Monday, February 26, 2007

US Soccer Update 2/24/07

CONCACAF Champions Cup Leg 1
The MLS sides Houston Dynamo and DC United met with mixed results in their opening matches in this years installment of the Champions Cup. Playing a grueling midday game in Costa Rica versus Puntarenas the Dynamo kicked off 2007 competition playing for fitness and a tie. Despite Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad went down with a leg injury midway through the first half, the wheels didn’t start falling off until US National Teamer Eddie Robinson was sent off for yellow card accumulation early in the second frame. The game also saw a Dynamo assistant coach shown the door. The officiating in the match was what many of us have come to expect from CONCACAF officials: spotty, inconsistent and questionable game changing refereeing. Fighting heat, the officials and a racous, but not sold-out, crowd, the Dynamo held their ground until the home team’s Kurt Bernard, a rumored MLS transfer target, slotted home the game winner in extra time.

The polar opposite of the mid day tilt was DC Uniteds triumphant and emphatic opening of the season blasting CD Olympia 4-1 on their home turf. 2006 MLS MVP, Christian Gomez fired the opening shot in the 29th minute with a spectucular postage stamp goal. The scoring sequence was indicative of the differences between MLS and Latin American football, with Gomez too much time to pick out his spot from the corner of the sixteen yard box. DC’s celebration was cut short only three minutes later as Olympia striker Juan Carcamo headed a cross past Troy Perkins to equalize. Not willing to end the half behind, former Olympia striker and new United man Luciano Emilio backheeled a Josh Gros cross past his former teammate to put United ahead for good. Gomez added a second after halftime. Rescuing his reputation following an atrocious first half, Facundo Erpen rose high and headed home a corner to cap the scoring for the Americans and likely sending the Black and Red through to the Cup Semi-finals.

Shearer on MLS
Responding to questions about Beckham’s chances of playing with the England national side again, Shearer stated to the Sun newspaper "He (Beckham) has hardly played any football (for Real) this season. Not only that but he is about to fly off to America to play in a league which is probably on a parallel with our second division, with respect." Shearer failed to explain why Premiership champs Chelsea lost to a second division all-star team last summer.

Response to The Boss in The Guardian
The Boss stated this week that all rumors related to Zidane coming out of retirement should be put to rest when he signs with the Fire this week, eliciting this response from me:
I love all your potshots at MLS! It is so great to know that the English papers a so threatened by our growing league to make snide remarks about it at every opportunity.

In case you didn’t know Americas’ three point plan for overtaking football here it is:

Step 1: Infiltrate EPL and lower divisions with Americans. This portion is working out beautifully with 14 Americans in the EPL? A number of these even came from MLS! Since Brian McBride transferred to Fulham at the same age as when Becks trasferred to MLS, doesn’t that make the EPL a retirement league for MLS? I’m just trying to follow your logic.

Step 2: Purchase EPL Teams. Three EPL teams and counting are under American ownership. How do you say?.....”Brilliant!”

Step 3: Steal World Cup from England. I hear we are on board to challenge Jolly Ol’ for the World Cup. Well, given that the most successful World Cup in history was held in the USA why not? If England held it the stadiums wouldn’t be ready until two years after kickoff was scheduled.

Bruce Arena of The Soccer Hour
Glenn grilled Il Bruce on the program this week. It was very entertaining listening to Bruce squirm and deflect questions on topics such as the state of the national team and Red Bull. Il Bruce did a tremendous Bill Clinton impersonation by repeatedly asking Glenn what his definition of terms were. It isn’t that odd that Bruce needed definitions for success and entertainmenton the soccer pitch. Check the link at the bottom of the page for the complete interview.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Copa America Draw

The US drew Argentina in its opening game in Copa America this summer. Following the tilt with Argentina our guys go on to play Columbia and Paraguay posing a challenge that is only slightly less daunting than the draw for the last World Cup. Hopefully coming off a successful Gold Cup, the US will have every opportunity to prove that World Cup 2006 was a fluke. The US likely will not have the benefit of all the American fan who trekked to WC 2006 to voice their support for Arena’s folly. Will these two tournaments ultimately decide Bob Bradley’s fate? Will BB the King even be at the helm for these matches?

MLS Continues to lock down Playaz

In the last week MLS has done what many have begged it to do for a long time, keep the star players in the league. Sporting goods salesman, come goalkeeper Troy Perkins, was the latest to resign with the league. This week also witnessed the MLS lockdown of Taylor Twellmann and Brian Ching. With only Clint Dempsey being the only player of significance to depart, the player retention of the league is to be commended. True, Dwayne DeRosario and Shalrie Joseph’s status are still up in the air, but with both in-training with their respective teams, expect a deal to be cut any day. As good of job as the league has done this off season, next winter will be much more difficult for the league as millions of new eyes will be introduced to the league. Many will be shocked by the quality and fitness of the players. Some might even find a reason to rank the league higher than #72 in the world.

CONCACAF Champions Cup

The Cup of Questionable Significance (COQS )got under way this week with a shock as Trinidad’s W Connection lost it’s keeper to an early red card and went down a goal before storming back late for a 2-1 victory. Unfortunately this match was held in Trinidad, so look for a far less shocking score line during the return leg in Guadalajara. Great to hear the outrage amongst Houston fans that their “home” game in the COQS is to be played 95 out of town. Many fans, and certainly Dynamo fan #1 Glenn Davis, are taking this very seriously. Let’s hope Dynamo can rise to the challenge and represent the league well.

Stars, Check. Now how about that other thing that makes sports thrive in the US

Mr. Garber, time to put on a fake mustache and some sunglasses, buy a ticket to Vegas and take time to meet with every single sports book line setter in town! You need ratings on a Thursday night when you are up against baseball? Betting! You need an extra ¼ inch of press in the “Tonight’s Game” box in the Tribune. Betting! Like it or not professional sports are fueled by gambling. If you want to Americanize Soccer, the betting line is the place to do it. Let’s adopt a .5 goal line for MLS. Not only does this this convert typical soccer betting into a NFL like, easy to understand line, but just the providing the line give every new fan an instant point of reference as to who the underdog is in the match. Fire .5 Crew.. I like it!

Toronto FC

13,500 is the number of season tickets sold by Toronto FC before the team has even kicked one competitive ball! Major kudos to MLS and MLSE for the great work they have done on the business end from start to present up there. You set the bar pretty damn high for future franchises when from day one you’ll have about 14,000 season ticket holders and your own stadium. The club is even considering expanding the stadium by six suites before one game has been played there! Interesting correlation between the attendance in cities whose media treat them like a Major League venture and those that treat them like a side show. Let’s look at my media treatment chart ranked in order of least to most media treatment:


Local Media Coverage

2006 Average Attendance

Colorado Rapids



NY Red Bull



Chicago Fire



Kansas City Wizards



Columbus Crew



Chivas USA



New England Revolution



FC Dallas



DC United

Major League


LA Galaxy

Major League


Toronto FC

Major League



Major League


Real Salt Lake

Major League


Of course there are many other factors to consider here, such as the boost Chivas got by the Barcelona game and the sister Chivas games. One could also consider that the historical success of the club is driving media attention, however RSL, Chicago Fire and certainly the Revs would likely not agree with that theory. Are soccer specific stadiums the answer? It doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t guarantee sellouts either. However, considering the boost RBNY received from their star studded 2006 opening day and the Fire’s new stadium boost, the positive correlation between local media coverage and attendance is very strong. Looking forward to 2007, assuming the Beckham effect is that all teams boost their average by 500, but LA sells out the second half of their season. Let’s also assume that Toronto averages a modest 18,500 (modest given their season ticket sales) league average attendance will rise to 16,396, a 5.75% increase over 2006 and the largest average attendance since the league’s inception.


The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis

Saturday, February 10, 2007

US Soccer Update - 2/10/07 - Best Week Ever?


You gotta feel good for Jimmy Conrad. It is amazing that a world renown media icon can step onto a soccer pitch and have a man of the match performance! Conrad’s header and tremendous defense helped ensure the latest American triumph over our amigos. The first ten minutes of the match were terrible, with the balls spending more time out of bounds than in play. After settling down, the Mexicans set out to test Johnathan Boronstein who had trouble with the pressure early on, but gained his feet enough to discourage this tactic in the second half. A cause for concern is that BB the King, like his predecessor il Bruce, feels that Landon Donovan is a forward, but played him in Rolfe in what seemed to be a revolving 1-1, with both of them switching sides and patrolling the attacking mid space. After the initial 15 minutes, the Americans seemed to calm down and the teams went into the half level. However, the Americans got on the board with the aforementioned header in the 57th minute. The celebration was short lived as the Americans weathered attack after attack from El Tri. The Mexicans continued to be frustrated Tim Howard and the all for one American defense, which was shaky but resilient. Fruitless in their attempts against Boronstein, the Mexicans set out to exploit, a step slow Chris Albright leading to him giving way to Josh Gros. Just into extra time, the Red, White and Blue sealed the deal after an Mexican pass bounced off referee Mauricio into the path of Ricardo Clark who one touched a pass to Donovan in the center circle. Juking two Mexican defenders, My Captain was past the defense and one-on-one with the keeper Oswaldo Sanchez. Donovan calmly pushed the ball past Sanchez and then buried it in the back of the net. Overall, a tremendous result for a team badly in need of such a win. BB the King took another step toward the full time throne. It didn’t hurt that the game was a ratings smash that send Univision into the top five networks for the evening in certain demographics. Over 8 million Americans watched this so called friendly. My only contention with Bradley’s decisions is that I would have liked to seen Justin Mapp get some time in for a struggling Bobby Convey. That being said it is difficult to argue with the results.

