Thursday, May 31, 2007

2007 MLS attendance compared to capacity

Yesterday I looked at the current MLS attendance numbers and wonder what it could mean, but while I was thinking about it last night, I realized I missed an interesting way of comparing those numbers.

Instead of just looking at the averages, I could also look at what the averages mean in terms of their stadium capacity.

TeamAvg AttendCapacityAvg % of CapStadium Type
SSS: Soccer Specific Stadium, CS: College Stadium, NFL: NFL Stadium

So what use is there in knowing this information? Not a lot, but it does make Toronto's numbers stand out even more. At almost 97% capacity, you can see what it is so hard to play there. It also shows that Colorado's (CR) numbers might give them eighth best average in the league, but as far as percentage of their possible whole, they are doing wonderful. Heck, they even draw above capacity for last weekend's match with LA (go Military Appreciation Night).

On the other end of things you have the teams stuck in NFL sized caves. Anyplace filled to less then 20% capacity is going to look a little sparse. If you agree that a big part of going to a pro game is the atmosphere, you can see how these low numbers could create a negative loop. Folks show up, experience little and decide not to return. Add to it some poor play in the past (hello NY and KC) and you've got a bunch of bad interlocking.

If there is one piece of good news for NY and KC it is that maybe a good year or two will see those numbers jump. Sadly, New England has had multiple good years in a row and is still swinging low. DC might have a low number, but that total does represent a large portion of the lower deck in RFK (which I seem to recall being around 25,000 as Kinney pointed out in the comments, RFK's lower deck is about 20,000, so DC's numbers look even better).

Great show by the Houston Dynamo (HD) by getting over 50% of the seats filled in their college football stadium.

One last thing, with eight teams over the 50% mark there is little reason for their not to be a great atmosphere at games. It seems like the only thing stopping it is the fans themselves. Having attended a number of MLS matches, it seems that a lot of fans don't grasp the concept of cheering and chanting almost none stop and not just when something big happens. It is getting better but I still get looks for people when I'm yelling for all I'm worth (then again, that might say more about me then them).

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MLS in Seattle could be death for the Sounders

If potential owners Michael and James Keston decide to bring a MLS team to Seattle, Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer says he will either have to fold his team or move.

“I’m a pretty rational businessperson, and it’s unlikely that two professional teams in the Puget Sound region are going to work,” he said. “I’ll cross the bridge when I come to it, but I wouldn’t think it’s likely that two franchises would coexist.”

If Hanauer decided to move, chances are the team would end up 30-miles south in Tacoma where the team played seven games in 1994. Tacoma is already home to the Premier Development League's Tides, but the two clubs think they could work something out if the move happens.

However, Hanauer has not ruled out folding the team and joining up with the new organization, which James Keston thinks is a wonderful idea.

“We get along great and if we could find a way to integrate him and the existing Sounders organization into what we’re doing we would love to make that happen,” James Keston said. “So far, we have a very good relationship with them …”

Talking about the Kestons, if they picked Seattle, Qwest Field would be their home for a little while till they built their own, smaller stadium. Possible sites include Renton or Tukwila, both of which are about 15-miles south of Seattle, near the international airport. Also, they would like some public funding for a new home.

“Renton is a very interesting site because of the demographics and the growth that I have seen around that area and the land that is available,” James Keston said. “And based on what has happened with the Sonics, they’ve already gone through the first stages of this: the making sure that the community and the city at least have an interest in a potential stadium there.”

The Sonics issue is their failure to gain public money for a new home even with the threat of relocation.

Interestingly enough, Keston thinks MLS's low salary numbers might make it an easier sell when it comes to public subsidies.

“These guys get to play soccer every day, but they’re certainly not going out and buying multimillion-dollar houses on Mercer Island as soon as they sign their contracts,” Keston said. “It gives you the opportunity, when you go out and talk to sports fans and the people of the state, to say these are not necessarily a bunch of multimillionaires coming in here.”

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US Soccer has a new online streaming partner

The US Soccer Federation has signed a deal with Limelight Networks to provide exclusive media streaming services. These services will include "select matches of the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams, and U.S. Soccer's 11 Youth National Teams, as well as other informative and entertaining soccer-related content such as live pre- and post-game coverage, press conferences and breaking news."

From the press release:
U.S. Soccer will leverage the ability of Limelight's Windows Media Streaming service to let viewers flexibly tune in to their programming via the expanding universe of broadband Internet-connected devices, including PCs, handheld devices, and IPTV set-top boxes. An important benefit of the Limelight platform is the insight its LUX reporting facility provides U.S. Soccer for measuring and maximizing the effectiveness of its Web content.

David Hatfield, senior vice president of worldwide sales, services and marketing at Limelight said, "U.S. Soccer exemplifies the trend where any organization or company now has the ability to directly reach its audience with high quality programming via the Internet. We are committed to providing the highly reliable, massively scalable live video streaming infrastructure that U.S. Soccer requires to deliver a compelling experience to a global audience of soccer enthusiasts."

If you can't get coverage via traditional means then create your own.

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Lalas says Becks stays in LA

Alexi Lalas has decided the idea of loaning out David Beckham after the MLS season is a dumb one.

"He is coming to the Los Angeles Galaxy and we don't anticipate him going anywhere but the Los Angeles Galaxy for the foreseeable future."

Good to see some sense hit Lalas in the head.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MLS teams up with YouTube

Major League Soccer highlights will official be allowed on YouTube as the two companies have announced a strategic content and advertising partnership.

Fans will be able to watch highlights of matches within 24-hours of the broadcast along with other on and off the field footage and features on the new MLS YouTube channel.

With the ease of use and the global reach of YouTube, this is a great move by MLS. Moving away from their difficult to use Windows Media Player based highlight system on their own site is a wonderful idea.

Anything that makes it easier to share the the game is a good thing.

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What do MLS attendance numbers tell us?

(edit - full season numbers here)

With just about every MLS side having at least four home games under their belts, I thought it would be a good time to look at league attendance numbers. Interestingly enough, the three best teams (by points) in the league (NY, NE, KC) are in the bottom five when it comes to average per home game, with two of the top three taking up the bottom two spots (NY, KC).

