Sunday, March 25, 2007

US Soccer Update - 3/24/07

Galaxy Livin’ the Life, BMO Deepens Committment
LA signed a five year pact with Herbalife for jersey sponsorship rights this week. The deal pays between $3.5 and $5 million annually. This is a great sign for the league because the team got the money it was looking for, unlike the Fire, which settled for a low-ball stadium naming rights deal last year after some other deals fell through. The Galaxy jersey sponsorship basically pays for Beckham’s footballing contract, so the financial ship seems to be afloat.
Meanwhile, BMO is now figuratively and literally draping all that is Toronto FC. Financial terms of the agreement are not available at this time, however this agreement continues Toronto’s unreal off the pitch success. The final piece of the puzzle for TFC is the TV contract, which from all indications has everything but the ink from Rogers Sportsnet on it.

MLS Hits the Journal
A sure sign that soccer isn’t for communists! As Al Pachino said about the Wall Street Journal in “The Insider”, it isn’t “exactly a bastion of anti-capitalist thought.” Jon Weinbach wrote a very positive article about MLS, basically summarizing the momentus off season the league is emerging from. There were a few revalations in this piece, such as all 28 MLS games on ESPN networks will be available in HD, Target will be pushing MLS gear and Addias has seen strong presales of MLS gear.

The mess that is the Revs
Now we all know the Rev’s aren’t my favorite team, but they are having some major issues getting their house in order. First, Clint Dempsey books overseas to ride the pine at Fulham. Not exactly something to rap about. The Revs reap a windfall from his transfer fees. Then Joey Franchino is stripped of his captaincy and is nabbed by the law for driving with expired plates. Noonan does down again, then they decide to dick around Shalrie Joeseph on his contract after the guy does nothing but solidify their defense for the last three seasons. What gives?

US v. Ecuador
Raymond James stadium will likely have nearly 30,000 in attendance early Sunday as BB the King and crew finally take full advantage of a FIFA match date. Looks like US Soccer finally decided to verify their subscription to FIFA’s e-mail list. Here’s my proposed line-up for the Ecuador match:
Dolo Gooch Conrad Spector
Dempsey Carroll Feilhaber Beasley

The absense of Rico Clark and Mastroeni (out for a hush, hush surgery) really creates a midfield defensive hole. Beasley has always been an excellent defender (on US soil) and should be able to help out the experimental mids.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis

Sunday, March 18, 2007

US Soccer Update - 3/17/07

CONCACAF Semifinals Leg 1
Dynamo sizzle while United fizzle in leg one of the CONCACAF Champions cup. The Dynamo took full advantage of their home field advantage, tallying a 2-0 victory over Pachuca. The game was nearly 3-0 when Alejandro Moreno enacted his patented sitter miss. That may be a bit harsh, but a third goal was there for the taking. Mr. Clutch, Brian Ching (the guy who sat on the bench in favor of Ben Olsen in Germany while the US desperately needed a goal last summer) headed home the game winner during the mid second half. The Dynamo were very impressive throughout second half stringing passes together and looking very sharp. The insertion of subs Dwayne Derosario and Chris Wondolowski paid near instant dividends as DeRo’s clairvoyant pass into open space was met by a streaking Brad Davis who promptly centered to Wondo for the spectacular capper. It looks like Dom Kinnear has smacked the innocence out of Kelly Grey, because he is playing with a very nasty edge to his game these days. Aside from the scoreline, the biggest shocker of this match was the near absence of Pachuca fans! The same was not true for DC United as 15,000+ east coast Chivas supporters helped turn RFK into friendly territory for the visitors. While Mexican fans dominated the crowd, the DC fans were very loud and it resulted in a great atmosphere in terrible weather. I don’t understand why MLS teams in the CONCACAF tournament don't tie early season ticket subscriptions to free Champions Cup tickets. Chivas dominated the entire match and deserved their go-ahead goal from Omar Bravo, United suffered some bad luck in that it was deflected past 2006 MLS Keeper of the Year, Troy Perkins by defender Bryan Namoff. The situation was desperate when MLS 2007 Newcomer of the Year runner-up Luciano Emilio tied the match in the 91st minute off a header. The goal salvages some hope for United, however, they now have to get a positive result on Mexican soil to advance, a feat that has never been accomplished by a MLS side. Overall some very good results for the MLS teams considering that they are still in preseason. These matches will really raise both teams mentally above their competition from the onset of the MLS season.