REal Salt Lake - There to Stay!

Great news for all of us fans of REal Salt Lake! The Utah Governor steps in and rams a bill through the house a week after Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon seemingly deep sixed the stadium and the team. Very similar circumstances to the saga of the Chicago White Sox in the late 80's. One thing that is ALWAYS overlooked throughout this saga is that while the taxpayers are chipping in $50 all told, the team is making a private investment upwards of $70 million. Great vision by Utah lawmakers to guarantee that some of the tourist dollars I have at my disposal will be spent in Utah in the next few years. And WOW, what a stadium design!

Rapids still Rapids

Despite much speculation, the owners of the Colorado Rapids, Kronke Sports Entertainment, retain the clubs name and introduce some spiffy new uniforms. While forging a formal relationship with Arsenal, the club does not take their new partners names. While I am an outspoken proponent of the name Real Salt Lake, renaming a franchise and adopting a foreign team name is just sad and an attempted short cut to creating passion (NY Franchise I’m looking your way.) FC Dallas, was just a move to a more traditional soccer name. Not a problem, however Arsenal Colorado would have been a seven syllable embarrassment.

Rayna vs. Beckham – American Soccer

Add Ray Hudson to the list of those in the US Soccer establishment that are enamored with Captain Boredom. Ray was flailing around the American Soccer desk like John Belushi supporting Beckham over Reyna as “style over substance”. Hudson went on and on, claiming that Reyna will have a much larger impact on the RedBulls than Becks will have on the Gals. I almost fell over laughing. I’m not sure how great of a cheerleader Claudio is, but it will be difficult to have a great season from the IR. Between the artificial surfaces at Giants Stadium, Toronto and Gillette, I give Claudio four games. Further, I can recall exactly one game where Reyna had a significant positive impact on a match, USA v. Germany 2002. Beckham won the Ecuador game for England this summer, while Claudio ensured that Ghana got off to a 1-0 lead. Style and substance, that is Beckham. Another failed “soccer savior”, that is Reyna. What has benefited Reyna is that he hasn’t been the target of political power plays by his club and national team coaches. As I type, Becks fed Hudson and his coach Fabio Capello crow, tying the Real Sociadad match at one with a tremendous free kick.


Redemption of the Week:

Landon Donovan – Despite a poor first half that involved him chasing air balls sent into him and Chris Rolfe while being marked by much taller defenders, my Captain came charging back to have a hand in both goal to again topple Mexico 2-0. Often Donovan could be seen defending his own endline and was involved in every part of the match during the second frame.

Idiots of the Week:

The Mexican National Team – After a classless display during the game with GK Oswaldo Sanchez taking a swipe at Eddie Johnson after Donovans goal the Mexicans topped that by AGAIN refusing to shake hands and sulking off the field with their jerseys intact. The post game interviews with the team were no different. Almost to a man, the Tri felt they were the better team and deserved to win the match, yielding no respect to an American side that has held them scoreless for a decade on US soil.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

FFF: Can you please just fade away?

Tuned in tonight to watch "Nick and Steve" on Fox Football Fone-in and Nick had been replaced with Max Brentos. What a lovely surprise! Normally I would never tune into this program due to it being everything that is wrong with soccer programming in this country, however I gave it a shot after they actually talked about American Soccer for an entire program a few weeks ago. All of 10 minutes of two hours were devoted to the state of the sport in the country that these folks reside in. No surprise since, unless you are speaking about some British ex-pat, N&S have no answers and look like deer in the headlights. But Max! We expect more from your. The ten minutes grudgingly conceded to US soccer were a terrible discussion about the US v. Mexico game which resulted in Max predicting a 1-1 draw and Steve mumbling a 2-1 Mexican triumph. No discussion about why these results might occur. Another minute was devoted to the MLS schedule and the fact that it was released. Steve took this opportunity to improperly predict Becks first appearance. And then it was back to the EPL. How about the RSL stadium situation? How about Toronto's amazing season ticket sales without even taking the pitch? How about the Revs retaining Twellman, Joseph and John due to MLS snubbing low-ball offers from across the pond. Perhaps Steve was to busy kissing his Chelsea shield to notice these events. N&S (and now Max) just re-affirm the view that nobody cares about MLS. I must be honest. This show makes me physically sick!

The anti-dote of course is American Soccer on GolTV and Glenn Davis' tremendous Soccer Hour radio program. If you talk about it, they will call! Davis proves that week in week out.

Monday, February 5, 2007

US Soccer Update

RSL Stadium Falls Through
Hopefully, this isn’t the type of groundbreaking that Becks will be making in the US!
How can anyone the majority of Utah residents and their legislators to have vision? Look at some cities that play it safe: Cincinnati and Kansas City. Let’s look at cities that have had vision: Cleveland, Indianapolis, Denver. See any difference between the three. The last three used a combination of sports facilities and urban infrastructure investment to completely revamp their dying downtowns. Cincinnati and Kansas City have had opportunities to do the same thing, yet allow their visionary plans to become so tied in legislative red tape that poor decisions were inevitably made and once in a half-century opportunities were squandered.
Overall I though RSL, concert projections were a tad bit high, particularly given the poor concert schedule at Toyota Park in year one (2 concerts with about 20K average). However, that entire complex would have been a boon for Sandy and the entire Valley. Yes, some taxpayer money would have to be spent, but isn’t that contingent on a massive private investment by RSL? A park like this would have been a win-win. Now RSL will be off to St. Louis for 2008 and good! The legislators deserve the loss of the tax dollars that this franchise has raised for them over the past two years. Here’s hoping that RSL makes a deep playoff run and then pulls the plug on the town. Salt Lake deserves nothing less for jerking around a true visionary and chance taker.

RBNY Signs Watterus

I know there are plenty of puns with making a splash and a guy named Watterus, but that would assume that a splash had been made. Certainly the Energy Club upgraded their goalkeeping situation, but I can’t help but be disappointed by the clubs poor initial foray into the big-time transfer market. Reyna and Watterus are guys that could have been signed with or without the Designated Player rule. Plus, does anyone think that Claudio Reyna is worth $1M? With his injury rate, that will work out to be about $250,000 a game. Isn’t that more than Beckham? The whole Arena/Reyna thing has made me sick for the last nine years and anyone that sees this as anything other than a gift from Il Bruce to Captain Worthless needs a wake up call. Moving on, RBNY has one senior international slot and one designated player slot left, let’s see if they can attract anything other than B level talent. Now, it seems that Il Bruce has his sights set on DaMarcus Beasley. This can mean one of three things: 1. Arena is a closed Man City fan and is intent of picking off the whole team one at a time. 2. Arena is looking for a central defender (or right winger). 2. Arena is looking for someone to throw under the bus once the annual tanking of the New York franchise occurs. Let’s hope that Run DMB sends Bruce some of his choice quotes from this past summer in response to the transfer request.

MLS Adopts Qualification System for Open Cup
The rational for this move is to clear up some time on every teams schedule; however, I’m not sure how much time it will free up. It takes one game off the docket for the top three clubs in the divisions, but will add an extra game for the Galaxy and the number of matches will remain the same for the NYRB. On a separate, but related issue, the biggest problem with the US Open Cup is lack of promotion and reward for the participants. One of US Soccer top priorities, other than naming a full-time National Team coach, should be obtaining main sponsorship and expanded television coverage for the Open Cup. The tournament is a big deal in non-MLS cities and certainly there are benefits to offer a main sponsor, such as tournament naming rights, banners, etc. The sponsor money could be used to boost the paltry purse for the final participants. This bounty currently sits at $100,000 for the winner and $50,000 for the runners-up. Broken up between the players that are fielded during the tournament (lets say 20), we are looking at $5,000 per player on average, which in a league where the average salary is between $80,000 and $100,000, is certainly not “bust my ass” money. The thanklessness of becoming an open cup winner certainly doesn’t help either. If there is any country where this format should work well it is the US. This tournament is Hoosiers and Rocky rolled into one. An NCAA style tournament crossed with baseballs hierarchy system! Even better, upsets happen all the time. Lest not forget when an absolutely loaded Fire team dropped a 1-0 decision to Milwaukee Wave United in Beer Town with Pitor Nowak, Carlos Bocanegra, Run DMB and Hristo Stoitchkov on the pitch.

Absurd Foreign Press Story of the Week:
Donovan Quits Galaxy in Response to Beckham Move – London Daily News

Idiot of the Week:
Peter Corroon – Who is looking the gift horse in the mouth? Without RSL, neither the national team nor Real Madrid would spend one day in your city. That is two days without the tax dollars or economic impact generated by 45,000 fans. Nearly 300,000 fans go through RSL gates every year for all competitions. In 2008, it may be zero.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis: