Wednesday, August 31, 2005

People are only willing to spend so much

This article is from Sunday, but I think it is worth a read. Basically it talks about the skyrocketing cost of tickets for the EPL. It seems people don't like pay £45 (about $80) a ticket to watch a game were the outcome is known before the gates even open. MLS does not have to worry about this just yet, but it is something to keep in mind long term. It's a funny thing, people like to be entertained when they pay to be entertained.

Mexico releases their roster

Mexico's manager Ricardo LaVolpe announced his roster for the clash with the Americans. Striker Cuauhtémoc Blanco is again absent from the list (he missed last month's game against Costa Rica). Jared Borgetti and Omar Bravo should be able to provide enough power to cover for him.

Here is the list in full

Goalkeepers(2): Oswaldo Sanchez, Moises Munoz.

Defenders(5): Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Osorio, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Salcido, Mario Mendez.

Midfielders(8): Gonzalo Pineda, Carlos Morales, Oscar Rojas, Gerardo Diaz, Gerardo Galindo, Ramon Morales, Antonio Naelson, Luis Perez.

Forwards(4): Alberto Medina, Francisco Fonseca, Jared Borgetti, Omar Bravo.


Brazil to shrink first division and alter schedule

The Brazilian Soccer Confederation announced today that Brazil's top league will go from 22 to 20 clubs in 2006. Also in 2006, there will be a one-month break in the schedule for the World Cup.

The other big announcement was their decision to adapt the Brazilian schedule to coincide with the European clubs starting in 2007. Teams will now play August to May instead of April to November.

The change in schedule is what FIFA wants all leagues to do. It will be easier to schedule tournaments and other international events with everyone playing their league matches at the same time.

So will this ever happen to MLS? The danger is obvious - there is a lot more competition in the "sports market place" between Aug and May then during the summer months. The chance of breaking through all the other sporting noise would be difficult. At the start of their season, they would have to deal with baseball playoffs and the start of college and pro American football. In the middle, there would be the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. Finally, their season would end against the NHL and NBA finals. It would take a strong league to get noticed in the middle of all that.

US Roster Announced

At long last, Bruce Arena has announced his roster for Saturday's battle against Mexico. Not a lot of surprises. Eddie Johnson is back on the list after an absence caused by injury. Same can be said about DaMarcus Beasley, even if his time away was much shorter. I would be a little surprised if Johnson started, but I think Beasley will be in the opening 11.

Here is the full roster.

Goalkeepers(3): Marcus Hahnemann (Reading FC), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Matt Reis (New England Revolution)

Defenders(8:) - Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy), Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus), Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Greg Vanney (FC Dallas)

Midfielders(10): Chris Armas (Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Bobby Convey (Reading FC), Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Eddie Lewis (Leeds United), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution), Claudio Reyna (Manchester City)

Forwards(5): Jeff Cunningham (Colorado Rapids), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (FC Dallas), Brian McBride (Fulham FC), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

If you are looking for the actual US World Cup roster, look here.


Kasey Keller and his castle get the USA Today treatment

Ahead of Saturday's major match against Mexico, USA Today tells the story of America's number one goalkeeper Kasey Keller. Without ruining it for you, it turns out Keller and family live in a small castle in Germany.

Besides that, the article also gives a quick overview of Keller's international career including the bench warming of 2002 and his 'clear-the-air' conversation with US coach Bruce Arena. Oh how I would have loved to hear that exchange.

Kasey doesn't talk about what was discussed, but Arena must have said something right because Keller decided not to retire and has been on a roll ever since. Keller comes into Saturday's match with a 417-minute shutout streak and looking for his 50th win with the US team. He must also feel confident in his position when Arena says things like, "he'd have to fall out of a window" to lose the starting job.


What does the next FC Dallas GM need to focus on?

Greg Elliott is long gone and now the Hunt's family (the owner of FCD) has appointed John Alper as interim GM. Who is Alper? He has been with the club since 1995 when he setup the ticketing department for the new team. He has been there for the highs (16,011 average attendance the first year) and the lows (7,906 average two years ago). Why talk about attendance numbers? Well, as Tobias Lopez points out in his Soccer Insider column, the next GM must focus on the marketing of the team.

The Hunt family has put a lot of money into the team, including $25 million towards the new Pizza Hut Park (PHP) and they want to get it back. Lopez thinks Elliott's departure had more to do with the current state of the team (eight straight games without a win) then it did with the delays in building the PHP. I think he makes a good point. As he points out, "Elliott was saddled with the task of promoting the club and the stadium despite the Hunt Sports Group's failure to have the stadium up and running on deadline."

Talk about a hard promotion.

I also like that Lopez points out the need for better marketing to Hispanic fans. They showed up for last weekend's match against Chivas but how to keep them coming back. Maybe a win or two would help out.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Welcome to the Hall of Fame

Mid-week 22 prediction

DC United vs. Real Salt Lake
Wednesday - 7:30pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

DC United has played a lot of late. Wednesday's game will be their fifth in twelve days. Thankfully for them, they are playing Real Salt Lake. Real will have Clint Mathis back in the match after serving his 3-game suspension, but who knows if that will be a positive for his side. DC will be working without Santino Quaranta, who will be away on national team duty, however Bryan Namoff will be back and Feddy Adu is healthy again. All in all, I think DC will be able to take care of Salt Lake, but it might take a bit more effort then they expect.

DC 3 - Salt Lake 1

ESPN will carry US v Mexico live!!!

Well it looks like ESPN came to their senses and will broadcast the biggest US match of the year live. You will be able to watch the game on ESPN Classic starting at 7:25pm EST on Saturday September 3rd. This is going to be an outstanding game.

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Who is going to play for the US side? It's a secret.

You might be wondering why there has been no mention of the roster for the US team. It seems that Coach Bruce Arena wants to keep it on the hush-hush.

Arena would not disclose the roster on Monday saying, ""There's no point in releasing our roster when we have to get through games. We have players playing today. Once we get everyone through their games, then we're in a position to release a roster. I suspect that'll happen on Wednesday."

Good show to Bruce. He wants to give the Mexican side as little time as possible to prepare for this match. Seeing how the US would gain passage to their fifth straight World Cup with a win on Saturday, the idea of faking out your opponent is a good one.

Some of the faces already at camp are: Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, Frankie Hejduk, Jeff Cunningham, Steve Ralston, Taylor Twellman, Greg Vanney, Pablo Mastroeni, Chad Marshall, Kasey Keller, Justin Mapp, Chris Armas, Oguchi Onyewu, Kerry Zavagnin, Claudio Reyna, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Eddie Lewis and Matt Reis.

By the way, did you know that Mexico has not won or scored a goal in the US against the US since 1999. Should make for a fun match on Saturday.


Please help the people of New Orleans

As you might have heard, a levee broke earlier today resulting in massive flooding of New Orleans. Water is just pouring into the city from Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said, ""Our city is in a state of devastation, we probably have 80 percent of our city under water. With some sections of our city, the water is as deep as 20 feet. It's almost like a nightmare that I hope we wake up from."

Some outlets are reporting that the devistation will displace thousands of people for a month or longer. These people need our help. Please, if you have any money to spare at all, please make a donation to the American Red Cross so they can help out all the refugees. Even $5 will help.

Thank you,
Mike H

Newcastle signs Owen

The great wait is over. Michael Owen will not be returning to Liverpool. Instead, he will now be a Magpie. Before all the Liverpool fans start yelling trator, Owen was left with really no other option. Liverpool offered £8 million transfer fee and Newcastle put forward £16 million. Guess who Real Madrid liked best.

So it seems like Real told Owen he could either go to Newcastle or stay warming the bench in Madrid. With the transfer window ending tomorrow and with him needing to play this year, he really had no other option. It will be interesting to see how this changes the Magpies attacking style. I also can't wait for Dec. 26th when Newcastle goes to Liverpool. It should be fun to watch.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Week 22 recap

I'm glad to say I did better this weekend then I did on Wednesday with my Open Cup predictions. In other news, that's not saying much.

Columbus did something great for them, they won on the road. Not only that, but they beat a really good team. The Wizards were hoping to take continue of the top spot in the East this weekend, but they got a rude wakeup call in the 34th when Chris Henderson hit a lofting shot into the left post in finally into goal. It turned out the Crew only needed one goal, however, they were lucky with that. In the 62nd minute, Crew defender Chad Marshall basically attacked Wizards forward Josh Wolff in the box, but the ref didn't see it. It should have been red for Marshall (last defender and he had been beaten by Wolff) and a pk for KC. Who knows, maybe the pk would have been blocked, but with all odds, they would have knotted it up. It's an unfair happening, but that happens. KC had some other good chances. In the 80th, Wolff had a perfect chance from the box, but missed. In the 87th, Jonny Walker (Crew goalie) showed his reflexes and made a great dive to stop a hard bullet of a shot by Chris Klein. Still, the Crew got the points and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week. KC 0 - Crew 1

DC United has a new scoring machine, defender Bobby Boswell. The problem is he can only score against his own goalie. For the second week in a row, bad communication in the backfield resulted in DC giving up an own goal. To make matters even worse, DC gave up the go ahead goal very late in extra time. They left New England's Taylor Twellmann unguarded in the box and Andy Dorman put a fine hanging ball right to Twellmann's head. It is a shame to see them fall apart so quickly. Just a couple weeks ago, they had it all together, but now they look confused. They did control the first half (Santino Quaranta's goal in the 4th was excellent), but they just can't stay together. United now find themselves dangerously close to falling out of playoff contention while New England keeps reaching new heights. NE 2 - DC 1

How bad is it for FC Dallas? A tie against Chivas USA is seen as a good thing. A mistake by FCD's Clarence Goodson ended up placing the ball right at Arias's feet and he slotted it home for the easy first goal in the 37th minute. But Dallas would equalize right before halftime when Carlos Ruiz took a wonderful crossing pass by Eddie Johnson and found the net for the 11th time this season. Chivas came out solid in the second half and managed to take the lead again off a corner kick in the 67th. It was a fantastic shot into the area by Arturo Torres, allowing Ezra Hendrickson to just push it home. But then Dallas did something they have not done in a long time, they held on defense and moved forward on offense. Lucky for FCD, Chivas still is missing a defense. Ramon Nunez was able to drill a rebound right past Chivas's Brad Guzan, insuring them a share of the points. However, they almost got all three point, but Guzan made some excellent saves on some good shots late. FCD 2 - Chivas 2

Then there was the battle of California. I think it is safe to say that San Jose and Los Angeles are not very fond of one another. This was the game of "coming back to bite you in the ass." Folks who once played with the other team scored all three goals. Alejandro Moreno got things going when he beat LA Kevin Hartman goalie to a ball in the air and headed it home in the 23rd. LA protested, saying Moreno interfered with the goaltender, but it was the right call. Donovan then did what he does so well, got even. He pounded a strike home from about 20 yards out. The crowd booed their former star, but Landon just hit his chest. All tied up. The next 40 minutes were very physical. I am amazed that referee Abiodun Okulaja handed out only 4 cautions, because they were ripping into each other out there. Things calmed down long enough for Mark Chung to take a superb corner kick in the 75th minute that came to the near post. Danny Califf beat his man and LA's goalie with a slap of his neck as he headed the ball in for the win. LA almost had a late equalizer, but somehow Ricardo Clark was able to put a shot by Tyrone Marshall over the bar. San Jose 2 - LA 1

My Guesses vs. Final Scores
Game (my guess) Final score
Kansas City - Columbus (3-1) 0-1
New England - DC United (2-1) 2-1
FC Dallas - Chivas USA (3-2) 2-2
San Jose - Los Angles (2-1) 2-1

This week 2-2
Total so far this season: 15-19

Ten best US vs Mexico matches

Can you feel the growing excitement for Saturday's big game? I'm guessing that, unless you are associated with ESPN, you can.

US Soccer has put together a list of the ten best matches between these rivals. Obviously this is from a US view, so don't go looking for any surprise Mexican victories. That said, the best thing about this list is the way it shows the development of the rivalry and US soccer. As their pick for number six suggests, before the July 5,1991, Gold-Cup meeting, US-Mexico matches were seen in the same light as say, anybody versus the LA Clippers. However, "for all intents and purposes, this match is the start of the USA-Mexico rivalry. For the first time, the USA thumps Mexico in a major event: the semifinals of the inaugural 1991 Gold Cup. John Doyle and Peter Vermes score the goals, and to add a bit of spice to the burgeoning dislike between the two teams, Mexico’s head coach (Manual Lapuente) is fired just days after the match, while the U.S. is taking home CONCACAF bragging rights with their first Gold Cup championship."

It really is a great read that let's us know how wonderful this clash on Saturday might just be.

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Help people recover from Hurricane Katrina

As I'm sure everyone knows, New Orleans and other surrounding areas are getting hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Once this storm passes, there will be a lot of cleanup work needed. I ask that if you can, please donate to the Red Cross now. They are already mobilized to help people, but they need our financial help to make sure it all comes together. Even $5 will go a long way. Please do what you can. Thank you.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Get to know the new Chivas players

The Press Telegram out of Long Beach has some good information on the new additions to Chivas USA.

"When the team arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, Palencia and Garcia were hounded by television camera crews from Univision and Televisa.

The club added two more Mexican players recently defensive midfielder Hector Castro and goalkeeper Sergio Garcia.

The four acquisitions give Chivas USA nine Mexicans on its 28-man roster. Only five players have no Mexican heritage at all.

The key addition is a 32-year-old pony-tailed forward who sports blue fingernails and is simply known as "Paco' to his countrymen.

Even with all the hype surrounding his arrival, Palencia scored two goals in the first 22 minutes of his Major League Soccer debut Sunday.

He also got a taste of MLS refereeing, which led to two MetroStars penalty kick goals and five minutes of stoppage time. That paved the way for a 94th-minute Metros goal, which allowed them to salvage a 3-3 tie."

It is interesting that no English language stations were present. Not a surprise, but still lets you know how far MLS still has to go. Also, the take on MLS refereeing is great. Let's you know the deference between the leagues on the North and South side of the border.

Liverpool wins another European trophy

During the first half it looked like CSKA Moscow was going to walk away with the cup, but Liverpool controlled everything in the second 45 and ended up winning 3-1. However, even with all their goals, Liverpool still looked weak on offense. Maybe someone like Michael Owen could help them out. Just saying is all.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Seattle Sounders looking for a home in MLS

As pointed out by Tim over at In Limbo, the USL's Seattle Sounders would like to join the MLS, but they need about $10 million from an investor and a plan for a stadium. Anyone, anyone?

The article Tim links to has an interesting take on the MLS and the USL. They point out the recent wins by USL teams in the Open Cup, but explain that money is the key difference.

"There is a vast difference in payrolls, however, a separation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Hanauer, it is just the top-end players who distinguish the MLS from the USL.

"'The difference right now is about three players. If we could add three top-end players to our roster we could play with any MLS team,' (the Sounders' general manager) Hanauer said. 'The MLS and USL are very similar, other than those two or three special players that are making big money that the USL just can't afford.'"

Having seen some USL matches over the past couple of months, I have to agree that they have some good teams and I think it is unwise for the MLS to try and distance themselves from the league. I don't think the two will ever merge into one league (like the AFC and NFC of NFL fame), but they could throw a lot of support each other's way.

As far as Seattle, I think it would be a great addition to MLS, but I have a feeling that the next two expansion slots are going to be more Eastern in affiliation.


MLS Week 22 Predictions

KC Wizards vs. Columbus Crew
Friday - 8pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

The Wizards are doing what great teams need to do at this point in the season; they're bringing everything together. They are on a four-game MLS winning streak that has seen them blow past their opposition with a combined score of 12 to 5. Scott Sealy is making a good name for himself in KC. For the Crew the situation is simple, either win or say goodbye to any playoff dreams. Too bad that no one is really coming alive for the team. Their win last week against Dallas had more to do with the sorry state of FCD then with any Crew miracle. All that said, the strangest thing of all as nothing to do with things on the pitch, it’s the number of people watching the pitch. KC, a team that is in domination mode (even with their defeat in the Open Cup) can only draw 7500 or so, while Columbus usually has 12-13,000 cheering them on. This has nothing to do with the outcome of this game, but it is a little on the odd side.

KC 3 - Crew 1


New England Revolution vs. DC United
Saturday - 7:30pm EST
TV: Direct Kick

Both teams are coming off loses that they should have won, so it will be interesting to see how they each respond. New England will have Steve Ralston, Taylor Twellman and Avery John back from their time with the national team, but they will be without goalie Matt Reis due to his oh so stupid body tackle of Colorado's Jay Heaps during their last match. Doug Warren will get to start in goal for the Rev. DC has lost something in the last week. They fell to LA at home and then were shown the door in the Open Cup by Dallas. If Freddy Adu or Ben Olsen doesn’t make something happen on the offensive side of things, it will be a long night for new signing Facundo Erpen on the defensive side.

New England 2 - DC 1


FC Dallas vs. Chivas USA
Saturday - 8:30pm
TV: Direct Kick, Fox Soccer Channel

FCD got to drink from the cup of victory on Wednesday night, but it was not a very strong showing and they still find themselves on a seven game MLS winless streak. What they need to do is get Eddie Johnson and Carlos Ruiz firing on goal early. Then they need to have their backline not fall apart in the final 30 minutes. Luckily for Dallas, Chivas is still not a complete team. They are better, but if FCD can shut down Juan Francisco Palencia, the goats will not stand a chance.

FCD 3 - Chivas 2


San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy
Saturday - 11pm EST

These two last played each other in San Jose on Wednesday night. LA looked strong, even without Donovan. However, Landon will be back in town and that might actually hurt LA. He has played a lot of games over the last three weeks, which might make him a bit unhappy and when he's not happy, he's not scoring. Perhaps he will come on as a sub in the second half. With Brad Davis out due to injury, San Jose will need Dwayne DeRosario to lead the offense. In addition, Pat Onstad will be back in the net (he did not play on Wednesday) so their backline should be much more cohesive.

San Jose 2 - LA 1

The man behind the "hoops" resigns

FC Dallas's GM Greg Elliott stepped down yesterday. The clubs owners say they are looking for change. Elliott was the one who pushed for the name change (Dallas Burn meet FC Dallas) and came up with the red and white striped "hoops" uniforms (one good thing, one not so good).

During his time at the top, Dallas went from missing the playoffs to challenging the best in the West. He also oversaw the move into PHP stadium.

Although the timing of this announcement is a bit shocking, I can't say it is surprising. He was brought in at a time when the club was looking to make big changes and he has made those changes. Now the club does not need someone who can handle the building of a new home, they need someone who can grow the team and sell season tickets. This is also a big task, but it is a very different task. Has the article states, "Elliott's focus was generally on the competitive side of the organization. While winning is always important in pro sports, selling seats inside FC Dallas's new stadium may be paramount to an ownership group that oversees the $85 million complex."

There you go. He has one view and the owners have another. Guess who wins.

Lokomotiv Plovdiv owner shot dead

Georgi Iliev, owner of Bulgaria's Lokomotiv Plovdiv, was shot dead Thursday night while dinning at his restaurant along the Black Sea. Just a little while earlier he had congratulated his players on beating OFK Belgrade 1-0 thus going through to the first round of the UEFA Cup. The players were suppose to join him later for dinner.

This is not the first time that an owner of a soccer team in Bulgaria has been shot. Just two years ago, Black Sea Varna's owner was shot also in the chest and died. A lot of people point to the influence of the mob in the league as the reason for all the murders.

For all the problems the MLS has, at least an assassination of owners is not one of them.

MLS Records that might fall this Fall

Over at USA Soccer, scaryice has an interesting list of MLS records that might be broken by the end of the season. Go study up on them. Then impress your soccer friends while watching the ESPN2 game of the week (San Jose vs. LA).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Take a moment and write ESPN

If you have not yet, go here and let ESPN know that you would like them to show the USA v. Mexico match live. Currently they are only planning to show it at 2:30AM the next day.

I know it is a long shot, but if we don't try, there is no chance of it happening.



World Player of the Year wants to be President

Will FIFA's 1995 World Player of the Year George Weah get a chance to lead his country out of war and into peace? On Oct. 11, Weah will be one of 22 candidates running for the position of President of Liberia.

Some of his opponents have more political experience (one helped drive the former corrupt president from power), but as Weah points out, "Politicians have been up there and the masses have been down for many years. It is time for the masses to go up."

Don't know if he has a chance (or if he would even be good for the country), but it's always fun to watch this sort of thing.

Champions League draw

The draw for matches with the 32 teams left in the Chamions League is about to begin. There are four groups of eight from which the draw will be conducted. Here are the groups:

Top seeds: 1 Real Madrid (Spa), 2 AC Milan (Ita), 3 Barcelona (Spa), 4 Liverpool (Eng), 5 Man Utd (Eng), 6 Inter Milan (Ita), 7 Bayern Munich (Ger), 8 Arsenal (Eng).

Second seeds: 9 Porto (Por), 10 Juventus (Ita), 11 PSV Eindhoven (Hol), 12 Lyon (Fra), 13 Panathinaikos (Gre), 14 Chelsea (Eng), 15 Villarreal (Spa), 16 Ajax (Hol).

Third seeds: 17 Bruges (Bel), 18 Anderlecht (Bel), 19 Olympiakos (Gre), 20 Schalke (Ger), 21 Sparta Prague (Cze), 22 Lille (Fra), 23 Rangers (Sco), 24 Werder Bremen (Ger).

Fourth seeds: 25 Benfica (Por), 26 Rosenborg (Nor), 27 Real Betis (Spa), 28 Udinese (Ita), 29 Fenerbahce (Tur), 30 Rapid Vienna (Aut), 31 Thun (Swi), 32 Artmedia Bratislava (Svk).

Chelsea is a little ticked off about being a second seed. This could result in them playing AC Milan or Bayern Munich (Edit- I don't know why, but I first typed Arsenal here. That could not happen due to country protection, sorry.) or even the team that thew them out of the tournament last year, Liverpool.

This draw will result in 8 groups of 4 teams each that will play a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group will go on to the knockout rounds.

- Live post of draw -

Group A
Bayern Munich
Rapid Vienna

Group B
Sparta Prague

Group C
Werder Bremen

Group D
Manchester United

Group E
AC Milan

Group F
Real Madrid

Group G - Wow, look who gets to play each other
Real Betis

Group H
Artmedia Bratislava

And there you go. Matches start on September 13/14.

US Open Cup Quarterfinals recap

My father always told me, "If you are going to do something, do it 100%." Well I made him proud last night. I was 100% wrong with my predictions. Thank you, thank you. For a moment I thought Rochester and DC United might put me at only 50% wrong, but, thankfully, it was not to be.

The Fire almost lost to those Rhinos of Rochester. After full time and over time, the game stood at one a piece. The first two penalty kicks were good for both sides. However, Jonathan Bolanos hit the post during the third pk for the Rhinos. Chris Armas stepped up looking to be the hero and ended up nailing his shot. Chicago go through on pks 5-4.

Dallas might be stinking up the MLS of late, but they know how to pull games out in the Open Cup. Last night was their third straight overtime game in the Cup. There were a few good scoring opportunities for both sides, but after 120 minutes of play, the game was still knotted up at 1. To pks we go. It turns out DC is not so great with pks. Dallas goalie Scott Garlick was able to make a strong stop while other shots went wide. Dallas won on penalties 4-1.

Kansas City will not repeat as Cup holders. The USL's Minnesota Thunder controlled the field last night. KC was without five starters, so that might have made it a little easier on the Thunder, but the Thunder are a good team. Next up, hosting LA on Sept 14. Minnesota 3 - KC 1

LA did something so shocking last night, I sure it even scared them. They won away from LA and without Landon Donovan. This victory should not be undervalued. Could this be the sea change that carries LA for the rest of the MLS season or was it a one-night stand? LA 2 - San Jose 1

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

US Open Cup Quarterfinals

The quest for the old US Open Cup continues tonight with six MLS teams seeing action.

The Chicago Fire (MLS) take on the Raging Rhinos of Rochester (USL) in Rochester, NY at 7:30pm EST. Rochester has a way of beating MLS teams in the Cup that is just amazing. Their last outing saw the end to the MetroStars, and they were the ones that beat Chicago in 1999 when the fire were trying to repeat as champions. Chicago is missing a lot of players due to injure, plus Justin Mapp will be out due to yesterday's match in Madrid, thus they will have a difficult time in New York. For the Rhinos, their secret weapon is goalie Scott Vallow. He has allowed less then one goal a game his season. Look for a dog fight in this one. Chicago 1 - Rochester 2

FC Dallas (MLS) will face DC United (MLS) in Germantown, MD at 7:30pm EST. This should be a really great game, but Dallas is in such a slump (Eddie Johnson is still hurting and their defense looks worse then a teenagers room), that even without Jaime Moreno, Freddy Adu and Nick Rimando, DC should be able to claim a victory. However, if FCD can pull something together, it be be a bad night for United. FCD 0 - DC 2

KC Wizards (MLS) and Minnesota Thunder (USL) will clash at 8pm EST in Parkville, MO. The Thunder have already had their way with MLS teams during the Cup. They have beat the Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake by a combined score of 11-5. Basically, they are a scoring machine. KC is in a similar situation. They are without defenders Jimmy Conrad and Jose Burciaga, but they have scoring power in Scott Sealy and Josh Wolff . KC is looking to repeat as Cup winners, so they will go all out tonight. Look for a lot of offense in this one. KC 4 - Minnesota 3

The last match of the night sees San Jose (MLS) and LA (MLS) taking each other on in San Jose at 10:30pm EST. They will get to repeat this match on Saturday for the MLS. LA is without Landon Donovan, so they are missing their main offensive assette while San Jose is missing midfielder Ricardo Clark, who has been mighty important to the club during the last two months. There is a good rivalry between these two, so it is going to be a good match. I think LA looked alright against DC over the weekend, but without Donovan, they just don't work. San Jose 3 - LA 1

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US v Mexico - no hablo inglés

I go away for the weekend and miss some really bad news (as far as US soccer is concerned) happens. ESPN will not broadcast the US-Mexico match live.

The game starts at 7:30pm EST on Sept 3rd, but the first English broadcast will not happen till 2:30AM on the 4th. Does this make any sense at all? This match sold out in something like 20 minutes and features the US's biggest soccer rival. It is bound to be one of the best pre-World Cup matches, yet ESPN will not air it live. For those of you not familiar with soccer, this is like a Yankees-Red Sox game not being covered or a Lakers-Celtics game from 1985. It makes no sense.

What makes even less sense is this coming so soon after ABC (parent company of ESPN) made a big announcement about carrying all the World Cup matches live in HD. It calls into question their comment to soccer.

So what will they broadcast instead?

ESPN: Boise State-Georgia college football
ESPN2: USC-Hawaii college football
ESPN Classic: Battle Lines: Billy Conn/Joe Louis I (boxing)
ESPN Deportes: Torneos de las Américas basketball
ESPNU: Delaware State-Florida A&M college football

I know how big college football is, but this game is bigger. This might just be the night that America punches its ticket for the biggest single sport event in the world and ESPN thinks that is worth a 2:30AM showing.

If you agree with me that this is a foolish choice by ESPN, why not click here and let them know about it.