RBNY Loses $14M in Year One
The kicking soft drink team amid high hopes and much pizzaz dropped $14 million into a hole in year one. Disclosed by Ives Galarcep on, the article states that a combination of poor opening day attendance and inexperience in the Managing Director spot led to an abysimal year that has left the team’s 2008 TV contract hanging in the balance. Despite the Arena hire, the Reyna pick-up and an overall stronger team in 2008, marketing in the NY/NJ area has been noticably absent. Are RBNY waiting out the new stadium? Is there true confusion amid the team ownership? How is this going down with MLS HQ and Donny? While $14m may be a drop in the bucket to the RB promotion department, are they seeing any sort of return on their investment? They should feel lucky that no one pays attention or the team might be causing damage to the brand!

Blanco Chicago Bound?
Papers are buzzing with the possibility of the Fire signing Mexican National Team star Cuauhtemoc Blanco. I am no Blanco fan, but I am becoming interested in seeing him on the field with Rolfe, Mapp and Thiago. That might be the most creative line-up the Fire have ever fielded. I can’t see Blanco coming to the US and dogging it. He might be frustrated by MLS defenses the way some of the other El Tri stars have been, but I just don’t think he is the type of guy to turn his competitiveness off, similar to Stoitichkov. I think the biggest downside to this whole transaction is the release of Tony Sanneh to make way for a signing. Anyone trying to convince themselves that the Fire would have won the USOC or been part of the MLS Playoffs without him is loco! Look what is left in defense, first full year keeper Pickens guiding a clearly aging Brown, off an injury Curtain, inconsistent Segares and Robinson. There is no "rock" in this D in the back.

Toronto Sells Out
Prior to setting foot on the pitch in real competition, Toronto FC has sold 14,000 regular season tickets. You are allowed to drop your jaw! From day one this franchise will not only play in its own facuilty, have some of the best press in the league, field a very competent looking team (on paper), but TFC will play to near sell outs for the majority of the year! This is further proof that MLS is being treated as major league all its new markets it heads into (Toronto, Houston, Salt Lake). This is also testament to the power of a stong organization backing the club. I’m already excited to take my first road trip there.

Bradley Names New Camp Invitees
Apparently BB the King has been listening to all the chatter, because the Euro’s are on their way! Among the fresh faces in the national team camp congregating for the March 25th and March 28th matches are first time invitees Watford’s Jay DeMeritt, Sheffield Wednesday’s Frankie Simek and Hamburger’s Benny Feilhaber. Jimmy Conrad is the lone MLS defender on the squad. As Euro dominated the defense is, the attackers are all MLS based with Kenny Cooper, Chris Rolfe and Eddie Johnson under the microscope. Landon Donovan, Oguchi Onyewu and Kasey Keller help bring this side the closest to a first team that we’ve witnessed under the reign of Bradley. I think BB’s doing a great job of getting looks at players that are deserving, not just "his guys". A welcome departure from the prior era where just about every eligible player from Il Bruces United tenure got at least a token cap.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis

Monday, March 12, 2007

US Soccer Update - 3/10/07

Beckham Injures Knee
The Beckham redemption story turned from drama to comedy in this week as Our Man Beck’s plowed into an advertising board and injured his knee, causing ligament damage that will sideline him for a month. If Real Madrid gets past Bayern Munich this week, look for DB to return in time for the send tie of the next series. Despite preventing Alexi Lalas from breathing for 24 hours, which also meant he couldn’t talk, the injury is perhaps the most humorous injury in years. Of all players to be injured by advertising! That is like Claudio Reyna being wacked by Il Bruce or a Costa Rican club team being run over by a busload of CONCACAF referees!

MLS Rosters Trimmed
The Chicago Fire trimmed their roster and left Leonard Griffin, a step too slow defender on the outside. The Fire also waived Craig Capano, a promising, but oft injured midfielder, Jared Montz, and John Thorrington. Amazing that Thorrington, who had been through the Man Utd. Youth system was not a god amongst MLS players. Perhaps, I’ve been reading too much British press. Also notable is that the Fire were unable to come to contract terms with Tony Sanneh who only solidified their defense and led them into the MLS playoffs and to the Open Cup title last season. Isn’t that worth $375,000? Based on Open Cup ticket sales, probably not. Among the names that were trimmed and are expected to or have been picked up are Capano (NYRB), former Crew players Jon Busch (TFC) and Chris Leitch.

Really a Step Up?
This week San Diego columnist Mark Ziegler awarded a “trophy” to local product Ryan Guy for snubbing FC Dallas to sign with St. Patrick’s Athletic Club of the Irish league. The Eurosnobs have really won if this is considered a step up from MLS. I don’t care what the criteria is, MLS is vastly superior to the Irish league by any account: Quality, Competitiveness, Attendance, Resources. Mr. Guy is also effectively removing himself from the national team radar much like Danny Califf and Nat Borchards did when they traveled to Europe with the belief that the process of osmosis would work and they would be absorbed into the fabled leagues thanks to their proximity.

I did send an e-mail to Mr. Ziegler and he was nice enough to send me a reply. Not only that, it was non-defensive! That $11,500 - $13,000 developmental salary was cited by Mark as a main reason for Guy's move.

PODCAST:The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis

Monday, March 5, 2007

US Soccer Update - 3/5/07

CONCACAF Champions Cup Leg 2
DC United continued their romp over CD Olympia and Houston Dynamo rebounded from their first leg loss as both MLS teams move on to face top Mexican sides Chivas and Pachuca. Luciano Emilio and Christian Gomez each had hat tricks during the tie as DC United’s new look front three appeared lethal against the out matched Olympia back line. Certainly some rust was being shaken off of the DC machine, however the team form was well beyond their form in last years competion. At the other end of the country, Dynamo fans were again out in force, all things considered, to root their team onto a 2-0 victory that allowed the team to advance 2-1 on aggregate. The referee had no problem with vicious tackles and other forms of violence, but had a short fuse for naughty language. Apparently his day job is with the FCC. A few times this fixture looked to spiral out of control, but cooler heads prevailed. The night wasn’t all celebration for MLS as Dwayne DeRosario, Troy Perkins and Pat Onstad will head into the next leg of the competition nursing injuries that may prevent them from taking part.

Response to Paul Gardner in The NY Sun
Always one to ignite controversy, NY Sun reporter lumped former Fire player Hristo Stoitchkov in with other MLS “disappointments” such as Lothar Matthaeus, Walter Zenga, Andreas Herzog, Richard Gough, Anders Limpar, Branco, and Hugo Sanchez. Of course this comment raised my ire and I had to respond.


While I am a regular reader and big fan of your column, I was a bit dismayed at your classification of Hristo Stoitchkov in your recent ‘Beckham Rule” column. To lump Mr. Stoitchkov in with your group of MLS no-shows indicates an unexpected lack of knowledge about the man’s MLS career. Certainly Stoitchkov will never go down as one of the top foreign signings in league history, however, he was a key player in the Fire’s 2000 run to the championship and a major force in the development of DaMarcus Beasley and Dema Kovalenko as well as other young players on the Fire at that time. One thing you could always count on from him that you couldn’t from Branco, Matthaeus or Luis Hernandez was passion. Long after he left the Fire he would return to watch matches because of his passion for the team.Everytime Stoitchikov stepped on the field you could tell that he would slit the throat of every opposition player in order to win. That quality is difficult to find in any player or coach in MLS’ history.

I did not receive a response.

The Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis