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.