Tuesday, November 20, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 11/20/07

Quick congrats to the Dynamo for their back to back championships. Thanks for again proving that Steve Nichol’s defensive take on EPL football just doesn’t cut it in this league at the highest level and that attractive football will rule the day! But enough on this, we got a team to stock.

Some tremendous quality available here, but I see Yallop tending to get players the have either: trade value, played for Yallop, MLS experience or significant upside. Who will not be selected then: players who are major question marks to either ruin chemistry (Amado Guevara, Clint Mathis, Andy Herron). You,ve to weigh in the value proposition of these players, after we will be playing MLS Moneyball next year. Given that my predictions have been so spectacular this year, I give to your 2008 San Jose Earthquakes:

1. Pat Onstad – just the ultimate draft player, experience, former Yallop guy, and a sure fire trade bait with UFC.
2. Ned Grabavoy – In the shadow of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Grabavoy had a tremendous season and is finally on a strong upward swing.
3. Mike Petke – A model MLS defender for years.
4. Kelly Grey – Former Quake and Yallop player.
5. Andrea Lombardo – His first year trial by fire will be a boon going forward.
6. Josh Gros – a versatile back, mid who was a key cog in DC’s string of wins this year.
7. Andy Dorman – The underappreciated Dorman found himself on the bench despite a fast start. Dorman is bargain basement player who easily returns the investment every year.
8. Ivan Guerrero – His pace and experience makes him dangerous in this league, but his injuries might prevent a move from the Fire.
9. Clarence Goodson – FC Dallas was just better with Goodson who scored some clutch goals this year.
10. Alan Gordon – Another former Yallop guy who has big, big upside.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

US Soccer Snob's US Soccer Update - 11/16/07

Return of the Snob

Well, the new grounds are tidy and we've even upgraded to a laptop around here!

The Revs made it to the cop (again) by, how else; going through the FIRE (again). More on that later. The Dynamo arrive in DC on the backs of 60,000+ screaming fans that cheered them on to the Final. So there you have it, the first consecutive year rematch in MLS Cup history. The atmosphere is expected to be tremendous as the Kraft family is busing in the Revs nation, er, province from the north east to root on the Revs. Chances are that the Dynamo rooting contingent will be even greater given the amazing support that the Houstonians have garnered (amazing what true media support can generate, huh?).

As for the Snobs prediction, more of the same. Neither team has changed drastically much in the last year so look for New England to look to bunker then run all attacks over the top to Twellman or on the wing via Ralston. Shalrie Joseph will be in the spotlight as he looks to again mute DeRo's presence in the pressing Houston attack. Jaqua will do his best Brian Ching impersonation and that should be enough for regular time. A tie will send it to extra time, but in the mini-game (isn't that what we call it during MLS Playoffs?) the Revs walk away with their first MLS title and the double. It will be pure torture for the on-site snob and TV audiences to see yet another Boston team to raise a title! Please note that not one designated player will be taking the pitch on Sunday for the mostly North American stocked. That just makes me smile.

Certainly Juan Carlos Osorio's coaching decisions on that fateful day in New England left much to be desired, but the mere fact that the FIRE played in the Eastern Conference Finals is nothing short of a miracle given where the team was only three months ago. JCO has been an upgrade for the team, but his tenure has still been a mixed bag. The FIRE turnaround was as much a product of Blanco's savvy and brilliance as it was JCO's direction. In the end, when the Revs clamped down on the DP as expected, JCO panicked and went with pure talent over form. While Wanchope is a good example of this, nothing is a clearer example of flawed coaching as was the insertion of Justin Mapp into the match. It had been about four months since Justin's cleats had touched an MLS pitch. Meanwhile, Calen Carr, the ideal player to break down, the Revs tight but plodding defense continued to stretch his quads on the sideline.

The brilliant Conde pick-up has balanced out the disastrous Wanchope tenure (reported to be ending soon), but JCO has some big shoes to fill in the middle with Armas' retirement. I certainly don't feel the either Diego Gutierrez nor Logan Pause are the quality to replace Armas at this time. The team will be further depleted by the expansion draft which will likely claim a promising young player (Carr?). But, will JCO even be around to patch the holes? Rumors out of NYC suggest that yet another Chicago coach is on the Metrobulls theft radar.

Not only has he fully recovered from his ailments to pack houses in Vancouver and Minneapolis, but David Beckham is now going to have to carry the weight of England on his shoulders again as buffon manager Steve McClarren (and every Tom, Dick and Ian) is counting on the LA based Becks to rescuing England's hilariously inept Euro 2008 campaign. Look out here comes mighty England, football gods. Oh, crap we have to play Macedonia!! I just get such a kick out of reflecting on the barbs tossed MLS' way from these fools who have really no perspective on the game outside of the EPL. Being English is actually a handicap to assessing the game from a global perspective! Only the realization of this shortcoming will allow this country and team to utilize their obvious talent to its maximum. Just stepping on the pitch and being England hasn't worked in 25 years.

Amid zero drama, Don Garber announced that Seattle had landed MLS' 15th franchise. Within 24 hours of this announcement the team had sold 3,000 season ticket packages. The news even landed on Monday Night Football the night before the announcement in the form of minority owner and Hollywood's soccer ambassador, Drew Carey. While I'm sure the pursuit of a Soccer Specific Stadium is implied it has received nary a mention by the suits. As a league fan, I'm a bit bothered by the last two franchises being awarded to groups with either unsettled (San Jose) or inappropriate (Seattle) stadium situations. San Jose will be a team without a true home field advantage for their first two years of re-existence with their owners bent on providing the boys with a rotating home field. What will be the locker room fine for showing up at the wrong home stadium on game day? Up north, MLS moves into another massive NFL stadium. While I fancy myself an optimist, can anyone picture a Toronto-like situation replicating in Qwest Field? I agree with all that it is a great soccer market, but the stadium is a detractor no matter how much you downsize, of course if that downsizing included sideline covering awnings.....

USA vs. SA
If they lose this one, its going to point to a long qualifying campaign. Where is Landon? I know he isn't busy this weekend. I hope BB the King isn't lending an ear to those who don't believe that Lando is the best player in this country. Sorry y'all, I'm still picking Landon first in the hypothetical sandlot game.

Friday, October 12, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 10/12/07

Next week: Denilson and the state of the FIRE

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (3-3)
SEASON (49-79)

FIRE v. United – FIRE pay for their midweek foolishness with a devastating loss.

Crew v. Revs – Not the place to get on track. Revs roll.

Wizards v. Flagship – Two teams looking for some mo’ heading to the playoffs. Sounds like a tie to me.

Dynamo v. RSL – Dynamo take out frustration on RSL players just happy to see the end is in sight!

UFC v. Gals – The Galaxy continue to make it interesting down the stretch.

Friday, October 5, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 10/05/07

Thanks for the patience – The Snob is still preparing the new grounds to play to the teams strength. In the meantime, please enjoy this training session.


US Open Cup
Congrats to the Revs for finally getting a result out of PHP when it counted. Unfortunately, no one knows about the tournament they won thanks to the continues poor promotional efforts of the folks behind the Open Cup. Attendances do seem to be climbing, but this tournament of underdogs versus the big dogs is just the thing that casual American sports fans can get behind.

Quick Notes:
- Glad to see the Crew pick-up Glidden as a sponsor. Glidden has been stepping to the plate for a while here and now has taken the next step. If you find yourself in Home Depot, check out the Glidden paint display. They have a “Team Colors” brochure that features rooms done up in Rapids and FIRE colors.

- Garber the Don threw the gauntlet down on Rico Clark for his absurd attack on Carlos Ruiz. Garber fined Rico more than half a developmental players salary and suspended him for nine games. In effect saying, you don’t mess with stars or national broadcasts.

- Did Bruce Arena bribe Steve Morrow to pick-up Denilson? You know Il Bruce will go to great lengths to put Claudio Reyna in the best light. The Brazilian couldn't even make the Open Cup roster because Dallas could only carry five foreign players. Denilson has sunk sub-Oduro!

- Oh, look whose training with the Galaxy again (for the first time?, for the last time?) Can’t wait for the Beckham v. Blano showdown October 21. There might be a playoff spot in the balance.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Post (3-2)
SEASON (45-75)

Kansas City v United - Look for the Wizards to pull out a tie over a spent United. (although they didn’t really seem to be exerting much energy south of the border)

RSL v LA Goats – RSL is doing it’s too little too late routine once again. Should be enough for a draw.

FIRE v REVS – Another sellout for Blanco and another blown lead, but this time FIRE find a way to win and stay ahead of the crew.

Columbus v Dallas – Crew drops a fading Dallas side.

Rapids v UFC – Another playoff contender tries keep the interest of the masses as the Rapids roll over Mo’s bhoys. (Let’s face it, its not a friendly pitch to Scots.)

Dynamo v Gals
Gals playoff hopes take a hit as the Dynamo chase the West crown and the Supporters Shield in front of one of the best crowds MLS has seen (south of the US-Canada border)

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 08/30/07


Superliga Final
Well its been about twelve hours since I finished watching the Superliga final and I’m still in disbelief. That sure looked and sounded like more than 12,500 didn’t it? The MLS side fought valiantly, but were outlasted in sudden death penalty shootout. This game will be remembered for Miguel Calero’s save on Landon in the fifth frame of the shootout, but the match was peppered with moments and amazing saves by both keepers. Joe Cannon and Calero looked like two of the top keepers in any league as they frustrated their opponents who were handed plenty of quality chances by spotty defending. Becks took to the pitch and had to be taken out after injuring his right leg around the 37th minute. Cobi Jones’ experience helped the Galaxy persevere and led to the eventual tying goal and what a goal. The most unlikely goal from the most unlikely source. Much maligned Chris Klein buried a spectacular bicycle kick off a weak Pachuca clearance in the third minute of second half stoppage to effectively send the game into overtime. Overall the final reflected what the entire tournament prooved that the gap between Mexican and MLS teams is effectively zero. Both leagues are capable of producing some attractive soccer, although the Mexican versions is much prettier to watch on a consistent basis. Something else that we've come to expect, poor refereeing, was also evident as the CONCACAF crew did their worst again. This tournament was a success and I look forward to watching next year's version in Spainish or English.

MLS Week 21 – Separation and Flagging
FIRE v. Wizards – A little something for everybody at Arrowhead, which enjoyed the Blanco bounce at the gate for this Wednesday fixture. The FIRE had the home team on the ropes early, but Kevin Hartman called Blanco’s bluff and stood his ground, blocking the Mexican’s early penalty kick attempt.
MOTM: Kevin Hartman

Goats v. Gals – Chivas Explosion!! Beckham Explosion!! Marsh v. Becks! Galindo shows who is boss of LA pitches at least until Pachuca rolls into the HDC. You get the feeling that this team is one Designated Players away from being a serious championship contender. Oops!
MOTM: Maykel Galindo – Opportunism and pure skill result in two for Chivas’ break-out star.

Crew vs. Dynamo – While it took Nate Jaqua to pull a Dynamo draw Schelotto’s dazzling footwork enroute to his league leading assist was worth every bit that the league is paying.
MOTM: No position to judge

Wizards vs. FIRE – Different day, different teams. The FIRE follow their new leader to three points at home over a limp KC side earning me a free lunch in the process. Life is sweet.
MOTM: Cuauhtemoc Blanco – One goal, one assist in a 2-0 victory. Enough said.

Gals vs. Rapids – You leave Becks at home and you will pay. A massively depleted Galaxy line-up got sliced and diced at DSGPark. You can’t be good if you give up three goals in the first half to the Rapids and the Galaxy aren’t. I think there was only one outbreak of “Bouna-time”.

RSL vs. Chivas USA – Chivas just can’t be stopped at home. Proof? They haven’t lost at the HDC this year. Chivas has enough gas left in the tank to slip by RSL and take three more points as the 2005 expansion derby sees the sides on opposite ends of the table.
MOTM: Jesse Marsh – Marsh’s sleek flick past Nick Rimando was all the home side needed to seal a solid week.

Other Week 21 Notes
The Flagship gets deflated and loses two thanks to some spotty defending and poor keeping.
United’s massive week pulls them within three points of the Revs.

Signing of the Week
Am I the only person who though Denilson was 45 years old? A long forgotten cog in the Samba King football machine, the midfield maestro came to MLS this week inking a deal with the Hoops. The 30 year old Denilson comes to MLS via Saudi Arabia, thus making him subject to excessive search at all US airports.

Sinking Lower
You’ve got to hand it to Eddie Johnson. He knew before any of us that the Wizards were on the cusp of ultimate MLS off field success when he spurned the offer from EPL bottom dwellers Derby County. Looks like next year they are going to be packing the house finally! Of course that house looks to be a minor league baseball stadium, but hey, it’s a start.

Quote of the Week
St. Louis Attorney Jeff Cooper who is trying to bring MLS to the hotbed on the possibility that his application for an MLS franchise be revoked by the league after presenting stadium development plans to the city of Collinsville, IL.:
“I’ll not only lose a lot of money,” Cooper told the newspaper, “but I’ll look like a dumb-ass at the same time.”

Yallop all but Gone?
Word is a certain Southern Californian-based German is waiting in the wings should Frank Yallop’s Galaxy. Good news for this gentleman is that he won’t have to change his Addias based wardrobe.

Ann Killion
Last week Ann Killion wrote a piece about Becks and US Soccer that was supported by twisted facts and perpetuated a great deal of myths.

Below is my reply, her rebuttal and my reply.

I had to come to expect so much more from you when you start talking about soccer. Of course being a true MLS believer might dampen my views in your eyes, but en route to your “more of the same” point you skipped over two significant occurrences last week that us true believers took note of. One was your incorrect claim that the league “wallows around the 12,000 mark”. This might be true for the NY RedBulls, but is off by about 3,000 for the league. According to MLSnet.com, the league is averaging 15,917 this year. Backing out Beckham matches, the average is right around 15,000.
Secondly, you seemed to miss the attendances in non-Beckham matches this past weekend. True there were the typical attendance woes in Sunday’s Wizards and Thursday’s Rapid matches (7,000 and 10,000 respectively), but the story was very promising elsewhere. Columbus drew it’s largest crowd since 2004 (23,000), RSL put nearly 19,000 in the stands and Houston had over 19,000 show up for their in-state rivalry. Earlier this week DC United drew 18,000 on a Wednesday! This is not more of the same. This is a clear and measurable upwards trend.

To make matters worse, you go on to perpetuate the myth that by somehow stepping foot on European soil, American players improve. There is no evidence to show that being added to a roster of a European team improves American players other than goalkeepers. The results have been a mixed bag at best. Most American players show little to no improvement after transferring overseas. Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley have shown little improvement at the club or international level since leaving MLS. Clint Mathis set himself back years by playing in Germany and only now has regained any of his earlier MLS form. Bobby Convey’s club form had improved, but he has yet to have any significant impact on our national team. On the flip side, Landon Donovan has neither improved or regressed by choosing MLS over foreign options. Certainly if a starting MLS player starts for and EPL or LaLiga team on a consistent basis, they will likely improve their form, but otherwise the transfers have been tantamount to a water treading cash grab and who can blame the players for the later.

Ann’s Reply:
Thanks for the email. Re: attendance: 1) After the experience with the Earthquakes, I know better than to believe MLS' figures and 2) there is still a Beckham effect because there are ticket plans that require buying tix to other games in order to see Galaxy.
Re: Europe - I don't know anyone in the soccer world who doesn't think players get better and tougher by playing in the best leagues, including Bruce Arena and our current national team coach whose own son is playing in Europe. Landon absolutely regressed between 2002 and 2006.

US Soccer Snob Rebuttal:

Thanks for your reply. I certainly appreciate it.

1. What's at debate is reported attendance numbers. I certainly know there is a difference between reported and actual in MLS. Your mixing and matching of what you think the numbers are and the reported numbers is misleading, but hey, it makes your point.

2. The European move is a myth. Look for any signs of proof of this claim outside of the goal keepers box and they will be limited at best.

3. Donovan did not regress between the last two world cups. He just played out of position. Did you expect LD to win headers from the Czech back line? His greatest 2006 moment was against Italy where he was arguably the best player on the pitch because the red cards forced him into is natural attacking midfielder role.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (3-6)
SEASON (42-73)

FIRE vs. The Flagship – The Metros are out rooted in their home by Blanco fans, but still get a draw against a FIRE team whose stock is rising.

United vs. Hoops - This is why Direct Kick was invented. East vs. West in what could be a preview of the MLSCup. United looks to put together something more substantial than the fluky 1-0 victory they scored last week.

Wiz vs. Dynamo – Another blockbuster showdown! This should be an exciting match that sees the Western Conference team start building up en route to October with a convincing win over the Wizards who have played a Beckham-like schedule in the last two weeks.

RSL vs. Gals – RSL returns to So Cal to get three points from Klingsman’s Galaxy.

Rapids vs. Crew – Look for a draw between two adrift sides. Colorado’s got the Mo’, but the road can be an unfair place.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

US Soccer Snob Filler Update 8/29/07

Apologies to loyal readers, but the column will be delayed a day and shorted due to FC Soccersnob’s Pitch Relocation Efforts which will be more Chicago-style than San Jose if you know what I mean.

It all comes down to this. The worst team in MLS getting pounded into Bolivia by a Mexican club. Really, would anyone feel that less confident in the American entry if RSL donned Galaxy jerseys tonight? At least the Gals are staying in the news, so they got that going for them.

Tonights predictions:
KC vs. RSL – Again, I’m a fool, but I gotta think that KC’s rough and tumble backline is going to have trouble with the speed of Robbie Findlay. This should allow RSL to pull out a draw.

Pachuca vs. Gals – The is no way the Galaxy win this game. Pachuca is the only team in this hemisphere that could currently be considered one of the top five in the world. The Galaxy are one of the few teams in this hemisphere that would actually be know in europe…..as punchline.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 08/23/07


The Tipping Point
Please tell me that someone got a picture of Don Garber around 11PM EST on Saturday. At that point, the smallest crowd of the four MLS games played Saturday was 18,913 in Salt Lake City. Columbus had drawn nearly 22k and UFC sold-out BMO (pronounced Bee-Mo, Rob Stone) field again. Cuauhtémoc Blanco had scored a golazo of immense proportions and Maykel Galindo continued to press for a human interest story in SI. As immense as these accomplishments would be on any other given weekend, they were over shadowed by the landmark LA Galaxy v. New York Red Bulls game that took place at Giants stadium in front of 66k plus.
In a game that managed to simultaneously please hardcore fans, MLS suits and legions of soccer/Beckham curious sports fans, the home team dispatched the LA Galaxy 5-4 with a late Juan Pablo Angel goal. The game featured two Beckham assists, braces by three players (Carlos Pavon, Jozy Altidore, and Angel), and tension throughout the night. They myths about the weakness of soccer player, complains about low scoring, the general “no one cares” rumor were drown out for one night by the cheers (and boos) of a record crowd in Giants stadium 12 years after the league’s first kick. Nothing says soccer has arrived in America like Saturday night. Never mind the fact that ESPN Classic has deemed it an “instant classic” and is rebroadcasting it this week, it is the duty of the league and it’s diehard fans to make sure that soccer never fades again in the country. I’m up for it!

FIRE Fan Forum with Head Coach Juan Carlos Osorio
Juan Carlos “The Professor” Osorio took time to speak to a group of Fire season ticket holders last Thursday and I was luck enough to be in the audience. Osorio left all in attendance with a positive impression of a very thoughtful and methodical man who is focused on conditioning and will not accept any slacking off. He stressed his commitment to attacking football, all but vowing to play three in the back at home at all times. Osorio conveyed that if he is to bring in a Senior International player (as he did this week by adding Wilman Conde), he would expect that player to be a starter, a welcome relief to FIRE fans who’ve had to suffer through the Bedrossian-era. Among the varied questions that Osorio was asked, two of his opinions really stood out. As opposed to many pundits, he does not believe that NCAA regulations are hurting the progress of players in this country due to the top players finding summer leagues and PDL experience. He believes that the shortcomings of the college games lie in the coaching. Osorio was at his most animated when asked to compare MLS to EPL. He took offense to those who downplay the quality of MLS. Having the unique perspective of coaching in both leagues, Osorio believes that MLS-quality is equivalent to that of lower half EPL. “These are teams that can be beaten by MLS teams.” He believes that MLS teams could beat upper half EPL teams, but it would take some remarkable effort. On that note……….

Quote of the Week I:
Steve McClerran on the standard of MLS (source Liverpool Daily Post):
“I think it was possibly, top-of-the-Championship-lower Premier League. But I get the sense that in type of game, and that type of atmosphere, David will be okay.”

Read it and weep haters! This is a great vindication for our league particularly in light of all the harsh media accounts domestic and overseas and the constant Euro snob batter that MLS takes. The foreign press should know better, however we can’t expect Euro snobs or American sports writers to know anything about the sport.

Quote of the Week II:
Spanish player Xavi on the quality of the Greek pitch they are to play on today (source LA Times): "Anyone who plays on that pitch has a good chance of killing themselves."

It seems like eons ago that David Beckham launched a perfect ball over the DC United wall and into the side netting setting off a world cup final level celebration amongst fans and providing some sweet relief for MLS. Later in the match, Becks turned Josh Gros with a beauty of a lead pass to Landon who coolly put it in the back of the net. Donovan, with all his great attributes, may just have established himself as the top breakaway artist in MLS history during the past week. The Galaxy meet Pachuca in the Superliga final at the HDC next week. It should be quite the spectacle.

Dynamo Net Jersey Sponsor
The Houston Dynamo became the sixth MLS team to wear a corporate logo on their jersey after inking a four year $7.5 million deal with Amigo Energy. The comprehensive deal includes signage, hospitality and pre- and post game naming. The size of the deal falls right in the middle of the five teams that are not named RedBulls.

MLS Week 20 – Our Finest Moment
(NOTE: Due to a hectic non-soccer schedule these days, I’m only reporting on the games that I actually had the pleasure of watching.)
Revs v. Rapids – The WTFs (Revolution) put on a classic display of head scratching for 90 minutes delighting the 10k at beautiful DSG park. The Rapids put three past Matt Reis and the punchless Revs only force a single outbreak of Bouna-time. Oh Fernando, your team bought you another two weeks.

Gals vs. The Flagship – I won’t spend too much time on this game here. Amazing game, some wonderful skill, and a pair of goal keepers hung out to try by their terrible defenses.
MOTM: Clint Mathis – without Mathis’ control and explosiveness in the midfield the Flagship falls at home. The Empire Supporters club should make sure frail Reyna never sees the pitch again.

RSL vs. FIRE – The FIRE, that’s to Blanco, controlled this one from start to finish. Osorio, who had been working hard with his team all week on set pieces, was overjoyed when Blanco’s corner met net via Paulo Wanchope’s head. Despite that victory ensuring goal, this match will be remembered for the shot Blanco blasted from the 25 yard line into the far side corner. It was great to see so many “Fire” fans turn up in Salt Lake, although someone should tell them that the FIRE does not wear yellow.
MOTM: Cuauhtémoc Blanco – Blanco is in the process of reversing the curse of MLS for Mexican stars. His rugged style (when appropriate) is well suited to the league.

Week 20 Notes:
Chivas gets the job done against a dreadfully shorthanded UFC.
United disappoint the Crew’s biggest crowd since 2004 with a 2-0 road victory.
Houston reclaims west with clutch Ching goal in front of 19k+.
Revs rebound and shut down a disjointed Wizards.

MLS Commentators
Much has been made about ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel. While four commentators jammed into a booth can get annoying, particularly if one is Michael Wilbon, it is still far more preferable to the single announcer format. That form of commentating is dreadfully boring, despite being filed under “traditional” by footie-philes. The optimal format would be the classic American play-by-play guy with a knowledgeable and opinionated color guy, a role that Eric Wynalda perfectly fills. His ideal compatriot would be the terrific Glenn Davis or the highly knowledgeable Max Brentos, however, you’ll have plenty that “can’t stand” Brentos either. I could take or leave the sideline report, but the interviewing coaches in the middle of matches has to go!

Sir Bobby’s Big Mouth
English football legend Sir Bobby Robson again cast doubt on Beckham’s ability to play for England while playing for a US club team. “In the short term, he looks OK. But the longer he plays in America, with respect to the football being played there, the less competitive he will become, “ Robson told The Daily Telegraph. Robson cited the reels of MLS films he had reviewed as well as his onsite study about MLS quality this year. Oh wait, rather, these are the ramblings of an irrelevant washed up manager looking to stay in the papers in England. Formula for that: bad mouth America while mentioning David Beckham.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (2-5)
SEASON (42-73)

The Flagship v. DC United – The good ship Arena takes the Mo from Saturday and blows by their rivals for a change.

FIRE v. Wizards – The reborn FIRE and their new found road fanbase take Arrowhead by storm and do their best impersonation of early season Wizards.

Goats v. Gals – Superclassico becomes the inflightclassico as Becks and Landon rush back from the land of Euro to play limited minutes. Too back Chivas USA is sick of living in their shadow and punish the Gals on their home pitch.

United vs. UFC – The futility record is set and extended as Mo’s MASH ward grows. United drops UFC again by the lake.

The Flagship vs. Revs – Who the heck knows what to make of the Revs? I’ll go with a spirited draw here between the two least predictable teams in MLS.

Crew vs. Dynamo – With a myopic focus, the Dynamo are a dangerous team and the Crew seem to be running on empty.

Wizards vs. FIRE – It is darn tough to beat a team twice in a week, so I’ll say the Wizards get a draw in front of a capacity Toyota Park crowd.

Gals vs. Rapids – The Clavejo phoenix manages a draw against the Galaxy who have their playoff backs against a wall.

RSL vs. Chivas USA – Chivas is on a roll and RSL is always getting rolled. No trend change here.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 08/15/07


Beckham Enters
I’m not sure what you expected on those Beckham long passes and his one free kick. On the free kick, Carlos Pavon met it at the near post was completely covered and did fairly well getting the ball anywhere near the goal. Long pass number one, was easily dealt with by Troy Perkins, while his long pass to Donovan should have resulted in a PK. It’s not like every time Beckham passed in EPL or La Liga it lead to a goal. I sometimes wonder whether the MLS critics watch anything other than highlights from other leagues.

LA is a better team than they’ve showed this year, but they need time in training with Beckham. I thought their biggest error is playing Donovan as a forward. He is always more effective when he get more touches as an attacking mid. The problem for LA is that they have Beckham, Donovan and Kyle Martino with Attacking Mid as their best position. I say leave hothead Martino on the bench and play Becks right in the center, with Donovan just in front of him and Buddle/Pavon up top.

To the dismay of a great Revs crowd, Becks sat out against the Revolution a couple of days after his United debut due to his arch nemesis Field Turf coating the field. Just as Becks and the Gals get people on board the flying and ankles and swelling and swamp gas excuse, word comes out that by apparently flying the plane backwards to LA, Beckham is suddenly “78%” ready to play in Thursday’s Superliga fixture. Here’s the bottom line: Becks isn’t going to play on Field Turf unless he’s 100%. Sorry New York, but you still might get a token appearance, after all the game is on national TV.

Here’s a quick Becks PT equation:
National TV:
ABC (+6), ESPN (+4), Fox Soccer (+2), All Other Channels (0)

Grass (+2), Field Turf (-2)

Eastbound (-2), Westbound (+2), No flight (+1)

Advance Ticket Sales:
36,000+ (+4), 22,000 – 36,000 (0), 0 – 22,000 (-2)

Negative – Hugo Boss Suited Becks
0-4 – Warm-up bench Becks
4-8 – Limited Minutes Becks
8+ - Full 90 Becks

Enough ankle gate for now……..

The Dynamo/Pachuca rematch lived up to the hype and became an instant Superliga classic. This game had everything ugly in it, but made for a thrilling evening for 21,000+ at Robertson Stadium. Playing a role in the match; a face volley, three ejections, a shootout, last minute heroics. The Dynamo took a lead thanks to some great right side work by Brian Mullan who smoked his defender on the way to the endline. At the endline, he sends in a low cross to the feet of an open DeRo who takes a crack at it. The ball ricochets off of his face and into the back of the net from 10 yards out! Not a goal of the year candidate, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. The Dynamo topped this feat by poorly heading a ball back to the keeper from near midfield ten minutes later. It fell to the feet of a Pachuca forward who was brought down by Patrick Ianni who was given a straight red card. While the ensuing free kick from just outside the box amounted to nothing, Pachuca did manage to tie the game before the half. The second half saw more excellent ball possession by Pachuca and eventually a great goal from Andres Chitiva. The outmanned Dynamo seemed headed toward the inevitable until the 83rd minute when Eddie Robinson powered home the tying goal, setting off wild celebration throughout the majority of fans in Robertson. The game was headed toward overtime, but not before Chitiva was awarded his second yellow for diving of all things. Back on level terms, the Dynamo found some decent offense in the first extra frame until substitute Cory Ashe was sent into the midfield camera stand by a Pachuca defender. While still on the ground, a dazed Ashe then attempted to cleat a nearby Pachuca player earning him a dismissal as well. Both team’s defenses held and off to the shoot out we go. Neither keeper could stop the first three chances. The first miss came courtesy of US national team striker Brian Ching, who had keeper Miguel Calero leaning the wrong way and still managed to hit the post. Houston keeper Pat Onstad rescued the moment by saving the next Pachuca attempt. Joseph Ngwenya tried to really put the pressure on the Mexican side by rolling the limpest penalty kick taken by an MLS side since Ante Razov’s MLS Cup 2003 attempt. Calero stood his ground and used his groin to stop the shot since he didn’t even need his hands, while wagging a finger at Ngwenya. Rafael Marquez Lugo finished over a diving Onstad to seal Pachuca’s place in the Superliga final. This game was a tribute to the potential of this new tournament and the equality of the top teams in CONCACAF.

Stars and Stripes Swap Sides
Due to irreconcilable contractual differences ($), the Red, White and Blue (nicknames for our national team are welcome in feedback), will not get the pleasure of visiting Azteca Stadium on September 9th. Our boys have to settle for Brazil at Solider Field. Drat! I mean, now I get to see the Yanks give the Samba boys a shot within walking distance of my house. Oh, cruel fate! I have seen a quality for quality swap like this since Deep Purple replaced legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore mid-tour with legendary guitarist Joe Satriani. I guess that makes it three victories we’ve scored over Mexico this year.

MLS Week 19 –
LA vs. United – With Becks clearly ready to take his MLS bow serial idiot, Kyle Martino foolishly dives in on Fred’s ankle and gets sent off, sending his team to certain doom. In the UK they would call it a “horror tackle” here we just call it dumb! Few in the crowd likely saw the tackle given that it coincided with Becks removing his warm-up shirt. I’m surprised that any of the ESPN cameras even were trained on the action. I’m mean, there was a man running back and forth on the sideline for 20 minutes! Landon Donovan did a good disappearing job for 60 minutes. Shocking that this would happen when he was playing up top. The good news is that the home team won and everybody when home happy. Except for LA. Hey went to New England frustrated.

Crew vs. Dallas – This might be Fox’s match of the year. A rather anemic first half gave way to a wild finish at PHP. Dallas had to shelve Juan “The Revelation” Toja due to a Superliga injury. Oft injured Adrian Serioux started the match but was shockingly injured in the first half and was replaced. Only Columbus could score in the first half that saw each team taking control of the action. The second half began with a great deal of Columbus pressure, but it was Dallas that scored off a nice bit of opportunism from a Arturo Alvarez who finished in a classy manner when the ball deflected to his feet in the box. The score wasn’t tied for long as Columbus converted a penalty kick after Chris Gbandi dragged down Wild Man Hedjuk just near the end line. Andy Herron handled the PK with ease. The goal of the game began at the foot of goat in waiting Marcelo Saragosa. Who finished Oddly, the crowd seemed to steadily grow from minute 0 to 70.
MOTM: Dax McCarty

Dynamo vs. Rapids – It was Bouna time and is still Clavejo time at DSG Park, however, all this result got him was a stay of execution. I only managed to see highlights of this game due to the HDNet Blackout, but it didn’t appear that I missed much.
MOTM: No Position to Judge

UFC vs. The Flagship – What do we do when you are being marked closely and Mo Johnston I your coach? You punch the defender in the gut and get away with it! I wouldn’t expect to see Andrea Lombardo for a bit UFC fans. He can visit the rest of the team in the ER this week. This match also gave us the great National Post headline “Toronto FC Crushed by New York Teenager.”
MOTM: Jozy Altidore – His second goal may have sealed his transfer to Euroland.

LA vs. Revs – Yallop pulled his head out of his butt for one game to start a line-up that has a modest chance at success. Two forwards up top backed by Landon Donovan at attacking mid. Crazy, I know! However, it was the same old result for the Galaxy who were without Abel Xavier who would have prevented the Revolution goal. What was also made clear in this match is that Ty Harden is not improving. Only the play of Joe Cannon and some Revolution misfires kept this match from getting ugly. The Galaxy had some moments, but it would be nice if they could ever field the same team twice. If LA manages the playoffs this year, it will make Real Madrid’s 2007 feats seem small by comparison. Frank Yallop knows Alexi Lalas has fired managers for less, but Yallop is not a miracle worker. A combination of rash front office moves, key injuries and media whirlwind have combined to turn the Galaxy into the most publicized soap opera on grass and Yallop it’s all too weak adhesive.
MOTM: Shalrie Joseph for being everywhere all evening.

MLS Commentators
Much has been made about ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel. While four commentators jammed into a booth can get annoying, particularly if one is Michael Wilbon, it is still far more preferable to the single announcer format. That form of commentating is dreadfully boring, despite being filed under “traditional” by footie-philes. The optimal format would be the classic American play-by-play guy with a knowledgeable and opinionated color guy, a role that Eric Wynalda perfectly fills. His ideal compatriot would be the terrific Glenn Davis or the highly knowledgeable Max Brentos, however, you’ll have plenty that “can’t stand” Brentos either. I could take or leave the sideline report, but the interviewing coaches in the middle of matches has to go!

A Friend in the MediaYesterday morning, I was watching C-Span2's Book Symposium (I dig deep for you people!) featuring Dave Zirin. Zirin is a non-conformist American sports writer who was discussing his latest book, "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" The title alone made me think about soccer of course. Although the audience didn't touch on our favorite sport, I did manage to find quite a bit about Zirin online. As part of an interview, he had this interesting observation that many of us can relate to:
“You know, when you talk about liking soccer in the U.S., people act like you're taking French lessons at the local Muslim school. You might as well burn the flag in your backyard. The fact is, it's the most popular youth sport in the United States. Whether people want to admit it or not, soccer is a major sport in this country.”
At his website, he did have this must read article about a life changing event at a soccer match.

Quote of the Week (source ESPN Soccernet)
Sigi Schmidt on David Beckham: "When you look at his face, he's not here for retirement. He's not here for a paycheck. He's here to step on the field to win games. That's not something you can hide or disguise."

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (3-2)
SEASON (40-68)

Revs vs Rapids – poetic that the Revolution will be the team to send Clavijo out to the unemployment line again.

Chivas vs. UFC - the woes continue for Mo’s Street Fighting team as rested Chivas blasts a broken team.

United vs. Crew – A classic match-up that finally means something again. Look for the Crew to rebound from last weeks let down and score a big win over the Eastern Conference foes.

Galaxy vs. The Flagship – 15 minutes of Becks isn’t enough to save the Gals from their third consecutive league defeat.

FIRE vs. RSL – These two struggling, but rising sides battle to a well played draw. The point earned does little to inspire playoff dreams amongst their fans.

Dallas vs. Dynamo – Fear the Fish! Dallas is a very dangerous team now and should dump the Dynamo on their home turf.

Revs vs. Wizards – This is one to Tivo! I believe in the Wizards at home.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 08/08/07



Well, well well. Look who isn’t so damn superior after all. Chivas, America and Morelia went crashing out of Superliga leaving Pachuca as the only remaining Mexican side to face the three surviving MLS teams (LA, Houston, and DC). Pre-season was never recognized as an excuse during CONCACAF Champions Cup and I don’t want to hear it now, either. The Mexican teams didn’t even contribute to the most entertaining game, leaving that to Dallas and LA Galaxy.

Let’s call it like it is now. The Mexican and American football are on even footing in the quality department at the league and international levels. Luckily that is due to a rise in quality here, rather than a decline south of the border.

Shame on MLS
Add Beckham’s Ankle-gate to the list of MLS contradictions, right behind wanting passionate fans, but also wanting the fans to tone it down for the soccer moms and their young-ins. On one hand you have Alexi Lalas telling everybody that when you buy a ticket to see the LA Galaxy you are paying to see a team. The other hand put together a back loaded road schedule, a gala press conference and a player-centric portion of mlsgear.com. The MLS brass is not fooling anybody! Alexi, is the Galaxy’s schedule back loaded due to the high demand of seeing the Galaxy post July? I’ll agree with brass that no refunds should be issued, because no one can guarantee that a player will not be injured or suspended, but let’s not BS about why record crowds are showing up in the first place.

Speaking of the foolishness of the league, believe it or not, they sure have a blind spot in their Beckham marketing. Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen David Beckham play in a short sleeve jersey in the past five years. I’m not seeing any hands at this time. Now raise your hand if you’ve seen any long-sleeve Beckham jerseys for sale in the Beckham Collection online. I’m still not seeing any hands. Wake up MLS!!! With Becks sidelined indefinitely, you can’t afford to drop these many balls!

Shame on the Commentators
All week, commentators have been weighing in on Freddy Adu’s transfer to Benfica. While most of the pundit chatter has been accurate (right time, good price, correct style of play), I’m shocked at the amount of people that have spoken about him NOW having to earn his playing time. Didn’t he transfer to RSL because he was having to earn his playing time? Wasn’t he put out on the wing because Christian Gomez and Mhedi Ballouchy were in his natural position? Didn’t Pitor Nowak make this kid earn a spot in the DC United line-up from day one breaking the ground for Beckham’s high priced cameos? Freddy and the pundits should be praising Nowak for teaching him the lesson about earning his place in the starting line-up. That experience alone will keep Adu from becoming Cletus II. As for the other major question about Freddy: “Why does he perform so well with the national teams, but not in MLS.” I’ve got an answer for that too! Ready…….
This isn’t rocket science people.
For the second time in a year, Adu has transferred to a side that plans to play him at his natural position. We’ll see if those promises ring as hollow as they did on this side of the pond.

Shame on the Rapids
I don’t care how MLS or the Rapids want to dress up their 5-0 trashing at the hands of A-League side Seattle Sounders, that result is an absolute disgrace for a team that was vying for their first Cup. It could be a blessing in disguise for Rapids fans who can’t wait to see Fernando Clavijo axed.

MLS Week 17 – Goal Seekers
KC v. Revs – An entertaining showdown resulted in the Revs staking their sole claim to first place and KC wondering where their second half offense went. Perhaps they should ask some of the bruised members of The Fort who were no doubt clipped by wild shot from Yura Movsisyian and Kerry Zavagnain. While he didn’t get much PT, Adam Christman showed how to stoke a counter attack with a brilliant (and I don’t throw that term around like they do in Jolly Olde) pass to Steve Ralston in the closing minutes of the match. Christman then turned around and sprinted down the field. He was rewarded with a perfect pass from Ralston (expect the best) and calmly slotted past Kevin Hartman to seal the deal at 2-0.
MOTM: Matt Reis – Kept KC off the scoreboard and was huge in the first half.

Crew v. FIRE – Blanco, Wanchope and Rolfe on the pitch at the same time. Here come the fireworks! This is exactly what a sell-out crowd on a gloomy Chicago night was expecting. However, the Trident of Death failed to skewer the Columbus defense nor change the complexion of a dull match. After the match the Crew’s Frankie Hedjuk whined about the all the fouls that Cuauhtemoc Blanco drew (6). However, he didn’t mention the amount of times that the referee waved the “get up” signal at the new Chicago star without blowing the whistle (6).
MOTM: Matt Pickens for an amazing, game saving stop in the 87th minutes.

Rapids v. Dallas – Dallas shut out the anemic Rapids offensive and Drew Moor decided to help out my weak fantasy team with a goal. Dallas did what the needed to do despite coming off a brutal Superliga campaign.
MOTM: Drew Moor scored the games only goal and contributed to the Dallas shutout.

Dynamo v. RSL – The Superliga did claim the spirit of the Dynamo who got dropped by another timely Robbie Findlay goal. Despite the Dynamo’s weariness, this is certainly one of the shock results of the year. Combined with the Dallas win, it certainly makes things more interesting out west.
MOTM: Robbie Findlay – To send the deserving RSL fans home with a smile for once.

United v. Revs – Speaking of shock results, who saw this DC demolition coming. The Revs simply did not show up to play. From Matt Reis, lax play that led to the first goal to an “attack” that failed to have any good ideas all afternoon, the Revs got outclassed when everything was in their favor. The Revs had home field advantage. Fred was suspended for DC. Jamie Moreno and Christian Gomez started on the bench and only Moreno made an appearance. Apparently the Revs defense though Luciano Emelio was on the bench too, because no one bothered to mark him. The result? A brace and a 3-0 beat down administered by the wobbly, but dangerous United.
MOTM: Luciano Emelio for two quality goals.

Galaxy v. UFC – The World Greatest Sideline show traveled to Toronto and Hugo Boss suits got some nice press from Becks, Alexi Lalas and Frankie Yallop. Beck’s decided against the stylish LA Galaxy lapel pin, but did manage to scowl the entire match. ESPN again decided to broadcast a long block of a bench player, but also had the good sense to make the Toronto crowd its second biggest star of the evening. The Galaxy reverted to the non-Superliga form and tried to make all watchers believe that the six goal outburst earlier in the week was a mirage. Toronto really pushed any attack in this match and looked the more likely to score, but was continually thwarted by Joe Cannon.
MOTM: Maurice Edu pushed the Toronto game and played with emotion all match.

Fair and Balanced Journalism
This article is a fair take on soccer’s misfires from a casual fan perspective and this is the type of article that journalists of the future will write in the country. It is good to see that after the bashers had their fun, that the soccer-open journalists are still following the Beckham story even if all the press does not reflect well on MLS. It is great to see the “Well, show me” articles rather than the typical “I don’t care” ones. Of course, there are still the Euro Snobs which Bill Simmons falls directly into the category of with his continual MLS bashing and recent jibe at the Beckham situation. Anyone still harping on the, “Why Soccer Won’t Work Here” train of though, have really missed the boat. Soccer is already working here and is well on its way to passing the NHL in the national consciousness, if it hasn’t already. And for the record, I don’t judge the national consciousness by what ESPN shows. They managed to avoid most Gold Cup highlights despite some NFL level crowds.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (1-5) (much like RSL, I’m just focusing on getting back to .500%)
SEASON (37-66)

LA vs. United – After watching that game in New England, you’d be afraid to pick against United too! I’d be shocked if Becks isn’t dressed for this one on natural turf.

UFC vs. The Flagship – The Arena Bulls crush a spirited, but clunky Canadian team.

Crew vs. Dallas – In what should be the most entertaining match of the weekend, the Crew and Dallas fight to a draw.

Dynamo vs. Rapids – I would not want to be in the Rapids shoes now. The only worse place to be would be Fernando Clavijo’s shoes. A loss and he’s gone.

LA vs. Revs – Becks sees more than 12 minutes, but LA still can’t handle a motivated Revolution.

Quote of the Week (source USA Today)
Bruce Arena on the State of the RedBulls when he arrived last season:
"You'd sit around every day and wait around for the Giants to say if you can use the field, and it's generally, 'No.' And then you got in the vans to go to a high school field or another field. I was shocked. ... There's no reason why anyone should expect this franchise to be any better than it is today. Frankly, it's overachieved."

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 08/01/07


SuperLiga – Solo un Partido
Let’s face it, there is only one game that anyone will talk about when the first round of Superliga is brought up in discussion. That would be the 6-5 goal fest between FC Dallas and LA Galaxy that put the Gals through to the Semi-finals. Dallas fans were already on edge after hearing that Becks wasn’t allowed on the Galaxy Cruiser headed to the Big D. To add insult to injury, Dallas allowed four goals in the first 18 minutes. Arturo Alverez pulled one back before the half for the Hoops, but they were still staring a significant deficit in the face at halftime and the frustration showed as Juan Toja and Alvarez were issued yellow cards in first half extra time. Dallas came back on the pitch with a mission and it almost paid immediate dividends with Carlos Ruiz drilling a bicycle kick into the back of the net two minutes into the half. Unfortunately, the linesman correctly judged Ruiz to be in an offside position. LA’s defenses held due to some stellar keeping from Joe Cannon until the 78th minute when all hell broke loose. First Dallas narrowed the gap to two goals thanks to Toja. Four minutes later, Alvarez got his second narrowing the score line to 4-3. Apparently this didn’t sit well with Landon Donovan who put together a Maradona-style ¾ of the pitch run, darting through the Dallas defense, juking Dario Sala and finishing calmly before making the throat slash celebration, which earned him a yellow. This match was still far from over.
Extra time, was plenty of time for Dallas to slip another past Cannon narrowing the gap to one again. In the 95th minute the Gals answered with a counter attack in which Donovan found Carlos Pavon wide open at the far post, who blasted the ball past Sala for a 6-4 score line. With a last gasp Dallas AGAIN narrowed the deficit to one goal with an Abe Thompson header off a Dax McCarthy corner. The game had to end at that point to the disappointment of the fans who saw nothing short of an amazing game and had no reasonable gripes with management despite the absence of Becks. Although you can’t tell that to Dave Thomas of the Star-Telegram, who don’t even have an FC Dallas section on their sports page.

Check out these statistics:
Donovan – 1 goal, 3 assists
Gordon – 2 goal, 1 assist
Alvarez – 2 goals
Toja – goal, assist

The great thing about Superliga is what many of us US Soccer supporters have hoped for has been the case, MLS teams and FMF teams seem to be on equal footing. Only Chivas has managed a win over a MLS side to this point. DC has been aided by a couple of red cards, while Houston left their foot off the gas against Morelia to put both DC and Houston on the bubble tonight.

MLS Week 16 – Meanwhile in Non-Border War Action
LA Goats v. The Flagship – Something tells me that MLS defenses have figured out JPA. Chivas did a great job of shutting down a flat Flagship and sent them off into a long break on a down note.
MOTM: Ante Razov

Revs v. RSL – Those RSL boys can’t seem to keep their frustrations to themselves! Beckerman was a lynchpin for the tea, but RSL, yet again, gave up a late goal to fall at home against the Revs. Again, I believe that this match was a positive step for RSL. Falling to a late goal, while playing a man down against one of the best in the league isn’t as shameful as some of RSL previous losses.
MOTM: No position to judge

FIRE v. UFC – The revamped FIRE managed to take down a bruised UFC in convincing fashion on Sunday. Blanco was every bit the field general he was expected to be when he was signed. His presence has been what was missing from this team since the departure of Peter Nowak. Yeah, it’s been a while. This fixture was also an audition of sorts for Calen Carr and Chad Barrett to play opposite new signing Paulo Wanchope. Barrett may have played himself off the team with his uneven performance, while Carr was arguably the best player on it. Carr played with an extra gear all match and should be starting with Wanchope up top come Saturday.
MOTM: Calen Carr

LA Goats v. KC – Another thriller in KC, but this time Yura Movsisyian was actually on target! His late goal sends the Wiz to win following last weeks disappointing draw with the Rapids. Kerry Zavagnain, who hadn’t scored since 2003 now has three goals this season, two of which might be up for Goal of the Year discussion.