Okay, New York and Kansas City in the bottom spots is no surprise to anyone who knows their MLS history, but I was surprised to see the Eastern conference take up all of the last five places. Real Salt Lake’s strong numbers also pleasantly surprised me. At almost 16,000 fans per game, they take fifth place overall.

In the list below I included the best and worst attendance number so far as well as whom they played. I was a little taken aback to see New England's name come up three times in the worst column while a team like Columbus only came up once. This caused me to think that maybe there were teams that just didn't draw well on the road, which is why I did the second table.
TeamHGTotalAvgBest vsWorst vsHR
LA373,31124,43727,000 CV22,715 NE1-2-0
TFC479,45419,86420,183 DC19,123 HD2-2-0
DC467,61116,903 22,358 KC12,908 NE2-1-1
HD464,54716,13718,232 NE13,392 CF1-2-1
RSL463,79715,94918,678 FCD14,173 CR0-1-3
CV461,36015,34027,000 LA8,756 FCD3-0-1
FCD460,32815,082 20,500 CR9,165 NE2-2-0
CR687,40814,56818,458 LA10,719 HD2-1-3
NE340,84813,61618,184 TFC9,508 CF2-1-0
CF452,23013,05815,353 NE11,717 KC2-1-1
CC564,94412,98913,782 NY11,755 TFC1-0-4
NY548,8269,76512,481 HD7,802 CR4-1-0
KC325,0058,33510,141 FCD7,426 CC2-1-0
HG: Number of Home Games, HR: Home Record

In this table I looked at team's road numbers. Oddly enough, even with all there 'worst' numbers, New England actually has the fifth best attendance average on the road, while Toronto, who is near tops at home, sinks like a stone out on the road.
AG: Number of Away Games, AR: Away Record

So what did I learn from looking at all these numbers? The biggest thing was how much the LA-Chivas matches help those clubs. Without the 27,000 from their LA match, Chivas (CV) would have a home average of just 11,453 or third worst in MLS. On the 'road' LA gets a nice boost as well, but even without the 27k number, they would still sit in second place with a 17,431 average.

Another thing I noticed is how much New England depends on double headers to get their home numbers up. They have only played three home matches but two of them were part of a bigger event. The one match that did not include a second game resulted in just 9,500 people showing up. These numbers are alarming.

One last piece I noticed was the difference in teams playing in big NFL size stadiums vs. Soccer Specific Stadiums vs. College size stadiums. The SSS (CC, CV, FCD, CR, CF, TFC, LA) were all over the place, but made up most of the middle of the pack. The NFL stadiums (DC, KC, NY, NE) were almost all at the bottom, except for DC. The college size stadiums (HD, RSL) were both in the top five. What does this mean? I'm not sure, but I think it is obvious that huge stadiums suck without people their to fill them (real original thought).

A final item little notion that passed through my head while looking at all this is how bad these numbers are for the idea of an 'Atlantic coast league'. What I mean by that is one of the advantages the East Conference has over the West is the relatively small distance between the majority of the teams, thus making it easier for supporters to travel with their clubs. However, if you can't get people to go the 30-miles or so to a home match, what chance do you have of getting significant numbers to go a few hundred miles for a road trip? This game will really be something when teams can start counting on 1,000 or so of their own fans showing up for away games.

Anyone else see something of interest in these numbers?

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Rosters for all 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup sides

All 12 rosters for the 2007 Gold Cup are out. The Gold Cup runs from June 6-24.

2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final Rosters

GK: Robert Giacomi (Beveren FC/BEL), Greg Sutton (Toronto FC), Joshua Wagenaar (ADO Den Haag/NED)

DF: Adam Braz (Toronto FC), Ali Gerba (FC Gothenborg/SWE), Gabriel Gervais (Montreal Impact), Andrew Hainault (Said Most FC/CZE), Chris Pozniak (Toronto FC), Marco Reda (Toronto FC)

MD: Patrice Bernier (Tromso FC/SWE), Julian DeGuzman (Deportivo La Coruna/ESP), Richard Hastings (Inverness CT/SCO), Kevin Harmse (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Iain Hume (Leicester City/ENG), Atiba Hutchinson (FC Copenhagen/DEN), Ante Jazic (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Nik Ledgerwood (1860 Munich/GER), Issey Nakajima-Farran (FC Vejle Bodklub/DEN), Martin Nash (Vancouver Whitecaps), Antonio Ribeiro (Montreal Impact), Paul Stalteri (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG)

FW: Dwayne DeRosario (Houston Dynamo/USA), Robert Friend (FC Heerenveen/NED)
Coach: Stephen HART

GK: Wardy Alfrado (LD Alajuelense), Dexter Lewis (Municipal Perez Zeledón), Jose Francisco Porras (Deportivo Saprissa)

DF: Allan Aleman (Deportivo Saprissa), Gabriel Badilla (Deportivo Saprissa), Pablo Chinchilla (Cash Point SCR/AUT), Victor Cordero (Deportivo Saprissa), Jervis Drummond (Deportivo Saprissa), Jose Freddy Fernandez (Municipal Perez Zeledón), Leonardo Gonzalez (CS Herediano), Alonso Solis (Deportivo Saprissa), Michael Umaña (CS Herediano), Harold Wallace (LD Alajuelense)

MD: Randall Azofeifa (KAA Gent/BEL), Michael Barrantes (Puntarenas FC), Christan Bolaños (Deportivo Saprissa), Walter Centeno (Deportivo Saprissa), Andres Nuñez (Deportivo Saprissa), Rodolfo Rodríguez (Brujas FC)

FW: Rolando Fonseca (LD Alajuelense), Windell Gabriel (Municipal Perez Zeledón), Bryan Ruiz (KAA Gent/BEL), Alvaro Saborio (Sion/SUI)
Coach: Hernán MEDFORD

GK: Julio Aldama (Matanzas), Odelin Molina (Villa Clara), Dany Luis Quintero (Cienfuegos)

DF: Yusvanys Caballeros (Ciudad Habana), Jorge Luis Clavelo (Villa Clara), Jaime Colomé (Ciudad Habana), Joel Colomé (Ciudad Habana), Leonel Duarte (Ciego de Avila), Reysander Fernández (Ciego de Avila), Yenier Márquez (Villa Clara), Silvio Pedro Miñoso (Villa Clara)

MD: Osvaldo Alonso (Pinar del Río), Gisbel Morales (Pinar del Río), Enrique Villaurrutia (Cienfuegos)

FW: Reynier Alcántara (Pinar del Río), Alain Cervantes (Ciego de Avila), Pedro Adriani Faife (Villa Clara), Ariel Martinez (Sancti Spírtus), Lester Moré (Ciego de Avila), Adonis Ramos (Granma)
Coach: Raúl GONZALEZ

GK: Juan Jose Gomez (CD Luis Angel Firpo), Miguel Angel Montes (Chalatenango), Dagoberto Portillo (Alianza FC)

DF: Luis Alonzo Anaya (CD Aguila), Ramiro Ernesto Carballo (Alianza FC), Alexander Escobar (Isidro Metapán), Leonel Guevara (CD Vista Hermosa), Jose Mardoqueo Henriquez (CD F.A.S.), Alfredo Alberto Pacheco (CD F.A.S.), Manuel Alejandro Salazar (CD Luis Angel Firpo), Jose Rolando Torres (CD Aguila)

MD: Dennis Jonathan Alas (San Salvador FC), Francisco Jovel Alvarez (Alianza FC), Jose Orlando Martinez (Alianza FC), Vicente Januario Melgar (Chalatenango), Carlos Alberto Menjivar (CD F.A.S.), Victor Hugo Merino (CD Luis Angel Firpo), Eliseo Quintanilla (San Salvador FC), Ramon Alfredo Sanchez (San Salvador FC)

FW: Juan Alexander Campos (CD Aguila), Ronald Cerritos (San Salvador FC), Cesar Alexander Larios (CD F.A.S.), Julio Enrique Martinez (Isidro Metapán)
Coach: Carlos DE LOS COBOS

GK: Marius Fausta (Evolucas), Franck Grandel (FC Utrecht/NED), Fabrice Mercury (CS Moulien)

DF: Miguel Comminges (Reims/FRA), Philippe Durpes (Romorantin/FRA), David Fleurival (FC Tours/FRA), David Sommeil (Sheffield United/ENG), Michael Tacalfred (Dijon/FRA), Alain Vertot (Etoile de Morne-à-l'Eau)

MD: Jocelyn Angloma (Etoile de Morne-à-l'Eau), Stéphane Auvray (Vannes FC/FRA), Lery Hannany (Racing Club), Jean Luc Lambourde (Amical Club), Dominique Mocka (JS Vieux-Habitants), Marving Onestas (J/Evolution), Ludovic Quistin (Tamworth FC/ENG), Constant Therezine (AS Gosier)

FW: Aurélien Capoue (FC Nantes/FRA), Cédrick Fiston (A.J.S.S.), Ludovic Gotin (CS Moulien), Loic Loval (FC Utrecht/NED), Fabien Raddas (Poissy/FRA), Richard Socrier (Brest/FRA)
Coach: Roger SALNOT

GK: Luis Pedro Molina (Deportivo Jalapa), Paulo Cesar Motta (CSD Municipal), Ricardo Alberto Trigueño (Deportivo Marquense)

DF: Claudio Albizuris (CSD Municipal), Gustavo Cabrera (CSD Comunicaciones), Yony Flores (Deportivo Marquense), Nestor Martinez (Deportivo Marquense), Henry Alexander Medina (CSD Municipal), Pablo Sebastian Melgar (Antofagasta/CHI)

MD: Jose Manuel Contreras (CSD Comunicaciones), Hector Saul De Mata (CSD Comunicaciones), Carlos Figueroa (CSD Municipal), Rigoberto Gomez (CSD Comunicaciones), Leonel Noriega (Deportivo Marquense), Carlos Quiñones (Deportivo Marquense), Mario Rodriguez (CSD Municipal)

FW: Jairo Arreola (CSD Comunicaciones), Marvin Tomas Avila (Deportivo Suchitepequez), Dwight Pezzarossi (CSD Comunicaciones), Carlos Ruiz (FC Dallas/USA), Gregory Lester Ruiz (Deportivo Marquense), Hernan Sandoval (CSD Comunicaciones), Edwin Villatoro (CSD Municipal)
Coach: Hernan Dario GOMEZ

GK: Gabart Fenelon (Miami FC/USA), Peterson Occenat (Violette AC), Jonas Simeon (Tempete)

DF: Frantz Bertin (Athletico Madrid/ESP), Pierre-Richard Bruny (Don Bosco), Frantz Gilles (Cavaly AS), Stephane Guillaume (Miami FC/USA), Windsor Noncent (Sans Club), Jean-Jacques Pierre (Nantes/FRA), Ednerson Raymond (Baltimore de St-Marc), Olrish Saurel (Don Bosco)

MD: Jean Sony Alcenat (Aigle Noir AC), J. Michel Alexandre Boucicaut (Violette AC), Mones Chery (Racing Club Haiten), Brunel Fucien (Aigle Noir AC), Peter Germain (Baltimore de St-Marc), James Marcelin (Racing Club Haiten), Turlien Romulus (Cavaly AS), Pierre Roland Saint Jean (Baltimore de St-Marc), Alain Vubert (Baltimore de St-Marc)

FW: Cadet Éliphene (Tempete FC), Noel Fabrice (Sans Club), Ricardo Pierre-Louis (no club)
Coach: Luis Armelio GARCIA

GK: Donaldo Morales (CD Motagua), Adalid Puerto (CD Platense), Orlin Vallecillo (Real CD España)

DF: Edgar Alvarez (Messina/ITA), Oscar Bonieck Garcia (CD Olimpia), Jorge Samuel Caballeros (Changchun Yatai/CHN), Maynor Figueroa (CD Olímpia), Emilio Izaguirre (CD Motagua), Erick Vallecilo (Real CD España)

MD: Jorge Aaron Claros (CD Motagua), Ivan Guerrero (Chicago Fire/USA), Amado Guevara (Chivas USA/USA), Julio Cesar Leon (Genova/ITA), Emil Martinez (CD Marathon), Sergio Mendoza (CD Olimpia), Wilson Palacios (CD Olimpia), Mario Rodriguez (Real CD España)

FW: Carlos Costly (GKS Belchatow/POL), Jairo Martinez (CD Motagua), Walter Martinez (Shanghai Shenhua/CHN), Carlos Oliva (CD Marathon), Carlos Pavon (Real CD España), Luis Santamaría (CD Marathon)
Coach: Reinaldo RUEDA

GK: Jose De Jesus Corona (Tecos UAG), Guillermo Ochoa (Club América), Oswaldo Sanchez (Club Santos Laguna)

DF: Jose Antonio Castro (Club América), Rafael Marquez (FC Barcelona/ESP), Jose Jonny Magallon (CD Guadalajara), Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart/GER), Fausto Pinto (Pachuca CF), Francisco Rodriguez (CD Guadalajara), Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven/NED)

MD: Fernando Arce (CA Monarcas Moreila), Jose Andres Guardado (Atlas CF), Jaime Lozano (Tigres UANL), Alberto Medina (CD Guadalajara), Ramon Morales (CD Guadalajara), Pavel Pardo (Stuttgart/GER), Gerardo Torrado (CD SC Cruz Azul)

FW: Adolfo Bautista (CD Guadalajara), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Club América), Jared Borgetti (CD SC Cruz Azul), Omar Bravo (CD Guadalajara), Nery Castillo (Olimpiakos/GRE), Jose Francisco Fonseca (Tigres UANL)
Coach: Hugo SANCHEZ

GK: Jose Calderon (Chepo FC), Donaldo Gonzalez (Atlético Veragüense), Oscar McFarlane (Tauro FC), Jaime Penedo (CA Osasuna/ESP)

DF: Reinaldo Anderson (Deportivo Árabe Unido), Felipe Baloy (CF Monterrey/MEX), Amilcar Henriquez (Deportivo Árabe Unido), Luis Henriquez (Tauro FC), Luis Moreno (Independiente Santa Fe/COL), Carlos Rivera (Tauro FC)

MD: Alberto Blanco (CD Plaza Amador), Rolando Escobar (Tauro FC), Gabriel Gomez (Independiente Santa Fe/COL), Victor Herrera (Puerto Rico Islanders/PUR), Engin Mitre (CD Plaza Amador), Juan Perez (Tauro FC), Ricardo Phillips (San Francisco FC), Juan Ramón Solis (CD Aguila/SLV)

FW: Edwin Aguilar (Tauro FC), Jose Luis Garces (OS Belenenses/POR), Nicolas Muñoz (CD Aguila/SLV), Blas Perez (Cucuta Deportivo/COL), Roman Torres (CD La Equidad/COL)
Coach: Alexandre GUIMARAES

GK: Marvin Phillip (North East Stars), Daurance Williams (San Juan Jabloteh), Jan Michael Williams (W Connection FC)

DF: Dwayne Jack (San Juan Jabloteh), Thomas Nickcolson (W Connection FC), Anthony Noreiga (Joe Public FC), Trent Noel (San Juan Jabloteh), Seon Power (Joe Public FC), Keyeno Thomas (Joe Public FC), Glenton Wolffe (North East Stars)

MD: Romauld Aguillera (United Petrotrin), Christon Baptiste (Defence Force), Kerry Baptiste (Joe Public FC), Keon Daniel (United Petrotrin), Andrei Pacheco (W Connection FC), Silvio Spann (W Connection FC), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA)

FW: Gary Glasgow (Joe Public FC), Kendall Jagdeosingh (North East Stars), Errol McFarlane (Superstar Rangers), Darryl Roberts (Sparta Rotterdam/NED), Andre Toussaint (W Connection FC)
Coach: Wilhelmus RIJSBERGEN

GK: Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC/ENG), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER)

DF: Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC/ENG), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC/ENG), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege/BEL), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday/ENG), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United/ENG)

MD: DaMarcus Beasley (Manchester City/ENG), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen/NED), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC/ENG), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg SV/GER), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)

FW: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Ed Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
Coach: Bob BRADLEY

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Earthquakes looking for Exclusive Right to Negotiate with San Jose

Lew Wolff's desire to bring the Earthquakes back to San Jose might take a big step forward on June 12 when the city council will vote on a "non-binding memorandum of understanding that would give the city and Wolff's development group until Sept. 15 to hammer out an agreement." This exclusive right to negotiate would involve the idea of rezoning industrial land for residential purposes in order to pay for the $80 million stadium.

The stadium site is located out by the airport and would sit on land owned by the city. The land would be leased to the Earthquakes with Wolff's group guaranteed to cover the public's $7.5 million annual debt service on the property.

The stadium would not use up the entire 75 acres of land the city owns in the area, however building residential homes at the location is not an option due to contamination of the land with toxic substances. Although "it has been cleaned up and no further treatment is required for certain uses, housing and schools cannot be constructed there."

That's reassuring.

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Lalas might loan out Beckham

So what do you do with the world's best-known player after your season is over? If you are Los Angeles Galaxy president Alexei Lalas, you loan him out.

"We would always consider any possibility that would either make the player better as a soccer player and a more valuable asset, or playing with another team on loan if we felt it made proper business sense."

Is this just Lalas making chatter or is this something he is actually thinking about?

For his part, coach Frank Yallop does not like the idea.

"It is a long season and a long pre-season. Players need that break. They will need to take a rest and I do not see any loan deal with David going anywhere"

No kidding is it a long season and, for Beckham, it has been a long couple of years with the 2005-06 season, World Cup, 2006-07 season and, soon, the 2007 summer MLS season. Add to it the exhaustingly large number of friendlies Lalas has setup and any long flights for national team call up and you have the makings of a big old burn out.

Then there is also the question of missing LA's pre and early season. With all odds a team would want any loan to last till the end of their season, which for Europe would be May or early June. Obviously that means a number of MLS commitments would be missed.

One has got to hope this is just Lalas trying to take some attention away from his complaints over Beckham's national team call up because if he is serious, he is a fool.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2007 US Open Cup First Round groupings

US Soccer has announced the lineup for the first round of the US Open Cup. This round involves teams from the USL First and Second Divisions, the Premier Development League and United States Adult Soccer Association ranks. For the first time since 2001 these games were decided by a blind draw.

All games will take place on Sunday, June 12th

Game No. Teams, Venue; Location Time

1 Aegean Hawks FC (Arlington, Va.) (USASA) at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2) Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa. 7:05 p.m. ET
2 Crystal Palace Baltimore (USL-2) at Ocean City Barons (PDL) Cary Stadium; Ocean City, N.J. 7:30 p.m. ET
3 Long Island Rough Riders (PDL) at Rochester Rhinos (USL-1) Paetec Park; Rochester, N.Y. 7:35 p.m. ET
4 Western Mass Pioneers (USL-2) at Danbury United (USASA) Portuguese Cultural Center; Danbury, Conn. 4 p.m. ET

5 Michigan Bucks (PDL) at Richmond Kickers (USL-2) UR Stadium; Richmond, Va. 7 p.m. ET
6 Cleveland City Stars (USL-2) at Kansas City Brass (PDL) William Jewell College; Liberty, Mo. 7:30 p.m. CT
7 RWB Adria (Chicago, Ill.) (USASA) at Carolina Rail Hawks (USL-1) SAS Soccer Park; Cary, N.C. 7:30 p.m. ET
8 Cincinnati Kings (USL-2) at Milwaukee Bavarians (USASA) Bavarian Soccer Park; Glendale, Wis. 7:30 p.m. CT

9 Azzurri (Dallas, Texas) (USASA) at Atlanta Silverbacks (USL-1) Remax Greater Atlanta Stadium; Atlanta, Ga. 7:55 p.m. ET
10 Lynch’s Irish Pub FC (Jacksonville, Fla.) (USASA) at Charlotte Eagles (USL-2) UNCC Transamerica Field; Charlotte, N.C. 7:30 p.m. ET
11 Central Florida Kraze (PDL) at Charleston Battery (USL-1) Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C. 7:30 p.m. ET
12 Miami FC (USL-1) at El Paso Patriots (PDL) Patriots Stadium; El Paso, Texas 7:30 p.m. MT

13 El Paso Indios USA (USASA) at Minnesota Thunder (USL-1) James Griffin Stadium; St. Paul, Minn. 7:05 p.m. CT
14 California Victory (USL-1) at BYU Cougars (PDL) BYU South Stadium; Provo, Utah 7:30 p.m. MT
15 Banat Arsenal (Phoenix, Ariz.) (USASA) at Seattle Sounders (USL-1) Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash. 8 p.m. PT
16 Portland Timbers (USL-1) at Bakersfield Brigade (PDL) Bakersfield Christian H.S.; Bakersfield, Calif. 7:30 p.m. PT

The winners of these games will advance to the second round of the tournament. All second round games will be played on Tuesday June 26. Here is that line up:

17 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
18 Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
19 Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6
20 Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

21 Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10
22 Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12
23 Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14
24 Winner Game 15 vs. Winner Game 16

The second round winners will advance to the third round, which is when the eight MLS teams that qualified for the US Open will enter.

The winner of the Cup earns $100,000, the runner-up $50,000 and $10,000 goes to the team that advances deepest in the tournament from each of the USL divisions and amateur levels.

The final will take place on Sunday, October 2nd.

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US men's roster for China

Bob Bradley has released his 19-man roster for next Saturday's match against China and it is almost all European players. The only MLS side with players on the list is Bradley's former team Chivas USA. Before one starts to think this a sign of nepotism, it should be pointed out that Chivas are the only MLS side with next weekend off. This might just mean that Bradley will release MLS players to go back to their clubs for one last game next week.

Eleven of the 19 are on the Gold Cup roster, while four are looking to get their first national team cap. The newbies are Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Kamani Hill (VfL Wolfsburg), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA) and Lee Nguyen (PSV Eindhoven).

The US plays China Saturday in San Jose at 5pm PT (8et). The match will air live on ESPN2 and Galavision.

Goalkeepers (3) – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

Defenders (6) – Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

Midfielders (7) – DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburger SV), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Jesse Marsch (Chivas USA), Lee Nguyen (PSV Eindhoven)

Forwards (3) – Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Kamani Hill (VfL Wolfsburg), Ante Razov (Chivas USA)

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2007 MLS Week 8 Power Ratings

This week finds the league with a strong top four with a fifth trying to punch their way in, followed by a lot of confusion, bad play and woes. The fact that the top three teams in MLS are in the East while four of the bottom five are in the West kind of tells you something else.

1. New York Red Bull (Last week - 3) - Out scoring your last two opponents 7-0 is a very good thing. Even with injury problems, their offense clicks everywhere and their defense shuts teams down, this the Bulls find themselves as the team of the league. Now if only more people would show up to watch their sensational games.

2. New England Revolution (1) - This team works together like few others in the league. Their passing and setups are wonderful, but as KC proved, even the best technical sides can be exploited. The Revs have troubles with quick moves and surprise passes, but has the ability to counter nicely. However, missing three for the Gold Cup might really hurt this side.

3. Kansas City Wizards (4) - Now that the Wizards have beat a 'real' team will people start giving them respect? Even when KC was having some bad results a bit ago, they were still getting some good offensive chances, which is a big change from 2006. They are still a bit touchy on defense and it is somewhat alarming that 8 of their 16 goals on the season have come from two matches, but overall they are a great squad.

4. FC Dallas (2) - They controlled the first half, but could not make anything of it. Then Chivas shot out in the second and FCD's defense could not handle them, but the way the offense just died off ruined them. If you can't keep a clean sheet, you better at least have a spark on attack.

5. DC United (5) - DC is displaying much better play, but they are still lacking in many areas. They had a power first half but faded as the game went on. Houston was owning the ball and slamming hard against United late, but DC could not mount any sort of counter. Then there was Josh Gros's handball. How he did not see red for that is another one of those 'Luck of United' moments. By the by, Troy Perkins is looking fab again.

6. Colorado Rapids (8) - From here on down, the teams are a bit of a mess. The Rapids are looking better over their last two games as they are bringing the attack back to the middle of the pitch instead of their final third, but they still are having troubles shutting down lanes. Gomez is hot, but with little other help, the Rapids are limited. And really, without LA going down a man, I don't think the Rapids would have got the full three points.

7. Toronto FC (10) - TFC is finally looking like a cohesive unit. They are finding ways to win balls and making smart defensive moves. Their ability to come from behind on the road shows that this is not just a show for Canadian audiences. There are still a number of holes but with so many other MLS sides having troubles, these holes might not mean so much.

8. Chicago Fire (7) - Oh Chicago, where have you gone? They are lost up top. Willian Oliveira did add something to their sagging midfield but in the end it matters little as the Fire just cannot figure out how what to do in the final third.

9. Houston Dynamo (6) - Houston has had 23 corner kicks in their last three matches and has not got a goal from any of them. This was once their bread and butter, but now it is just another wasted opportunity. The Dynamo are good at getting balls into the box but cannot get them on target or send them right to the keeper. They can still take some pride in their defense but without anyone connecting in front of net, it doesn't take much to beat them. With three players going away to Gold Cup duty, it will be interesting to see how this side changes. It couldn't get much worse, could it?

10. Chivas USA (11) - Chivas tried to give their weekend game away to Dallas, but FCD just wouldn't take it. That allowed Chivas to alter their lineup and dominate the second half in a way they have not done all year. This just proves that if you give the goats enough chances, they will make you hurt.

11. Los Angeles Galaxy (9) - Poor LA, sitting at the bottom of the league with Real and nothing much to show for it. The Galaxy had some bad luck going down a man early in the game Saturday, but they still had some chances. Still, those chances were mainly Donovan in nature making the next three plus weeks a very scary thing for the club as Landon goes away for US duty.

12. Columbus Crew (12) - Andy Herron used his time off for bad behavior to learn how to be a striker instead of a fighter. The Crew has this way of giving you some spectacular play only to see them flop twenty-minutes later.

13. Real Salt Lake (13) - Real is building as their attack is sharpening and their defense is getting tighter, but it is not there yet. The Fire was begging Real to beat them, but Salt Lake could not do it. However, Alecko Eskandarian is going to bring something to this club.

Another week done.

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2007 MLS Week 8 Recap by the numbers

It would be foolish to do a recap of the weekend on a Tuesday, so instead, I'll just give some numbers. Wow, was Eddie Johnson on his game in New England as he earned not just his first MLS hat trick but also the first hat trick of the season. This was the EJ we have all been waiting for, but had not really seen since his time with FC Dallas. Let's just hope he continues in this form for both KC and the USA.

By the way, Johnson has already scored more goals this season (6) then he did in 2006 (2) or 2005 (5). In fact the only year were he has scored more goals then is current total was 2004 when he found net 12 times. He is also making the most of his chances as 64.3% of his shots are on goal (18 of 28) compared to 44.7% in 2006, 40% in 2005 and 42.7% in 2004.

The match between New England and Kansas City saw the most combined goals scored (7) in a MLS match this season, beating out KC's 4-2 win over DC and New York's 3-3 tie with Salt Lake. Four goals also tie KC with New York, Chivas and New England for the most goals scored in a single team in a MLS match this season.

One last bit of note, all MLS clubs have now tied at least one match as Toronto FC earned their first share of the points against the kind of ties Columbus.

Anyway, here is the league by numbers 53 games into the season:
SeasonWeek 8
Att per game14,89913,222
Goals per game2.552.857
Inter-conferenceEast 10-5-6East 1-0-1
Ties14 (26.4%)2 (28.6%)

Update: The wife pointed out that I forgot a set of numbers in the form of our predictions. Week 8 was kind to me as I went 3-3 on the weeknd and 4-3 for the week. The wife had a bit of an off week as she went 2-5. This up tick for me ties us for the season:
Wife: 19-34

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

2007 Week 8 Quick Predictions via simple questions

Week 8 gives us games which should answer some simple questions or maybe confuse things even more. Anyway, here are some quick predictions for this holiday weekend.

Kansas City Wizards (4-2-1) vs. New England Revolution (5-1-2)
Saturday - 6:30pm
TV: Direct Kick
Internet: MLStv

The simple question for this match, is Kansas City for real or are they just doing so well due to their easy schedule? The Wizards need to get their offense reignited, but it will be mighty difficult against the Revs. If KC can do it, people might start to think they are actually a good team.
Predictions: Me KC 0-1 NE, Wife KC 0-2 NE

Toronto FC (2-5-0) vs. Columbus Crew (1-2-4)
Saturday - 7:30pm ET
Internet: MLStv

The questions here are can TFC do it on the road? Will Cunningham get a start even though he has yet to practice with his new team? And can the Crew finally show something in the final third with Andy Herron back? If there were an award for most improved club in May, Toronto would get it with ease while the Crew seems to be loosing what little cohesion they had in defense. A win on the road would give TFC some bona fides away from home while the Crew needs it to show they are not just a repeat of 2006.
Predictions: Me TFC 3-1 CC, Wife TFC 2-1 CC

Houston Dynamo (2-4-1) vs. DC United (2-3-1)
Saturday - 7:30pm ET

Can the Dynamo show anything on attack? At the start of the season I thought this game would be an important match but not for the reason it is today. I saw it as an early battle between conference leaders, not a chance for the sides to prove that they are not below average. United is looking good in the back and starting to find their wing play while Houston is very tight except when it comes to taking shots. With three players about to leave for Gold Cup duty, Dynamo will want to get a win here or June might prove to be longer then May.
Predictions: Me HD 1-2 DC, Wife HD 2-1 DC

LA Galaxy (1-2-2) vs. Colorado Rapids (3-2-3)
Saturday - 8:30pm ET
Internet: MLStv

Two big questions, will anyone other then Donovan actually start playing the game for LA and can the Rapids finally make their home into something to fear? Both these sides leave lots of space open which should provide many chances at goal. LA needs to get a full three more then the Rapids but Colorado is sitting on a plateau. Gomez will want to get some revenge on LA for the trade so expect to see some fun stuff from him.
Predictions: Me LA 1-2 CR, Wife LA 1-2 CR

FC Dallas (5-3-1) vs. Chivas USA (2-3-2)
Saturday - 10:30pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel (30-minute pre and post game shows), FSE

Will Chivas continue to surrender any chances they have and if Dallas wins will people final see them as a strong team? Chivas has so much technical ability but they need about a dozen chances before they make teams pay. Dallas is sitting on top of the West with some good play under their belts yet they get no respect. FCD will give Chivas some chances but they will have a tough time beating Sala in goal, which should give their offense the time they need to knock a couple in. One last question, will Dallas finally get a clean sheet?
Predictions: Me FCD 3-1 Chivas, Wife FCD 3-0 Chivas

Real Salt Lake (0-3-4) vs. Chicago Fire (3-4-1)
Sunday - 5:00pm ET
TV: TeleFutura (Spanish)

Will one of these teams finally get a win in the month of May? Kreis is trying to make over Real but there is a lot of ugly to fix while Chicago seems to be making more ugly with every game. Making it harder for Chicago, just about half their starters have some sort of injury. This could be a wide-open match or a dead, dead, dead one. I'm going to guess there will be a few fireworks, but in the end nothing that amazing.
Predictions: Me RSL 1-1 CF, Wife RSL 0-1 CF

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US Men add two more European tour dates

You've got to hand it to US Soccer, they heard the criticism about a lack of difficult road dates and they have responding. They had already signed up for Copa America and a game in Sweden in August, but now they have added two more.

On October 14 the team will play Spain regional team Catalonia at Nou Camp in Barcelona and three days later they will take on Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland. Both of these games will offer up hard challenges in difficult environments. They will also probably involve mainly European based players, as MLS will be in their playoffs.

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Beckham retruns to England squad

Those screams you hear coming from somewhere deep in MLS headquarters this morning might have something to do with word that David Beckham has been recalled to national team duty.

Coach Steve McClaren reversed the biggest decision of his short and troubled tenure as boss and brought Becks back into the fold for a friendly against Brazil and a Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia.

So why would this so many at MLS cry out in fear? Because England plays a number of matches during September and October and if Beckham is playing over there, he will miss his dates with several MLS clubs. The dates he might just miss include a Sept. 8th match at home against Colorado, a Sept. 13th match against Chvias USA (on ESPN2), an Oct. 13th game at home against Toronto and another home game on the 18th against New York (on ESPN2).

Oddly enough, all of these games are in LA, meaning that if this does happen, Beckham could play as few as four home MLS games during the regular season.

What do you think Alexi Lalas thinks of this?

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Chicago 0-3 New York quick recap

New York loves Juan Pablo Angel.

Angel was key to all three goals and was the constant thorn in the Fire's defense. Heck, he is so well licked, Clint Mathis is even willing to take a supporting role as he dropped back into the midfield to start some plays and give New York's defense some extra support.

Which brings me to the one weak part for the Bulls on the night, their defense. Now weak is a relative term as they did manage to keep a clean sheet, but Chicago did have some huge opportunities. The great news for the Reds was the Fire's fantastic failure to make anything of all their chances. Again and again they had poor first touches or did not give support in the box, thus leaving one man to try and make a meal out of scraps.

Had New York not gone up 2-0 early, they might have played a tighter back, but it is still their one weak spot. Actually, it is one of two weak spots as the other is the lack of fan support. Yet again the club saw less then 10,000 fans make it out to the game. Those that were there were into it and made the stadium seem fuller then it was, but come on New York soccer fans, you finally have a team worth cheering for so go do it.

By the way, I thought this was ESPN's best broadcast to date. Not only was the flying camera a nice piece of TV, but having just two commentators in the booth was so much better. You could actually follow that game because most of what they said was related to what was happening on the pitch. It also looks like Eric Wynalda's 'Red/Yellow card' segment is no more as it has been two weeks without it. This could have been something interesting, but instead it became ridiculous real fast.

That said, why is it that the only thing ESPN has on the crawl for MLS is their power rankings? Why not add information such as standings, goal leaders, goaltenders per game average, injury report, team news such as trades, yellow card totals or other such information? It just seems to me that you have a soccer audience watching, maybe you should increase your soccer information at the bottom of the screen.

Also, why don't they preview any of the weekend's match-ups? It seems like it could make a real nice 3-5 minute piece during halftime.

Anyway, back to the game, with the win New York moves up to top of the East with New England while Chicago wonders why the month of May hates them so much.
Goals: NY: Jozy Altidore (3) 1', Juan Pablo Angel (2) 3', (3) 68'

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San Jose Earthquakes reborn as the "Goggle Earthquakes"?

Public discloser laws have opened up some e-mails sent by Lew Wolff, the man behind the push to return the Earthquakes to MLS, and they have revealed many interesting tidbits.

The biggest tidbit of all might just be a possible name change as Wolff refers to re-launching the team as the "Goggle Earthquakes." It is obvious that google is misspelled but it is not know if that was done by accident or if Wolff actually has some sort of deal with the company or maybe he just really likes protective eyeware. Could it be that San Jose will become another Red Bull New York?

Wolff is also trying to get MLS to approval the creation of the team before he has secured a new stadium. The lack of a stadium was the reason the old 'Quakes moved to Houston in the first place and was one of the major conditions the league placed on Wolff so I find it hard to believe they would budge on something so important, but it looks like the league might just do so. If and when Wolff does get the team, the owners of the San Jose Sharks have agreed to buy 25% of it.

The major hang-up for a stadium deal is funding. Wolff wants to use money made off the rezone of industrial land to build it, however he fears that with all the taxes involved, he would not make enough on this venture to cover the expense. He tried to come up with a way for the city to cancel the tax, but the city council told him that any such step would result in a ballot measure, which he wants to avoid at all costs.