Thankfully Telemundo is not being stupid. They will broadcast the match live in Spanish.

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No bribes for Latvia

Talk about a "oops" moment. Latvia captain Vitalijs Astafjevs now says that he did not say that bribes were offered to his team. He says he was only talking about rumors, not quoting facts. He also said, "should have been more careful - first think, then speak."

The fun thing is Astafjevs plays in the Russian league. Do you think he'll hear about this from the fans during his next match?

Ajax looking to purchase shares in MLS teams

Orlando based Ajax America is in negotiations to purchase an equity share of Major League Soccer teams in both Kansas City and San Jose. Ajax America is the American affiliate of AFC Ajax (Amsterdam), one of the top professional soccer clubs in Europe.

Ajax is not looking to become the lead investor in either club. Rich Bradley, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Ajax America, described the situation like this:

“It really depends on whatever the deals that might shake out in each marketplace (are). It could be, simply, an association with them, whereby, we’re feeding them players or they’re sending us players. It could be a re-branding thing.

“It’s just more been, in a generic sense, of the ownership groups (saying) ‘Yeah, it would kind of make sense to be affiliated with you guys in some way’ and I’m saying, ‘Yeah, it would sort of make sense for (Ajax) to have an outlet between what were doing in Florida and Europe’ and, so now, we need to see who ends up with what and (discuss) what our options are.”

The idea here is similar to the farm clubs in baseball. They could keep hold of talent not currently needed in Amsterdam, while allowing the players a chance to play. Unlike baseball, however, they will have to wait for certain windows before they can call them up to the big team.

This seems to be the route MLS wants to go. One of the reasons behind yesterday's game against Real was to grow interest in them investing in the MLS down the road (note that Madrid plans on opening a camp similar to Ajax's in Florida).

Overall, having the bigger European clubs involved in MLS is a good idea. They bring experience, prestige and money. If MLS is ever going to grow into a big US sports league, they will need as much of these three things as they can get.

MLS, time to see reality

So yesterday's match against Real Madrid did not go so well for the MLS select side. Their defeat, actually it was the way they were defeated, showed the weakness of this young league. They were lazy on the pitch. I'm not suggesting that if they were going full-throttle that they would have won, but I do think they could have scored a goal.

But that was yesterday, what do we do about it today. Jamie Tracker has a few suggestions on what went wrong (both yesterday and over the last 10 years) and an idea or two on how to fix it. Although he is a bit harsh, it might just be time for some tough love.

Tracker points out how the low salaries paid to MLS players are hurting the league. Last night's match saw a $100 million team take on a $1.7 million per team league. There is no way that the MLS can offer the kind of money the top European sides can, however, they could try to get to the $10 million mark. This will allow teams to big in better players, thus allowing for better play, thus getting more fans into the gates, thus earning more TV time and news coverage. This would be a risk, but with attendance records dropping, it is time for risks.

MLS is at a point were it does not have to worry if it will be around next season. They have some good TV deals with ESPN and FSC as well as local channels in every market. They also have lots of soccer specific stadiums built or on the way. Now it is time to go to the next level and start bringing in better players. If they do not, don't look for a rematch against Real anytime soon.

Newcastle offers record transfer fee for Owen

Newcastle has offered a team record transfer fee for Real Madrid striker Michael Owen. Their current record is £15million for Alan Shearer in 1996.

Owen has stated that he would prefer to only be loaned to the Magpies for a year, but this deal seems to be a full sale. He is still hoping that his former club Liverpool will come up with an offer, but Real Madrid director of communications said that, "at the moment we have not received any offer from Liverpool."

So what will Owen do? I think he showed his cards a bit by saying, "I need to be playing regularly in World Cup year." That is true. If he wants to be in top form next June, he needs to get plenty of minutes between September and March. If this were 2004, he probably wouldn't even consider the move to Newcastle.

Unless Liverpool, or some unknown third club, comes through with a last minute offer, Owen is soon to be a Magpie

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bribing the Latvians

Latvian captain Vitalijs Astafjevs says that his side was offered "large sums of money" to throw their qualifier against Russia.

"Money was offered both to the Latvian Football Federation and to individual players that were contacted by representatives of the Russian side," Astafjevs was quoted as saying. "It was a bribe from the Russian side. They offered money to us to lose the game."

Latvian officials are denying any bribes being offered.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie, making it very hard for either side to over take second place Slovakia.

This might just be some bitter blood, but if there is truth to what Astafjevs is saying, Russia will not be seeing Germany or South Africa anytime soon.

Real Madrid 5 - MLS 0

So I guess a group of players that don't play together and are coming off only a couple days of rest cannot beat one of the most talented and expensive teams in the world in their home stadium. It really is a good lesson to learn.

In all honesty, this was about the result most folks thought or feared would happen. I know I was hoping for the best when I guessed the MLS would only go down 3-2. So was this worth it?

I'm going to guess the reaction is no, however, there were a few good moments for the US side. Jeff Cunningham's shot in the 49th look strong. Okay, that is only one good moment. It was a bad night.

All and all, I must wonder how a full team like DC United or KC would have done on the night. At least they would be familiar with each other. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu

Is MLS ready for prime time? In just a few hours, the MLS Select team will face off against Real Madrid in their final pre-season match known as Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu. This is the 26th time this match has been played. In the past teams like AC Milan and Liverpool have made the trip to Spain, but today, for the first time, an American side will have a chance at the trophy.

This is a wonderful opportunity for a league that is still struggling to get international respect to shine. However, if things go bad, real bad, it could make it harder for similar games to be played in the future. It is a gamble, but MLS needs to take such risks.

The MLS side does have a couple things going for them. Since they are well into their season, they are game fit; something Madrid might not be able to say. Also, since many in Madrid do not see their matches and highlights, their style of play is unknown. However, they are still playing Real in Madrid with only two days off since their last match (for most of them), so these advantages are not going to be as great as one would hope.

What I expect from this match is a MLS side that does well in the first and last 20 minutes. Real Madrid should be able to walk away winners, but I do not think they will embarrass the MLS. I do have a feeling that Jeff Cunningham or a midfielder (like Youri Djorkaeff or Justin Mapp) will get the first goal of the evening, but Madrid will answer back with 10 minutes.

I know there have been a lot of discussions in the US as to the value of this match. With a lot of teams either playing in the US Open Cup tomorrow or playing in "need to win for playoff reasons" games this weekend, people are wondering why play this game? The truth is that this is about perception. American soccer is still seen as an oxymoron. By playing in events like this, the rest of the world can see what we are doing here. It might not be the best thing for the short-term, but one needs to look five years or so down the line.

So my guess for the match, Real Madrid 3 - MLS Select 2

This game will be shown on Fox Soccer Channel at 3:30pm EST.

Week 21 recap

Well this was a weekend of soccer I didn't really see coming. At first it looked like I might be on to something with KC making mincemeat pie out of the defense of Chicago, but then Dallas happened, or more exactly didn't happen. It is a shame this was the game of the week on ESPN2 because it was just poor soccer all around. The most exciting moment was when it was halted due to weather. Dallas's defense looked just horrible and they still cannot put together a solid counter attack. The Crew played just a little better and deserved the victory. Oh how FCD has fallen in the last two months.

Okay, I wasn't overly shocked by the Dallas defeat. Anyone who has watched them play recently knows that they are a poor excuse for what they once were. However, the DC United result was a shock. LA doesn't win road games and DC is a team on fire, so what happened? A stupid mistake is what did DC in. When Bobby Boswell put the ball in his own net, it took the air out of United. It is amazing how an own goal can really drop a team, even when they are as talented as DC. LA took full advantage of this. Landon Donovan had one of his best games of the year and ended up scoring two goals. United tried hard to get a point out of the match, but the Galaxy were not letting it happen. LA got a much-deserved win with this one.

Thankfully I still had my Real Salt Lake game in hand, so I knew things weren't going to be horrible. The governor of Utah declared Saturday “Jason Kreis Day,” but that didn't do much for his side. As they have done many times before, they lost another match. San Jose looked okay. With the win, they now sit six points up on Dallas in the West.

Finally, Chivas and the MetroStars. For anyone who thought Chivas was just going to be a chump team all year (I'm talking to myself here), welcome to the post-transfer window world. The first 40 minutes were nothing but Goats. They scored three goals, all by transfers, and looked ready for three points. However, for all their glory and fist pumping, they could not keep it together in the second half. Amado Guevera, who scored off a pk in the 5th minute, got a second pk in the 69th but came up the big hero of the match with an "extremely late in injury time" goal to tie it up. All and all, it should have been Chivas's match, but they are just not there yet.

My Guesses vs. Final Scores
Game (my guess) Final score
Kansas City - Chicago (3-1) 3-0
Crew - Dallas (1-2) 1-0
DC - LA (3-0) 2-3
Salt Lake - San Jose (2-4) 0-1
MetroStars - Chivas (2-1) 3-3

This week 2-3
Total so far this season: 13-17

Friday, August 19, 2005

The World Cup of Baseball

It seems that next March will be the first ever World Baseball Classic. This will be a baseball tournament styled after the World Cup. Teams from around the world will play for the World title.

The strange thing is, most of those in baseball don't like the idea. Just last week I was wondering why other sports don't have a World Cup like show (except for rugby and cricket of course). Okay, some sports like American Football would not go so well because no other country really has the interest in it. However, hockey, basketball and baseball seem like good places to start.

Hockey is always well received in the Winter Olympics, why not have another big show two years later? Basketball is quickly becoming an international affair, but I'm going to guess the NBA would be dead set against the move. Why have great games being played that they would not make money off of? As for baseball, it seems like a lot of players don't get why it would be a good thing. Leave it to American Gregg Berhalter defender to explain it to them:

There is a sense of surging pride in American soccer, after decades of failing in world competition. In 2002, the Americans reached the quarterfinals in South Korea, a highlight of their careers, so far.

"The day we played Germany, it was the only game in the world that day," said Gregg Berhalter, an American defender, recalling the very respectable - even unlucky - 1-0 loss to Germany, the ultimate finalist. "People all over the world told me they watched me."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

MLS Week 21 Predictions

I have to be quick with this one, so here we go.

KC Wizards vs. Chicago Fire
Friday 8pm

KC is playing the best soccer of their year. They are coming off a 3-1 road trip and have gone 5-1-1 in their last seven. These are great numbers and they show no sign of stopping. Chicago, on the other hand, has gone 2-3-1 in there last seven, including 3 defeats at home. They did look good last weekend when LA came to visit, but everyone (except Chivas) looks good when LA come to town. Chicago has good offense at the moment, but they are missing a lot on the backend.

KC 3 - Chicago 1

Columbus Crew vs. FC Dallas
Saturday 4pm

The Crew went through a great 3-game stretch with their new coach, but have fallen right back into their old ways. FC Dallas is a team that is lost. Their defense is extremely disorganized and their strikers are not finishing. However, Columbus means Chivas in the Eastern Conference. If FCD does not walk out of Columbus with at least a point, they will need to hang their heads in shame.

Crew 1 - Dallas 2

DC United vs. LA Galaxy
Saturday 7:30pm
Fox Soccer Channel

DC might just be the best team in MSL at the moment. They are tight on their passing and smart on the field. They have won five matches in a row and have gone 10-3-3 since the start of June. LA, well I could quote facts and the such, but there is really only one to look at; they have not won outside of the LA area at all this year. The offense has been missing of late, so I don't see this stat changing.

DC 3 - LA 0

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose
Saturday 9:30pm

Good old Real. They try and try, but they done win. With Clint Mathis still out due to suspension, and Eddie Pope not yet playing at full potential, in is going to be a long night for Real. San Jose has been the team in the West since June, but their tie against the Rapids at home showed that they could be contained, just not by Salt Lake.

Real 2 - San Jose 4

MetroStars vs. Chivas USA
Sunday 6pm

Will the MetroStars actually show up for this match? If so, they should be able to take Chivas down without many heroics. However, if they do not, they might get a surprise. Chivas has their much need reinforcements and might catch the home side sleeping. If so, expect a stunning "what?" to go across the league.

MetroStars 2 - Chivas 1

Site news

Does any read this blog? If so, I won't be around much till next Tuesday (Aug 23rd). Please come back then.

It was 20 years ago today...

It has been 20 years since the American Women played their first-ever match. The match was held in Italy. You can find out a bunch of facts about this match, such as the secret of "OOOSA" and who scored the first goal, over at US soccer.

Happy anniversary!


So, are English football fans idiots?

Over at the Guardian, there is an interesting article about football fans and their devotion to the game. It actually brings up a lot of complaints that I agree with. The big one being the predictability of the outcome. It points out that in the last ten years, only 6 different teams have finished in the top 3 spots. Between 1985-95, 13 different teams finished in the top 3, which is the same amount for the decade prior to that.

The strange thing in ready this article is how similar the complaints are to those about baseball in the states. Anyway, I hope you will take the time to look it over.

Real Salt Lake ready to announce stadium deal?

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Real Salt Lake, "... could decide by month's end where to build a $60 million to $65 million Major League Soccer stadium, which would be publicly and privately financed."

The article says that Sandy appears to be in the lead, but that Real is still looking at other options. Getting this stadium built will be great for Utah and MLS, but, like all stadiums, I don't like to see a lot of taxpayer money going into it. I know very little about Salt Lake and even less about their local politics, so I don't know what the exact needs of the area are. I just hope this project will allow for a growth in the community as well as a growth for soccer.


HDTV for World Cup 2006

As MSNBC reports, ABC will broadcast all 64 matches of the 2006 World Cup live and in high definition. This is great news for fans of soccer and fans of new electronic gagets.

Since this blog is not about electronic gagets (but this one is), I will only say that events like the World Cup are what will drive people to convert to this new standard. With the cost of HDTVs are coming down, expect to see some soccer fans at your local Best Buy next Spring.

No schedule will be annouced till after the December draw, but chances are all America's matches will be shown on ABC. Getting these matches on network television will allow the US to showcase their talent to an audience that would otherwise never see a game. If the US does well (meaning they get past group play), this could spark more of an interest in MLS. If the MLS does well, it will grow and allow more Americans to improve their skills on their native soil. However, the downside is if the US has another France '98, people will tune out for another 4 years.

One other interesting piece of information from the article. It says that "...ESPN/ESPN2 also plans to televise two European Champions League games most weeks when the tournament is going on this season." The more quality soccer on TV the better. This will also give Americans more exposure to some of the names we'll be watching next Summer.

Time to go price HDTVs.


No matter how you look at it, the US dominated Trinidad and Tobago. Well, unless you look at the score. The US out shot T&T 18-1. That is an amazing stat, but with only one goal to show for it, it tells a very disturbing story. Its like a cook who always gets the best ingredients but never makes a great meal. T&T is a decent team but they are far from the best the US will face next year (or next month). In a match against, I don't know how about Mexico, they will only get about a third as many chances as they had last night. If they cannot capitalize on those chances, they cannot win the match.

Another area that needs improving is defense against set pieces. Actually, the defense in general could use some tightening. They were not challenged much last night, but when they were, they were often beat. This was on obvious display during the middle portion of the second half. T&T were playing a man down, but they were finding ways to sneak by the backline. If they were just a little better club, they would have tied the game.

The final thing I noticed was how tired the team looked in the second half. This will improve as the players with European sides get back into full game mood, but it was sad watching players drag themselves across the field in just the 60th minute.

Okay, I've said a lot of negative things, but there is something I must point out. Even with all these bad things, the US won the game. That is a sign of a good team. If your side underperforms and still come out ahead (even against a much weaker side), you are doing something right. The US still has a way to go before they are World Cup ready, but overall, they are all right.

US 1 - Trinidad and Tobago 0

At the half it looked like Costa Rica might walk away with a point. They came out looking sharp on the night, but Jared Borgetti crushed such thoughts at the hour mark. Jose Francisco added a second one late in the match. This win must have felt great for Mexico. Four years ago, Costa Rica left town with a win and sitting on top of the CONCACAF standings. Now it is Mexico who stands on top with only one side to fear. If they can leave the USA with a tie or better, they will coast to first in the conference.

Mexico 2 - Costa Rica 0

Panama, surprise runner-ups in last month's Gold Cup, went into the locker room at the half ahead by one and looking like a team ready to get out of the bottom of the table. However, it was not meant to be. Carlos Ruiz, of FC Dallas fame, brought Guatemala back into the match in the 69th and Gonzalo Romero pulled out the win by scoring late in stoppage time. Guatemala's win moves them into third place, while Panama stay in the basement.

Guatemala 2 - Panama 1

CONCACAF standings
Team - PTS-W-D-L +/-
MEX 16 - 5-1-0 +8
USA 15 - 5-0-1 +9
GUA 7 - 2-1-3 +0
CRC 7 - 2-1-3 -4
T&T 4 - 1-1-4 -6
PAN 2 - 0-2-4 -7


MLS Mid-Week 20 recap

With two late goals, the Colorado Rapids were able to see off the best team in MLS and go 9 points up on Real Salt Lake for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The first half was about even with both sides having a couple good attempts on goal. In the second half, the Revs feel apart and the Rapids to full advantage. Alain Nkong got his fifth goal of the night off a nice flick from Eric Denton in the 78th. However, the biggest moment of the match came in the 84th minute. Jay Heaps found himself alone in the Revs' area, forcing goalie Matt Reis to come off his line. Reis then proceeded to body slam Heaps to the ground, earning himself a red card and Colorado a penalty kick. I don't know what Reis was thinking. His team was down a goal and he had to know that his actions would get him sent off and suspended from their next match against DC United. Reis is a great keeper, but actions like last night make him look bush-league. Anyway, Jean Philippe Peguero was able to bury the pk. Colorado 2 - New England 0

My Guess vs. Final Score
Game (my guess) Final score
Colorado - New England (1-3) 2-0

Total so far this season: 11-14

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

African WCQ results

Tunisia was able to get the win they needed to stay ahead of Morocco in their group. Haykel Guemamdia put the ball in the back of Kenya's net in the second minute for the only goal. The defeat keeps Kenya from going four points up on Botswana in the search for their Nations Cup spot.

Results for CAF (Africa) matches
Sudan v Benin (no result in)
Tunisia 1 v Kenya 0

European WCQ results

Neither Russia nor Latvia got the victory that would have put them super close to second place in their group, but thanks to Liechtenstein, they both still have a chance. Latvia jumped out to an early lead with a Vitalijs Astafjevs goal in the 6th minute. Andrei Arshavin responded in the 24th to tie it up. From that point forward, it was a match of "just don't screw up" calaber. Russia was the better side, they just could not find that second goal.

Slovakia, looking for their first trip to the finals, could have made it nearly impossible on Russia and Latvia with a win over Liechtenstein, but they were unable to find net. They are still 3 points up on Russia, but Russia does have a game in hand. The drama continues.

UEFA Results
Kazakhstan 1 v Georgia2
Latvia 1 v Russia 1
Faroe Islands 0 v Cyprus 1
Macedonia 0 v Finland 2
Liechtenstein 0 v Slovakia 0
Romania 0 v Andorra 0

Oguchi Onyewu gets the bio treatment in USA Today

Could the 6-4 central defender with the "how do you say that?" name become the next big soccer star? Kelly Whiteside looks at that possibility as well as his life so far in today's USA Today.

He had a funny moment going through customs. Here is the run down.

"You here to play basketball?" the customs agent asked.

"No, soccer," Onyewu said.

"OK, have a good day," the agent said, still sizing him up.

"He was kinda shocked that it was soccer out of all the sports I could say," says Onyewu of the question he gets nearly every day ("Soccer? Really?") when he comes back to the USA. In Belgium, where he has been immortalized with his very own bobble-head doll, everyone knows his sport.

So will he ever be a household name around these parts? Only time and a great World Cup will tell.

Uzbekistan beat Kuwait

With the AFC (Asia) qualifiers coming to a close, Uzbekistan has won the chance to play some more. Going into the match, Kuwait only needed one point to get to the playoff with Bahrain (the winner of that playoff will then play the fourth place CONCACAF team), and for most of the half, it looked good for them. In the 32st minute they went up 2-0. However, Uzbekistan came to life right before the half. Server Djeperov got a goal in the 41st that sparked something. In the 62nd they got an equalizer and in the 76th minute Anvarjon Soliev put home the game winner.

AFC results:
Korea 0 - Saudi Arabia 1
Uzbekistan 3 - Kuwait 2
Japan 2 - Iran 1
Bahrain 2 - Korea DPR 3

Trinidad & Tobago coach not ready to give up on World Cup dream

Leo Beenhakker believes his T&T side can still make the big show in Germany, they just need to put together a few wins. Here is the write up from ESPN.

By the way, it will be interesting to see what Dwight Yorke does for the Soca Warriors tonight.

US Men's team still ranked 6th best in the World

During the last month, the US might have won the Gold Cup but they did not managed to overtake Mexico in the FIFA rankings. There was only minor movement in the top 20 with the exception of Japan who fell four spots and Uruguay who dropped from 18 to 25. France, Sweden and Croatia each moved two spots, however France was moving downward while the others moved up. By the way, Panama moved up 6 spots (83 to 77) due to the Gold Cup.

Here is the top 20

Rank Team (+/-Rank) Pts: Aug 05
1 Brazil (0) 837
2 Argentina (0) 782
3 Netherlands (0) 780
4 Czech Republic (0) 777
5 Mexico (0) 770
6 USA (0) 768
7 England (1) 743
8 Spain (0) 739
9 France (-2) 737
9 Portugal (1) 737

11 Germany (0) 722
12 Turkey (0) 712
13 Italy (1) 711
14 Republic of Ireland (1) 709
15 Iran (0) 708
15 Sweden (2) 708
17 Japan (-4) 706
18 Greece (1) 696
18 Denmark (1) 696
20 Croatia (2) 693


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago - WCQ prediction

USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
8pm EST - East Hartford, CT

This is a match Trinidad & Tobago need to win if they want to have a realistic shot at fourth place (top 3 go directly to the World Cup while 4th plays an Asian side to see who will go), while, with a win, the US are guaranteed no worse then fourth. America beat T&T in their first meeting 2-1, but T&T have improved much since that match.

T&T will have striker Dwight Yorke back in their lineup but they are still missing Brent Rahim and Carlos Edwards in midfield. This lack of controlling players in the middle should give Landon Donovan, Brian McBride and Jeff Cunningham many chances to make quick runs toward the visitor's net. It will also cut down on the number of forward passes Chris Armas and Claudio Reyna will need to contend with in the mid and backfields. That said, Reyna has been away for a while and might make some mistakes that result in openings for T&T.

The US is 7-0-2 in qualifiers against T&T while outscoring them 12-3. With the talent on the field tomorrow night, I think the US should be able to improve those already impressive numbers.

USA 3 - Trinidad & Tobago 0

By the way, there are still some tickets available. If you are in the area, give it a go and watch some great soccer.

US Captin Claudio Reyna returns

After a two month break from international duties (and soccer in general), Claudio Reyna returned to the US training camp on Sunday. When asked why he took so much time off, he had this to say:

"It was primarily just to get a rest and get a really good break, consecutive weeks off. In my 12 years in Europe, I've never been there for a preseason and I just thought it was important for me to do that. It was nothing more than that. I think if I was with the U.S. team, I would have been in and out of fitness again. I think with so many injuries (with the Gold Cup team), it was too risky to go back to my club with an injury."

Even at age 32, Reyna is a wonderful player. I think he will be a little rusty during Wednesday's match, but he will still be a factor.

MLS Mid-Week 20 Predictions

Colorado Rapids vs. New England Revolution
Wednesday 9:30pm EST

With the US Men's national game taking center stage, few eyes will be on this match. After winning late in Dallas over the weekend, New England is flying high. However, the national team has called up Taylor Twellman along with Avery John and Steve Ralston. Thankfully for the Revs, Pat Noonan will still be on hand to charge the Pids net. Colorado will also be missing a big part of their team due to the World Cup Qualifier. Jeff Cunningham, also know as the Rapids offense, will be away for the night. Since their backline is never really there, this lack of offense is going to be hard to overcome.

Colorado 1 - New England 3

Italy solves their soccer problems

After a great deal of confusion having to do with match-fixing and financial problems, the Italian Football Federation has ruled on what teams will go where. Ascoli and Treviso will join the top league while Torino and Genoa will stay in Serie B.

Serie A's season begins on August 27th.

Time to start thinking of the World Cup ... 2018?

With Germany 2006 still 10 months away, English Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick has started making noise about hosting the 2018 World Cup. I understand that it is a long process to winning the event, but they were only granted the 2012 Olympic games last month. Maybe one should make that a success before planning anything further.

Also, does anyone know if FIFA has already decided to host the 2018 games in Europe? I thought they had not made that decision yet.

Bruce Arena

With the USA just one win away of at least clinching the playoff birth from CONCACAF, the spotlight is turning towards the man behind the team, Coach Bruce Arena.

The Houston Chronicle has a story on what Arena has accomplished so far as well as what he would like to see happen next year. In just one paragraph the high and low of the US team is brought into full vision. They talk about Arena's record as coach over the last seven years...

"Touting a record of 66 wins, 26 losses and 24 draws, Arena is the most successful coach in the history of the program. Since the 2002 World Cup, the team has lost only seven times — each defeat coming against a team ranked in the top seven in the world."

All those wins are mighty impressive and the team has been on a roll since the last World Cup. However, the fact that all their defeats came against the best teams in the world shows what more they have to do. The US is not known for beating the big fish. Once they change that perseption, they will get the international (and maybe even national) respect they deserve.

There is also a piece in the East Hartford Gazette about the field conditions and the way the US side likes to play. Good reading all around.

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Full listing of Wednesday's World Cup Qualifiers

The hope to join the best in Germany continues on Wednesday night as countries from across the globe play in qualifiers. Here is the full list.

AFC (Asia) matches
Bahrain v Korea DPR
Japan v Iran
South Korea v Saudi Arabia
Uzbekistan v Kuwait

CAF (Africa) matches
Sudan v Benin
Tunisia v Kenya

UEFA (Europe) matches
Kazakhstan v Georgia
Latvia v Russia
Faroe Islands v Cyprus
Macedonia v Finland
Liechtenstein v Slovakia
Romania v Andorra

CONCACAF (North America)
Guatemala v Panama
United States v Trinidad & Tobago
Mexico v Costa Rica

The direct qualifiers from Asia have all been decided. Now the big match is for third place (there are two groups in the AFC and the 3rd place teams will play each other for a chance to advance). So that brings up the Uzbekistan - Kuwait match. If Kuwait wins or ties, they get to play again. If Uzbekistan pulls out a win, they will be the ones moving along.

In Africa, Tunisia must beat Kenya to stay up on Morocco, but Kenya needs this match in order to get to the 2006 African Nations Cup.

Most of the European matches are against also rans, but the Latvia - Russia show down should be exciting. Not only do these two have a "not so great" political history, but both sides need to win this match to stay in the race for a spot in Germany. However, each side could get some help if Liechtenstein somehow pulls off a victory against Slovakia.

Finally, CONCACAF will be in full swing. The best match of the night will probably be in Mexico City when Mexico takes on strong Costa Rica side. Costa Rica will want a win or a tie to keep in the third spot but no one wins against Mexico in Mexico City. If Mexico does fall, the USA could move into first with a win against Trinidad and Tobago. I think the most interesting match will be Guatemala - Panama. It will be nice to see if Panama will play as great as they did in the Gold Cup.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Will South Africa benefit from the 2010 World Cup?

Winning the World Cup is very exciting for any country, but once the joy of getting the second biggest sporting event in the world (right after the Olympics) fades, one must look at what long term benefits it will bring the host country. Clare Nullis has a write-up of the issues facing South Africa as they look forward to 2010.

"(South Africa's) organizing committee predicts the tournament will create 123,000 jobs — a boon in a country saddled with nearly 30 percent unemployment. It predicts $2.7 billion in new investment and an additional $874 million in tax revenue." They also predict "...about 350,000 foreign tourists flooding the country, compared with the 25,000 for the 1995 Rugby World Cup." These fans are expected to spend nearly $1.7 billion during the cup.

When looking at those numbers, it looks like a big win. But just like everything else in life, one needs to look at the coin from the other side. Achille Mbembe is a researcher who sees things from said other side.

"Mbembe said the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea showed that job creation forecasts were vastly overestimated. He said tourists who would otherwise have visited South Africa would likely stay away to avoid soccer crowds, and anticipated gains at hotels and restaurants would be mitigated by people staying home in front of the TV rather than eating out."

It is a good point to make. Greece is still recovering from last summer's Olympic games.

It is a delicate balance. It's like looking at Orlando, Florida, and asking if the town would be better off if Disney had never built there? If they hadn't, it would have never become theme park central, thus most of its current tax base would not exist. However, most of the jobs provided by the parks pay minimum wage, which puts a strain on services provided by the local government (I'm talking about everything from health care and emergency services to schooling). Just something to think about.

All I know is some great soccer will be played in South Africa in 2010. I just hope that they will see a reward for everything they put into hosting.

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Coaching 3 year olds - A response to ShopperKritkrit's comment

So this blog does not get many comments and I'm not really helping that along. I failed to notice that ShopperKritkrit left me a comment on Thursday. She must think I'm a jerk.

Anyway, the question asked was about coaching her 3 year old. Also, there were also some nice comments about me being an expert. I must say, I can only wish I was an expert, but thank you for the kind words nonetheless.

But back to coaching. Watching 3 year olds play soccer is a lot of fun because you just see this mass of bodies all trying to kick the ball at the same time, except there is always one kid who finds something really interesting to look at in the grass. Just so you know, more often then not, I was that kid. But this is not about me.

I think the biggest thing to learn is how to kick the ball. One must learn to kick it not with the toes, but with the inside part portion of the foot. You will get much better ball control and better power if you do it this way.

Once one knows how to kick, you need to learn how to pass. Too often younger players (as well as a few older players) like to take the ball and go screaming right towards the net. This is wonderful if there are only one or two people between you and the goal, but it is a recipe for failure most other times. By passing the ball to a teammate (and having them pass it to another and on and on), you are forcing the defense to open up because they need to move towards the ball to cut off your attack. The more movement that happens, the greater the chance that a hole will open in their defense line, thus allowing a player to sneak through.

I hope this makes some sense. A really great way to learn about the game is to watch it get played. If you have cable, check out a MLS (or other pro league) match or go see one live if you have the chance.

Wishing you the best.

Owen going back to Liverpool?

Fox Sports reports that Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard would love to see Michael Owen back at Liverpool and that Owen feels the same way. What does Gerrard think about Owen playing elsewhere in the EPL? "Could you imagine him coming back to Anfield and scoring against us for another club? It would be a nightmare."

As that report points out, it looks like Newcastle still have the better offer on the table, so it isn't looking great for a return to the Reds at the moment. However, not so long ago some folks were guessing Owen would end up at Man U, so who knows how this will all turn out.

Live chat with Bruce Arena and National Players

If you are near a computer and have a few questions you would like the national team to answer, click on over to ESPN's live chat starting at 1:30pm. They will have US Coach Bruce Arena along with players Eddie Lewis, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Kasey Keller and Landon Donovan.

It should be fun.

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MLS Week 20 Recap

This weekend showed me something. All season long the best soccer was played in the Western Conference. Over the weekend, the Eastern Conference changed all that. The East won all four matches played against the West and looked much better doing so. To the recap machine.

DC United continued to play excellent soccer in their 3-0 win against Chivas. Their ball control and one-touch passing let them dominate this match. Forwards Santino Quaranta and Jamil Walker were able to get two team goals late in the first half to knock Chivas to the mat. In the 64th minute, Dema Kovalenko scored off a perfect pass from Walker to the far post to make sure Chivas did not get up. DC might just be playing the best soccer in the league and look again like Champions. DC 3 - Chivas 0

FC Dallas has this great new home, but they have yet to treat it to a victory. That should change on Aug. 27th when Chivas comes to town, but it might not if they play like they did on Saturday. New England is a good team, but Dallas should have had the edge in this match. They are use to playing in the heat and humidity, but it seemed to wear them down more then the Revs. They looked good at the start of the second half when Carlos Ruiz tied it in the 56th minute, but then they just fell to sleep. They were not passing the ball around the field, they were not taking good shots on goal (only two were near the wood work) and they were being sloppy on defense. That sloppiness lead Shalrie Joseph's amazing strike in the 80th. FCD has got to be feeling low today. On the other side, New England did just what a great team needs to do on the road. Frustrate the home side and wait for an opening. FCD 1 - New England 2

Chicago tried to lose this match, but the Galaxy's luck away from the LA area continued nonetheless. The Fire was the team of the first half. They got things going early thanks to a bad foul in their penalty box by Michael Umana. This let Jesse Marsch get an easy goal off a penalty kick. In the 38th, Justin Mapp sent a great cross into the box that John Thorrington headed home, given the Fire their second goal. LA was hurting, but Chicago let their guard down in the second half. Peter Vagenas took advantage off an assist from Landon Donovan in the 63rd. When, just a couple moments later, Chris Albright found the back of the net, it looked like LA might be on to something, but what do you know, he had fouled Fire keeper Matt Pickens on his way to glory. No goal. Chicago was able to recover and hang on for the win. Fire 2 - LA 1

As noted before, Jason Kreis made history during this match, but Real Salt Lake was still unable to win. The Wizards are looking great these days but Salt Lake almost surprised them. By the time Real got on the scoreboard, Sasha Victorine, Scott Sealy and Chris Klein had all scored for KC. Jordan Cila sent a screamer into goal in the 63rd for Salt Lake's first goal in the 63rd. Then, in the 72nd, history happened. Jason Kreis got his 100 and put his team right back into the match. They played some good soccer over the next ten minutes, but when Sasha Victorine scored his second on the night, everyone knew it was over. Real Salt Lake 2 - KC 4

What happened in San Jose? Colorado had fallen three times to the Quakes already this season and they were playing on San Jose's turf, so it should have been over real early. Instead, the Rapids surprised everyone and walked away with a point. San Jose looked great at he start of the second half when Alejandro Moreno found Dwayne De Rosario who then slipped it to Ricardo Clark for a goal in the 48th. But that was all the offense they could get on the night. In the 57th, Kyle Beckerman smacked a long through ball to Jean Peguero who put the ball over the goalie Pat Onstad's head to tie the match. Peguero looked to be offside, but no call was made. Colorado almost got the game winner in the 64th, but Onstad got a touch on a great pass into the box that prevented any Rapids from connecting. San Jose 1 - Colorado 1

Finally, Sunday's match saw a few goals and a lot of rain. John Wolyniec got a goal for the Crew in the 12th putting them up by one for the next 90 minutes or so. Normally, that would be a great thing, but this long time in the lead had more to do with an over hour delay due to rain and not great defending. After the rain and halftime, Sergio Galvan Rey tied things for the Metros and in the 66th Youri Djorkaeff took a blocked shot and put it right into an open net giving the Stars a much needed win at home. MetroStars 2 - Columbus 1

So how did I do?

My Guesses vs. Final Scores
Game (my guess) Final score
DC United - Chivas (3-1) 3-0
FC Dallas - New England (2-1) 1-2
Chicago - LA (3-2) 2-1
Real Salt Lake - KC (0-3) 2-4
San Jose - Colorado (2-0) 1-1
MetroStars - Columbus (3-2) 2-1

That makes me 4-2 for the week.

Total so far this season: 11-13

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Jason Kreis gets his 100th career goal

Real Salt Lake lost the match, but Kreis made history anyway. He is the first person to score 100 goals in the MLS. The goal came in the 72nd minute. Kreis celebrated by doing two back flips.

After the match, Kreis said, "This is probably the most bittersweet moment of my life. It has to be one of the best goals that I have ever taken in this League. I am proud of this one, but I am extremely disappointed in our result tonight."



Manchester United want Oguchi Onyewu

ESPN soccer net is reporting that the EPL's Red Devils want US National Team member Oguchi Onyewu. Onyewu was one of the stand out players during the recent Gold Cup. If the $4 million price tag is agreed to and Onyewu does move to Man U, he will join fellow US National teammate Tim Howard at Old Trafford.

Des Moines Menace - 2005 PDL Champions

It took a long time, but Des Moines was finally able to beat the El Paso Patriots to capture the PDL crown.

After 120 minutes of play the match was still tied at zero, meaning penalties would decide the better team on the night. It looked great for Des Moines when El Paso's Miguel Larrosa knocked their second shot right to the keeper. However, Cody Kother missed DM's fifth shot, causing two more rounds. Daniel Casteneda's missed EP's seventh shot, setting up Luke Frieberg as the hero for Des Moines. He shot to the middle as the keeper went left. The Menace win.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

MLS top scorers looking for a spot on the national team

Frank Dell'Apa has a must read on the possiblity of Jeff Cunningham and Taylor Twellman making the US team in Germany. He makes some great points on the differences between league and international play.

Will Jason Kreis get his 100th MLS goal tonight?

If you are in the Salt Lake area, go on over to Rice-Eccles Stadium tonight and you just might see a little piece of history. Real Salt Lake's Jason Kreis is just one goal shy of hitting the triple digits. It's to bad that this match will not be on TV anywhere, but if he does it, I'm sure it will make the highlight reel.

The Desert News has a good write up on the story (even if they do misspell Jason's last name in the headline), including a great description of his almost 100th goal in Wednesday's game against New England.

This is Jason's first year with Real Salt Lake. He played the previous nine seasons of his MLS career in Dallas.


MLS matches on TV today

Just in case you want to watch some good soccer played on American soil, here is a list of games on TV for you. By the way, most matches are also broadcast on local radio stations.

DC United - Chivas USA
4pm EST

Fox Soccer Channel
FC Dallas - New England Revolution
8:30pm EST

Chicago Fire - LA Galaxy
8:30pm EST

Direct Kick
FC Dallas - New England Revolution
8:30pm EST

Chicago Fire - LA Galaxy
8:30pm EST

San Jose Earthquakes - Colorado Rapids
10pm EST

Only game not televised
Real Salt Lake - KC Wizards

Sunday's match between the MetroStars and Columbus Crew will be on Direct Kick at 6pm EST.

Premier Development League Championship tonight; 2005 MVP named

The night before Central Conference champion Des Moines Menace meet the Southern Conference champion El Paso Patriots in the Championship match, the PDL has selected their player and coach of the year.

MVP honors went to Daniel Frias of the El Paso Patriots. Frias led the Patriots to an 11-3-2 record with 17 goals and five assists in 11 games. He ranked fifth in points and third in goals in the league.

Indiana Invaders coach Methembe Ndlovu was named Coach of the Year. The second-year Invaders head coach led the team to its third straight 11-win season at 11-5-0, missing the postseason by one point for the second consecutive season. He was 11-5-0 in his debut last season also.

You can watch the PDL season come to a close tonight on Fox Soccer Channel. The match will be presented live, starting at 10:30pm EST. My guess is that El Paso will pull out a close victory over Des Moines.

Thailand will get to co-host 2007 Asian Cup

Back in June, the Asian Football Confederation warned Thailand that if they did not improve their facilities, Singapore would replace them as co-hosts of the next Asian Cup. Good news for Thailand, they were able to provide the AFC will the needed documents that detailed the government’s support for funding the improvements. Here is a blurb about it from

U.S. Soccer Foundation Opens Online Grant Application for 2006

If you are interested in getting money to further or start a local soccer league or facilities, you might want to take a look at this press release from the US Soccer Foundation.

Here is a bit about what they have done:

"The annual grant making program is at the core of the Foundation. Since it was founded in 1995, almost $20 million dollars in cash, equipment, and services have been awarded to more than 350 grantees in 48 states. Foundation grantees represent the entire spectrum of soccer communities from the small rural club to the U.S. Soccer Federation, the National Governing Body for the sport of soccer in the United States."

Who's hating Chivas USA?

Over at, Luis Bueno calls into question(reg required) some of ESPN2's play-by-play man Eric Wynalda's feelings about Chivas USA. Basically his take on why Wynalda does not like Chivas is that he sees them as representing Mexico and as a former USA national team player, he can't like America's biggest local rival.

Although I agree with Bueno that Wynalda does seem to have some issues with Chivas, I'm not so sure that his feelings are directly related to national pride. I cannot claim to know anything about Wynalda's thought process, but I would not be that surprise if his opinion of Chivas was tainted more by the way they treated the league before the start of the season.

Chivas USA is an offshoot of Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara. When the roaster was being put together for the USA team, head coach Hans Westerhof was not allowed to take any of Chivas Guadalajara's best players. Now there are many good reasons behind this decision, but one of them seems to be that the Chivas franchise thought they would be able to win in the MLS with second tier players. If this is true, it is a major insult to MLS.

But does this excuse comments by Wynalda that strongly suggest Chivas USA plays dirty soccer? No. I've watched Chivas play about 12 matches and they do not seem to be any sneaker then any other club. I do think they are one of the more physical clubs in the MLS, but not so physical that they are endangering players.

There is one other thing I must bring up about Bueno's article. He writes:

"Torres was the victim of another anti-Chivas USA blast in Saturday's match with Real Salt Lake, billed as a game that could feature the league's 5,000th goal. Torres scored the first goal of the 2-1 loss, the 4,999th in league history. Wynalda commented: 'No one's going to remember that goal.'"

Not to defend Wynalda, but when I heard him say that, I did not think he was trying to say anything about the goal that was just scored or the team that scored it. Instead, I think he was just trying to build excitement for the 5,000th. It was a little harsh to suggest that no one will remember a goal since most players remember every goal they scored, but I don't think he was being mean.

All and all, I do agree that Wynalda does seem to dislike Chivas; I'm just not sure what the reasons are behind it. Let me throw out a crazy possibility, he was attacked by a goat as a kid (for those who might be new to soccer, the goats are Chivas's nickname). Who knows, maybe I'm on to something.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Is Chelsea's millions runing the EPL?

Niall Quinn expresses many of the feelings I have about Chelsea and the current state of the EPL. The funny thing is, a lot of folks for the same way about the New York Yankees in the states.

As the new season starts, it is worth a read.

Great bio piece on Eddie Johnson

Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News as a wonderful piece on FC Dallas and US National Eddie Johnson. If you don't know Eddie's story, take a few minutes and give this a read. Here is a little teaser for you:

"He's also one of the richest. Not long after rejecting a reported $5 million bid for Johnson from Portuguese power Benfica, MLS raised his salary by nearly 1,000 percent, to $875,000 yearly. (The league owns all player contracts.) Only Los Angeles' Landon Donovan, perhaps the biggest American soccer star, is paid more at $900,000.

Few doubt that more lucrative offers from Europe are forthcoming. "Everything Eddie wants will come to him in time," FC Dallas general manager Greg Elliott said.

Heady stuff for a young man from the northern Florida town of Bunnell, where most kids did not dream of becoming soccer players. Johnson took to the sport at age 9, but only after two friends started playing. Those friends now "aren't doing anything. They're getting into trouble, that's what they're doing," Johnson said.

Soccer quickly changed Johnson's life. The sport introduced him to Bob Sawyer, who was his first coach and soon filled in as the father Johnson never had growing up. They remain close."

When your done there, you can skip on over to their FC Dallas update page.

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DC nails Chelsea's not so silent partner

I was just looking at the schedules and results for various MLS clubs and noticed something that gave me a little bit of a chuckle. Since it is Friday I thought, why not share it will all the good people (or person) that visits the blog.

A couple weeks ago DC United played Chelsea. The game was an excellent example of how far MLS had come in a decade. Well look how DC names their opponent on that day:

If you can't read it, it says "Chelsea FC&$." Chelsea Football Club and money, seems about right to me.

Hope this gave you at least a small laugh.


DaMarcus Beasley ruled out for Aug. 17 World Cup Qualifier

No big surprise here, since he is still recovering from a hamstring strain. It will be interesting to see whom Arena starts in his place.

With Beasley gone, the only midfielders available that also played in last month's Gold Cup are Chris Armas (Chicago Fire) and Steve Ralston (New England Revolution). Donovan will also be available, but he has been moved to forward for Trinidad & Tobago.

World Cup stadiums still need work

Theo Zwanziger, president of the German Soccer Federation, has said that with only 10 months to go before the start of play, the stadiums still need work. He sighted traffic flow, parking and media facilities as items that needed to be addressed. Still, he does expect for things to be worked up by the end of the Bundesliga season.

Just incase it is not yet on your calendar, the World Cup starts on June 9th.

Steve Nicol to coach MLS vs. Real Madrid

As the coach whose club has the most points in the MLS, Steve Nicol has been selected to lead the MLS Select Team against Real Madrid.

This is Nicol's third full season as the coach of the Revs. He took over midway through 2002 and ended up taking the Revs to the MLS Cup where they lost in overtime to the Galaxy. In 2003 and 2004, they were defeated in the Eastern Conference final.

As a player, Nicol 467 appearances for English club Liverpool, winning four league titles, three F.A. Cup trophies and the 1984 European Cup while at Anfield. Nicol was also a member the Reds team that fell to Juventus in the European final in 1985.

The match against Real Madrid will take place on Aug. 23rd in Madrid. The Spanish season starts five days later.

For more, take a look at the MLS news release for more.