Friendly Action
Aston Villa swash buckled through North America last week and diced up UFC and the Crew in what were entertaining, but disappointing matches for MLS fans. Neither side took the games too seriously and it showed in the goal tallies, but made for fun watching.

Transfer of the Week
Paulo Wanchope joined the FIRE this week and John Guppy has managed to completely remake this team midyear. The Wanchope move is massive no matter which way you look at it. The FIRE instantly have one of the regions most recognized players, a great finisher and a leader for an aimless group of forwards. Blanco has a quality player to pass to and the Costa Rican fans have another FIRE player to root for. Great news all around!

I couldn’t use another Adu, Adieu, etc. reference that has been used in every single paper in the country. As expected on the heels of an amazing U-20 World Cup performance, Freddy Adu is off to Euroland to play for Benefica. An excellent choice by Adu and his agent! The Portuguese league is great for Freddy’s development, but if he though it was tough getting off the bench in DC, wait until he arrives in the land of Port and Cork. Here’s hoping Adu can make it work for the sake of our national team.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (1-3)
SEASON (36-61)
KC v. Revs – A rematch of an early season classic, in which EJ scored a hat trick. Don’t expect the same. KC’s defense has been shaky as of late and the Revs play tough at home. Revs take the three points.

Crew v. FIRE – A resurgent FIRE tops the Crew as Blanco and Wanchope have their home coming out party.

Rapids v. Dallas – A rested Rapids manage a draw versus a depleted Dallas.

Dynamo v. Salt Lake – Just RSL’s luck that once they start putting together some promising play, they have the hottest teams in the league lining up on their schedule. Dynamo in a tight one.

United v. Revs – Another Eastern super battle. I’ll take the Revs to topple a road weary DC United.

Galaxy v. UFC – Will he or won’t he? If you were Frank Yallop, would you let David Beckhams’ fragile ankle near a Mo Johnston team. Mo might just stomp on it in the Friday presser! Look for the Galaxy to build on the Superliga momentum over a gutted UFC.


The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour – Glenn talks about Becks.
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 07/24/07


The Beckham Phenomenon
Can we all agree now, that the phenomenon that is David Beckham joining the Galaxy has been much greater than anyone could have predicted or imagined? From the 100+ security restrained photogs vying to get a picture of him sitting on the bench to the frenzied reaction of the LA fans new and old, this January transfer has proven a masterstroke to this point. It really didn’t seem to matter that the player of focus only stepped on the pitch for 16 minutes or that LA was miraculously holding Chelsea to one goal, the game was a coronation ceremony, the likes of which are rarely seen in any sport in any country. The fact that I watched the game on 2 big screen TVs in the middle of a Colorado casino is an indicator of the impact MLS’ of the Beckham transaction. 110 countries carried this “glamour” friendly, I can’t imagine that they, and the rest of LA, won’t sign-up for more Galaxy games. Lastly, a sure sign that Beckham-mania is to the point of absurd, this article is about the man that truly ushered in the Becks era, the fourth official.

SuperLiga – Dia Uno
The SuperLiga is off to a decent start for MLS squads trying to prove their worth to Mexican Americans. Chivas immediately lived up to the diving stereotypes as Dallas’ new find ran within a foot of a diving Ernesto Miguel. Immediately Miguel feigned being clipped by Richardhino’s run and prompted a nearly five minute delay with his theatrics. FC Dallas managed to jump to a 1-0 lead due to a complex chip from Arturo Alvarez in the 56th minute, ushering in the crazy portion of the game. A minute after his insertion into the match, Chivas’ Antonio Olvera blasted a shot past a diving Ray Burse, Dallas third string keeper making his first start in place of injured Dario Sala and Shaka Hislop. What the referee failed to notice was Olvera clearly settling the ball with his left hand prior to his excellent strike. Despite the pleas of the Hoops, the goal stood. Tempers flared minutes later as Drew Moor received an elbow to the face by a Chivas defender. Unnoticed, again, by the refereeing crew, Moor ill advisedly took matters into his own right hand, striking the defender and receiving a red card in the process. This action prompted a near brawl involving every player on the pitch. Dallas managed to hang on for a draw. The draw has to be seen as a disappointment for the MLS side, given the nearly reserve squad that Chivas fielded. Only four Chivas players that saw action in their last competitive match took the field in Dallas. Further the Hoops had trouble connecting on passes all match.

The Galaxy shocked North America as they managed to top a nearly full strength Pachuca at the Home Depot Center. Joe Cannon was a beast between the pipes while Abel Xavier consistently cleared the area of danger as LA was under siege all evening. The Galaxy opened the scoring on a one-time strike from Alan Gordon, bringing Becks and son Cruz out of their skybox chair. Gordon was the recipient of a positively Beckham-esque pass from “Capitan Landon” that found Gordon’s chest between two defenders. Pachuca though they had sealed a draw in the 78th minute with a neat flick past Cannon by Rafael Marquez Lugo, but the Galaxy had other plans. Pressing the attack near the end of the match Donovan again sent a pass, cross field to Cobi Jones. Jones dribbled past his defender and rocket a shot toward goal directly into the path of Donovan. A leaping Landon deflected the ball past Pachuca keeper Miguel Calero for the three points.

Blanco Stokes Friendly FIRE
Yet again the chorus must be sung (“it was only a friendly”), but for one afternoon Cuauhtémoc Blanco made the 2007 version of the Chicago Fire appear to be a respectable football club. Celtic, fresh off being embarrassed in Colorado by the MLS All-Stars, strolled into Toyota Park expecting an easy win at the house of the Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers and not many home fans would disagree with them. What both parties received was a show that left league officials wishing that Blanco had donned a Beckham costume the evening before in LA. Temo put on a display of showmanship that left Celtic bumping into each other and his new teammates giggling. Blanco’s combination of skill and theatrics were on full display during the afternoon. He trapped a long pass with his ass, threw in the famed Blanco hop/bounce, dummied a Celtic defender out of his kilt, backheeled with precision and even scored a goal that looked eerily similar to that of Juan Pablo Angel’s three days prior. This is a player that the casual fan will pay to see, although one can’t help but be disappointed with the far-from-a-sell-out crowd that was in the stands Sunday. Despite the attendance failing, for the moment it looks like John Guppy is re-writing the entry on his tenure with Chicago. The Gupster hires Blanco, fires a coach who was only slightly less popular than he, and now on the verge of delivering Costa Rican assassin, Paulo Wanchope.

Other Friendly Action
Aston Villa kicks off their preseason this week with two tough matches against the best MLS crowd and one of the hottest MLS teams. Villa likely will be wondering if they landed on the right continent when they walk out on the BMO field pitch and are subjected to the howls of U-Sector and the Red Patch Boys. Then Villa travels to Columbus to take on GBS and the Crew. Marty O’Neill’s EPL side better be wary! The shock of the friendly season took place in Utah last week as MLS laughing-stock RSL took down UEFA-cup bound Everton 2-0. RSL had fitness and substitutions on their side, however only Tim Howard looked like a professional footballer for the Merseysiders. A few days later, RSL managed a draw against mighty Boca Juniors.

MLS Week 15 – Actual League Games Too?
Dynamo v. Revs – I’ve heard it mentioned in numerous circles that many fans of the league were disappointed that MLS did not do a better job of promoting this big match between the top Eastern and Western sides in lieu of hyping the Beckham debut. Even if they did, would it have gotten the attention it deserved? Likely not. Heck, most of the people that turned out for this showcase of a match were still at the concession booths when DeRo smashed in the Goal of the Week. Seem difficult for fans and the league alike to get their timing right.

United v. The Flagship – Woly’s header tops United and officially takes them out of the “hottest team” discussion. The Flagship, meanwhile, finds themselves tied for the Eastern Conference lead with New England. Five teams are within three points of each other in a race that can count out Toronto or a re-loading Chicago.

UFC v. Crew – Wil Hessmer and the Columbus defense continued it’s strong form blanking the masquerading mixed martial arts squad, but GBS dazzles the home crowd with two big goals and continues Columbus’ unrelenting surge up the Eastern Conference standings. The Hunt family announced that GSB’s jersey is set to be retired by the end of the week.

Rapids v. Wizards – EJ hits for two more, but a feisty Rapids side twice climbed back into the match to salvage a draw at Arrowhead. The Rapids, down by one, were boosted by the ejection of Jose Burciaga Jr. in the 67th minute and took advantage ten minutes later with DC reject Facundo Erpen putting the ball in the back of the net. Rapid fans know things are going well when Jovan Kirovski hits the score sheet. He scored the only way he could, unmarked and from the spot.

Quote of the Week
Chris McGuire, sports marketing manager for adidas soccer:
"At this time the LA Galaxy David Beckham jersey is the number one-selling shirt in the world."

Why Pay to See an MLS Game?
Here is a breakdown of players and other reasons to get you out to see live football in the USA!
Eastern Conference
New England Revolution – Andy Dorman – The most underpaid player is a joy to watch.
New York Red Bulls – Juan Pablo Angel – The Columbian can read defenses like a book.
DC United – Christian Gomez – Deadly from set pieces and a passing wizard.
Kansas City Wizards – Eddie Johnson – A scoring machine, in league play.
Columbus Crew – Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Turned the team around and saved Sigi’s hide.
Toronto FC – The Fans – Staking their claim to “Best Fans in the League” since day one.
Chicago Fire - Cuauhtémoc Blanco – The showman has arrived.

Western Conference
Real Salt Lake – A New Beginning – You can’t compare the team to a Phoenix since 1) it has yet to begin to rise and 2) there was nothing to create any ashes in the first place, but Kries has restocked this club with youth and quality. Perhaps a Designated Player is on the way, but who would put extra butts in seats in Salt Lake? Keith van Horne? Bill Paxton?
LA Galaxy – David Beckham – As if I needed to type that.
Chivas USA – Maykel Galindo – The Cuban speedster is a great story and the primary reason Precki’s side isnt’ fighting RSL for division basement space.
FC Dallas – Juan Toja – The pick-up of the year thus far has big game to match his big hair. This Columbian international will not be around long if he continues.
Houston Dynamo – The Houston Dynamo – Mentioning any one player would slight the rest of this loaded team.
Colorado Rapids – Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – It’s a mouthful, but this venue is stunning. No details were overlooked (ala’ Chicago) and it makes for an incredible experience.

Transfer of the Week
It is not a done deal, but Freddy Adu is on his way to Europe. If the league gets the $7.5M they are looking for then it is a coup. Young Fredrick’s pricetag is not going to get any higher through league play. Here’s hoping that he gets some PT in Euroland or else I see a free transfer back to MLS in three years.

MLS Prediction Central
Last Week (3-2)
SEASON (35-58)

LA Goats v. The Flagship – The goats just can seem to work out their road troubles and the Flagship starts putting a streak together.

Revs v. RSL – The Jason Kreis youth movement is making me a beliver, but not over the top team in the East. RSL manages a draw.

FIRE v. UFC – A recharged FIRE remains winless against UFC, but gets a point for their troubles.

LA Goats v. KC – The road nightmare continues as KC makes amends for their poor showing last week.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour – Glenn talks about Becks.
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

7/21/07 – US Soccer Snob’s All-Star Emergency Report

Being one of those fortunate enough to attend this year’s MLS All-Star Game, to be renamed the MLS Legendary Club Ass-Kick Fest; I wanted to post my impressions of the evening.

The Hoopla
I arrived in Denver on Wednesday night and headed to one of the few Denver pubs on the FSC Pub Guide. Not exactly teeming with patrons donned MLS gear, but at least The Dream Team was on. I found out a day too late that I should have been at the British Bulldog or ESPN Zone. My bad, but how can you consider yourself unfortunate when you can score double tall Crown and Cokes for the price of a regular. The next day, both Denver papers were packed with All-Star information. I mean the game was on the front page with plenty about the team, Beckham and Celtic on the inside. There were even, fairly written pieces by sports columnists in both papers. Sadly, the Rocky Mountain News soiled their good name the next day by publishing a Bernie Lincicome piece. However, this anti-soccer piece was missing the typical Lincicome venom. This was a pleasant surprise given the terrible coverage the All-Star game received last year in Chicago. The Denver press treated the game as a major league All-Star of any league and for that I applaud them.

Outside the stadium, there was a bit of an All-Star village with skills challenges and player autograph signings. This was the site of the only FIRE representation of the evening. Ivan Guerrero and Matt Pickens were at separate booths and seemed to be pleasantly surprised to see a FIRE jersey at the proceedings. Diego Gutierrez was also in the Park promoting his charitable work.

The Facility
Simply stated, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is the best soccer facility I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. The complex is sprawling with a ton of lighted soccer fields for the yutes. Parking was free and it was on a paved surface. Are you reading this FIRE fans? Free and Paved. Rather than being subjected to the odors of the Argo Corn Starch facility, the DSG complex smells more like a golf course. The exterior of the stadium is nice and about the only area of the stadium that doesn’t surpass Toyota Park. After entering the park the opulence of DSG versus TP became clear. Management here figured out how to install a stadium club store that featured not only a ton of Rapids merchandise, but jerseys and scarves of every team in the league as well as a number of popular teams from around the globe. C’mon league wake up! Further, they managed to work all their merchandising facilities into the building and had no need for cluttering their wide concourses with blue and white outhouse merch booths. Imagine that! MLS or the Rapids did drop the ball here in that they didn’t offer two big-ticket items that would have flown off the shelf: 1. David Beckham jerseys (only 100 delivered to the park) 2. Mastroeni All-Star jerseys. The stadium has plenty of concessions areas with reasonable queues. It is also possible to easily walk all the way around the park. As one circles the facility, the south concourse has something that will make every FIRE fan green with envy. In what looks like a garage (but easily could be, of lets say a firehouse) sits a Cantina. The Cantina opens to the concourse with two large garage doors. There are also two large garage doors opening to the outside of the stadium. The outdoor portion of the Cantina features seating a beer booth and a couple of foosball tables. The garage structure has concessions on one side and a full bar on the other. The roof was adorned with flags from around the world. The Cantina is, in short, the perfect addition to a soccer stadium. Another nice feature of the park flanks the club seating section on the eastern concourse. On the concourse and the first level of seating, the Rapids offer box seating for four at a patio table with a server. Tremendous idea!! On top of all that, we were far from the first people to leave the game and it only took five minutes to exit the parking area. Kudos to Kronke for creating this facility it is truly top-notch.

The Match
Delayed for ten minutes due to lightening, the match eventually kicked off with Celtic only fielding a handful of their normal starters. This gamble by the Celtic coach seemed to work well for the first fifteen minutes as the MLS All-Stars could seem to find a rhythm producing a tedious feel to the match. Then DeRo and the Boyz (no H in that one) got rolling and started testing the flanks via Ronnie O’Brian and MLS revelation and number one Jimmy Page fan Juan Toja. Ricardo Clark was an early standout and seemed to really give the rest of the All-Stars confidence with a run right through the Celtic defense that was eventually snuffed out. Eddie Johnson started playing a bigger and bigger role in the match and eventually drew a clear penalty kick in the 30th minute, but Johnson’s effort was saved but Celtic keeper Artur Boruc who had a tremendous night despite the score line. The All-Stars broke through in the 36th minutes as DeRo fed Juan Pablo Angel in the box. Angle took a deft tough to evade a charging Boruc the slid the ball between the posts. Eight minutes later, Celtic failed to clear a DeRo free kick that bounced to the feet of an onside Toja who slipped the ball under the leg of a sliding Celtic defender to put the All-Stars up 2-0. The second half witnessed wholesale changes by both sides, but none of the subs would hit the back of the net. The 2-0 score line would hold for the second half maintain the MLS All-Stars undefeated status under the “vs. the World” format.

The Crowd
It was refreshing go to an MLS all-star game with a heavy pro-MLS crowd. Certainly the Celtic fans had greater cohesion of wardrobe, but the numbers were 70/30 in favor of MLS supporters. Heck, the Rapids supporters even tried to get an “MLS, MLS” chant going, which is more than could be said for the FIRE’s Section 8 last year. The Rapids fans did their best to make FIRE fans feel at home by displaying signs and wearing T-shirts begging for the ouster of their coach and GM. Ah, the comforts of home! I also had the pleasure of taking my cousin to his first professional soccer match. Although I don’t thing he’ll be buying Rapids season tickets anytime soon, he is likely to visit the facility again. Small steps!

Depeche Mode once sang, “I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors, but I think that God has a sick sense of humor.” This line took on relevance on Thursday as the soccer gods sat the writer of the US Soccer Snob Blog next to, yes, a Euro Snob. For most of the evening we sat in blissful ignorance of each other. I did pick up that he wasn’t rooting for MLS despite not donning a green and white striped jersey and not having a trace of an accent. No big deal, however the dam broke near the end of the second half, likely as combination of his frustration with his team and my vocal drunkenness which you’d think a Celtic fan would celebrate. Without any further adu, I give you, the conversation from hell:

Me to my cousin: This score is surprising since I’m sure that the All-Star would be the underdogs in this match.

ES: Actually, they were favored.

USSS: That’s surprising given the way the league is looked down upon around the world.

ES: Well it is an all-star team.

USSS: That’s true! I have no doubt that all the MLS players could play in the EPL.

ES(laughing dismissively): You’ve got to be kidding! Donovan is too much of a wussy to play in Europe. Did you see the World Cup last year?

USSS (set off): First, Donovan doesn’t want to play in Europe and second of all his performance was largely due to Bruce Arena’s positioning. You can’t expect Donovan to be effective chasing headers all game against a massive Czech backline. Have you watched a soccer game before today?

ES (noticing my jersey): You’re a FIRE fan, what the hell do you know?

(Cousin observing nervously)

USSS: I know enough about the f*%kin game to tell that you have no idea about what your taking about you f*$kin Euro poser.

ES (sheepishly): I don’t appreciate the profanity; there are children around here.

USSS: Ok, I’ll give you that one, but please try to watch a game sometime.

(Five minutes of silence elapse until full time is blown.)

USSS (extending my hand): I appreciate your passion for the game. Have a nice evening.

Evening Summary:

Had a few laughs in a facility, saw an interesting game, got a good result and got to go off and a Euro Poser. I highly recommend experiencing all four!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

US Soccer Snob’s US Soccer Update – 07/18/07


Quakes to Return
According to press reports out of the Bay Area, Don Garber will announce during the State of the League Address that the Quakes will return to the Bay Area despite not having a place to play next season. “Understandings” have been met between the Lew Wolff ownership group and the City of San Jose, just don’t ask Wolff for an address. Congratulations to the loyal Quakes fans and to Soccer Silicon Valley. Let this be a lesson to the groups across the country that are acting to save or bring soccer to their city (Philadelphia!).

Blanco Reports to FIRE
Most FIRE fans were worried about Blanco’s impact on the locker room when he signed for the FIRE, now those same fans can’t wait for him to arriving and start slamming slackers like Calen Carr and Chad Barrett against lockers! After watching this team mope its way through the last three months, it is clear that someone is needed to fight FIRE with fire! The no-BS injection of Coach Osorio and Temo will have underperforming players fearing for their lives after games. Can you imagine what will happen when Brian Hall makes the next terrible call against the FIRE while Temo is on the pitch? While, I don’t relish the though of the FIRE’s most high priced talent sitting out games due to suspension, it would be nice to see someone in a FIRE jersey look like they care about the team’s form. However, Luis reports that he did see the Houston game. Watch out!!

FIREsale part Three
All reports say the Fire are as good as sold to the family that brought you the Son of the better half of 7 and 7’s (potential Jimmy Buffett song?) will be the new owner of the FIRE. Andell Holdings will be taking over the fledgling FIRE in 30 to 45 day (crafted by a former Metrostar front office guy?). The only drawback is that this does not include the implicit ouster of GM John Guppy. Of course, it may be the wrong time to boot the surging Gupster after his hiring of Osorio, easily his most savvy move to date, despite the events of the past week.

Records go down in MLS
Three important records fell this week:
1. Houston Dynamo broke the league shutout record. The previous holders, walked away with the MLS cup the year they broke the record.
2. Steve Ralston broke the league assist record. The previous holder, walked away from the league with the biggest blond afro in history.
3. LA Galaxy shattered the MLS record for press passes given out for a player announcement. The previous record was 8.

MLS Week 15 – Can’t Stop Addicted to the Shindig
Dynamo vs. FIRE – This game was sadder than sad and unfortunately for us FIRE fans, a 4-0 spanking on the alleged night of hope (sell out, new coach, Mapp’s return) wasn’t the low point of the week (see: Cup, Open). At least Juan Carlos Osorio learned a great deal about his team during this debacle and now may have a clear view of just how far he has to bring this team to get to the promised land.
MOTM: Joseph Ngwenya – for his hard work and sublime skills on the third goal against the FIRE.

Hoops vs. United – United buries Dallas and the Hoops rise back to life thanks to the reappearance of Carlos Ruiz and the continued timeliness of Juan Toja. Tommy Soehn was rightly livid after this one that United had in the bag.
MOTM: Juan Toja – for sweeping the dust of the Dallas grave and pulling the rest of the team out of the ground.

Revs. vs. The Flagship – The Flagship has done rather well at home and you can’t expect to keep Angel off the score sheet forever.

RSL vs. Wizards – This one went almost according to plan by the 19th minute with EJ doing what he does (in league play), but RSL shut down the KC offensive juggernaut the rest of the match. Defense has not been a problem under the Kreis regime. The comical mistakes in the back that cost the team early on have, for the most part, gone away.
MOTM: No position to judge

Crew vs. LA Goats – Chivas USA is making Beckham’s home their own! This was a big win for Chivas and stay well situated in the playoff race ladder, just above Columbus thanks to the three points. This is the type of win that teams can point to as a reason they made the playoffs.
MOTM: No position to judge.

UFC vs. Dynamo – Here’s the deal. No team in the league is better prepared than UFC to handle red card situations. I’ve got to believe that this squad practices 10 on 11 more often than even strength. It is almost becoming inevitable and now number one draft pick Maurice Edu has been indoctrinated into the culture of violence! However, Houston did have every opportunity in the world to put this thing away, but couldn’t managed to put their shots on frame. A shocking development given the events of Thursday night.
MOTM: Carl Robinson – Directing traffic and shutting down attacks, Robinson was everywhere for UFC and helped salvage a point for his side.

Quotes of the Week
FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow on the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup:
"It's a big cup competition. I want to win and get my bonus."

Galaxy GM Alexi Lalas on English press potshots on MLS quality:
"It irritates me so much I want to put my fist through a wall--or through a television set playing Benny Hill,"

Beckham Update
OK, there is much to unearth here that hasn’t been reported 1,000 times over in every paper, but was nice to see that the LA Galaxy have sold in excess of 250,000 jerseys prior to their unveiling and that upon meeting some of his teammates, one of them introduced themselves, then asked Becks, “Nice to meet you. What’s your name?” Victoria’s show was quite entertaining and could be worth picking up for NBC (ratings dependent). We’ll know the Beckham’s are having if everyone starts saying “major”.

“Major” Inroad of the Week
This one is a bit dated, but HBO’s “Entourage” featured entourage leader Vince falling ass backwards into a betting syndicate led by Dennis Hopper. Vince was on the edge of losing big money on Manchester United until Hopper’s pal noted that he hadn’t called in the bets. Hopper then convinced Vince to bet on the next game featuring Brazil. No word on FIFA on if these back-to-back matches were on a official FIFA international match day.

MLS Trade of the Week
Jason Kreis and RSL fleeced the Rapids and obtained rising US National Team force Kyle Beckerman for inconsistent Mhedi Ballouchy. Each side had a clear motivation for the trade, with Colorado already having a Beckerman in Pablo Mastroeni and RSL already having a Ballouchy in Adu. Perhaps Freddy’s play in center at the U-20’s was the final straw in proving to RSL that he needs to play in the middle, this making Ballouchy expendable.

U-20 World Cup
They gave us some thrills and hope against Poland and Brazil, but ultimately reverted to their form against South Korea. They managed to salvage an extra time win against the poorest sports in the tournament Uruguay, but couldn’t manage to come from behind against a very good Austria side. At least we learned that Adu and Altidore are not flukes. The Crew has to be encouraged by the play of Danny Szetela.

US Open Cup
While this remains my favorite competition, it is disappointing to see the early ouster of some MLS sides who trotted out B teams and paid the price as the USL teams have proven more than up to the task! D.C. United was dispatched in farm country by the Harrisburg City Islanders. Richmond Kickers ousted the LA Galaxy, while the Charleston Battery ended Houston’s double hopes. Perhaps, Houston and LA were looking at their schedule and decided that it was crowded enough, but FC Dallas was also on the brink of elimination at the feet of the Atlanta Silverbacks before finally topping the USL side in a penalty kick shootout. Houston’s ouster prevented another meeting between the Texas in-state rivals. These results alone warrant expanded Fox Soccer Channel coverage of these matches.
On the other hand, New England and Colorado topped Rochester and California Victory by two goal margins. Both the Revs and Rapids fielded close to full strength sides, but the Revs needed two goals in extra time to dispatch the underlings.
Then there was the Chicago FIRE marking their franchise low point by dropping a 1-0 match to the Carolina Railhawks. The FIRE fielded a full strength team and was blanked by an A-league club that started a keeper that had yet to play a league match. That is as low as you can go folks!

Quote of the Week II:
Fox Soccer Channel’s David Steinberg to Multichannel news on if he was surprised about the Gold Cup final ratings topping the Stanley Cup finals average rating by 40%:
“Not at all. Soccer is definitely poised to supplant hockey as the No. 4 major team sport in this country. You can already see some indications of that happening. One is TV ratings and another is live attendance. MLS attendance is either on a par or slightly above average NHL attendance. If you look at the country as a whole as opposed to specific regions where hockey may be strong, you just don’t see the same level of awareness of that sport as you do with soccer. Those are all signs of soccer growing more popular.”

Soccer Hater of the Week
A perfect follow-up to our quote of the week II. Every time Joe American sports fan feels threatened by soccer (which should be all the time this week), the ignorant haters come out of the woodwork don’t they? I know that the entities vying to bring MLS to St. Louis can’t be happy after reading this joke of a column in the St. Louis Post-Distpatch by Bryan Burwell. I mean, there is poor research and then there is just straight-up denial. How do you define denial? I’d start by writing this sentence: “Even in a soccer hotbed like St. Louis, is there anyone who believes it will ever rise above the NHL or even the WNBA, and become a core American sporting pastime?” Hasn’t soccer (not just MLS, but all levels of soccer in this country) supplanted these sports already? The NHL is a close call, but if you think about national team games of all countries, friendlies and minor league soccer, even the NHL may trail attendance-wise. I guess this is the mindset developed by only watching Sportscenter (until recently).

Soccer Lover of the Week

Here is an all too rare knowledgeable soccer ink from a major sports mainstream sports columnist. Mike Downey joined the Chicago Tribune a number of years ago and wrote a column about how excited he was to be part of the Chicago sports scene. He mentioned the FIRE and his love of soccer. Unfortunately, as many of us know, the Chicago Tribune, historically has been reticent to provide space in their sports pages to the FIRE of any kind. I would rate their coverage, as far as space devoted to soccer, the worst in the United State among cities with MLS teams. Yes this includes Kansas City and the New York papers. Being immersed in this culture, Mike certainly was never encouraged to write about soccer, more than once every World Cup, where his great column would be offset by a typical “Who Care?” article from one of the other columnists. Although this trend is clearly changing on the heels of the construction of Toyota Park and the successful Gold Cup at Solider Field, it is all to rare that we see columns like this in either of the Chicago papers.

MLS Prediction Central

Last Week (2-4)
SEASON (32-56)

MLS All-Stars vs. Celtic FC – The off season Celtic are no match for a group of in-form players playing for potential European vacations. Oops, I broke soccer writer code. Players only come over to the US for vacations and semi-retirements. I forgot… Either way lifelong Rangers fan Stevie Nichol has a stacked squad to pick from and will be starting a three man back line. Should be a crac’…um’ exciting game. Sorry, I’ll get used to that.

Soccer Sunday?
Dynamo v. Revs – The Dynamo come into the Big Razor a manage a draw.

United v. The Flagship – The Flagship starts taking on water due to the big Angel hole up top. United over their rivals here.

UFC v. Crew – UFC bookends their road odyssey with losses as the Crew rebound from California disappointment.

Rapids v. Wizards – Shock! Ballouchy is not the answer. Wizards reclaim pole position in the east with a pretty win against the Rapids.

The Soccer/Dynamo Power Hour – Glenn couldn’t keep up with me this week, so you’ll have to settle for archives.
(NOTE: If you know a Podcast that needs to be added please let me know and post a link.)