Saturday, September 30, 2006

Vancouver, Rochester meet in finals today

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Rochester Raging Rhinos
7pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel

The USL season comes to an end today as the Vancouver Whitecaps face off against the Rochester Raging Rhinos for the first division championship.

This match up will be fierce as these are the two teams with the fewest number of loses this year (RRR have 4, while VW have 6). Still, the Rhinos come into the match as favorites since they had the better regular season record and home pitch advantage, but Vancouver has firepower.

The man to watch for the Whitecaps is Joey Gjertsen. He has been excellent in scoring (12), assists (7) and more then willing to take shots (60). For the Rhinos, chances are their fate rests with rookie Matthew Delicâte from Wales. Although his numbers are not as strong as Gjertsen, he is their shot (45) and goal-scoring leader (8). If they can also get a good game out of midfielder John Ball, they might just be hosting their third title by the end of the night.

When these teams last met in Rochester, the Rhinos won 2-0, with Delicâte getting the second goal. Earlier in the year, they tied 0-0 in Vancouver.

During last weekend's semi-finals, Vancouver beat Montreal on the road after the first match in the series ended in a 0-0 tie, while Rochester held Charelston to a 0-0 tie in the second game to advance off their 1-0 win at home in the first match of the series.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 29, 2006

Good explanation of the Jack Warner case

As most American soccer fans know, Jack Warner is again under investigation. This time it has to deal with the illegal sale of World Cup tickets that resulted in an almost $1 million profit.

Anyway, for a better explanation of the charges against Warner, I recommend Andrew Rogers' piece on Square Football. He explains the issues and what Warner is claiming happened.

I enjoy the simple recap of what has happened, but Rogers also makes a good point about the way FIFA comes down on players, but not there own.

The second issue is we have an administration that for whatever reason spends significant amounts of money investigating its own employees. While this may be a ‘reality” of business, it is rather curious that they will stomp on players, managers and clubs for all manner of reasons, when in fact their behavior is often little worse than back chatting the ref.

Good points all around.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

MLS Shirts now accepting advertisers

MLS has decided to allow teams to sell advertising on the front of their jerseys starting next season. Teams are required to charge at least $500,000 with MLS getting $200,000 of any sale.

This is the first time advertising has been allowed on the front of the shirt. The owners of the New York Red Bulls and Chivas USA pushed for the change.

No teams have signed a deal yet, but the Los Angeles Galaxy say they are "in discussions for a 'multimillion dollar' deal."

This should bring more money into the league. Hopefully teams will be allowed to spend this money on whatever they see fit. Also, hopefully the ads will blend in with the shirts instead of clashing.

The MLS main office has the right to nix any deal teams might reach. Hard liquor and Internet casinos are not options, nor are local bail-bonds companies.

So the question I really want to know is will the Red Bulls place a Red Bull ad below the Red Bull logo on their jersey?


Players say no to Tornoto FC fake grass

Many of Canada's top soccer players are begging builders not to place artificial FieldTurf in the new Toronto stadium, but the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) says players should give it up because there is 'zero chance of natural grass being installed.'

One of the biggest supporters of a natural pitch is Canadian national team and Houston Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. He says, "“I am definitely 100-per-cent pro grass. If they get grass in there instead of an artificial surface, it would be easier to draw better players and teams from Europe to play exhibition games and the fans will respect the team.”

De Rosario has been considered all but a lock to move to Toronto during the off season, however new Toronto coach Mo Johnson might need to reevaluate this idea since he thinks that "Any player who doesn't want to play on FieldTurf is not someone who we would be interested in having on our team."

Chief operating officer of the CSA Kevan Pipe stressed that the surface meets the highest possible FIFA standard, but that doesn't mean much when realize that Jack Warner and Nicolás Leoz also seem to meet FIFA's 'high' standards.

Fake grass does not belong in top league soccer. It causes the ball to play strange, it gives off way to much heat and it leads to turf toe (ask Eddie Johnson what that can do to a career). However, one can guess the reason Toronto FC want to put it down, money.

“Having a natural-turf stadium makes the facility unusable and uneconomical,” FieldTurf co-founder John Gilman said. “You have to use the stadium day in and day out for it to be a multiuse facility.”

Notice how Gilman didn't say anything about the quality of play, just that you can make more money from the stadium. I think that says a lot.

Yes, teams need to make money off their stadiums, but what is more important, having a place for the high school band competition or having a surface that will not lead to injuries for your professional athletes. The answer is right there on the pitch.

By the way, USL first division side Vancouver Whitecaps is planning on building their own stadium, however theirs will have a grass field.

Labels: ,

Chicago Fire win US Open Cup

Chicago Fire 3-1 LA Galaxy

The Chicago Fire own the US Open Cup. Whatelse can someone say after they dominted LA 3-1 to win their fourth title.

All and all, last night's match was one the best, if not the best, 'MLS matches' I've seen this year. The first half saw play stretching over the entire length of the pitch with lots of smart one and two touch soccer. The action calmed down at the start of the second half, but after the hour mark, it stepped back up again.

All credit to the Fire for coming out and basically putting the match away in the first 20-minutes. Any Herron, Justin Mapp and Ivan Guerrero were just slicing through the Galaxy's lines and playing the type of game that could carry them to the MLS finals. Also, great show by Matt Pickens in goal. When the Fire needed a save, he made it.

For the Galaxy, this should act as final notice for their need to improve the midfield in the off season. Cobi Jones is a legend, but if LA wants to have any stength in the middle, they need to move on. For further proof of the need to change, look at Santino Quaranta. He was the engine for the club last night. Find someone else to team him with and you might have something.

A couple other good notes, the fans in Chicago started to prove something last night. They are not at DC United level yet, but Barra Brava and the Screaming Eagles need to start watching their backs. Maybe next time, each person could bring one friend and sellout the stadium. Also, note to Landon Donovan, there are microphones in the corners. Nothing like hearing Landon curse at the linesman after a Chicago player kicked the ball away while he was trying to setup his corner kick. Finally, the level of play on the pitch last night is what should be seen during every MLS match, not just the ones that result in a trophy.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

US Open Cup Final Tonight

There is an extra crisp feel in the air today as the 93rd US Open Cup is about to come to a close. Tonight, the LA Galaxy try to make their season a little less embarrassing as they look for some silverware against the Chicago Fire.

LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire
8:00pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel
Chicago - USOC record 25-5 (vs. MLS teams 15-4)
LA - 20-6 (11-4)

The Galaxy are looking to repeat as US Open Cup Champions, and in the process become the first team to do so since 1982-83 when New York Pancyprian Freedoms won it all. For the Fire, they want to left the Dewar Trophy for the fourth time.

One of the biggest questions to be answered is will LA play their best team? With their playoff hopes hanging like an elephant from a dandelion, they Frank Yallop will have to decide how much this game matters. In the MLS, they have 3 games left and need to, at least, get two wins and a tie to even hope for a playoff spot. If Yallop puts out his first team, it could come back to haunt him when his team faces city and stadium rivals Chivas USA this Saturday. For the Fire, they have the luxury of already having a playoff spot and, more then likely, the second position in the East.

I would be surprised if Yallop didn't put Donovan, Albright, Quaranta and Gomez out on the pitch tonight. LA knows that their season is pretty much shot and they know that retaining the cup will give them something to be happy about (not to mention the $100,000 that comes along with the win), so why not go for it. Who knows, this win might spark something in the team for their final three.

For the Fire, Calen Carr has proved his worth in their cup run, as has Thiago and Justin Mapp, but I wonder if Andy Herron will see action. Herron is going to be an important part of any Fire playoff run and coach Dave Sarachan might choose to not risk him tonight.

This match should be a free flowing event, but it probably will not result in many goals. One thing to keep in mind, no team has scored more then 1 goal in the USOC final since LA got two in 2001. Still, these should be a fun one as both teams are very strong in tournaments.

My guess, Chicago 2-1 LA.

Labels: , ,

No more penalty kicks in World Cup, top clubs are immoral

Everybody's favorite current President of FIFA Sepp Blatter does not want penalty kicks in any more World Cup games. His possible solutions are a replay or a gradual deducting of players in extra time.

'Maybe to replay the match if it's the final, you can't do that through the tournament because of lack of time. Maybe to take players away and play golden goal,' Blatter said, adding that high-level discussions would start soon.

As much as a replay would be nice, I don't think this is realistic, even in the earlier stages of the knockout phase. Teams only have 3-5 days between knockout matches, so playing two games in 24 hours at the top level seems a little extreme. Not to mention the problems of scheduling telecasts of matches. And you always have to look at the extreme. What happens if the second match also ends in a tie? It just doesn't seem reasonable.

Then there is the idea of removing players. I don't know, it just doesn't seem right to me. Soccer is a game of 11 in 11. Odds are midfielders would be taken off first, meaning there would be more long balls. I think it would just be sloppy.

My idea, for what it is worth, is to keep playing 15-minute overtime periods while giving each team an extra sub per OT period. This allows coaches to get exhausted players off the pitch and rewards teams with deeper benches.

Blatter also thinks the top clubs in the World are immoral.

Blatter also took a swipe at the high salaries paid to footballers, calling them immoral, and said FIFA would take on the issue as clubs - particularly in England but also in other major European leagues - price spectators out of stadiums in order to pay huge wage bills.

'It is not moral, it is definitely not good for our sport,' he said. 'They pay too much money to the players. There is an imbalance in their finances and they try to get money by all means.'

Isn't it interesting to hear Sepp Blatter talk about people being immoral for bringing in as much money as they can to their organization. I seem to recall Blatter praising the money FIFA brought thanks to this year's World Cup and talking about South Africa 2010 already being a bigger success on the financial side of things.

He is right, there is too much money in world football, but if he's going to complain, maybe he should stop doing it himself. Also, if he is going to talk about people being immoral, maybe he should call out the thiefs that surround him before passing judgments on others.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More FIFA Corruption

The race for the most corrupt FIFA official is starting to heat up. Just when I thought Austin 'Jack' Warner had a lock on it, he's now getting some serious competition from a neighbor to the south.

The President of South America's soccer federation and FIFA executive committee member Nicolás Leoz has been accused of receiving bribes from FIFA's former marketing partner related to the acquisition of television rights.

The Guardian of London broke the report on the Swiss investigation.

Nicolás Leoz, a Fifa executive committee member and long-serving president of Conmebol, the South American football confederation, is said to have been sent bribes totaling SFr211,625 (£90,000 {or $170,500}) in two separate payments in January and May 2000.

The money was paid by an entity linked to ISMM, the collapse of which in 2001 left a major hole in Fifa's finances. When contacted by the Guardian Leoz expressed surprise and said he had no connection with the companies in question.

ISMM was in charge of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup TV distribution rights, excluding Europe and the US.

The report made clear that no Swiss officials, including FIFA President Sepp Blatter, were involved in the fraud.

FIFA would not comment on this latest embarrassment, however, if they follow the same path as they did with Warner, expect them to launch a full all attack on those making the accusations while making sure Leoz is charged by his piers, ie Jack Warner.

Also, expect this investigation not to be turned over to the new independent investigation wing of FIFA since the events took place before the creation of the investigation wing. I mean you can't change the rules in the middle of the game. These people didn't know they had to cover their trail against an independent investigator. It's like using DNA evidence to prove a crime from 1987, it just isn't fair to the criminal.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Vancouver and Rochester advance to finals

After three great weekends of soccer, the USL First Division final is now set. Going into today's matches, the Rhinos were one goal up on the Charleston Battery while Vancouver and Montreal were stalled at a 0-0 tie.

In Charleston, the Battery was unable to get a goal at home against the Rhinos. Rochester advances to their first finals since 2001 and their sixth ever.

Up North, Vancouver came into Montreal looking to do something they could not do at home, get a win. However, the full 90-minutes went by without either side scoring with the first 15-minutes of overtime much the same. However, in the 115th minute Eduardo Sebrango-Rodriguez got the goal that gave the Whitecaps the lead. Sadly, he got a second yellow right after the goal, earning himself a trip to the showers.

The Impact had five more minutes to get an equalizer, but their offensive push allowed the Whitecaps to earn a second goal in the final second of the match.

With the win, Vancouver has earned their first trip to a USL final next Saturday in Rochester. The game will air live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7pm.

Rochester 0-0 Charleston (Rochester advance 1-0 on aggregate)
Vancouver 2-0 Montreal (Vancouver advance 2-0 on aggregate)

Vancouver at Rochester 7:00pm ET - Live on FSC.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rhinos up a goal, Canadians tied - USL Semi-Finals

The Charleston Battery gave it everything they had, but they could not get out of Rochester with a tie last night. The first half saw a lot of back and forth, but the big moment came in the 42nd minute when the Battery were reduced to 10 men.

In the second half, the Battery came out trying to play for the tie, but the Rhinos would not let it happen. Midfielder Greg Howes (pictured) scored the lone goal with a right-footed shot from outside the box in the 52nd minute.

The series moves to Charleston on Sunday. A video stream of this match will be available on Charleston's website, while Rochester's site will have an audio call (Rhinos, Battery).

In the other series, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact played a physical match but had few chances to get goals. There were only about four good chances all night, but none of them connected with the netting.

The series continues in Montreal on Sunday. You can find the audio call for this match on their websites (Impact, Whitecaps).

Friday 22 Sept
Charleston 0-1 Rochester
Montreal 0-0 Vancouver

Sunday 24 Sept
Rochester at Charleston 6:00pm ET
Vancouver at Montreal 7:00pm ET

Labels: ,

MLS Week 26 Preview

Could this finally be the weekend where the playoff picture starts to focus? If a handful of games go a certain way, up to three teams could join DC United with a playoff berth. All FC Dallas needs is one point in their match against Real Salt Lake, while Chicago could get their ticket if they beat LA and New England will be through if beat KC and New York falls to DC.

On the other side of making it, Columbus could be ruled out of the playoff picture if KC beats New England or New York beats DC and the Crew loses to Houston.

It's not that I'm not a fan of drama, but I really hope that after this weekend we are not still reading stories about "11 teams fighting for 7 spots."

So let's see what games will be played

Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30pm ET

The Dynamo is currently at a low point. They come into the game having captured just 5 points from their last 5 matches, plus their offense is sputtering. The good news is they are playing a Crew team who is in a much worse state. They will be without Marcos Gonzalez and Joseph Ngwenya due to suspension. Both teams need a full set of points out of this game, but talent is on Houston's side.

Crew 0-2 Houston

DC United vs. New York Red Bulls
7:30pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick (DK), MLStv

Bruce Arena comes back to DC for the first time ever in a MLS match. That makes for a great subplot to this game, however, it will be the only thing great about this game. New York couldn't get it together midweek against a much weaker New England side, so how will they beat United. DC will be without Brian Carroll, Josh Gros and Bryan Namoff due to suspension, but they still should have the ball control needed to drop the Bulls. They only thing that could beat them would be stupid self-inflected mistakes.

DCU 3-1 NY

New England Revolution vs. Kansas City Wizards
7:30pm ET

The Wizards come into the match rested, but still the Wizards. They have lacked offense and a productive midfield all season and nothing should change tonight. Will Twellman rediscovering his scoring abilities of late, but the question is still Joe Franchino. Will he be able to step-up and control like Shalrie Joseph? If he can, even an inspired Scott Sealy will be unable to get the Wizards a win.

NE 1-0 KC

FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake
8:30pm ET

It's not so hard to believe that one of these teams is just about the hottest team in the league right now, but what is difficult to get the head around is that Real is that team. FC Dallas has been on a terrible slide since the All-Star break with the worse of it coming last weekend in Salt Lake. Losing to Real after being up a man for most of an hour is unacceptable, but they did it. Even the resurgence of Carlos Ruiz was not enough. Today they will be without goaltender Dario Sala due to injury which means Shaka Hislop will make his MLS debut, but will he have better luck against Jason Kreis, Chris Klein and Jeff Cunningham?


Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy
8:30pm ET

Welcome to the preview of this Wednesday’s US Open Cup final, however, I think LA will be a lot more concerned about this match. If they lose, their hopes of post-season play will be all but gone. If this is not enough to make Landon Donovan turn on his skill, then all hope for him is lost. The Fire have been rolling of late, but needed a few calls to go their way last week to get by DC. If Thiago can feed those balls past the shaky LA backline, Chicago should have enough to get their points.

Chicago 1-0 LA

Chivas USA vs. Colorado Rapids
10:00pm ET

This one has the possibility of being really good, however, don't expect much scoring as the two teams have combined for just 5 goals in their last 8 matches, yet they have somehow got 12 points. That says something. Chivas's defense will be hurting a bit without Tim Regan, so they will need to come at the Rapids with solid offense. If Juan Pablo Garcia can get something happening in the middle, Chivas should be able to slip by.

Chivas 1-0 Colorado

Labels: ,

Friday, September 22, 2006

Is Mexico going to fight to host the 2014 World Cup?

The new leader of the Mexican Soccer federation is considering placing a bid for the 2014 World Cup. In addition, he said that if South Africa fails in the build up to the 2010 finals, Mexico could step in.

As far as 2014, South America is suppose to play hope with Brazil as the likely winner. If Brazil was unable to meat the demands of FIFA, the bidding could go in any number of directions. Australia and New Zealand have said they would be interested in either '10 or '14, as has the US and England (and just about any other large nation).

Mexico hosted the finals in 1970 and 1986. They got the '86 finals when Columbia declared in late 1982 that they could not afford the cost of the games. Mexico was awarded the games on May 20, 1983, beating out bids from Canada and the US.

As for the US, if Mexico got either of the next two finals, chances are it would be 16-20 years before the US would really have another chance to play host.

Labels: ,

USL Semi-Finals live online

The USL first division is quickly coming to an end, but before we get there, there is a little matter of the semi-finals.

Starting tonight, the Charleston Battery will take on the Rochester Raging Rhinos while the Vancouver Whitecaps will take on their fellow Canadians the Montreal Impact. These teams will play a home-home series with the second match taking place on Sunday.

Charleston eked out a road victory last Sunday against a Puerto Rico side that came on hard during the last few weeks of the season. The Battery seemed to be a much tighter team then the one that needed a late goal on Friday to leave their home match with a tie. The Rhinos have looked strong all season and are coming off a weekend of rest as their second place league finish gave them a bye in the first round. All and all, it will be hard for the Battery to topple the Rhinos.

Charleston won the regular season series with a win (2-1) and a tie (0-0). The tie was on the last day of the regular season.

Audio calls for both matches will be available on the teams website (Rhinos, Battery) with a video feed of Sunday's game available on Charleston's site.

Then there is the battle for Canada. Vancouver rolled over Miami last weekend with an aggregate score of 6-1. In addition, Vancouver has the second most goals scored in the league at 46 (Miami ended up with 48). But the Whitecaps are going to need all the goal scoring abilities since Montreal has allowed the fewest goals all season (15).

Montreal won the regular season series with a win (1-0) and a tie (1-1).

Audio calls for both matches will be available on the teams website (Impact, Whitecaps).

Friday 22 Sept
Charleston at Rochester 7:45pm ET
Montreal at Vancouver 10pm ET

Sunday 24 Sept
Rochester at Charleston 6:00pm ET
Vancouver at Montreal 7:00pm ET

Labels: ,

Ryan names Women's roster for Chinese Taipei

Twenty-four US women have been called into training camp to prepare for their Oct 1 match against Chinese Taipei. This match is part of the Women's Nike Friendlies taking place at the Home Depot Center.

There are two first timers in the group. Forward Danesha Adams has got the call up after having a fantastic run of form in the U-20 Women's World Cup last month in Russia. She scored 3 goals and was named MVP of the tournament. Fellow forward Megan Kakadelas was also called in. She had a standout career at USC where she was named Pac-10 Freshman of the year.

The Oct 1 match will air live on ESPN2.

Here is the full roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart, Briana Scurry, Hope Solo

DEFENDERS (8): Lori Chalupny, Keeley Dowling, Tina Frimpong, Amy LePeilbet, Stephanie Lopez, Kate Markgraf, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone

MIDFIELDERS (6): Angela Hucles, Carli Lloyd, Joanna Lohman, Marci Miller, Leslie Osborne, Aly Wagner

FORWARDS (7): Danesha Adams, Natasha Kai, Megan Kakadelas, Kristine Lilly, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley, Abby Wambach


Romerio looking at Australia for 1000th goal

Brazilian striker Romario is open to the possibility of playing in Australia's A-League in order to get his lifetime goal total above 1,000. He is currently 16 goals short of this mark.

Romario just finished his season with USL-First Division side Miami FC. "'It was a positive experience, I scored 20 goals in 27 matches and the standard was better than I expected,' he said of his five months in the United States." Just a side note, the USL stats page lists Romario with 18, not 20 goals. However, this might not include post-season goals, of which Romario scored one.

Romario says he has been in contact with Adelaide United over a possible move to the club.

FC Dallas team up with Brazil's Atlético

Later today FC Dallas is expected to announce a new partnership with Clube Atlético Paranaense in Brazil's Campeonato Brasileiro Série A.

The agreement will involve a home-home series with the club (similar to the one they currently have with Mexico's Tigres), sharing of coaching techniques for youth development and the possibilities of loaning players to each other for free.

With all the talent and history Atlético have, this is a major success for Dallas. By building up their international connections, FCD is setting themselves up for long-term success.

Dallas's next target for such an agreement is Europe.

Atlético has won the Campeonato Paranaense (their Brazilian state championship) 21 times, the Série A (2001) once and the Dallas Cup once (2005).

Their U-20 club won the Belo Horizonte Youth Cup in 1996 and 2006.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

MLS Mid-week 26 Recap

New York Red Bulls 0-2 New England Revolution

With both teams needing a win to keep their playoff dreams going strong, one would have figured that everything would have been left on the pitch. However, maybe because so many people were out due to injury or cards the game just didn't get a strong flow going.

Still, the first goal was a nice combination of smart play and luck when the Revs took a quick restart on a foul in midfield that found Andy Dorman in some open space. Dorman crossed it in and New York's Taylor Graham tried to clear it, but failed in his attempt. The failed clearance went to the Revs Steve Ralston who found Taylor Twellman who slammed it into the net. All and all, a great 30-seconds or so of soccer.

Youri Djorkaeff tried again and again to get his side back into the game, but every opening he had either went a little off or was stopped by Matt Reis.

The second goal was also the indirect result of a free kick when Red Bulls goalkeeper just stopped a Clint Dempsey kick, only to have Andy Dorman pick up the rebound for the easy score.

New York had a couple more tries at it, but by the 80th minute, it was obvious coach Bruce Arena knew this game was over when he took off Amado Guevara.

The win means New England could clinch a playoff spot this weekend if they beat Kansas City and New York loses to DC.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Shalrie Joseph needs surgery after nightclub fight

The New England Revolution will be without Shalrie Joseph (picture) for the rest of their regular season after he was involved in a nightclub fight last Thursday night. These injuries included tendon and nerve damage and will require sugary.

Joseph lacerated two fingers on his right hand when he was shoved during the scuffle and broke his fall by crashing his hand onto a glass-covered floor, explained the sources, who maintained that neither Joseph nor anyone in his party (including some Revolution teammates) started the fight.

Without Joseph, the Revs midfield takes a hit, however, the schedule does smile on them. They have five games remaining with three of them being against lower point total teams in the East and one of them against Colorado. The other contest is against DC United.

The team will reevaluate him for the post-season on October 21.

By the way, I wonder if Clint Dempsey was there, because if there was one Rev player I would want to have watching my back, it would be Dempsey.


Mighty Personalities of MLS

How is it that teams can take on personalities. I'm not sure how it happens, but I think it is a good thing that it does. It gives games a different level of involvement. With that in mind, I setout to take part in the fifth US soccer carnival.

I'm not sure what causes me to look at teams the way I do, but over the years, they all have developed little characters in my mind. So I present for you that little piece of my mind.

Chicago Fire - The last-born child in a four kid household. The parents are too tired to really put up a fight and have too much experience to try to raise the 'perfect' child, so the kid is on their own. Some how this kid keeps finding ways to 'out shine' their older siblings. Perhaps it's because he doesn't know any better or maybe it's because not enough people were watching at first, but they are always a force.

Chivas USA - Nothing like being the grandson of someone famous, but as Hank Williams the 3rd can tell you, a name will get you a crowd but only your talent will make them clap. The good news, unlike being the second in a line, the third kid often finds their own path, which, for whatever reason, has to be different from that of those who came before. This difference makes them into something great.

Colorado Rapids - The Rapids are that cousin who you never really think about but who likes to 'pop' into town for an unannounced visit and expects you to show them around. The worst part is dinner when he tries to impress you with his overall lousy stories that don't seem to go anywhere or have a payoff at the end.

Columbus Crew - The loveable losers of the league. They are the closest thing the MLS has to the Chicago Cubs. Nobody hates the Crew, in large part because they are never really threatening. They are the guy who is every girl's friend, but never their boyfriend.

DC United - The golden child. Just by showing up, they intimidate. People who don't seem to know anybody else you know, somehow know this kid. However, when the glow is removed, you see this kid to be just as vulnerable as everyone else and when he falls, he always lands hard.

FC Dallas - The angry middle management type. They might just have the talent to be something great, but they always find a way to hold themselves back. Every project they are assigned starts off fantastic but then gets bogged down half way through due to infighting and poor communication. By the end, the project is presentable, but never quite what it looked to be at the start.

Houston Dynamo - This is the 'live free' kid. They might not be the best when it comes to 'standardized skills' but they have enough social abilities to cover up their faults. They always find a group to mingle with and usually make for good fun, but they are not someone with whom you want to travel long distances.

Kansas City Wizards - The Wizards are that friend who always gets well beyond drunk when you go out and needs you to take him home. Along the way home he tells you that 'you're the greatest' and 'I love you man' and how the world is out to get him. Meanwhile you just can't wait to get him out of your car. You really wonder how this person, who is actually smart when sober can be this much of a disappointment time and time again.

Los Angeles Galaxy - LA is your girlfriend's best male friend. You don't really like or respect him because you're pretty sure he's just waiting for you to fail so he can sneak in at the end, but you have to put up with him. He never does anything that you can really point a finger towards, but just by being around, you know there's trouble a coming.

New England Revolution - Remember that kid in middle and high school that always ran for Vice-President of student council? It seemed like he never wanted to be in the forefront of things, which caused you to wonder if he was so dumb that he felt that the President actually had power, thus he could screw it up or if he was so smart that he knew that the position didn't matter, it all looked the same on his college transcript and since VP did nothing, why not be VP. So which is it, are the Revs a smart or not so smart team? After 10 years, I'm still not sure

New York Red Bulls - The team from New York is none other then your Uncle that can't hold down a job. Year after year you get his Christmas letter only to find yourself sadder for having opened it. You wonder why, with all his abilities, can't he pull something together. Then one day, magic happens and he finds himself with the opportunity of a lifetime, but even though you hope for the best, you're pretty sure he's going to blow it.

Real Salt Lake - Like so many people who constantly have their name mispronounced (it's Re-Al, not real), they have a complex. This complex causes them, in their early life, to over compensate for things. The problem is, this over compensation causes all sorts of additional problems. The good news is they have only two options. Either they except the problem and move along or they don't and let it crush them.

By the way, somehow writing down the personalities of the various MLS clubs felt like writing fortune cookies.


The Red Bulls get to work on their stadium

New York was the first team in the league to bring up the idea of building a stadium way back in 1996. In the 10-years since then, there have been numerous annoucements regardin such a stadium, with most of them ending with the line "expect another major annoucement in 6-8 weeks." Needless to say, 6-8 weeks whould fly by with nothing coming of it.

However, at long last they have done it. Ground was broken yesterday at about 11:30am. Soon after the fanfare of the ground breaking, the big trucks moved in to start clearing the area.

If all goes as planned, the first game should be played on the pitch in July of 2008.

By all accounts, this will be the best soccer facility in America and will be the center of a $1 billion building project.

Congratulations to New York fans and to the club for finally getting this done.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Landon Donovan doesn't want to be the best player he can be

"Landon Donovan knows he could raise his game by returning to Europe but the elegant U.S. striker, who has been on a successful streak since a disappointing World Cup, would rather savor the good life at home in California."

That's the leadoff sentence in a piece Erik Kirschbaum did on Donovan.

To sum up the article, Landon is happy in California with his girlfriend and even through he'd be a better soccer player in Europe, he doesn't think he'd be a better person.

Okay, I can respect that. If you are not happy in a situation, you shouldn't put yourself in that situation. However, I must wonder why a player who openly says he doesn't want to be the best he can be is the focal point of US soccer.

There has been talk that Landon could become the new captain of the team, but I wonder what sort of tone this would set. How can he ask his teammates to give their most if he is not willing to do the same and how will those who are putting themselves through the grind that is European soccer respect him?

He says, ""There are a lot of factors that would go into it: the country, the language, the people, the playing situation. Am I going to play or be sitting on the bench again? I have no time for going over and trying out and doing things like that. That doesn't interest me."

So it doesn't interest him that he would have to earn his spot week after week?

I'm not a Landon basher. I think at his best, he is a force and someone that could become the a breakout player. However, he has made up his mind that he doesn't want to be that player. Again, that's fine for him, but it should make the future US coach question handing him the armband.


Red Bulls get ready to break ground

It's hard to believe but the New York Red Bulls are about to break ground on their new stadium (pictured). The event is scheduled to take place today at 11:30am ET.

The new stadium will hold 25,000 and cost $100 million to build. It should be completed by the summer of 2008.

For those who might head out to the event, the weather conditions look good. It should be partly cloudy and 75 degrees.

Could it be that MLS fans are about to loose one of our biggest jokes?


Monday, September 18, 2006

CONCACAF President Jack Warner now claims he was setup

With allegations of making almost a $1 million profit off of illegal sold World Cup tickets being leveled against him, CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner says he was setup by FIFA's general secretary Urs Linsi.

Last week news broke that Warner had illegal sold 5,400 World Cup tickets for five times their face value. Auditors Ernst & Young put this report together.

In a 12-page document compiled by Chicago lawyer John Collins and his own Swiss attorney Dr Mark Bruppacher, Warner denies the charges saying that he is the victim of an "incomplete" and "fatally flawed" investigation by Ernst & Young (you can find the 12-page document here).

Warner "has instructed Bruppacher to bring charges for defamation, and to take action for violation of his personal rights, against persons unknown and in the environment of Fifa and Ernst & Young."

When this story first broke, it looked like FIFA President Sepp Blatter would refer it to the new independent investigation group. However, Blatter decided that his good friend Jack Warner would not need to face such an investigation over this massive fraud accusation and instead he referred the decision to the current 19-member disciplinary committee.

It would seem to me that if Warner was setup, he would want an independent investigation to take place and find the person who brought shame to the classy name of Jack Warner. That is unless it is not Linsi who brought such shame to his name.


MLS Week 25 Recap or the weekend of the red card

What did we learn from this weekend of play? First of all, the Columbus Crew can now start thinking about 2007. Yes, there is still a way for them to make the playoffs, but everything in the world would have to go their way to make such a thing happen. Second, LA does not seem good enough to sneak into the fourth spot again this year. Third, the West seems afraid of commitment, thus, with just 4-games remaining, no teams have taken the big step and decided that yes, they do want a playoff position. Finally, the color of fall seems to be red as seven players were sent off in the five matches. Anyway, here is the recap.

Real Salt Lake 3-2 FC Dallas
All FC Dallas needed to do was get a point and they had their playoff spot. One point in Salt Lake. Up till about July, there would have been little question about if they were going to get that point, but the Salt Lake of today is a very different team. FCD had everything going for them in the first half. Carlos Ruiz was hot again getting 2-goals and RSL was down a man. Then came the second half and the Salt Lake come back.

Chris Klein got the tying goal off a quick free-kick and then just 10-minutes later, Jason Kreis found a ball in front of goal to put the 10-man side up 3-2. However, FCD looked like they tied it up a moment later when Kenny Cooper put in a goal, but was ruled offside. All and all, I'm not sure that was the correct call. Then a couple minutes later fortune again showed that it was a Real fan for the night as Atiba Harris came in boot up on a play with Dallas' keeper Dario Sala. Harris got a yellow, but it very easily could have gone red.

In the end, Salt Lake played the smarted game and got the full points meaning FC Dallas is still a point away from getting that playoff spot.

New York Red Bulls 1-0 Columbus Crew
How bad are things for the Crew? There were as many players sent off in this match (3) as they had shots on goal.

This was, without a doubt, an ugly game. Both teams were playing as if their life depended on it because, well, they did. The Red Bulls made more chances, but could not finish till the 83rd when Josmer Altidore snuck one past. However, the Crew had a golden chance at the tie and a little revenge for former New Yorker Eddie Gaven. Gaven found himself with a clear shot on goal in the 90th minute in the penalty area, but spit it off to the right.

That one play really could sum up the whole 2006 campaign for the Crew.

The Red Bulls now find themselves 1-point behind Kansas City for the fourth spot in the East while the Crew still has exactly half the points of top of the table DC.

LA Galaxy 0-0 Colorado Rapids
There are good 0-0 games and their are boring 0-0 games. This one was of the later.

I missed large portions of this game as I kept falling to sleep, but every time I woke up, it was the same sloppy play as when I dozed off. This game was so bad for LA that Colorado actually looked like the offensive power in the first half.

The second half saw a little more action, but even that was limited. I was astonished by what I saw, or didn't see, as LA needed three-points to realistically keep their playoff dreams alive, but the Galaxy were flat all over the pitch. Poor passing, bad attacks and forgettable midfield play. The one high note was Landon Donovan's corner kicks. At least three of them made for good scoring chances.

LA has never missed the MLS post-season, so till they are mathematically eliminated, only a fool will say never, but I cannot really see a way for them to make up six-points in four matches.

By the way, this was the only match that did not see a red card.

Chicago Fire 1-0 DC United
Lots of questionable calls in this one as DC saw two players sent off, but let's talk about play. United is still not where they were before the All-Star game, but they were the better team on the pitch for most of the match. The Fire were lacking in their passing throughout a large portion of the game. It seemed like every third pass was going to a 'missing' player. Still, the feed to Andy Herron for the goal was fantastic.

In the end, DC fans will feel that got screwed on this one and with some good reason. The second yellow to send Bryan Namoff off was a little weak and I'm not sure Joshua Gros deserved a straight red in the 88th.

The win should keep Chicago from having to face DC in the first round of the playoffs, while United still sit 6-points up on Dallas for the Supporters' Shield.

Houston Dynamo 0-0 Chivas USA
All and all, this was a game Houston should have won. Chivas played down a man for 30-minutes and gave up 12 corner kicks. Giving the Dynamo 12 corners is not a smart way to play a game, but somehow they failed to connect on any of them.

Still, with LA destructing and Colorado lacking in the threat column, these two sides seemed to be happy to play for the tie.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Battery eek out a win while the Whitecaps coast

After Friday's match, things were not looking good for the Charleston Battery. They were lucky to pull off a 2-2 tie at home and the were traveling to Puerto Rico where they had not won all year. It looked like the Islanders were set to pull off an upset in their first ever visit to the post season.

Both teams had some good chances in the first half, but the Battery seemed to be clicking a little better. This work finally paid off in the 53rd minute when Stephen Armstrong nailed home a free kick from about 25-yards out. The kick was a rocket right to the top left corner of goal.

The 1-0 win in Puerto Rico sees the Battery through 3-2 on aggregate. They will face the Rochester Raging Rhinos next weekend in the semi-final series.

A few hundred miles away in Miami, the Vancouver Whitecaps were in town hoping to do something that they did all year, not lose a game by more then 2 goals. They came into today’s match with a 4-1 lead thanks to a blowout on Friday night at home. For Miami FC, they would need to turn on the offense to have a chance at this one.

Sadly for any Miami fans, their need to attack left them exposed in the back and the Caps made the most of it.

In first half stoppage time, Martin Nash crossed in a perfect corner that Eduardo Sebrango headed low and into net. Then in the 64th Nash was the one to score thanks to Tony Donatelli, who stole the ball in midfield and provided a great leading pass.

Miami's best chance of the night was in the 10th minute when they had a free kick in close. However, the wall did their job and cleared the ball away.

The 2-0 win gave Vancouver the series with a 6-1 aggregate. They now move on to face their country mates, the Montreal Impact, in the other semi-final series next weekend.

Vancouver 2-0 Miami FC
Charleston 1-0 Puerto Rico

Semi-Final Schedule
Friday 22 Sept
Charleston at Rochester 7:45pm ET
Montreal at Vancouver 10pm ET

Sunday 24 Sept
Rochester at Charleston 6:00pm ET
Vancouver at Montreal 7:00pm ET

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Vancouver jumps out to big lead, Charleston lucky to get a tie in USL playoffs

The USL First Division playoffs kickoff last night with Miami visiting Vancouver and Charleston playing host to Puerto Rico.

The Vancouver Whitecaps came out to attack and by the halftime were up 3-0. However, Romario converted a perfect free kick for a goal to ruin the shutout in the 64th. The Whitecaps got a fourth in the 88th to give them a three-goal lead going into Sunday's match in Miami.

Vancouver fans should be feeling good for their team as they have not lost a single match this season by more then 2 goals.

The other match of the night saw the Puerto Rico Islanders outplay the Charleston Battery. However, each time the Islanders took the lead, the Battery found a way to get back into it. The final goal came right before the whistle. Charleston sent a corner into the box and Tim Karalexis got his head on it, but it bounced off the bar. However, Battery player Gavin Glinton was able to control the rebound and send the ball into net to keep the Islanders from heading home with a win.

The bad news for the Battery is they have not beat Puerto Rico all year (2 ties and 2 loses) and are 0-1-1 in Puerto Rico.

Both series conclude on Sunday, September 17th.
Vancouver at Miami - 6pm ET - Tropical Park Stadium
Charleston Battery at Puerto Rico Islanders - 7:30pm ET - Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium

The winner of the Vancouver-Miami series will play Montreal next weekend, while the winner of Charleston-Puerto Rico series will play Rochester.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Will Sven get to do for the US what he did for England?

There are reports out that former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has been approached by US soccer concerning the head coach position. No specifics have been released such as if Eriksson would require the same $8 million a year salary.

Eriksson did not really show much during his time in England, but his with previous teams he did look better. As coach of Italian club Lazio (1997-2001) he won the Coppa Italia in 1998 and 2000, the last ever European Cup Winners' Cup in 1999 and the Serie A title in 2000.

He also had success with Portuguese club Benfica (1982-84; 89-92) and Swedish side Göteborg (1979-82).

The question is, could he return to the good times after have five poor years as England's coach? Also, why is would he take the US job? Is it because he wants to work with a developing team or is it because he cannot find work elsewhere?

Anyway, Sven joins Jurgen Klinsmann, Jose Pekerman, Sigi Schmid, Dominic Kinnear and Carlos Queiroz on the list of possible coaches (there are a few others, but I can't think of them now).

FIFA tried to cover up Warner theft - Whitewash is everywhere

Seemly stepping back from comments he made just yesterday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter now says the new independent ethics committee will NOT look at the issue of Jack Warner illegally selling almost $1 million in World Cup tickets. Instead, Warner will have to go in front of the 19-member disciplinary committee.

I do believe that this is the same committee that did not punish Warner earlier in the year when he tried to force all Trinidad and Tobago tickets to be sold along with travel packages through his family's travel agency.

Boy, I wonder how the committee will rule this time?

However, that is not the grossest portion of Blatter's comments. It turns out that FIFA wanted this to all be handled internally and is pissed that one of their crooks has been exposed in public.

The Daily Mail reported it had obtained confidential reports produced by auditors Ernst & Young for FIFA revealing that Warner made at least US$933,000 (€736,100) trading in World Cup tickets.

Blatter confirmed that FIFA had been notified of the ticket sales by Ernest & Young months before making the information public, and said the organization had sought to deal with the case internally.

He said internal documents passed to the press which revealed details about the irregular ticket sales were "a leakage which we will try to identify."

How much you want to bet the 'leak' goes to the new independent committee while Warner gets to have his friends decide his fate?

This is nothing short of a disgrace. Once again FIFA proves that they don't care about corruption or the game, as long as those in power make money.

Thanks to the greed of Blatter, CONCACAF and world football continue to suffer.

PS - If anyone who reads this is a soccer reporter or knows someone who is a soccer reporter, please write about this story. The only way this has a chance of changing is if the press makes the environment too toxic for Warner to stay.


USL expands to Bermuda

The USL is expanding into yet another soccer federation as they announced that a new second division team will begin play in Bermuda next season. The other three federations are the US, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The team has not yet been named, however, their players will mainly come from the Bermuda National Team (BNT), which currently ranks 163rd in the world.

The ownership group is made up of "former English Premier League players Shaun Goater and Kyle Lightbourne, head coach of the BNT, along with successful local businessman Paul Scope, the former head coach of the Bermuda Women's."

Goater said of the new team, "Having a professional club team from Bermuda competing against teams from the US on a regular basis is part of an overall plan to improve the standard of football in Bermuda and to improve the competitiveness of the Bermuda National Team. We see a USL team as providing the core of the BNT and would give Bermuda youth a realistic opportunity to play football at the professional level."

This is exactly the kind of thing CONCACAF needs. Bermuda only has 70,000 people, so a full league of their own is not realistic. This USL team is not going to turn the BNT into a powerhouse, but it will give more young players a chance and it will add at least a little extra competition to the confederation.

Labels: ,

Brazil needs 12 new stadia to get the World Cup

If Brazil wants to host the 2014 World Cup, they need to build a dozen new soccer stadiums, or so says Brazil president Luiz Inacio `Lula' da Silva.

Lula believes his country will be up to the task of host the finals, but knows that big events need to take place in order to make it a reality. FIFA has already said that the country does not have a single stadium up to their World Cup standards.

Lula, who is campaigning for reelection, did not give any information on specific plans for building these stadiums.

Although the South American Federation voted in 2003 to back Brazil as their only candidate to host the 2014 finals, Colombia has recently said they would like to host the event.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New FIFA investigator to go after Jack Warner

Could it actually be true? Is FIFA going to get serious about ending corruption in their ranks? That is what FIFA President Sepp Blatter has promised with the introduction of the body's first independent watchdog.

Blatter is set to announce the hiring of a Briton to head the new group and their first task is Jack Warner (picture).

For those who have missed the wonder that is CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner, here is a crash coarse on the man: crook. For more, look here.

Anyway, FIFA will be looking into Wonderboy Warner's amazing ability to ignore FIFA's rules (remember, he is a Vice-President of the organization) and illegally sell World Cup tickets on the black market.

With the suffocating grasp Warner has on CONCACAF, we need FIFA to come through here. This man has not right to still be involved in soccer. Hopefully this independent group will actually be independent and free to investigate all aspects of this fraud. Perhaps then, and only then, will we see Warner and people like him removed from the game.

As much as I do applaud this announcement, I remain skeptical. After all, we are still talking about FIFA.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Let's fix the MLS playoff system

It is that time of year again when thoughts of the American soccer fan turn to the poor idea that is the MLS playoff system. Although the system is better then it was a few years back when 80% of teams made it to the post-season, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Currently we have a mixed system. Each of the two conferences gets four seeds. In the first round the number one seed plays number four while the number two plays number three in a home-home series. The winners of these series then play each other in the second round, however this is a single elimination game hosted by the higher seeded team. The winner then moves on to the MLS Cup final played at a predetermined stadium that may or may not be the home of one of the teams involved.

As many people have pointed out, in the first round, the top seed really doesn't get any advantage. The advantage does not kick in till they get to the second round where they get to play on their home pitch.

So what to do? There has been talk of dropping the number of teams to 2 or 4, but that brings up another issue. MLS wants to have four weeks of playoff games. This allows them more television time and a hope of squeezing a few more ticket sales out of fans. In a two-team playoff, it would only last a week (unless they went home-home, which they won't since ABC will only carry one match). In the four-team scenario, you can get 3 weeks with a home-home, but then where is the advantage for the top seed?

What about having a six-team playoff? It really is a simple idea and I know I'm not the first to suggest it. Have the top team in each conference earn a bye in the first round, while the second and third teams play a home-home event. In the second round, the top seed gets to host a single elimination game with the winner advancing to the MLS Cup.

In addition, red and yellow cards should start a new in the playoffs. What I mean is if a player gets a yellow in the last match of the regular season, it should not carry over to the playoffs.

This would give the top seed lots of advantages. They would get two weeks off while the first round takes place, they would not have to worry about suspended players for the second round and they get to play on their own pitch.

This scenario keeps the same number of weeks for the playoffs, while decreasing the number of teams involved. With fewer teams gaining entry, the regular season games will start to mean more. Perhaps it will mean that one day if a team got only 2 points from 10 matches (about a third of the season) they would no longer be in the running for a playoff spot with just five games left.

If this idea were put into place for the 2007 season, it would mean, for the first time, that less then 50% of MLS clubs would make the playoffs. It just seems to me that getting under the 50% mark is the least we can do at this point in MLS's history.


Swiss to mobilize their army

Not since World War II have the Swiss mobilized such a large military force, but come June 2008, they will have 15,000 soldiers ready to keep the piece during Euro '08.

"Switzerland's defense ministry said Wednesday it would offer up three infantry battalions, two logistics battalions, as well as command support, communications and electronic warfare battalions and other units for the soccer tournament.

If needed, Puma helicopters and unmanned drones can be deployed to monitor venues from the air, the ministry said in a statement."

No word yet on which Swiss Army knives will be called into use, but my guess is the waiter will play an important part.

They will co-host the event with Austria.

MLS Week 24 Power Ratings

This past weekend saw the playoff picture finally start taking shape as the top teams kept getting points, while the lower teams got nothing. Lacking any huge upsets, the ratings stay very much the same.

1. Chicago Fire (1) - Their first half against Columbus looked good, however, they fell asleep in the second. Perhaps it was just because it was the Crew, but a tougher team would have over run them. If the Fire can learn to kill off games, then this late season run will be worth a lot of points.

2. FC Dallas (2) - A good road showing, that saw them pick up the attack a bit more, but they still need to watch things in the midfield. Too many times Chivas was able to get balls through that forced the FCD defense to work fast to close down the angles.

3. DC United (3) - This team has still not awaken from their All-Star break slumber. Adu got a wonderful goal off the kick to close out the first half, but so much of the rest of the first 45 was owned by Real Salt Lake. The second half looked even worse as their sad effort saw Real leave DC with a point.

4. Houston Dynamo (5) - They needed a win in LA and they got it, still they forced goalkeeper Pat Onstad to do too much of the work. Their weakness was not being able to open up the field. Too often the ball stayed towards the middle, which allowed for numerous intercepts of passes.

5. Chivas USA (6) - Chivas was able to use the dipping Dallas midfield against them, but with all the openings they got and all the times the ball was in FCD's final third, they should have finished a few more shots, but this has been a Chivas problem all year.

6. Los Angeles Galaxy (4) - They came on strong, but couldn't hold anything. LA let their need to get points completely change their style of play. Instead of making smart attacks that allow for easy stoppage of counters, they just flooded Houston's field. Sure enough, the Dynamo made them pay. Could it be that the Galaxy fail at their last minute playoff run?

7. Real Salt Lake (8) - Jeff Cunningham and Eddie Pope just ate up DC. Pope was playing as if he was United's third forward as he read every pass before it happen. Meanwhile, Cunningham pulled so many players toward him that Real was bound the find an opening. With others in the West playing the way they are, Real could actually make the playoffs this year.

8. New England Revolution (9) - This match saw the Revolution play the way everyone though they would this year. If it wasn't for a great outing by a certain Red Bulls goalie, this would have been a 3 or 4-0 win.

9. Kansas City Wizards (10) - They opening it up again, but the question is can they do it more then once every four or five games? Since they were playing the Rapids, their defense didn't have to do much, letting their offense have the run of the place. Let's see if they can do it against a team that can actually move the ball forward.

10. Colorado Rapids (7) - The Rapids are quickly becoming a wash out. For a while, it looked like this season might just lead to a bit of a surprise, but then they gave away what little offense they had and now they haven't scored more then 1 goal in a match since July 20th. And the craziest thing of all is they might just be able to sneak into the playoffs.

11. New York Red Bull (11) - Saturday's game was a reminder of just how bad the Red Bulls can be. If it was not for the goaltending of Jon Conway, the score line would have been much worse then 1-0. They had no attack, their defense was sloppy and their midfield was asleep.

12. Columbus Crew (12) - I guess their 'hot streak' is over. Actually, they played better then Chicago for large portions of the match, but only when the ball was well out of striking distance. All and all the Crew's ability to collapse right before the half is truly amazing.


The Bruce thinks next US manger should be American

Bruce Arena believes the US men's team needs a manager with a US passport (scroll half way down the article).

“There is no doubt in my mind about it,” Arena said in an interview. “This notion that you need a foreign coach — I’ll be very honest, our coaching staff prepared our team as well as it can be prepared. There is no foreign coach that could have done it any better.

“I know Sunil likes those quick-fix, fancy type of things, but there’s not a foreign coach that will do any better than an American coach, or what I did.”

Nothing like taking a swipe at your former boss in the process of discussing your successor. Anyway, agree or disagree with Arena, he does add a very realistic nugget concerning his replacement.

“I don’t think they will be able to attract a big-time coach. If they could, he would have been here already.”

The might just be the truest take on the current search. Most big name coaches will not be that interested in the US job. Playing for the Gold Cup just is not the same as playing for the European Cup. Until we have better competition in CONCACAF (and fire Jack Warner) and get more involved in South American competitions (if they invite us), the position of US coach is not that attractive to anyone at the top of their game.

That said, it could fit in perfectly with Jurgen Klinsmann, but even if he takes the job, it will probably have more to do with other issues (staying with his family, less press pressure, etc) then with the honor of coaching the US men.

Labels: , ,

France 2nd best team in the World; US keeps sliding - Sept FIFA rankings

FIFA has their new rankings out and it's not pretty for the USA. Sure, this has a lot to do with them playing no matches since the poor World Cup showing, but it still hurts.

On the other side of things, Italy has fallen from their number two spot as France, Argentina and England are now in front of them, while Brazil remains happy on top.

Here is the top 20

RankTeamAug RankChange
7Czech Republic10+3
19 Côte d'Ivoire 19-1

The US now sits between Turkey and Ecuador in 29th place after falling 6 spots from 23 in August.

The biggest winners in terms of moving up the rankings were Gambia (up 38 to 119th), Mauritania (up 42 to 124th), Eritrea (up 42 to 135th) and the Bahamas (up 55 to 138th).

And now for the biggest losers. North Korea slipped 25 places to 111th, Andorra dropped 28 spots to 160th and little Liechtenstein melted away 31 rankings to end up in 155th.

Where do CONCACAF teams stand (there are 198 spots in the Sept '06 rankings; 8 teams are tied for the 198th spot)?
Anguilla - 196
Antigua and Barbuda - 127
Aruba - 198
Bahamas - 138
Barbados - 152
Belize - 198
Bermuda - 163
British Virgin Islands - 171
Canada - 71
Cayman Islands - 177
Costa Rica - 53
Cuba - 69
Dominica - 185
Dominican Republic - 188
El Salvador - 158
French Guiana - not ranked
Grenada - 157
Guadeloupe - not ranked
Guatemala - 66
Guyana - 120
Haiti - 118
Honduras - 81
Jamaica - 77
Martinique - not ranked
Mexico - 17
Montserrat - 198
Netherlands Antilles - 171
Nicaragua - 165
Panama - 74
Puerto Rico - 192
Saint Kitts and Nevis - 124
Saint Lucia - not ranked
Saint-Martin - not ranked
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - 129
Sint Maarten - not ranked
Suriname - not ranked
Trinidad and Tobago - 56
Turks and Caicos Islands - 170
US Virgin Islands - 198
USA - 29


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

CONCACAF President Jack Warner being investigated again!

CONCACAF has another embarrassing moment coming their way as the head of the organization Jack Warner (picture) is again being investigated for abusing his position for personal gain. Warner is also one of FIFA's Vice Presidents.

This time FIFA is looking into the illegal sale of $1 million in tickets during the World Cup. "According reports Tuesday in Britain's Daily Mail, Warner of Trinidad and Tobago was involved in the sale of thousands of World Cup tickets on the black market, including to 900 England fans."

FIFA says Warner made at least $933,000 from these illegal activities.

This is just the latest in Warner's greatest hits against the game of soccer. In February he was found guilty of illegally selling tickets in Trinidad and Tobago through his own family's travel agency. Prior to that he allegedly secured stadium construction contracts at more then twice their value and obtained the Caribbean TV rights to the World Cup for a fraction of the cost and then resold them at a huge profit.

What is it going to take for the US, Mexico, Costa Rica and the rest of CONCACAF to stand up to this sort of corruption? This man is hurting the great game and has done next to nothing to make the confederation better. What has Warner done to build up the various domestic leagues in the confederation and what has he done to build up international competition?

Absolutely nothing.

If we want CONCACAF teams to stand a change in events like the World Cup, we need a leader who can build up the needed infrastructure. We need more and better international club competitions. We need better playing surfaces for national teams. We need someone to get a TV deal that benefits everyone, not just their inner circle. But we will never come anywhere near that with corruption rotting away at the top.

If US Soccer President Sunil Gulati does not come out and publicly reprimand Warner after all this, then he is failing our country and our confederation. We are long past sitting around whistling while corruption reigns.

Fire Jack Warner now!


Monday, September 11, 2006

MLS Week 24 recap

At long last we have it, the start to playoff finish line. With four games ending with a winner, the picture for post-season play has started taking shape, even though seven spots are still available.

In the East, Chicago has placed a good lock on one of those spots with a 2-1 win over Columbus. However, the Fire was lacking something in terms of offense, and it did not help that they lost Defender Calen Carr in the 63rd on a red card. The Crew tried everything they could to get back in it, but the Crew is still the Crew, so no points for them.

New England also seems to have a space in mind as they knocked off the Red Bulls 1-0. Making this lose even worse for the Bulls, Amado Guevara was sent off with a second yellow in the 81st. He has not done much for the club this year, but without him in the lineup for next Saturday's match against Columbus, it will be hard for New York to regain those points and make a move on Kansas City.

Talking about Kansas City, they had another explosive night as they sent the 'we try to win games without offense' Colorado Rapids home with a 4-1 sting. The Wizards were finding everything on Saturday night, but until they do this for two or three games in a row, I won't believe that they are one to anything. Remember they won 4-0 on Aug 12th and then got just one goal in their next three games.

With the Colorado defeat, Real Salt Lake had a chance to move into a tie with them for the fourth spot in the West, however they would have to win in DC to make this a reality. As difficult of a task as that is, Real almost looked up for it. Eddie Pope was ready the United attack like it was a dime store novel while United seemed happy to sit back and take it during the first half. However, Freddy Adu make a lasting mark with a fantastic free kick right before the half. DC was the strong team at the start of the second, but RSL found enough breaks in the DC line to allow Chris Klein to tie it up in the 65th. They still sit in the fifth spot, but Real might just remember this point as the one that got them into the post season.

Just like Real, Chivas has got to be happy with their point from a 1-1 match with FC Dallas since they were without Francisco Palencia. Dallas did not play a standout game, but they were good enough to frustrate the home side for much of the match. Kenny Cooper finally got back on the score line for Dallas, but his lone goal would not be enough as Juan Pablo Garcia found a lose ball in the penalty area and made the most of it. This point gives Chivas the third Western playoff spot and keeps Dallas from gaining on DC in the Supporters' Shield race.

But all Real Salt Lake's and Chivas's joy could have been for not if LA did want they love to do and win enough late season games to just sneak in. However, Houston had another plan. The Dynamo needed some points in a bad way, but Landon Donovan was going to make it tough on them as he put LA on top in the first half. But just when everyone started thinking 'here we go again' Houston rallied in the for a late first half goal and then a second half winner. So with just five games left LA sits 3-points out of the playoff race.

All and all, not a bad weekend of soccer for the MLS.


The US Carnival of Soccer has a new home

I am happy to announce It's a Simple Game as the host of the fifth installment of the US Carnival of Soccer.

Without giving away his topic, let me just say it is fantastic. It should lead to some great discussions and some fun posts. I really can't wait to see what people come up with.

Anyway, enjoy the carnival.

US Women name their 18 for Mexico

Head Coach Greg Ryan has named his 18-women squad for Wednesday night's US-Mexico match in Rochester. The squad is much the same as the on that played China on August 27th in the Chicago area.

Here is the full list:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Briana Scurry, Hope Solo
DEFENDERS (6): Lori Chalupny, Tina Frimpong, Amy LePeilbet, Stephanie Lopez, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone
MIDFIELDERS (5): Angela Hucles, Carli Lloyd, Marci Miller, Leslie Osborne, Aly Wagner
FORWARDS (5): Natasha Kai, Kristine Lilly, Heather O’Reilly, Lindsay Tarpley, Abby Wambach

Forward superstar and Rochester native Abby Wambach will be returning home for this match.

The two players not held over from the China match are Defender Cat Whitehill and Midfielder Joanna Lohman. Whitehill aggravated the plantar fascia in her left foot against China and will be replaced by Stephanie Lopez, while Lohman had replaced Marci Miller due to an MCL strain.

The game will air live on ESPN2 at 8pm ET. Tickets for the match are still available.

Labels: ,

Blatter says World Cup should not end on penalty kicks

Update here.

In discussion his desire to get Zidane and Materazzi together for a hug, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter said "the World Cup should not end with a red card, added that it also should not end with penalty kicks.

"But we have no other solution," Blatter said. "But we will find one."

"Penalties take out the essence of soccer as a team sport and it becomes one-on-one," the FIFA chief said.

I'm not sure what Blatter means by having no other solution since the obvious one would be let them play, but I guess I'm not paid the presidential money, so I don't really know.

The fact that Blatter is talking about this probably means nothing will change, but who knows, maybe something will come of it all.

Anyway, the other big news is the Blatter's desire for a hug between the head-butter and the head-buttie. Okay, a hug might be a little much, but FIFA does want to get the two back together again. Blatter said, "All relationships go through difficult times, but these two kids just have something. If I didn't do everything I could do to get these crazy kids back together, how could I really call myself 'president' of anything."*

He feels that if these two have a public display of reconciliation, this event will be over. It seems to me the event is already over and that having such a meeting would only bring it back, but again, I'm not paid the presidential money. Maybe there are millions out there wondering what would happen if you got the two back together in a room again. What about in an elevator? The world waits to find out more.

* this quote might not be accurate

The USL First Division Regualar Season is over

The Montreal Impact have won the top spot in the USL First Division after the Rochester Raging Rhinos tied Charleston 0-0 Sunday night.

Montreal will now play the winner of the Vancouver-Miami series this weekend, while Rochester will face either Charleston or Puerto Rico.

The playoff series are a home-home event with the winner decided on aggregate. The hirer-seeded team hosts the first match.

The other results of the night say the Atlanta Silverbacks lose their last game 0-1 against Vancouver while Minnesota ended a disappointing season on a bad note as they lost 0-5 to Toronto.

Here is the final 2006 regular season table:

y Montreal Impact2851
y Rochester Raging Rhinos2850
x Charleston Battery2846
x Vancouver Whitecaps2846
x Miami FC2839
x Puerto Rico Islanders2838
Seattle Sounders2837
Atlanta Silverbacks2835
Virginia Beach Mariners2832
Toronto Lynx2832
Portland Timbers2827
Minnesota Thunder2827

x - clinched playoff spot
y - clinched one of the top two spots, earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs

Sept 15
Miami FC at Vancouver Whitecaps
Puerto Rico Islanders at Charleston Battery

Sept 17
Vancouver Whitecaps at Miami FC
Charleston Battery at Puerto Rico Islanders

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Puerto Rico, Miami in; Seattle, Atlanta out

All the hopes for Seattle Sounders and Atlanta Silverback fans came to an end on the island of Puerto Rico as the home team walked away with a 1-1 tie against Miami.

The Islanders were down a goal as the game entered the final 10-minutes, but then in the 81st a call in the box went their way and a penalty kick was awarded. Norambuena stepped up to take the shot with the team needing a goal to secure their place in the post season. Sure enough, Norambuena was up to the task and placed it nicely in the back of the net.

Both teams walk away happy with this tie as it gives them both the point they need to make it into the playoffs.

Atlanta still plays Vancouver at 7pm PT, but it is for little more then the chance to end the 2006 campaign on a good note. For Seattle, their defeat in Vancouver on Friday must be hurting them at this point. Had that game gone differently, they would be the one taking the final playoff spot.

Congratulations to Miami FC for making it to the playoffs in their first season of play and for Puerto Rico for making it in their third season.

Here is the new table:

y Montreal Impact2851
y Rochester Raging Rhinos2749
x Charleston Battery2745
x Vancouver Whitecaps2743
x Miami FC2839
x Puerto Rico Islanders2838
Seattle Sounders2837
Atlanta Silverbacks2735

x - clinched playoff spot
y - clinched one of the top two spots, earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs
All teams play 28 matches

Labels: ,

Seattle stay alive; Rochester clinch bye

With their season on the line, the Seattle Sounders needed nothing less then a full three points against Atlanta in order for their playoff dreams to not be dashed. However, up till the 90th minute it looked like they were going to finish their season with a tie. But as the team was pushing everyone forward for a goal, they got a little bit of luck when midfielder Leighton O’Brien was taken down by the six-yard box. This take down lead to a penalty kick, which fellow midfielder Andrew Gregor stuck in the back of the net for the 2-1 win.

As great as this win is for Seattle, they should still be nervous as they need two games to go just right if they want post season play as they need Miami to beat Puerto Rico and Vancouver to down Atlanta.

On the top of the table, Rochester earned a first round bye in the playoffs with their 1-0 win over Minnesota. They travel to Charleston tonight where, if they get a win, they would over take Montreal for the top spot in the league.

Here is the new table:

y Montreal Impact2851
y Rochester Raging Rhinos2749
x Charleston Battery2745
x Vancouver Whitecaps2743
Miami FC2738
Seattle Sounders2837
Puerto Rico Islanders2737
Atlanta Silverbacks2735

x - clinched playoff spot
y - clinched one of the top two spots, earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs
All teams play 28 matches

Here is the schedule again:
Miami and Puerto Rico play this afternoon in Puerto Rico
Atlanta plays in Vancouver tonight.

Here are the scenarios:
If Miami gets at least a tie on Sunday, they are in. If they lose, they can still get in provided Atlanta does no better then a tie against Vancouver.

Puerto Rico can advance with a victory or a tie.

Atlanta can advance with a win if Miami wins.

Seattle needs Miami to beat Puerto Rico and for Vancouver to beat Atlanta.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Puerto Rico gets big win while Seattle takes a hard fall

The Puerto Rico Islanders beat Miami FC in stellar fashion as they came back from two down to win yesterdays game 4-2. This moves the Islanders into the sixth spot, while Miami stays in fifth, still looking for a point to clinch a spot in post season.

In the other match involving a playoff hopeful, Seattle fell on the road 2-3 to the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Sounders took a lead in the 30th, but Vancouver answered before the half. The Whitecaps then had a great run in the middle of the second half that saw them up 3-1. Seattle did manage to get one goal back in the 88th, but it was too late for a miracle. Seattle now must win tonight if they want any chance of staying in the playoff hunt.

The other Friday match saw Montreal finish up their regular season with a 0-0 tie against country-mates Toronto Lynx. If Rochester fails to get a win tonight against Minnesota, Montreal will end the season in first place.

Here is the new table:

y Montreal Impact2851
x Rochester Raging Rhinos2646
x Charleston Battery2745
x Vancouver Whitecaps2743
Miami FC2738
Puerto Rico Islanders2737
Atlanta Silverbacks2635
Seattle Sounders2734

x - clinched playoff spot
y - clinched one of the top two spots, earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs
All teams play 28 matches

Here is the schedule again:
Miami and Puerto Rico play on Sunday in Puerto Rico
Atlanta plays Seattle on Saturday and Vancouver on Sunday. Both are road matches
Seattle plays Atlanta on Saturday.

Here are the scenarios:
If Miami gets at least a tie on Sunday, they are in. If they lose, they can still get in provided Atlanta either ties both or loses one of their remaining matches.

Puerto Rico can advance with a victory or a tie as long as Atlanta either ties both or loses one of their remaining matches. They can also advance with a loss provided that Atlanta ties both their remaining matches.

Atlanta can advance with two wins or one win and a tie. If they win one game but lose the other, they can advance as long as Miami beats Puerto Rico.

Seattle must win tonight and hope for Miami to beat Puerto Rico and for Vancouver to beat Atlanta on Sunday.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 08, 2006

Atlanta wins, currently in sixth playoff spot

The Atlanta Silverbacks started their three game road trip off with a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers, moving them into the sixth playoff spot for now. Miami FC has a chance to clinched their spot tonight when they play the Puerto Rico Islanders (8pm ET on Fox Soccer Channel).

Here is the new table:

y Montreal2750
x Rochester2646
x Charleston2745
x Vancouver2640
Puerto Rico2634

x - clinched playoff spot
y - clinched one of the top two spots, earning a bye in the first round of the playoffs
All teams play 28 matches

Here is the schedule again:
Miami and Puerto Rico play on Friday and Sunday in Puerto Rico
Atlanta plays Seattle on Saturday and Vancouver on Sunday. Both are road matches
Seattle plays Vancouver on the road tonight and Atlanta on Saturday.

Here are the scenarios:
At least one and possible both Miami and Puerto Rico will make the playoffs. If Miami gets one point from their two matches, they are in, however, they can get no points and still make it if Seattle and Atlanta do no better then a tie in both of their remaining matches.

Puerto Rico can advance with two victories or one victory as long as Seattle and Atlanta do no better then a tie in both of their remaining matches. They can also advance with two ties provided that Atlanta and Seattle tie their head-to-head match, but lose their other match.

Atlanta can advance with two wins or one win and a tie. If they beat Vancouver but lose to Seattle, they can advance as long as Seattle loses to Vancouver and Puerto Rico loses at least one game or ties both of them.

Seattle can get a playoff spot with two wins or a win and a tie if Atlanta and Puerto Rico do no better then two ties. If Seattle gets just one win, they can advance if that win is against Atlanta and Atlanta then ties or loses to Vancouver and Puerto Rico does no better then two ties.

Lots of fun stuff to think about.

Labels: ,