Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fulham wants to keep McBride out of the MLS

Fulham boss Chris Coleman hopes Brian McBride will remain with his current club instead of making a return to MLS.

McBride's contract ends at the end of the season and the Chicago Fire have made their interest in the Illinois native known.

Since joining Fulham in 2004, he has scored 19 goals for his club and last season the fans voted him their favorite player. There was talk of Fulham selling the player before the start of this season, but Coleman quickly denied such talk.

McBride is a workhorse and even at the age of 34 is a threat in the EPL. If he did decide to leave England behind and come back to the states to play with the Fire, they would have one of the best strikers in the league. His ability on the ball, especially in the air is superb.

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The best old man in MLS

Another great day of BASA action over at Climbing the Ladder. Today we get the award for Old Player of the Year.

And the winner goes to Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake. Coming in second is Cris Armas while Pat Onstad lands in third. Tony Sanneh (Chicago) and Claudio Suarez (Chivas) tied for fourth.

Here is my ballot:
1- Pat Onstad (Houston)
2- Jason Kreis (Salt Lake)
3- Chris Armas (Chicago)

Onstad was another force in goal this year. He might not have done what he did last year (but really, how could he?), but he still brought stability to Houston's backline and on more then a couple occasions, it was his work that kept the orange men in the game.

Scaryice disagrees with Kreis winning this award, and I guess since I put him in second, I do as well. Kreis had a good year with Salt Lake and did make some noise early in the season, but he seemed to fall off in the middle and towards the end. That said, his eight goals do make up almost 20% of Real's total.

I thought Armas had a very important season in the middle for Chicago. I'm thinking back to their long road trip and his name just keeps popping into my head. He was making the little plays that covered for other players or opened up passing options, which kept his side in the game. Perhaps I should have moved him to second instead of third.

Congratulations to Jason Kreis on his win. Tomorrow we get the BASA for Forward of the Year.

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US Women running wild at Peace Queen Cup

Today, the US Women took down Australia 2-0 to go a top Group B. After tying Denmark 1-1 on Saturday, if the team wanted to advance to next Saturday's final, they were just about in a 'must win' situation, as a side must win their group to advance.

The US got the scoring going early thanks to a person that knows how to score the goals, Kristine Lily. The goal was her 115th of he career.

"Lilly created the goal almost out of nothing, as she ran down a cross from Kai that flew from the right wing through the penalty area and rolled outside the box on the left flank. Lilly squared up on her defender, beat her to the inside and cracked a shot with her right foot from about 14 yards out that took a deflection off the shoulder of an Aussie defender and soared just under the crossbar, slamming into the back of the net near the upper right corner."

The second goal came 15 minutes later when Natasha Kai took a nice deflection off a Abby Wambach touch and slammed it home.

"It was Abby Wambach who did the heavy lifting on the second goal as she sprinted into the right side of the penalty area and beautifully brought down a high Lilly service in stride. She took a hard touch toward goal, a bit too hard in fact, as Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri came out sliding to block the cross at the edge of the six-yard box. The ball deflected straight up in the air and dropped at the front of the goal box where Kai took a great touch to her right to lose a defender before blasting the ball into the net for her sixth career international goal."

The other match saw Denmark keep the heat on the US by beating the Netherlands1-0.

Here is the current table
Team Pts GoalDif
USA 4 +2
Den 4 +1
Aus 3 -1
Ned 0 -2

The US plays the Netherlands on Thursday with Australia and Denmark kicking off their match 30-minutes after the US match ends. If the US does not get at least a tie, they will not advance to the final. If they win, they still have to hope the Denmark does not win by a big enough goal difference to over take them in the standings.

In Group A, Canada is in first, with Brazil two points behind in second, meaning that tomorrow's match between these two sides will decide the Group winner.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Blatter says Italy should not have made it to the quarterfinals

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter yesterday said that Italy should not have made it past their match against Australia and into the quarterfinals.

"The Socceroos should have gone into the quarterfinals in place of Italy," Blatter said Sunday. "They were up to beat Italy."

For those who might not remember, the ref awarded a penalty kick to the Italians in the final seconds of stoppage time, effectively giving Italy the win. I thought the call was wrong then and I'm glad to see Blatter agree.

However, 24-hours and I'm guessing a few angry words from the Italians seem to have changed his mind. Blatter released a statement today changing his mind on the matter.

"With my statement I simply wanted to pay credit to the Socceroos, as well, because they played a great match and their lack of experience did not permit them to go to extra time," Blatter said.

The FIFA statement said Blatter "never did make disrespectful comments about the reigning world champions."

"The Italian team proved that despite serious pressures at home, they stuck together as a team and delivered exceptional football," Blatter said. "The Italian team proved that superior skills, teamwork and individual determination are the ingredients that lead to World Cup glory."

So which way is it Sepp? Should Italy have advanced or not? Sounds like you're not that sure yourself.

Who is the best MLS midfielder?

Without a doubt, that would be Christian Gomez. In an unanimous vote, the BASA committee went with the hero of DC United's middle. And why not as week after week, Gomez provided spectacular sense of mind with his play.

In second place was Dwayne De Rosario and then there were the other 11 players.

Here is my vote:

1- Christian Gomez (DC)
2- Dwayne De Rosario (Houston)
3- Justin Mapp (Chicago)

De Rosario had a wonderful year, but his work in the middle was not as top level as Gomez.

I went with Mapp for third because I thought he had a strong year and helped bring a consistency to the Fire's center. The other player I was thinking about giving that third place vote to was Ronnie O'Brien (FC Dallas) as his work this year was a massive part of Dallas's success this season.

Congratulations to Christian Gomez for the win. Tomorrow we will get the award for old man on the pitch.

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US is going to Copa America!

For the first time since 1995, the US will play in next year's Copa America in Venezuela.

"The tournament offers the dual advantage of quality opponents and a challenging environment that will provide long-term benefits for our team," U.S. Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati said.

This is fantastic news, but it will be interesting to see how the team handles this tournament since it will play CONCACAF's Gold Cup tournament in the weeks leading up to the Copa.

Gulati did not say if there will be two very different teams playing in the two tournaments. That's a good thing as I think the future coach should have a lot to say about that.


FC Dallas ups attendance 34%, 'Hoops Nation' is born

Their season might have crashed out on penalty kicks Saturday night, but the front office of FC Dallas does have some good news today as their 2006 attendance numbers are up 34% over 2005. The team averaged 14,982 fans a game during the season.

MLS attendance numbers are always interesting since one is never sure what they represent. Is it the number of fans who showed up and is it the number of tickets handed out? However, in the games I watched, it did seem that there were more fans in the stands for Dallas matches.

In addition, it looks like these numbers are actually comparing like events.

FC Dallas only moved into their new stadium in early August 2005 (about half way through the season). This move increased their numbers over the Cotton Bowl (where they played games earlier in the season). Their average number for the 11 matches they played in their new home in 2005 was 11,245 while their overall 2005 number (including games in the Cotton Bowl) was 10,463. If they had used this overall number, they would have shown a 43% increase, but they decided to go the more ligament way. I applaud them for this.

Good work by the FC Dallas front office, but they are not yet happy with the numbers.

"Until we're selling out every game I'm never going to be happy," said Michael Hitchcock, president/general manager of FCD and Pizza Hut Park. "I think most companies, if they could increase their business 34 percent, they'd be pretty happy. We're seeing the response from the soccer community, the corporate community and the fan community."

And it looks like next year could see another up click in sales as the team will no longer charge for parking. The team tried this out on Saturday and it seemed to go over well.

"The response has been unbelievably positive. They're able to park about 50 feet away from the stands," Hitchcock said. "There are not many stadiums in the country where you can do that."

In other FC Dallas news, the club launched "FCD Hoops Nation" on Friday. This will be the official worldwide supporters club of FC Dallas.

'For a one-time $10 fee, fans will become lifetime members of the FCD Hoops Nation. Fans that join during the first year will receive a welcome package that includes an FCD Hoops Nation membership card, a commemorative t-shirt, an FC Dallas folder, bumper sticker and 2006 team photo.'

I've never been a big fan of the 'hoops' nickname (I like the Toros better), but I have to commend the Dallas franchise for making this happen. NFL, baseball and college football teams are doing this, so why not MLS clubs. It is a good, cheap way for fans to stay involved with the club. That said, why did they call it 'Hoops Nation' if it will be worldwide? Would 'Hoops World' be too cheesy?

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 2 - Bad news for Republicans

This weekend saw four great games, which all showed the same thing; being red in 2006 is a sure way to lose. All four 'red' teams lost.

First the Fire fell, then FC Dallas, followed on Sunday by the Red Bulls and concluding with Chivas USA. With elections coming up in a week in the US, could this be a message into the future? If Republicans (who are the red and our red/blue society (I really hope the stupid red/blue thing dies after this election)) don't do so well, remember that the MLS predicted it.

Anyway, enough with the politics, here are the reviews.

New England 2-1 Chicago
New England advance 4-2 on penalty kicks

Chicago did what they needed to do during the first 40 minutes of this match, but then one goal by Taylor Twellman brought on the doubt that lead to their defeat. By the time Pat Noonan put the Revs second goal and aggregate tier into the net in the 58th, the result was set. The Fire lost their confidence and started surrendering balls all over the pitch. Until Calen Carr came on in the 98th minute, nothing was going Chicago's way.

The Fire did have some good shots in the overtime period, but they good not out flank Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis, which set the tone for the penalty kicks.

On the first kick, Reis put a big stop on Thiago's shot to the right of goal causing the almost 10,000 fans to begin the celebration. Slowly New England worked their way through their kicks, beating Matt Pickens every time. When Reis pulled a second save against Ivan Guerrero, it all came down to Twellman. The man that started the Fire's decline ended it. He nailed his shot and the Revs advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship for the fifth straight year.

The second half was a fantastic performance by the Revolution. They were connecting their passes, stopping the Fire's advances and using the clock wisely. However, they did grow tired in the late stages of regular time.

The Fire say goodnight to a season that looked very promising during the last three months. The question now is what off-season trades will they make to sure up their midfield before 2007.

FC Dallas 2-3 Colorado Rapids
Colorado advance 5-4 on penalty kicks

For only the eight time this season (and the second time since July 26th), the Rapids scored more then one goal in a match and what do you know, they end up winning just their third road match of the year.

To say this surprises me would be an understatement. All Dallas needed was a tie, while Colorado was without one of their main offensive threats in Thiago Martins. The Rapids needed Clint Mathis to step up and make something happen and sure enough he did. I guess even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

But I'm really forgetting an important part of this match, Chris Gbandi. When he was tossed with a justifiable red card in the 29th minute, Colorado had their opening. Still, they were slow to take it. They actually let Carlos Ruiz put them in a two-goal hole before they opened it up.

The Rapids started connecting passes and getting behind FCD's line and sure enough, they forced it to kicks. One has to wonder what mind games were going on with Dallas since they lost under the same conditions last season to the Rapids. But Dallas had practiced penalty kicks during the week's practice sessions, so how bad could it be. Well, if it wasn't for a left post shot, it would have been okay.

In the end, goalkeeper Dario Sala missed the sixth Dallas shot, which set Pablo Mastroneni up as the hero when he made it for the Rapids.

Of course it being the Rapids, they couldn't just win a game and walk away. No, they had to taunt the Dallas fans, causing some punches to be thrown. Very classy. If the Rapids do make it to the MLS Cup (and I pray that does not happen) in Dallas, I hope these same fans show up to 'cheer them on.'

DC United 1-1 New York Red Bulls
DC advances 2-1 on aggregate

You have to hand it to New York, they gave DC a scare, but United brought it on them selves. Their backline is so disastrous that it is frightening. And I don't mean to pick on anyone (except Clint Mathis), but Facundo Erpen all but cost his side the game. If the Red Bulls where a bit more accurate with their shots or if Troy Perkins was less of a goaltender, New York would have pulled off the upset.

Josmer Altidore's goal in the 70th to tie the series was excellent, but it was due to Erpen's failure to guard his man. Yet DC's worse kept secret Christian Gomez was able to save the team's season. His goal in 86th was from a hard angle and showed why he might just be this year's MVP.

With over 21,000 fans screaming them on, United is always dangerous, but they have a number of holes that the Revolution should be able to exploit next weekend.

Houston 2-0 Chivas USA
Houston advances 3-2 on aggregate

I thought this would be a classic and sure enough, it was. Houston needed two, but it wasn't till all the yellow cards came out that the tide turned for the Dynamo. Seven yellow cards were issued between the 55th and 67th minutes and with good reason as the match was getting out of hand.

When Juan Franciso Palencia got his second yellow in the 58th, it really killed any chance of Chivas getting a goal on the night. However, instead of using smart play to frustrate Houston, Chivas started hacking at Dynamo players. This is not a good plan and double so when it takes place in the box.

Sure enough, Houston got a penalty kick when an ugly Tim Regan tackle in the middle of the box took down Dwayne De Rosario. Brad Davis took the kick and got keeper Brad Guzan to jump in the wrong direction. Everything was tied up with all advantages going Houston's way.

For the next 30 minutes, the 17,000+ crowd (great job Houston) roared for more, but the Dynamo could not put it in net. Then it happened. In the final moments of stoppage time, De Rosario crossed the ball into the box. Eddie Robinson headed it down, causing it to bounce back up in the air where Brian Ching slashed it home. At 92:45, Houston took the series lead. Seconds later, it came to a close.

However, the very final moment of the match saw Juan Pablo Garcia make a disgrace out of him self. As the final whistle blew, he went in for a hard, injury causing tackle on Brian Ching (actually, it might not have been Ching, but that is what I wrote down at the time). It was a disgrace and he deserves serious punishment for doing it. I can understand his frustration, but he could have caused serious harm to a player. Disgusting.

All four games were wonderful to watch and thankfully a few more fans made it to the matches. New England got almost 10,000, FC Dallas just broke the 15,000 mark, DC sailed past 21,000 while Houston impressed with 17,000 for a late Sunday outing.

By the way, I went 2-2 with my predictions. Saturday was bad for me, but Sunday was as I thought it would be.

Next weekend, Houston will host Colorado to decide the West while DC will play New England for best in the East.

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Fulham wants the Gooch

A report out of England today says that Fulham's number one pick up target for the January transfer window is America's favorite defender Oguchi Onyewu or 'the Gooch.'

His Belgian club Standard Liege was not interested in trading the defender during the summer, but the report says they are more open to it at the moment.

If the Gooch joins the Cottagers, he would play along side fellow Americans Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Roma FC to play FC Dallas/Burn on Saturday

The darlings of this year’s US Open Cup will ride again on Saturday night as the amateur side Roma FC will take on alumni of FC Dallas/Dallas Burn. The match will take place prior to the second leg of FC Dallas's contest with the Colorado Rapids.

In case you don't remember, Roma FC knocked out Miami FC and Chivas USA. By beating Chivas, they became the first amateur side to defeat a MLS squad in US Cup history. They then went on to play LA, but lost 2-0.

On the other side of the ball, the alumni of the Dallas franchise will be coached by the teams first coach Dave Dir, and will include five members of the first Dallas Burn club from 1996 (goalkeeper Mark Dodd, midfielders Gabriel Gentile and Jorge Flores, and defenders Brandon Pollard and Ed Puskarich).

The Roma FC-Dallas Alumni game begins at 4:45pm. All people with tickets to the FCD-Rapids game can attend free of charge.

I love this sort of thing. If you are going to the FCD game on Saturday night, why not show up a couple hours early and watch the fun. Think of it as an advanced form of tailgating.

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MLS Young Player of the Year goes to...

Climbing the Ladder has given away the BASA for Young Player of the Year, and the winner is ... Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas).

As I noted yesterday, Cooper wanted this award bad. Thankfully for Scaryice, he won it (I would hate to think what would have happened if he hadn't).

Freddy Adu (DCU) came in second, Jonathon Bornstein (Chivas) got third, Justin Mapp (Chicago) found fourth and Michael Parkhurst (NE) rounded out the top five.

Scaryice has a great take on this vote, so take a moment and give it a read.

Here is my ballot:
1- Kenny Cooper (FCD)
2- Freddy Adu (DC)
3- Michael Parkhurst (NE)

Cooper came to Dallas and suddenly gave them depth. As impressive as his time in the forward position was, it was his ability to shift to the midfield during late in the season that sealed it for me. He has a good physical presence and a wonderful perception of the game around him. Without Cooper, Dallas would have suffered the same mid season slump they went through in 2005.

I admit it, I've always been a fan of Freddy Adu, but this year he made it easy. His work in the middle and on set pieces proved DC with yet another level in their attack. Now he just needs to find the net more often then the crossbar and he would be the star MLS has always said he would be.

Last year's rookie of the year might not have had the same type of breakout season (is it even possible to do that two years in a row?), but he did provide a strong 'line in the sand' for the Revolution. Time and time again, he broke up the plays that could have easily become good shots. Had the Revs offense been more like their defense all season, DC would not have won the East.

Scaryice mentions the lack of support for players like Eddie Gaven, Eddie Johnson, Chad Marshall, and Santino Quaranta. Johnson did not have a good season at all, so no surprise there. Chad Marshall played defense on the worse team in MLS, which makes it really had to give him a nod.

I am surprised Eddie Gaven didn't get a vote. Yes, he also does his time with the worse team in MLS, but he did bring a some attacking options to his club. I know I thought about placing him on my ballot, but he just missed out. I can say much the same for Santino Quaranta. His move from DC to LA was a good one. It brought the intensity that he had been missing, however he only really showed that for part of the last half of the season, so no vote for him.

Congratulations to Kenny Cooper on wining the award.

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MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 2

New England Revolution vs Chicago Fire
Saturday - 7:30pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Direct Kick, MLStv
Radio: Boston - 850am; Chicago - 1030am (Polish), 1200am (Spanish)
Aggregate score: Chicago 1-0 New England

The clash continues as the Revolution looks to save their season in spectacular fashion with a home win against Chicago. The problem is, they will need to do it without Shalrie Joseph. Yes, Joseph was out for a large part of the Revs great late season run, but most of that run was against not so great teams or teams suffering from a slump. Without Joseph, the Revs attack will be less effective and more midfield balls will go the Fire's way.

I've also read a lot about the touch conditions the Fire will face in Foxboro. Cold weather and maybe wet weather on a pitch torn up by American football. People talk of this like its the Revs 12th player on the field. But let's be honest, Chicago is not a place of warm sunshine. I think they might know what cold weather feels like. It is true that the pitch condition will be worse then what Chicago has been playing on at home, but they did play in a football stadium last year, so it's not like they have never done it before. Also, bad conditions can cause balls to bounce in strange ways no matter if it is your field or not.

So what is my point? The Revolution is going to come out looking for an early equalizer. If it is rainy, they might hurt their air attack and lessen Taylor Twellmann's ability on the ball. Clint Dempsey will make a few good moves at goal, provided his injury from last week really wasn't serious, but he has not been playing to the level needed to carry his team.

The Fire's big concern has got to be their inability to prevent goals (bad for any soccer team), especially late in the game. It will be hard for Chicago to find net in New England, so they will need a tight backline and a midfield that can intercept.

This should be a non-stop game for the full 90-minutes, but in the end, Chicago should have enough to hold their own against a strong Revolution squad.

New England 1-1 Chicago (Chicago advances 2-1 on aggregate)
So, if my prediction is true, will Andy Dorman become for the Revs what "Bill" Buckner is for the Red Sox?

FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids
Saturday - 8:30pm ET
Radio: Dallas - 1160am, 990am (Spanish); Denver - 950am
Aggregate score: FC Dallas 2-1 Colorado

Could this be the year Dallas breaks their Colorado playoff curse? If it isn't they have some serious voodoo working against them. With Thiago Martins out due to a really stupid red card, the Rapids will be looking to Clint Mathis to lead their offensive attack. Yeah, it is that bad for Colorado.

The Rapids were lucky to walk away from home only down a goal, so their only hope this weak is for a Dallas implosion. On that note, Carlos Ruiz suffered a strained right quadriceps at the end of practice on Wednesday. He did not train yesterday and might miss today's practice as well, but he still plans on playing. If Ruiz is lacking a bit, it might provide a small opening for Colorado. Then again, FCD has Kenny Cooper, Abe Thompson and Ronnie O'Brien there to plug any such holes, so maybe they shouldn't be that afraid.

In the end, I think it will be Colorado's lack of offense that will cost them the game.

FC Dallas 1-0 Colorado Rapids (Dallas advances 3-1 on aggregate)

DC United vs New York Red Bull
Sunday - 6:00pm ET
Radio: DC - 1160am, 1540am (Spanish); New York - 1280am (Spanish)
Aggregate score: DC 1-0 New York

I read an article a few days ago saying something about New York not being that impressed with DC's play. I can understand that because I haven't been for impressed with United for a month or two now, but I've been even less impressed with New York for about, um, 10 years. Okay, cheap shot, but it was fun to do.

Anyway, United did look beatable last weekend, but the Red Bulls could not figure out how to do it. Youri Djorkaeff and Amado Guevara were inconsistent and Marvell Wynne was not holding his own in the back. If New York wants to pull off the upset of the ages, they will need to improve their one touch game and find the openings DC's backline seems to be leaving around these days.

For United it is simple, stop losing the ball in midfield. If they can just hold the ball, New York will fail. It is the easy giveaways that are going to kill this club.

DC United 2-1 New York (DC advances 3-1 on aggregate)

Houston Dynamo vs Chivas USA
Sunday - 8:00pm ET
Radio: Houston - 850am (Spanish), 101.7fm (Spanish); LA - 1020am (Spanish)
Aggregate score: Chivas 2-1 Houston

And then it all comes down to Houston. The city that holds the honor of being the first word spoken on the moon will host what could just be an all time classic American soccer match. Both clubs had strong showings last weekend, but due, in part, to luck, Chivas was able to walk away with a win. They now stand 90-minutes away from advancing to the conference final. Not bad for a side that was the worst team in MLS last year.

To get there, Chivas will need a fantastic work rate from Jesse Marsch and Francisco Mendoza in the middle of the field because Dwayne De Rosario's plan is to mark that place as his own. If there is one place Houston is good it is in the middle so Chivas will not want to fight it there. Their plan has got to be forcing Houston to commit fouls. If the goats get 3 or 4 free kicks in dangerous positions, they will find a goal.

Of all the games, I think this is the most likely to go to penalty kicks, but don't be surprised if a late overtime goal ends the match.

Houston 2-0 Chivas (Houston advances 3-2 on aggregate)

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Klinsmann is 'interested' in the US coaching job

For almost four months, Jürgen Klinsmann has been very reluctant to discuss any future coaching jobs, saying that he needed some time off after the World Cup. However, his tone has changed.

Yesterday he made it official by say, "Absolutely I'm interested" in regards to taking over the coaching duties of the US men's team. He added that he had been in talks with US soccer president Sunil Gulati about the job.

"I've been in touch with Sunil and had several conversations, all very positive," he said. "Right now, I'm trying to do my homework, talking to people to find out more about how things work in the U.S."

Klinsmann was also asked about reports linking him to the coach of the Mexican team but he offered no comment.

Gulati has stressed that he wants the next coach 'to speak English and Spanish (or be willing to learn).' Klinsmann says his Spanish skills are limited, but he does speak fluent Italian. "I could pick it up quickly," he said.

Finally, he was asked if the next US coach needs to be an American as former coach Bruce Arena has stated. His response, "All I can say is that soccer is a global game, and when you deal with a national team, it is all about guiding it in the World Cup. You need a global picture, not a U.S. picture."

The fact that Klinsmann is popping up saying he is interested after his long unwillingness to talk about it combined with comments New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol made ealier this week saying that he felt the position had been filled ("I think it's done and dusted"), makes me wonder if a deal has been reached.

I could be very wrong, but it seems that any high level coach, be it Klinsmann, Hiddink or Scolari, would not say they were really interested in the job unless they felt the job was theirs. Why put yourself out there if you don't have to?

I also wonder if Klinsmann will get the top job and if a MLS coach will be named as his assistant coach. If that is the case, Steve Nicol could easily pop into that space. With the Revolution possibly losing a lot of their core talent during the off season (Dempsey, Joseph, Noonan), this might be a great time for Nicol to move on.

By the way, I have this image of Gulati announcing the new coach at the MLS Cup. Maybe at halftime or 15-minutes before kickoff, and the place going crazy. Just something that keeps popping into my mind.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two great BASAs, one fun post

Yesterday the BASA for Rookie of the year was handed out late in the evening. The presentation of the award hit a major snafu when Kenny Cooper showed up at Scaryice's house and demanded to be included. He started breaking bottles and chairs, which oddly enough, he brought with him. He kept saying, 'I need to win the BASA or Ruiz will make me sleep in the corn fields.'

Thankfully for all concerned, Mr. Fish of The Kin of Fish showed up in the nick of time to talk Kenny out of smashing up his Dodge Caravan (he loves the tailgate seating).

With Cooper driving back to Dallas, Scaryice was able to release the BASA.

And the winner is, Jonathan Bornstein of Chivas USA. It wasn't even close.

Second place went to teammate Sacha Kljestan, while Mehdi Ballouchy (RSL) came in a close third. Dasan Robinson (Chicago) had enough to secure the fourth spot.

My ballot looked like this:

1- Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas)
2- Dasan Robinson (Chicago)
3- Mehdi Ballouchy (Salt Lake)

Just like everyone else (except for 1), Bornstein seemed like an easy choice. His role in the back for Chivas was amazing for a vet, much less for a newbie. He was also able to provide some power up front, which is always a plus (but then again, he did play as a forward for UCLA)

Robinson did some good things for the Fire and brought a calm when he was on the pitch.

Ballouchy was so much fun to watch. Throughout the season he kept getting better. His time with Jeff Cunningham, Jason Kreis and Eddie Pope is really helping transform him as a player.

The second BASA went to Defender of the Year.

This one was closer then rookie, but was still pretty lopsided. And by pretty I mean Bobby Boswell of DC United won it. Jose Burciaga Jr. (KC) made a good show in second while Facundo Erpen (DC) just snuck by Chris Albright (LA) for third. Then there were 13 other players who also got some votes.

Here is my ballot:

1- Bobby Boswell (DC)
2- Craig Waibel (Houston)
3- Jose Burciaga Jr (KC)

For me Boswell was easy as he was the one part of DC's defense that seemed to work for the whole of the season while Burciaga was just about the only part of KC's lineup that can be proud of his season. Then there is Waibel in the second spot. He's not really a 'made man' of MLS soccer, but he is impressive. It seemed like every time I watched Houston, he was making a mark on the game in little ways. Add to it that he was out for almost all of last season with a torn LCL and ACL and you've got the makings of something special.

By the way Waibel tied with four other players for 7th place, but was the only 7th placer to get more then one vote (it is a weighted voting system).

Tomorrow we will find out who gets young player of the year awards. For Scaryice's sake, I hope it goes to Cooper because he said he would be back if he didn't win.

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Chivas and Houston fans getting ready for this weekend

This is the kind of fan support that will make MLS grow:

"Over 50 members of Chivas USA's passionate Legión 1908 fan club will accompany the Red-and-White to its first-ever road playoff game, traveling more than 1,500 miles by bus from Carson, California to Houston, Texas to attend Sunday's decisive Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal Series."

That is one heck of a road trip to support their team and I'm sure they will find more then a few fellow supporters in Houston.

Talking about Houston, their mayor, Bill White, declared yesterday as "Go Orange" Houston Dynamo Day. Although not as impressive as a 1500-mile road trip, this is still a great step forward for the club and MLS. These declarations might seem pointless, but they do increase the chance of media coverage.

We'll see on Sunday night if Houston to pack Robertson Stadium for what will probably be their last home match of the year.

If you want to see what might just be the best game of the weekend, you can get tickets here. They are offering the playoff 4-pack (4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 soft drinks for $59.95), which is a cheap way for the family or four drinking buddies to enjoy an evening.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

An American playing for Mexico

The newest member of Mexico's U-20 side is American Sonny Guadarrama. He is a 19-year old from Austin, Texas, who is the son of Mexican emigrants to the United States and who has already played four internationals for the Americans at the U20 and U18 levels.

However, none of his games were for an 'official FIFA championship,' so he is free to move to the Mexican lineup.

His reasons are partly due to his upbringing, his dad raised him on Mexican soccer, but it is also due to Mexico's standing in world football.

"The U.S. is a more an up-and-coming country, and Mexico has established itself as one of the powerhouses of soccer," Guadarrama said. "People are more scared to play against a Mexican side than a U.S. side."

It is a loss every time a talented player that could wear the red, white and blue goes elsewhere, but this might just be the start of a frustrating trend as Mexico is looking at other young American's of Mexican ancestry.

Mexico has seen the United States rise in the past decade to challenge as the top team in the region. Besides Guadarrama, it also reportedly has looked at other Americans, including U17 players Salvador Hernandez from Miami and Victor Enrique Yanez from California.

The new openness to foreign-based players has been spearheaded by Mexico's youth coach Jesus "Chucho" Ramirez, who led Mexico's U17 team to its first world championship last year.

A crucial element in Ramirez's 2005 triumph was his discovery of Giovanni dos Santos, the son of a Mexican mother and Brazilian father, who was living in Spain.

A trend like this points to yet another reason why American soccer needs to increase their outreach to those not of European genealogy. The more we make young players, regardless of their background, be proud to be part of the American system, the better chance we will have of keeping our best talent. If we do not do this, we will see more switching in the future. I'm sure this is part of the reason the next coach of the US men will need to speak Spanish.


Italy's Serie A attendance numbers not much better then MLS's

This year's Italy's Serie A attendance numbers have fallen once again and now sit at 19,511. This is the ninth season in a row where attendance numbers have decreased and represents a huge drop from the 31,161 figure seen during the 1997-98 season.

Some of this has to do with Juventus getting dropped to the second division due to cheating (Serie B numbers are up 20.3% over last year), but the bigger issue might be the cheating itself.

When a league loses legitimacy due to match-fixing, it will lose fans. It also becomes easier for people to look at the cost of tickets, which are ever increasing, and the poor conditions of some of the stadiums, and decide to just stay home and watch it on television?

But the interesting thing is comparing that 19,511 number to the 2006 MLS average attendance number of 15,502.

Before we get into it, yes, the MLS numbers are inflated. They include all tickets distributed, not just those who passed threw the gates and they include the huge numbers from double headers featuring the likes of Real Madrid or Club America. A more realistic number of fans actually in the stands is probably closer to 10,000, but even at that number, it compares well with Italy.

The Italian soccer league has been around for generations and features players who just won the World Cup, yet they are only pulling in twice as many fans as the MLS. Serie A is still one of the top leagues in the world, but they are only doing a little better then DC United or the LA Galaxy in terms of average attendance.

My point is not to say that MLS is on the level of Serie A due to attendance numbers (because it is not), but just to point out that the MLS is not the only league that has problems with getting people to the games (if you have some ideas on how to increase these numbers, why not join the next carnival of American soccer blogs).

Who knows, maybe in five years the MLS numbers will match or surpass those of Italy and France (21,576). Wouldn't that be nice?


New England's playoff road just got bumpier

The Revolution already find themselves in the difficult position of being down a goal heading into the second game of their playoff series with the Chicago Fire, but now they will have to recover without the help of midfielder Shalrie Joseph (pictured).

Yesterday the MLS Disciplinary Committee gave Joseph a one game suspension for a dangerous elbow he threw against the Fire's Ivan Guerrero (you can view it here (Windows Media file)). At the time I remember thinking that it looked like a hard foul, but then the ref called a foul on Guerrero for holding Joseph. A little strange all around.

The loss of Joseph will be big for the Revolution. He was recently voted the team MVP and has been a defining part of their recent up tick in offense. His ability to win balls in the middle and then feed them forward has been wonderful of late.

Joseph was also fined $500 for his conduct.

The Disciplinary Committee also fined Colorado Rapids forward Thiago Martins $250 for his ugly hit on FC Dallas defender Clarence Goodson (view it here)


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Players cheated at World Cup

FIFA has made it official, players cheated at the World Cup. Their chosen format of cheating, fake injuries.

A report says that 145 on pitch injuries happened in Germany. Of those injuries, 58% of the players turned out not to be injured.

No word on how many of those 'injuries' happened during the Italy-US match.

The number of injuries per match was down to 2.3 from 2.7 in 2002.

I'm sure some of the fake injuries were not cheating as much as players just not sure if they were hurt. However, even with that taken into consideration, there was too much time spent waiting on the medical units.

So if these players cheated, are there going to be any consequences? Any answer but 'no' is wrong.


Get your MLS Cup tickets here...

As noted over at DCenters yesterday, there is a bit of a push going around by at least one person at FC Dallas to use blogs to help push ticket sales for the MLS Cup to be held in Dallas (okay, Frisco).

My thought on this is fantastic. I like the fact that people who read blogs can have a contact person to get their tickets.

If you are interested in attending the big final on November 12th, why not contact Evan Mitz at 214.705.6752 or email emitz@fcdallas.net and make it happen.

Here are the ticket prices: Field Seats $150, Midfield East $60, Sideline $55, Corner $45, Endline $35.

One of the big reasons I'm happy to take part in this push is the fact the game will air live on ABC. Every nationally televised game is a chance for soccer fans to win over converts, but it will be difficult to do if the stadium is half-empty. A full house and a crazy crowd will not only look great on TV, but also provide the players with a great environment in which to play.

So why not look into getting a cheap flight into town (American and Southwest Airlines are both based in the area) and enjoy the event. By the way, why doesn't MLS have an official airline sponsor?

For those living in the DFW area, the Cowboys will not play at home on the 12th (they are in Atlanta), so why not make the trip to the Park to see the best of the MLS play?

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And the BASA for MLS Coach of the Year goes to...

Climbing the Ladder hands out the second BASA today as Bob Bradley of Chivas USA gets Coach of the Year honors.

The race was close between Bob Bradley and Peter Nowak (DC), but the work that Bradley did against Chivas was even more impressive then the work of Nowak. Third place went to Dave Sarachan (Chicago) with Colin Clarke (FCD) pulling in fourth.

Here is my ballot:
1- Bob Bradley (Chivas)
2- Dave Sarachan (Chicago)
3- Peter Nowak (DC)

The pick of Bradley was really a no brainier. He took one of the worse teams in MLS history and completely changed them around. Not only did he get them into the playoffs, but he also changed the whole attitude of the club. What he has pulled off in just 10 months is nothing short of amazing.

Over at the ladder, Scaryice questions Sarachan taking third in the BASAs as his team actually did worse then they did in 2005. My answer for that is the same reason I have him in second place on my ballot.

The Fire played 11 of their first 12 matches on the road. People all over the place predicted that this would be a death nail for the team's season. Instead, they managed to get 11 points from those games, thus setting them up for a good second half run. In addition, the team has a number of younger players that could have easily broken under the long road trip, but they didn't because Sarachan kept them together. I do believe that if they had a few more home games at the start of the season, they would have challenged DC for the top spot in the East.

Which brings me to my number 3, Peter Nowak. He is a great coach, but he has been unable to pull his club out of a long, long slump. In the process, his defense has become much more chaotic while his amazing midfield has grown lazy. DC is still a very good team, but a 11 game dive is not something that just happens. Yes, they still won the Supporters' Shield, but they did it while coasting.

As far as Colin Clarke (FCD), he suffered in much the same way that Nowak did. Although his second half was better then Nowak's, he still had trouble holding the team together (especially in the backfield).

Congratulations to Bob Bradley and make sure to check the ladder tomorrow for Rookie of the Year.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Steve Nicol wants to be US national coach

Liverpool great and New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol says he would love to be US National coach, but he thinks his time has yet to come.

"I'd be crazy not to be interested, but I think it's done and dusted. Hopefully my time will come but I won't sit up worrying about it."

Of all the American based coaches mentioned, Nicol would be one of the best. He has a great understanding of the American game and knows the international stage. In addition, he nailed one of the big reasons for the US having trouble on the international stage.

"In America the kids don't leave school until they are 22, so they lose out on a couple years of development.

"Back home (Scotland/England) between the ages of 18 and 22 is when you see who is going to make it and who is not.

"MLS is only 10 years old. It's a long way off the standard of the Premier League.

"Kids are now thinking of going straight into professional football, but you're fighting against a cultural barrier of parents wanting their kids to go to college."

Until kids have a chance to earn both a quality education and get much better play then is available currently in college, we will continue to suffer from this problem.

By the way, Nicol thinks Chicago Fire striker Chris Rolfe is going to be big.

"He has a real striker's brain, scores goal, and links up with players well. He is somebody that I think will push through and make his mark in the national team."

In about a month, we should know if Nicol will have anything to do with the new US men's team.

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The Greatest Awards Ever!

It is that time again as Climbing the Ladder (a site you really should read every day) has brought together the greatest minds in US soccer blogging (all 15 of us) to present the 2006 Blogosphere American Soccer Awards (BASAs). Over the next two weeks and some days, the Ladder will announce a winner. That winner will become part of soccer's royalty as they will be able to add the mighty BASA to their resume.

So today's award goes to Goalkeeper of the Year. MLS's choice was announced last week and what do you know, it was verified by the BASAs.

Troy Perkins of DC United has won this year's goalkeeper award.

It was a tight race with Matt Reis (NE) coming in second, by just a few points. Joe Cannon (Colorado) came in a distant third with Kevin Hartman (LA) just one point behind him in fourth.

My ballot looked like this:
1 - Matt Reis
2 - Troy Perkins
3 - Kevin Hartman

I went back in forth with my number one pick, Reis or Perkins. Both had fantastic years, but what settled it for me was New England's poor play during the first part of the season. If it wasn't for Reis, this team would have been right next to KC in the drop zone race. Instead, Reis was able to keep his team competitive while their offense was figuring out how to score.

I feel much the same way about Hartman for LA. The only reason LA had a chance late in the season was Hartman's work earlier in the year. The Galaxy's problems this year were up front, not in the back as proved by their second best goals against numbers in the league.

Congratulations to Troy Perkins for the win. Tomorrow we will get Coach of the Year.

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MLS Playoffs Round 1 - Match 1

All four matches this weekend were solid outings. No team was blown away and the play on the ball was some of the best. If the rest of the playoffs go like this, the next three weeks will be very enjoyable.

New York Red Bulls 0-1 DC United
United came out in complete control in the first half, but could not finish. Bruce Arena did some of the halftime voodoo that he is known for and sure enough, New York was in control in the second half. Yet for all their control, the Red Bulls could not counter act the smart play of DC's Christian Gomez. With his little chip over the head of keeper Jon Conway, Gomez made a strong statement on why he should be league MVP. It was not just that he scored, but how he did it. His ability to thread a line threw four defenders was nothing short of perfection (as was Jaime Moreno's pass that set it all up).

United had a harder time with this game then I thought they would, but stand in a good spot heading into next week's showdown in DC. Unless something goes really wrong, United should get out of this series.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 FC Dallas
I really though FC Dallas was going to have a much tougher time on the road, but in truth, this was the most one sided of all the matches played this weekend. It's not that it was a blow out, it's just that the Rapids never looked like they could actually win it. In no small way is this due to FCD's keeper Dario Sala. The choice to put him between the posts instead of Shaka Hislop was exactly the right one as Sala came up with one big save after another while making it look effortless.

Up top, Carlos Ruiz and Abe Thompson were able to find the holes in the Rapids defense and cause havoc. On top of that, they were able to make the most of all their shots on goal (they had 4 and scored twice). One concern for the team from Big D is Kenny Cooper. His play in the midfield was not as tight has in the past and his pushes forward were never for efficient.

By the way, what was Colorado's Thiago Martins thinking when he decided to pop FCD's Clarence Goodson in the ribs? The Rapids have very few offensive options, so his red card is really going to hurt them next weekend in Dallas.

New England Revolution 0-1 Chicago Fire
This was the match I was waiting for as the two hottest teams came together in a great soccer venue. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. For almost the full 90, both clubs were going for goal, but the only one to fine one was Justin Mapp off a free kick that saw the wall fall. If the Revs loose this series, it will be in due, in large part, to Andy Dorman wanting to protect his face. His decision to turn his head away from the on coming ball instead of jump and try to either chest it or just turn his head downwards, allowed the ball to pass right through the wall on it's way to goal.

The rest of play was build up after build up that normally ended in a great defensive clearance. By the way, the Revs Taylor Twellman seems to be just a bit out of sync with the rest of his club. There were multiple chances were his head was just a bit late or his pass was a little out of reach, thus turning a good scoring chase into a hard clearance by the Fire.

If Twellman re-syncs and Clint Dempsey is okay (so how many US soccer fans were gasping when Dempsey went down with the twisted ankle), then the Revs have a chance of taking this series.

Houston Dynamo 1-2 Chivas USA
Sometimes important calls just always seem to go your way. There were at least two questionable calls during yesterday's match, both of which could have changed the score line. The foul that lead to Ante Razov's amazing free kick goal never should have been as a Dynamo player was fouled at midfield moments earlier, but the ref didn't call it. Then there was Brian Ching getting taken down in the box by Chivas keeper Brad Guzan in the 64th. Guzan wasn't anywhere near getting the ball, he just forced Ching to either dive or get a red card for endangering the keeper. Yes, Ching did get a pk when he was taken down in the 85th minute, but that was not a make up call as it was the correct call.

But enough about the refs mistakes, the play was good on both sides. Houston came looking for a deathblow early, but just could not make it. Chivas counter well and were able to neutralize Dwayne De Rosario for much of the game. Juan Francisco Palencia really stepped it up, but can he keep it up when the series goes to Houston? The two best plays of the match where Guzan's penalty kick stop and Wade Barrett's clearance of Razov's open net break away in the 18th. If either of these had not happened, the game would be so different.

A good weekend for soccer, but I do wonder where all the fans were? Chicago saw just over 10,000. I know it was cold, but they had almost as many there for their Wednesday night US Open Cup finally. In addition, unless New York pulls off the upset of upsets, this was the Fire's last home game of the year. Don't think I'm picking on the Fire, it's just that their game was on ABC. Empty seats for a playoff match do not look good on national television. That said, at least they didn't show the Colorado games as only 4,000 fans made it out, which is just a bit under half of the 8,600 fans that found their way to the Meadowlands to watch DC-NY. If only their numbers could be closer to Chivas's 15,000, then we could start hearing some excitement.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

2006 MLS awards finalists

The big list has been released. Here are the nominations for all the 2006 MLS awards.

Rookie of the Year
Mehdi Ballouchy - Real Salt Lake
Jonathan Bornstein - Chivas USA
Sacha Kljestan - Chivas USA

MLS Comeback Player of the Year
Chris Armas - Chicago Fire
Alecko Eskandarian - D.C. United
Richard Mulrooney - FC Dallas

Goalkeeper of the Year
Joe Cannon - Colorado Rapids
Troy Perkins - D.C. United
Matt Reis - New England Revolution

Global Fair Play - Individual
Chris Klein - Real Salt Lake
Justin Mapp - Chicago Fire
Steve Ralston - New England Revolution

MLS Coach of the Year
Bob Bradley - Chivas USA
Peter Nowak - D.C. United
Dave Sarachan - Chicago Fire

MLS Defender of the Year
Bobby Boswell - D.C. United
Jose Burciaga Jr. - Kansas City Wizards
Jimmy Conrad - Kansas City Wizards

MLS Most Valuable Player
Jeff Cunningham - Real Salt Lake
Dwayne De Rosario - Houston Dynamo
Christian Gomez - D.C. United

Referee of the Year Finalists
Brian Hall
Michael Kennedy
Ricardo Salazar

Can't say I'm shocked by any of these, but I am a little surprised to see Jimmy Conrad on the defender of the year list. He was good, but was he really better then Chris Albright or Craig Waibel? Also, Conrad only played 15 games for KC this season. Doesn't make much sense to me.

Joe Cannon getting a nod for goalkeeper also surprises me. He has the highest goals against averages in the league (1.55) for any regular starter and doesn't seem to have a great control over his backline. He has made the fourth or fifth most stops this year, but when you allow 42 goals, one has to wonder. He does have a good number of shutouts (7), but I just don't see it this year.


New FIFA rankings - US stops free fall, Italy back in second

The last two FIFA rankings have seen the US fall from a top 5 team to 29th. Thankfully, the tumbling has stopped, at least for the moment. With no games played, the US was just coasting.

Here is the top 20:

RankTeamAug RankChange
5 England 4-1
7 Netherlands6-1
8Czech Republic7-1
17Uruguay 15-2
18 Côte d'Ivoire 19+a

Teams falling out of the top 20 are Denmark (22) and Colombia (35).

The US is tied for 29th with Paraguay.

As I look at this list, one question comes to mind, does England sitting in fifth place mean that the new FIFA ranking system is not much better then the old ranking system? This question was asked, with good reason, when the US sat high in the top ten, so I think it is fair to ask it now. Having watched England play during the last two weeks, I'm not sure they are a top 10 team.

I can believe most of these other rankings are good guesses for what the teams can do, but I'm not sure about England.

But enough of me calling such things like that into question, let's see who did the best and worse this past month.

The big winners were Surinam and Bermuda who are tied in 122nd place after they each jumped 41 places, St. Vincent and the Grenadines who climbed 44 rankings to 85th, but even that movement is nothing compared to what Barbados did as they rocketed up 52 spots to 100th in the world.

On the downward side of things, Bolivia fell 28 places to 107th, Peru shed 33 rankings to end up in 79th and Guatemala went down 35 spots to end up as the 101st best team in the world.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

If Beckham rejoins England, will it kill all MLS rumors?

With his country suddenly remembering his time with the national team fondly, could a call up to his old squad kill all talk of David Beckham coming to America?

Today Beckham said 'I still believe I have a part to play' in the English team, opening the door for an invite from new head coach Steve McClaren. If such an invite came, would it stop all the 'past his prime' talk, which has lead to the speculation of him 'cashing in' on a few final years in the USA?

I don't have the answer, but it would seem odd for a current member of the English national team to play in the MLS. Even without a call up, chances of Becks playing in the US in 2007 are not so great, and I can't see them get better with a return to international glory.

England play a friendly against the Netherlands on Nov. 15.

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Kenny Cooper for MVP

With the great American soccer award season upon us (hello BASAs), there are bound to be some interesting ideas floated around.

Take for example, Scott French's suggestion that FC Dallas forward/midfielder Kenny Cooper should win the 2006 MLS MVP award. I don't know about you, but Cooper is not one that pops to mind when I think MVP. Did Cooper do as much for his club in 2006 as Dwayne De Rosario (Houston), Christian Gomez (DC), Jeff Cunningham (Salt Lake) or Ante Razov (Chivas)?

French says this about Cooper: The 21-year-old forward/midfielder, who played in Manchester United's system after graduating from high school, returned home and catapulted FC Dallas to the Western Conference title. Six of his 11 goals were game-winners, and the Hoops went 10-0-1 when he found the net, but his presence played even larger on a team loaded with big-game talent. Carlos Ruiz is the star, but Cooper is the missing piece.

I agree that Cooper has brought something very important to FCD, however I'm not sure if just being the final piece, even if it is a big piece, is enough to win the award.

French also talks about Gomez and De Rosario, but points out that DC has stunk of late and that De Rosario's club was better last year, so they should not get the award.

He, again, is correct with that analysis, but let's be fare, Dallas hasn't been the best of late either. Their record is great when Cooper scores, Dallas has gone 4-1-7 since the All-Star break (DC has gone 2-4-6) and Dallas is only 4 points better then they were last year. I'm not trying to take away from what FCD has done in a difficult Western Conference, but when you look apples to apples, it's a different thing.

That said, it is always fun to read articles like this because I'll spend the next 3 days debating it in my head. Okay, that's a little sad, but so be it.


Busy off-season ahead for LA

LA Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas has promised that this will be a 'busy' off-season for his club.

"Without a doubt," he said. "It will be easy, because we all recognize we need to improve. The fact is we would be with that mind-set even if we had won MLS Cup. We need to change, we need to get better.

Coach Frank Yallop knows there will be changes, but he is not sure how many.

"There will be changes," Yallop said. "If there are a lot or not, I'm not sure. We'll be looking to bring in players who can make a difference in certain areas. We want to make sure we come back strong next season, whether we add players or move some out.

"We have to do the right things."

For me, one of those right things would be letting Cobi Jones go. As I said after the US Open Cup final, he is a legend and deserves every American soccer fan's respect, but his time has passed. He now drags the team more then he propels them.

The article also brings up Herculez Gomez. Last year at this time, some people were looking at him as a possible MVP candidate, but 2006 was nowhere near as kind to him as 2005. When LA went into their amazing slide early in the season, Gomez seemed to lose himself. His smart touch was gone. However, it seems he is slowly getting it back under Yallop, so cutting him at this point would be foolish.

Since LA is going to base their team around Landon Donovan, they need to look at who will complement him. Gomez has proved that he can do wonders with Donovan, so why waste that possibility. That is unless Santino Quaranta is a better fit.

Quaranta brought something to LA when he moved from DC in mid-season, but I don't think, in it's current state, it fits just right with the Galaxy. Add to it all his injuries and you are taking a risk with him as your point man up top.

If they are looking for someone to get their head on the end of crosses, say from Donovan, I would go with Gomez. Although shorter, it seems to fight more in the box.

Chris Albright should be a close lock on a spot. He fills the defensive 'captain' role well and brings some good ball control to the attack.

Finally, there is goaltender Kevin Hartman. Unless Kasey Keller is looking to come stateside, and he isn't, Hartman should be safe. Even with their bad form this year, LA still managed to concede the second fewest goals in the league (New England was the best at 35, LA gave up 37 and DC stands at 38). Hartman has a 1.14 goals against average during his 28 MLS matches (he is 1.18 over his 10 year career). You are not going to find much better then that.

LA's goal is to find their offense over the next five months. If they can't put that together, 2007 will be another tough year for the club.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Is Chivas looking to move out of the Home Depot Center?

Chivas USA has started talks with Cal Poly Pomona University about building a satellite center near the campus, causing people to wonder if a stadium deal could follow. It seems there is space just south of the school on land once occupied by a landfill.

"We've explored several different sites, with Cal Poly's property and another area in Ontario being a couple that we think make sense," said Javier Perez, executive director of the Brad Rothenberg-Richard Copeland Group, a marketing consultant hired by the team.

"Given the large Hispanic market and it being a central location that bridges Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire, makes it a great location," he said.

Antonio Cue, president of Chivas USA, says that the team will not move to the stadium any time soon. However, with a stadium needed to make a profit, who knows what is defined as soon.

Even if they don't build a stadium in the area, the training sessions and tournaments they bring to the area should help grow their support amongst the large Hispanic population in the area. That said, if they do build their permanent home on a former landfill, I'm sure supporters of the Galaxy or any other team in the league could come up with some good chants to throw at the goats whenever they come to town.

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MLS Week 29 recap or goals gone wild

The MLS regular season came to the end with teams finding the net is explosive fashion. In total 26 goals were scored in the six matches, giving an average of 4.3 goals per match. Before this weekend, the average number of goals per MLS match was just 2.56. In fact, this was the highest goals per match average (be it a weekend or Wednesday) for the entire season. The next highest was opening weekend when the ball found the net 24 times or 4 goals per match.

In a league were attendance numbers might not always be what the number says they are, these high goal numbers are good to see.

So how did the games go?

New York Red Bulls 3-2 Kansas City Wizards
All the Wizards needed was a tie and the final playoff spot in the East was theirs. Well fate can be cruel, but penalty kicks can be even crueler. Red Bull PKs were so nice that they got them not once but twice. The first pk was a good call as Chris Henderson was clearly taken down in the box by Ryan Raybould. Raybould was about to get beat so he threw an arm around him. However, the second pk was a bad decision. It was, at best, a 50/50 call for a ref. Marvell Wynne and Jose Burciaga Jr. were fighting for the ball and neither seemed to be in complete control. They were pushing on each other and Wynne went down. However, ref Ricardo Salazar thought differently and pointed to the spot.

Amado Guevara made both PKs plus a third goal off a nice curving shot into the low corner, to give New York all their scores. Scott Sealy tried to rally his Wizards late, but KC could not apply enough pressure late to make up for the kicks.

With the win, New York will face DC in the first round of the playoffs.

Houston Dynamo 3-3 Colorado Rapids
This was a great back and forth game. Houston was running the show in the first, but the Rapids, knowing that a defeat would open the door for Real Salt Lake to slip into the final Western playoff spot, stepped it up in the second. Defender Craig Waibel was the hero of the match for Houston as he got 2 goals on the night, lifting his season total to 5. However, the big fun came in the 88th minute with Houston up 3-2. Jovan Kirovski put a little flick in front of the box that Jacob Peterson headed home for the tie and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.

Houston will face Chivas in the first round while Colorado will get FC Dallas.

New England Revolution 1-0 Columbus Crew
It took 88 minutes for a goal to happen, but sure enough, the Revs were able to break he Crew down. The score line really doesn't tell the story in this one as the Crew only had a couple of real chances, while New England just failed to finish theirs. It's very fitting that the goal came off a smart play by Jose Cancela who, sent a quick free kick to Steve Ralston who put it over to Clint Dempsey just inside the top of the box. Dempsey might have been going to goal, but it ended up finding Khano Smith who redirected into goal for his first of the season.

The Crew showed why they are the worse team in the MLS while the Revs proved that they can find wins.

New England plays Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

Los Angeles Galaxy 5-2 FC Dallas
A week after being tossed from the playoffs, LA showed up in force to close out their season with a huge win. Sure, the game did not matter at all for FCD, but that's not the type of outing you want right before the post season. Dallas came out strong in the first 20-minutes and even went up a goal thanks to a Abe Thompson strike in the 14th, but the next 60-minutes watched like a LA highlight reel.

Landon Donovan was making runs and passes, Cobi Jones didn't look old, Herculez Gomez suddenly looked like the Herculez of 2005 and Chris Albright just wowed in the back. It really was a fantastic team effort, but it made me wonder, where was this team all season? Did they play that way because they were suddenly not worried about winning or were they all scared of being fired in the off season? Either way, if they played like that just two more times during the year, their season would not be over.

Dallas needs to be worried. Not just because they fell apart in the middle (how many balls can you just give away and still win the West?), but because Shaka Hislop did not look good in goal. Time and time again, he seemed to be out of position. I'd be very surprised to see Hislop manning the nets in the playoff, even if regular keeper Dario Sala hasn't played in weeks due to injury.

FC Dallas plays Colorado in the first round.

DC United 2-3 Chicago Fire
I said it last week and I'll say it again this week, DC United fans should be concerned. Their team has been sliding and limping by for two months and enters the playoffs with a backline that bleeds. Where has the midfield magic and surgical strikes gone? Okay, I'm being a little over dramatic, but it seems that the quick passing and ball control during the first half of the season is just a distant memory, while their defensive line, which only surrendered 10 goals during the first two months of the season (10 games), has given up 9 in their last 4 outings, is weak.

Meanwhile, the Fire is turning it on. The passing alone makes them a threat. They know how to keep a ball and force other team's to play their game. By the way, note to defenders, if Andy Herron gets the ball within 30 yards of the goal, close on him fast. If you give him space, you will pay. Actually, when I think about it, the Fire are starting to look like United did in May. If United fans should be happy about one thing, its that they don't have to play the Fire or the Revs in the first round.

DC plays New York while Chicago gets New England in the first round.

Chivas USA 1-1 Real Salt Lake
By the time this game took place, everything had been decided, but Real was looking to make a final mark on their second season. They made a lot of opportunities, but nothing went their way. Chivas's Brent Whitfield got the first goal of the game off a rebound and it looked like this would be all that was needed. Yet somehow Real got a late equalizer. The play of the match was not very interesting, but it was not bad.

Chivas faces Houston in the first round.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Johnny Law looking for former Cosmos star Giorgio Chinaglia

Say the name Giorgio Chinaglia to any fans of the old New York Cosmos and you are bound to get a reaction. Say his name to any people involved with the Cosmos and you will probably hear some cussing. However, if you say his name to Italian authorities, they'll tell you of an arrest warrant.

Earlier today, Italian authorities issued a warrant for Chinaglia in relation to an alleged attempt to influence the price of Lazio shares over the last six months.

"The 59-year-old Chinaglia, a former Lazio president who now lives in the United States, is accused of trying to oust current club president Claudio Lotito by falsely claiming that there was a Hungarian investment group interested in buying a controlling stake in the club, according to police in Rome."

For his part, Chinaglia, who still lives in the New York area, denies any wrongdoing.

"(Lazio president Claudio) Lotito never wanted to sit at the table with the Hungarian group that was interested in acquiring the team," Chinaglia said. "And if no one wants to believe that, then, enough, let's forget it."

Chinaglia openly admits to being a bastard of a person, but does that mean that he is also a felon? It will be interesting to see where these allegations lead. Lazio is one of the clubs in the middle of the match-fixing scandal that has destroying Italian football, so maybe this is a ploy. Then again, maybe Chinaglia say an opening and went with it.

Steve McClaren feeling the heat as England manager

After his side's disaster in Croatia, Steve McClaren is starting to hear calls for his head. Already, the English FA has canceled a plan trip to Seattle to watch the NFL's Seahawks play in order to study their coaching methods.

McClaren's future might just rest on friendlies England plays at the Netherlands on Nov. 15 and at home to Spain on Feb. 7. He has indicated that changes might be made ahead of these games.

"We have to use the friendlies and really get into individuals and the squad, get into what wins and what will win, so that when we get to the qualification games in five months, the approach is different," McClaren said Thursday.

More then a few commentators hope that one of those different approaches is the return of David Beckham to the roster. The removal of Becks was McClaren's statement that there was a new sheriff in town, but he might just have to swallow that pride and involve Beckham again.

If he does this and England still look like they did on Wednesday, who knows what might happen.

By the way, as the article points out, former coach Sven-Goran Eriksson only loss in 24 qualifying World Cup or Euro matches came in his 22nd match and we all saw what England thought of him.


Star-Telegram to Sunil Gulati - Time to Resign

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has called on US Soccer President Sunil Gulati to resign. Okay, they don't want him to quit as US boss, instead they want him leave his part-time paid position as an advisor to New England Revolution/Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

They state that this represents a conflict of interest, even if Gulati takes every step to make it public and removes himself from any votes involving these interests.

Here is what Gulati says about the matter:

"There are times where there is a conflict or other times where there might be a perceived conflict. In those situations, we've set ways to deal with that. For example, if we had an issue at the Federation that involved Major League Soccer or directly the Revolution, the vice president would chair a meeting if I were recusing myself. I don't vote on issues that involve MLS or Soccer United Marketing, which are pretty rare. But, true, there might be situations where there might be a conflict, but that's fully disclosed to the membership of the Federation and certainly the Kraft family."

But they argue that what US Soccer needs now is a president that can be involved with every choice.

I must agree with their argument. Gulati should have more then enough work with US Soccer to keep him busy, and if he does not, he's not doing his job right. On top of that, by accepting money from the Revolution, he opens the door for questions regarding the fairness of any choice USSF make involving the team, it's players or the league. US Soccer does not need that.

To be clear, this is not a hit piece as they do point to some decisions he has made with which they agree, such as the firing of Bruce Arena and the possibility of splitting the roles of national team coach and technical director. Instead, they are looking at the finer issues of the USSF that most people don't really think about.


Watch your jaw, a note to soccer players

The good oral surgeons at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey, have released a report the says amateur soccer players run a much higher risk of facial or jaw injuries. The reason, they don't use mouth guards and faceguards.

"Mouthguards and faceguards could prevent many soccer-related mouth and facial injuries, but few soccer players use these protective devices, the researchers noted. Amateur soccer coaches and officials must do more to increase players' use of this kind of safety gear, and manufacturers need to improve the fit and comfort of the devices, the authors said."

By the way, the most common soccer-related injuries were "dental fractures, followed by fractures of the lower jaw, and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which moves the jaws."

The survey noted that they had no information on eye or noose injuries as those players would not see oral surgeons.

No word on if they tried to contact Jimmy Conrad or Clint Dempsey for this story.


Pro soccer coming to San Fransico

Starting next season, soccer fans in San Francisco will have a top-level USL team to cheer for when the California Victory come to town.

The Victory represents the first USL First Division team to play in California since 2001. The club will be owned by Spanish League club Deportivo Alaves, marking the first time a USL club has been owned by a professional European club. In fact, the name 'Victory' is derived from Alaves' home city of Vitoria, the capital city of the province of Alava in the Basque country of Spain.

The team will play their matches in Kezar Stadium, located in the southeastern corner of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The stadium holds 10,000 and is also used by the San Francisco Dragons of the Major League Lacrosse.

"The San Francisco Bay area is one of the premier markets in the world," said Alaves' President Dmitry Piterman. "The world's best city and the world's most popular sport are a perfect match. Bringing soccer to the heart of San Francisco is a great opportunity to reach out to large urban population. The quality of the ownership will guarantee a competitive team and a top-notch organization to represent this market."

"Bringing the USL First Division back to California is an important development for the league, particularly for our Western-based franchises," said USL Vice President Tim Holt. "The San Francisco and greater Bay Area has a proven track record with fan support of professional soccer and we are confident that the Victory will become a staple in the soccer community beginning in 2007."

Congratulations to the Bay area.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Waiting for Klinsmann

Klinsmann story updated here.

If the US could get Jürgen Klinsmann as coach, but not till 2008, should they go for it? Jack Bell of the New York Times seems to think it not only is a good idea, but that it might just be the way Sunil Gulati is heading.

If Gulati and United States officials have their hearts set on hiring Klinsmann, one solution may be to name an interim coach. Klinsmann is known to be close with Sigi Schmid, a native of Germany. Schmid has coached United States youth international teams and the Los Angeles Galaxy, and he is the current coach of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

However, this theory seems to go against what Andrea Canalas reported on ESPN yesterday concerning a Klinsmann hire:

However, Klinsmann might need more of a break to recover from the stress of his Germany coaching tenure, and Gulati has no interest in a delayed start or a "caretaker coach" for his pick.

The idea of a 'caretaker' has come up before, but I don't think it makes sense for the team. Any foreign coach, including Klinsmann, is going to need more then a couple years to put his team together before the World Cup. Yes, the idea of getting a Klinsmann or Luiz Felipe Scolari or even Guss Hiddink (he is only signed with Russia till 2008), is tempting, but might not be in our best interest. In addition, any short-term coach would have very little power to influence change in the USSF.

One thing about Sigi Schmid, he is a good coach, but his announcement would not bring around much excitement in the press. I know the press should have very little impact on what Gulati decides to do, however, how many times will we see 'current coach of the worse team in MLS, the Columbus Crew...' or something like that in print?

It will be interesting to see if more 'it might not be Klinsmann' articles start to appear. If they do, it might be USSF lowering the expectations game.


Toronto FC's first 'victory'

The 2007 MLS expansion side Toronto FC has already beat a team into submission, and it hasn't even kicked a ball.

USL's First Division side the Toronto Lynx have announced that they will leave the top league and join the third level Premier Development League, sighting the increased competition from the new club as one of the reasons. The Lynx played in the top USL league for 10-years, but management sees a need to take the team in a different direction.

"Moving the Lynx to the PDL makes a lot of sense,'' Bruno Hartrell, the team's chief financial officer and part-owner, said in a statement Tuesday. ''It allows the club to direct its resources to continue building the solid base necessary for continued growth."

The Toronto Lady Lynx will continue to play in the W-League.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

US-Mexico the saga continues

Klinsmann story updated here.

Without a doubt, the biggest rivalry in CONCACAF is between the US and Mexico. These two teams are the big dogs, so it is only fitting that they are now fighting with each other over a certain German born, would be coach.

An adviser to Juergen Klinsmann has said that he has received 'serious' offers from both the US and Mexico to coach their national teams. However, the adviser also said that Klinsmann has not decided if he even wants to return to the sidelines.

With all the talk linking Klinsmann to the US position, if he were to go with Mexico, that would be seen as a major loss for USSF. In fact, if Klinsmann is not the coach, Sunil Gulati needs to start killing the story soon or else everyone is going to ask 'Why not Klinsmann?' when the new coach is finally announced.

As far as the German going to Mexico, he would have a better national system in which to work, however, he might find it more resistant to change then the US. That said, Germany was not very open to change when he took over, but he forced it on them.

Let the talk continue.

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Italy getting ready to move the goal posts again

All four Italian clubs involved in the match-fixing scandal might have their point penalties reduced this week.

According to Monday's Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus stands to have its penalty reduced by five-to-eight points, Fiorentina by six-to-nine points, Lazio by four-to-six points and Milan two-to-four points.

The teams current punishment are as follows:

AC Million -8 points
Fiorentina -19 points
Junventus -17 points, relegated to Serie B
Lazio -11 points

These penalties already represent huge reductions in the original punishments, but the clubs are still not happy, so they continue to whine. Then again, why should they stop? Every time they complain some more, their penalties for completely compromising the game get reduced.

Even worse, this change is taking place in the middle of the season, meaning that other teams, you know the ones that did not cheat, cannot make the needed changes to deal with this.

"If it was done while the market was still open, teams could have been able to make provisions and reinforce themselves," Napoli owner De Laurentis said. "Doing it now would be against every type of consistency and fairness. But anything can happen in this world."

Napoli is currently tied for second in Serie B, with Junventus still in last place due to the penalty points. If Junventus gets their point reduction reduced, Napoli's race for Serie A promotion becomes much harder.

Finally, what will stop these teams from continuing to complain about the reductions after this round?

If Italy actually cared about the game, they would tell the squads to be happy with what they have and refuse to hear any more about it.

Glenn Myernick 1954-2006

Glenn Myernick died this morning from complications suffered from a major heart attack last Thursday. Myernick was one of Bruce Arena's top assistants during the 2002 and 2006 World Cup campaigns.

As coach of the US U-23 men, Myernick almost got the team to the 2004 Olympics before losing in a semifinal match to Mexico. From 1997-2000 he was in charge of the Colorado Rapids and managed to get his team to the playoffs each year.

During his playing days, he spent time with various NASL squads and served as captain of the US national team in 1978.

I never meet or talked with Myernick, but players always seemed to be happy when around him. I recall video footage of him having fun in practices and allowing players to relax (by the way, he is the one in the red shirt facing the camera in the above photo). It is a sad day for US Soccer.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy, their son, Travis, and daughter, Kelly.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

MLS Week 28 Recap - History has been made

FC Dallas made some history this weekend as they clinched the Western Conference and in the process kicked LA out of the playoffs. This was the first time either of these events happened. In some other 'first time' news, last season's worst team Chivas USA is now heading to the playoffs.

All and all, this weekend's action saw some surprises with the biggest being Chicago Fire getting smoked at home by the Columbus Crew 4-1. The Fire started the game in complete control, but lost it around the 30-minute mark. It seemed like the longer it went on, the more Chicago crapped out. First there offense dropped out, then their midfield couldn't move it forward and finally their defense lost all ability to clear balls. Columbus was able to answer in a way that they lacked all season. Hopefully Crew fans recorded this one as it was the best their side looked in a long time.

There was also a minor shock in DC where New England took down the Supporters' Shield winners 2-1. There is no way anyone can deny it anymore, United is in a major slump. They have only got 10 points from their last 10 matches. To point that in perspective, they got 10 points from their first four games to start the season. Even worse, their last three defeats have come from teams they might meet in the playoffs (Chicago, Houston and New England). Against the Revs, they had more then their share of chances, but too few of them were big threats. If United doesn't fix things in Chicago next week, it might just be a short post season.

Ending our ring of surprises, Kansas City was able to score 2 goals in one match, thanks in large part to Jose Burciaga Jr. Okay, the second goal was off a pk, but still, the Wizards have scored 5 in their last 2 matches, after only scoring 28 in their first 29 outings. Their offense was looking strong against a Chivas USA side, but still could only find one goal from the run of play. Chivas did not look their normal smooth self, giving the Wizards way too many chances. However, even with the 2-1 defeat, Chivas clinched their playoff ticket. KC now only needs a tie against New York this upcoming weekend to got their spot.

There was good news for the fans of the Hoops as they got their Western Conference crown, and although both Carols Ruiz and Kenny Cooper scored, their offense was lacking. The best news for the club was Shaka Hislop as he finally looked confident in goal, especially in the final 30-minutes of the match when the Galaxy threw everything at his net. Landon Donovan was able to connect in the 71st, but the Galaxy could go no further. FCD 2-1 LA

Colorado limped closer to the playoffs with their 1-1 tie with New York. It was a match both teams wanted to win, but neither team seemed capable of making it happen. Neither side had good play or possession and neither team brought much excitement in front of the net. The Red Bulls were able to get some good play from Amado Guevara, however even his effort was lacking. It is only fitting that this game ended with 1 point going to each side.

With Dwayne De Rosario starting on the bench for Houston, it was obvious that the Dynamo was not overly worried about the outcome of this game, but Real Salt Lake could not make the most of it. Jeff Cunningham brought some good play to his side, which resulted in Mehdi Ballouchy's goal in the 60th to keep Real's hope for the playoffs alive. Salt Lake now must hope Houston can beat the Rapids next weekend.

Neither the wife nor I did so great with our predictions as we both went 1-5. Sad, sad, sad.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

MLS expansion cities and more

Over at BigSoccer, MLS commissioner Don Garber has answered 20 questions submitted by members. Sure enough, the question of expansion possibilities have come up. Here are his thoughts:

ATLANTA – We’ve had recent discussions with two different potential ownership groups and we plan to spend more time focusing on this key Southeast market. . We would like to have a presence south of Washington, D.C. and Atlanta has many of the attributes we look for in a new market. Unfortunately, at this time, Atlanta does not have an appropriate facility for an MLS team. The stadium that was home to the WUSA’s Atlanta Beat, Herndon Stadium, is too small and does not have the modern amenities needed for an MLS team. We are interested to see how the Honduras versus Guatemala match does next Tuesday in Atlanta. Two FC Dallas players – Ramon Nunez and Carlos Ruiz – will be playing against each other for their respective national teams.

AUSTIN - Although a great city, we are not currently considering Austin for a future MLS expansion team.

CLEVELAND – Most of you are all aware that we have been talking to Paul Garafolo and the Wolstein family for a few years. They continue to work hard on securing a stadium and we speak with them regularly. Cleveland is a front-runner for an MLS expansion team.

LAS VEGAS – We have met with government officials in Las Vegas this year and with an appropriate (indoor) stadium, this could be a terrific market.

MILWAUKEE – Peter Wilt continues to lead the efforts to bring an MLS team to Milwaukee. Peter keeps us updated on a regular basis. Current news on potential MLS expansion into Milwaukee can be found here.

PHILADELPHIA – Like many of the potential expansion markets, we believe that the Philadelphia area is an excellent soccer market. Although Rowan University has been unable to secure all the funding it sought for its campus development proposal at this time, we remain interested in, and supportive of, the efforts to complete a stadium there. We’ve been in discussions with multiple ownership groups for the Philadelphia market and I have spent a great deal of time in Philadelphia during the last two months. Again, we need to finalize a plan for a soccer facility, but we are encouraged with our recent progress in this area.

PORTLAND – We hear many great things about Portland and are familiar with the success the market has had with pro soccer in the past with the NASL’s Timbers (and with the current USL version of he Timbers) and at the collegiate level with the University of Portland. We have spoken with potential investors about bringing an MLS team to the Pacific Northwest and Portland has been discussed. We’ll continue to analyze the market.

SAN ANTONIO – We took a hard look at San Antonio last year and former Mayor Ed Garza was very helpful in leading the efforts to bring an MLS team to San Antonio. However, we have not had any discussions in 2006 with any government officials or potential owners regarding the San Antonio market.

SAN DIEGO – We’ve had some success with international matches in San Diego with our Soccer United Marketing division, and we believe San Diego could be a great MLS market. We’ve had many discussions with potential owners in San Diego throughout the League’s 11 seasons.

SAN JOSE – As you know, MLS has a partnership with Lew Wolff and John Fisher, the owners of the Oakland Athletics, to bring professional soccer back to the Bay Area. Lew and John have acquired a three-year exclusive option to acquire a MLS team should the group be successful in developing a new soccer-specific stadium. They have hired three full-time staff members to work on bringing the Earthquakes back to San Jose. You can subscribe to their email newsletter for updates here. Lew and John are looking at many options to build a soccer-specific stadium in the Bay Area. We hope to return to the Bay Area soon.

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis is another front-runner for future MLS expansion. You have probably read in local media reports where we are speaking with a potential ownership group in St. Louis. This potential ownership group has visited many MLS stadiums and had a large group attend the 2006 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game. They have identified a potential site for a stadium in just outside St. Louis, and local officials from that city recently visited Pizza Hut Park.

SEATTLE – We continue to believe in the potential of Seattle and were particularly impressed by the success that Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer had with the Real Madrid/DC United game they organized in Qwest Field. We will spend more time focusing on getting an MLS team in the Northwest in the coming year.

I must admit, the inclusion of Austin, Texas on the list was interesting. It would be an interesting location site, even if it has no chance in the current MLS structure. Maybe if the USL's PDL team the Austin Lightning moved up in the USL and got a good following, they might make a future list, but probably not.

Anyway, there are a number of other good questions asked, so go have a good read (Part 1, Part 2).

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