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, 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.)

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