Michael Carrick and Cristiano Ronaldo. Chelsea won 4-0 over Wigan behind two Arjen Robben goals (one was called an own goal).

In United’s victory, Park’s goal was pretty sloppy on the Aston Villain defense as three defenders were just flailing about as they tried to clear the ball. Carrick broke his duck with a great goal several minutes after park scored. Carrick also made a wonderful cross to the back post to set up Ronaldo’s header for the third goal. Gabriel Agbonlahor scored an easy goal off of a great run to the end line by Milan Baros.

Chelsea destroyed Wigan. Wigan had two shots the entire match, one on goal. It seemed that every time I checked the TV to see how this match was going, Chelsea was either taking a shot or they were scoring.

I watched both of these matches at Summers in Arlington, Virginia. There was a good United crowd out for the match, along with a loud crowd in the back watching the Rangers match.

Beckham benched for the rest of the season, joining MLS early?
Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello has publicly benched David Beckham for the rest of the La Liga season due to not being able to rely on Beckham to perform. Capello will allow Beckham to train with the club, but he will not play him in any matches.

I find this to be a very chicken shit move on the side of Capello. Yes Beckham has signed a contract with another club, but he is still under contract with Real. Beckham is one of the last guys in international football to just coast through his final months. He has way too much pride and would probably be even more determined to get some type of silverware with Real as it would give him some amount of success during his time in Madrid.

This brings us to his options for the rest of the season. AC Milan is reporting that they were very close to completing a deal with Beckham worth €5 million a season, over 3 seasons. Plus he would have been able to retain 100% of his image rights. Due to his new permanent spot on the Real Madrid bench, maybe Milan would be interested in taking Beckham on for a loan until the end of the season?

A different idea would be that Beckham leaves Madrid in January and joins up with the LA Galaxy when they meet for preseason training for the 2007 season. There are ideas floating around that MLS might make a play to bring Beckham in before the end of his Real Madrid contract is up, which would end up costing the league more money as they would have to pay Madrid some sort of fee to allow Beckham to leave. This would allow Real the chance to save from having to pay him for the final 6 months of his contract, and will allow them to pick up some extra cash from the transfer fee. Considering that Beckham is such a competitor, I would not be shocked to see him leave Real within the next month and join the Galaxy in preseason training and end up playing the whole season with the Galaxy.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

SuperLiga Announcement

About damn time!

That's is what a lot of people had to have been saying at 2:30pm EST as MLS, the USSF, FMF, and the Mexican Primera Division announced the new SuperLiga. Pretty much everyone knows what the tournament is and how the first eight clubs were decided on, if not, go check out the press link to get filled in. It has been quite a week for MLS, hasn't it?

Ok, so we have the SuperLiga all announced and ready to go. The MLS regular season will actually mean more this year as the 2008 tournament will have it's participants decided on by how they do in the 2007 season, which is how it should be. The tournament also has a $1 Million dollar prize, so that should be a good incentive for the MLS clubs.

As for the announcement itself, I found several things interesting. First, that they will be alternating the host of the tournament, at least, that is what they seem to be suggesting. Secondly, and most controversially, they are starting the tournament off with the clubs that probably have the largest fan bases. I have no problem understanding why the four MLS clubs are taking part, they will be able to attract good mid-week crowds to their matches, which to kick off the tournament, is essential. I would have understood if Chicago and Chivas USA were involved as well, but I guess they could only invite four clubs and had to choose. Considering the time frame that the tournament takes place in, Chicago might have not been invited to allow them to defend their 2006 USOC Championship.

The only thing I see as a major problem for this tournament is if Chivas, DC United, Houston Dynamo or Pachuca advance far enough in the CONCACAF Champions Cup that they get spots in the Copa Sudamericana. I am not 100% certain, but the timing might conflict with the end of the SuperLiga schedule. Hopefully, SUM has figured that out. It is funny that Pachuca and Houston could be meeting each other in the Semi-Finals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, as well as DC United could meet Chivas in the Semi-Finals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. SUM at least did their homework and kept them out of the same SuperLiga groups.

Well, I am excited. When I last spoke with my DC United ticket agent, he said that the extra three tickets on our season ticket plan would be the three SuperLiga home matches for United (it was still rumored to be called the USAMEX tournament at that time), so I will be at each of the United matches of the group phase. Hopefully United make it to the finals, and I will be with them all the way, drunk in the stands, cheering them on!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Now it's Tampa, Florida

It appears that the USMNT match against Ecuador, the much rumored match against Ecuador, will be happening in Tampa, Florida. The Tampa Bay Business Journal is reporting that the final negotiations are underway to have Raymond James Stadium, home of the Glazer family owned Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evidently RJS was designed to be able to hold a FIFA regulation sized pitch, which would do well if the USA hosts a second World Cup (emergency host in 2010?).
Well, damn, how much does a trip to Tampa cost?
This is both cool and crap for me. It is cool that the USSF is branching out from its normal venues for home friendlies, as they have done with the Mexico match being in Arizona. It gives those USMNT supporters in those areas a chance to see them live, which can bring in more supporters.
It is crap because I was planning on going to this match if it were here in DC. Now I will probably end up watching it on the TV. Ok, I'll stop whining.

DC United Draft Preview and other player news

The Washington Post has a good primer for those who are going to hunker down and watch the live showing of the 2007 MLS Draft on ESPN2 (12pm EST). Steve Goff highlights that United have the 11th pick and that United hasn't really been the greatest at drafting players, but do tend to find the "diamond's in the rough" by acquiring players outside the draft who end up being great MLS players (Perkins & Boswell).

Goff also has two quick updates on two players from last season. It appears that Matias Donnet is not returning and that talks with Brian Carroll's people are progressing. Hopefully Brian does return. It is a shame that Donnet is not returning, he showed some good signs at the end of the season and I felt that had he the chance to get into the club at the start of the season, his fitness would be better and he would have been able to get a better grasp of the teams style and form.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This is a DC United Post, really it is!

I got this in email from my DC United ticket rep -


What a crazy morning! Soccer just got hotter. The phones have been ringing off the hook with the MLS announcement that 31-year-old, midfielder David Beckham has signed with Los Angeles Galaxy, resulting in arguably the biggest transaction in league history.

Beckham is one of the world's most renowned soccer players. He has signed a five-year deal and his addition represents a significant step forward for the MLS and the sport in North America. Beckham will join LA after his contract with Real Madrid expires on June 30.

Though the schedule has not been released, it has been confirmed that the Galaxy will play in DC United later in the season, giving our fans the chance to watch Beckham live!

We sold over 200 season tickets in the first few hours of this announcement. Spread the word - tickets can be purchased right here -<> or by calling 202-587-5431

Tommy Soehn stated earlier this morning, "It's tremendous for our supporters to get to see him, it is also wonderful for ticket sales and season tickets. He is an icon on and off the field, I have been watching the news and following it and this will definitely be great for the league."
Individual tickets to this game will not be available and the only opportunity to see this game is through season tickets.

DC United tickets are the perfect way to entertain clients, reward employees, and close deals!

Yours in Soccer,
Pat Letts

Patrick Letts Jr.
Sales Representative
D.C. United 4-Time MLS Cup Champions
Tel: (202) 587-5431
Addr: RFK Stadium - 4th Floor 2400 E. Capitol St.,
S.E. Washington, DC 20003

200 season ticket packages in one day, because of the Spice boy? MLS is definately making their money back. Good for United to make some money off of him.

Beckham to MLS: What it really means.

So the Beckham Rule came through with its intended target. David Beckham has signed a 5 year, $250 million dollar deal with AEG/LA Galaxy/MLS to play for the LA Galaxy. It is reported that Beckham will start suiting up for the Galaxy in August, which will give him two months off after he finishes with Real Madrid. So, other than a lot of money going to Beckham, what should we expect? Is this going to be a good thing? If it is, who will benefit?

The biggest thing to remember is that Beckham is not an over the hill, washout player who is trying to hold onto his former glory. Yes, he is no longer in the England squad, but that most likely has more to do with his former England coach than anything else. Beckham is still one of the deadliest crossers in the sport. He will be playing out on the right wing and will be whipping in crosses at MLS keepers in ways that they have never seen. His free kicks will do things US fans have only seen on DVD, yet we will see them in MLS Soccer Specific Stadiums, while he is wearing green & gold, hell, adidas might get him green & gold shoes. He will bring a new level of play to the Galaxy and to MLS, and this my friends, is a good thing.

I see his move to MLS as a good thing for soccer in the USA as a whole. It will get the casual soccer fan interested in the league and will bring in the non-soccer fans who have heard his name. As I stated in a previous post, my girlfriend is now happy that we have DC United season tickets, just so we can see him, and be so close to the field. He is going to single handedly increase the Galaxy home ticket sales and the road ticket sales any time the Galaxy play away from HDC. More ticket sales means more parking revenue and more concession revenue. Don’t even start about his jersey sales. You will see tons of little soccer playing girls wearing LA Galaxy jerseys with the #7 on the back and with Beckham across the shoulders. More money for Garber & Co. off of jersey sales alone. Just think of how much the TV rights would have been had this happened last season?

Getting back to the field, I think one of the biggest ways that Beckham will impact is in US Soccer, namely, Landon Donovan. With the arrival of David Beckham, that huge, bright spotlight that had been burning Landon for 2 seasons will be moved over to Beckham, and will allow Landon to do the one thing he has always wanted to do; just play the game. I fully expect his on field performances to step up considerably, because the weight of the club will no longer be on his shoulders, it will be on Beckham. US Soccer will in turn benefit from a better Donovan, as he will be a better National team player as well.

That said, this is it on my David Beckham commentary.

Well, Reuters says it is Confirmed - Beckham to LA Galaxy

So as I am typing this up, my girlfriend calls me from work to tell me that CNN has as breaking news - David Beckham joining LA Galaxy. She was so excited, so could hardly control herself. I took her to 11 DC United home games last season, and this is the first time that she has been truly excited to go to a DC United match, to watch Soccer Spice play in a Galaxy uniform. as I was talking to her, my officemate, a young 22 year old woman overheard and now wants to have me get her information as to when Becks will be in town to play United.

The storm is already brewing. Beckham is coming to America. MLS just pulled off a coup, granted it was all known for a long time.

Ok, go back to your regularly scheduled programming. He won't be here until June, so we have time to make the signs.

* - The picture has been shamelessly "borrowed" by the very nice folks over at Fox Go check them out.

Transfer News and other stuff - 1/11/2007

Dempsey Signs with Fulham FC
Clint "Deuce" Dempsey has signed with EPL club Fulham FC, one day after the British Home Office granted him a work permit. No details have been released on the contract, but according to the British press, the transfer was priced at $3.88 Million. Dempsey is the third US International to join the Cottagers, joining Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra.

Good to see that Deuce has put pen to paper and that he can start his new life in London. This can only be a good thing for the US National Team, as Deuce will be going up against much better defenders as he faces Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and the rest of the EPL. I just hope he doesn't have the same result as the other US International named Clint had when he went over to Europe.

Manchester City set to terminate Reyna's contract.
It appears that Claudio Reyna's contract with Manchester City is in works to be terminated. Reyna has cited family reason to move back to the US with his wife who is pregnant. This is the logical step in the move towards becoming the #10 in the Red Bull New York midfield.
Ives Galarcep has a pretty good idea that RBNY will not be using one of their two DPA slots for Claudio, as they can most likely sign him to a deal around what was close to Amado Guevara's, in the 280K-300K ballpark. This would allow RBNY to bring in Reyna, Dutch goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus (who would most likely be a discovery player) and still have the two DPA slots available for guys like Ronaldo (who could still end up in Saudi Arabia) and one other higher profile player.
As much as I hate the Red Bulls, I am looking forward to seeing Reyna suit up for them. I have only been able to see him play about 3 times in the last 11 years, so being able to see him line up against DC United will be a treat. Claudio has always been a good player and would be a very good addition to MLS.

Announcement Today on Beckham?
Speaking of additions to MLS, it seems that we should hear later today whether or not David Beckham will be making his decision on whether or not he stays with Real Madrid or if he makes the leap to Hollywood and joins MLS club, LA Galaxy. Beckham has been offered a two year contract extension by Real, but as he hasn't really been playing that much with the first team (7 appearances in 25 matches) he might be looking for first team football someplace else.
I am undecided about all of this. I know that bringing Beckham into MLS will be good from certain points of view. He will create instant buzz in the most important media market that MLS deals with, the US media. His move should increase the attendance of Galaxy matches in LA and across the US as more soccer fans and non-soccer fans go out to see the British superstar. I also think that he can bring a very high level of play to field and should pose a major headache for goalkeepers as he can still hit the pin point crosses and free kicks, which MLS goalkeepers haven't really had to deal with.
My indecision stems from the price. Should we be paying one guy $9 million a year to play soccer? He will be making more than the rest of the entire club combined. From everything I have read (including his autobiography) Beckham is one of the last guys who would let that all go to his head, like some guys in other sports (Barry Bonds comes to mind), so I am not worried about him trying to create new rules form himself everyday. But I am really worried about how some of the other players will deal with him. I don't know. I hope he makes the move, for the sake of helping MLS and soccer in the US. I just hope it doesn't end badly.

Interliga Finals Set
The finals of the Mexican Interliga have been set, with defending CONCACAF Champion Club America set to face Tigres and Necaxa will face Jaguares in the other final. The two winners will join Toluca as the three Mexican representatives in the 2007 CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores. The two finals will be held this Saturday at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ronaldo to the Gulf?

Gol TV has an interesting article about Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad offering Real Madrid a tranfer price of 20 Million Euro for Ronaldo. The deal is supposedly for 3 years. As Ronaldo has seemed to have over extended his stay at the Spanish capital, there is a chance it might go through.
So first Figo, now Ronaldo? MLS made waves when it announced the DPA rule in order to bring in higher marquee players. Unfortunately, it seems as if the players that MLS seems to be targeting are getting offered ungodly sums of cash to go play some matches in the Persian Gulf. I would laugh if the DPA rule never really gets used due to players still getting suitcases of cash to play elsewhere.

Much Ado About Something….USMNT Scheduling Ideas

After 6 months of internet rumors and endless flights in the search for a new USMNT Head Coach, things in the USMNT camp are alive. Bob Bradley was hired as the interim head coach and is setting a different tone with his players. We have 3 matches scheduled and two upcoming tournaments for June and July. The USMNT program is very much back. One should question though, is the program back with a different agenda, or is it back running the game plan as before? Signs are that the same game plan is in effect, but with some new cloths.

The USSF seemed to be very eager to schedule home matches against CONCACAF or less than glamorous opponents. Some seem to think that they do this just to get a quick buck and to inflate the egos of our players. Others think that the USSF does this because they haven’t the opportunity to do anything else. I am one of those people who believe both.

I believe that the USSF is scheduling most of the USMNTs matches based on who they can get to play us, and based on that, they schedule the home games and jump at the chance to get the quick buck. I believe this because I accept that the USA is a mid level national team, at best. We are not in the same level as Brazil, Italy, Germany, Holland, Argentina, or England. We do not have that much marquee power to entice those nations to play us. Furthermore, we don’t have the right global positioning.

If you take a quick look at the FIFA schedule, you will see that Brazil is playing Portugal in London, England. They aren’t playing in Rio or Sao Paulo, nor are they playing in Lisbon or Porto. They are playing in England, because that is where they can play, due to their players are mostly all in Europe and they can command a high fee for playing in another country. Those two countries are on a higher level than the USA is, and we have to accept that when we try and figure out who and where we should be trying to schedule matches with.

Based on this, I have some suggestions on how the USSF should go about trying to schedule the USMNT matches for the rest of 2007, minus the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Copa America.

FIFA has scheduled nine remaining official dates for either official matches or friendly matches. I suggest that the USSF take advantage of seven of them. Four of these matches would take place overseas and the remaining three would be held in the USA.

FIFA has both June 2nd and 6th scheduled for official match days. The 6th is the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, so the USSF will not be scheduling anything other that the Gold Cup for that day, so it is out. As for the 2nd, I suggest a home match in Philadelphia against Paraguay. Paraguay is a Latin American side that provides two primary opportunities. First, they offer a style of play that will be similar to those of our opponents in the Gold Cup, and that will allow our players to get better match practice against that style of play. Second, they are a potential opponent in the Copa America and present a style of play of other potential Copa opponents. As of right now, Paraguay does not have anything listed on the FIFA schedule in the way of matches. This makes me think that they will be available for scheduling. Philadelphia is a good location as it is central to the East Coast Latino communities and is not a city that is hosting a Gold Cup match.

FIFA’s one remaining friendly date this year is August 22nd. As MLS will be in heading for its home stretch and the MLS clubs will still be trying to work their USMNT players back into the fold from losses to Gold Cup and Copa duties, having another USMNT call up probably won’t be that great an idea for a midweek match. Despite that, I believe that the USSF should schedule an away match against Switzerland, maybe in Zurich. Switzerland is one of the co-hosts of the 2008 European Championships and advanced to the 2nd round of the 2006 World Cup, something we failed to do. The biggest thing about this match is that we could use this match as a chance to field an almost all European based side. Maybe bring in a few MLS players, but have guys like Howard, Bradley, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Convey, Spector, DeMerit, Feilhaber, and the rest who are over in Europe get the main start in this match. It still keeps the coaching staff busy and the Euro based players get the time on the field.

FIFA has two more official dates scheduled for September, the 8th and the 12th. I suggest that the USSF use these as two more away matches. After checking the FIFA schedule, I suggest that the USSF attempt to schedule a match with Belgium on the 8th of September, in Brussels. Belgium is off that day, but has a European Qualifier scheduled for the 12th, so they will most likely be looking for a warm up match before their qualifier. Belgium is a good central location among the US players that play in Europe and would pose a good challenge. The USMNT hasn’t played Belgium since 1995, if I am not wrong.

For the second match, I suggest a rematch from the 2006 World Cup, with Ghana in London. Most of Ghana’s players are based in Europe and currently do not have anything scheduled for this date. There is a chance that Ghana will have an African nations Cup qualifier either on this date, or on the 8th, so that would require another opponent. If Ghana is not available, I would suggest trying to arrange another match with another African nation, as we should increase the USMNT exposure to African nations.

For these matches, I recommend the USMNT call in its first team, regardless of MLS or not. FIFA mandates that clubs must release players who are called in for these matches, and MLS should abide by these rules. The impact on MLS might be very small, as this will take place after another transfer window, and we could see one more two more MLS based players move over to Europe.

FIFA has the 13th and 17th scheduled for official match dates, both of which the USSF should schedule match for. The first I suggest would be against South Africa, in Amsterdam or London. The idea is the same as with scheduling Ghana. We need to start playing more of the African nations and if Europe is the best meeting point, then we should both meet in the middle. South Africa, as of right now, does not have a match scheduled, and will most likely be in an African nations Cup qualifier on one of these dates, so if their ANC match is on the 17th, they will need a warm-up as well, and playing in Europe is never a bad idea.

The second date, the 17th, should be a home match. I suggest attempting to schedule Bolivia at Toyota Park in Chicago. Bolivia is a mid-range CONMEBOL nation and should provide a good test, for our MLS players. I suggest that we leave the MLS players in the USA (minus a few) for the first match and that we then leave the Euro based players in Europe for the second match. This way the coaching staff gets to see them all, yet still gets to field different sides. In a perfect world, I would recommend that the full pool of players be called in for every match, but this in not possible right now.

The final two official dates for 2007 are November 17th and 21st. As MLS is holding the MLS Cup in Washington, D.C. on November 18th, having a USMNT match the 17th would be a bad idea. I suggest that the USSF leave this date open and schedule a home match on the 21st against Costa Rica, using MLS players and Euro based players, at Toyota Park in Chicago. The Euro based players need to be released by their clubs and should have plenty of time to travel to Chicago, so this shouldn’t be a problem for them. The MLS based players would be a different story. I would recommend not calling in players from either MLS Cup participant, as they will be a little bit busy up to that Sunday. That leaves the USMNT coach with 11 other clubs to draw players from. That shouldn’t be a problem.

All of these matches are scheduled at FIFA scheduled breaks and the players should be released from their clubs. All of the opponents fit into one or more of the different categories that people have been suggesting for the future matches. We have two CONMEBOL nations (Paraguay & Bolivia), 1 CONCACAF nation (Costa Rica), two UEFA nations (Switzerland & Belgium) and two African nations (Ghana & South Africa). Two of the suggested opponents qualified for the 2006 World Cup, and both advanced to the second round. South Africa are scheduled to host the 2010 World Cup, so playing them would make sense. As it is rumored that we will be involved in a 2008 Copa America, playing two CONMEBOL nations will help towards preparations for that tournament. Costa Rica has always played the USMNT very well and should be a good test. We also need to continue playing against CONCACAF nations, just to keep in touch with our region.

The biggest idea is that I think that these are all matches that the USSF would have no problem getting scheduled. The hardest part might be getting venues lined up for the matches against the African nations in Europe. I still don’t think that stadium scheduling would be that big a problem.

I was disappointed with the build up to the 2006 World Cup and I was upset that the search for Bob took so long. That said, I am actually optimistic that the current path laid out, rumored or not, is one that will help rebuild the USMNT program. The real test will be if we see Denmark and Guatemala on the 2008 schedule. If we see them listed, but as away matches, then I think we are ok. If we see home matches again, then we might need to start asking questions again.


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