However, his advisors now say they have "come up with an alternative solution that doesn't involve the city and avoids the tax liability as well as a public vote."

Wolff has given the city council till June 12 to approve a rezoning proposal or he will move his search out of San Jose.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Night Soccer - Chicago vs. New York

Chicago Fire (3-3-1) vs. New York Red Bulls (4-1-2)
7:00pm ET

It's Thursday night which means it is soccer night in America. The Fire come into this game in a major slump having lost three in a row with a combine score of 3-8. This club has lost their function as they don't seem to be able to create any consistent channels through which to move the ball forward. Add that to their frantic defense and you have the hard times they see now.

New York got things going hot out of the gate, but has looked a bit off over their last three matches. However, the fact that they won one of those matches 4-0 while looked less that spectacular says something about the club. For this match, they will again be without Claudio Reyna as he recovers from a groin strain and possibly goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus. If both of these men are out, it could spell trouble for the Bulls.

If Chicago wants to get this win, they will have to do more then just throw balls at Calen Carr and hope he can do something with them. Justin Mapp will need to act as the director and spread the field. If Chris Rolfe does make it back for this one, they have a better chance of making this happen.

In the end, Chicago will not have enough to pounce on the handful of mistakes New York will give them and the Red Bulls will ride to another win.

Predictions: Me Chicago 1-3 New York, Wife Chicago 1-0 NY
Also, there will be less then 13,000 people at the game, but will Eric Wynalda give them a red card?

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US Men's 2007 Gold Cup Roster

Bob Bradley has played his part, for the first time, as Roster Claus and delivered the gift of trip to the 2007 Gold Cup to 23 lucky American men.

Here is the full roster for the 2007 Gold Cup:

GOALKEEPERS (3) – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

DEFENDERS (8) –Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Jay DeMerit (Watford FC), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (8) – DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburger SV), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)

FORWARDS (4) – Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

In a bit of a surprise move, Kasey Keller does get a call up for the Gold Cup but Matt Reis does not.

On defense, I guess Jimmy Conrad's jaw is still not in a good place as he failed to make the list while Frankie Hejduk and Michael Parkhurst do. Hejduk did some good work during his national team call up earlier this year and is about the only bright spot on the Crew lineup, so is makes sense. Parkhurst is a good player but I don't think he has had the best of seasons so far.

All of the midfielders I thought would make the list are there, but I thought there would be only seven not eight. Ralston is a good add.

Up top, no big shocks, but Kenny Cooper did not make the team. I'm guessing that Cooper's lack of years as well as his reluctance to us his size to his full advantage is what kept him off this list. However, the silver lining might be a call up for Copa America.

As far as MLS clubs losing players for at least a few weeks, New England gets hit the hardest as they will lose three players. Anyway, here is the full MLS list by team:
New England - Steve Ralston, Taylor Twellman, Michael Parkhurst
Chivas USA - Brad Guzan, Jonathan Bornstein
Houston - Ricardo Clark, Brian Ching
Chicago - Justin Mapp
Colorado - Pablo Mastroeni
Columbus - Frankie Hejduk
KC - Eddie Johnson
LA - Landon Donovan

The US start their Gold Cup run on June 7th against Guatemala at the Home Depot Center.

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It's US Gold Cup roster day

In about 30-minutes Bob Bradley will release his roster for the Gold Cup over at, but before he does, I had to get my picks in. So here they are:

GK (3) – Tim Howard, Matt Reis, Brad Guzan

D (8) – Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Jimmy Conrad, Jay DeMerit, Heath Pearce, Frank Simek, Jonathan Spector

M (7) – DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Benny Feilhaber, Justin Mapp, Pablo Mastroeni, , Ricardo Clark

F (5) – Brian Ching, Kenny Cooper, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellman

Some possible changes I could see happening is Keller getting a call in goal, Conrad being left off due to injury and Bobby Boswell getting the spot instead of Pearce.

I think the Boswell pick is the most likely while Conrad will get listed, but if he cannot prove to be game ready by mid-next week, Bradley will look at replacing him. As far as Keller, I don't think he will be called into the Gold Cup.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MLS US Open Cup qualifying - Real vs. Rapids

Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids
9:00pm EST

The final MLS qualifying match takes place tonight as Real and the Rapids battle again for Rocky Mountain supremacy.

A little over a month ago Salt Lake won their only match of the season when they beat Kansas City 2-1 to advance to this game. At the time, the season was still young, but now with just four points from seven outings, they need something to give them a spark. I expect new coach Jason Kreis to treat this match as if it were a final and field most of his regular eleven.

The Rapids, while in a bit of a better position, also find themselves in a bit of a slump as they have only scored four goals over their last four matches and have been winless at home since April 7. That said, they are sitting in second place in the West so things are not all that bad. Because of this I suspect they will start about 7 of their regulars and bring in others as needed.

As far as watching, listening or in any way enjoying this game, well you'll have to buy a ticket and see the game in person as it will not be available anywhere (unless you count MLS's matchtracker as somewhere).

The winner of this match will become the eighth MLS team to earn a spot in the Open Cup.

My prediction is a shock win by Real, probably off a penalty kick or some strange turn of events.
RSL 1-0 CR

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eskandarian to Real, Cunningham to Toronto

Alecko Eskandarian is no longer a member of Toronto FC according to ESPN as he has been traded to the team from Salt Lake for Jeff Cunningham. Speculation is Real will use the money ($57,000) saved on salary to go after a bigger name.

A high-ranking RSL official said, "Parting with Jeff [Cunningham] was hard but we are in a much better position now to improve our team. If you think of the cap room we've created not only from this deal, but also from Jason's [Kreis] retirement and [Luis] Tejada's departure, we've got the cash to possibly make a run at Shalrie Joseph or another player looking for the right change of venue."

Combine that $57k with the almost $200k they are saving after bumping Jason Kreis up to coach and you can see they have the space for someone good. Joseph is currently making $180,000 and wants a raise to about $250k. It seems that this move gives them the space to make this happen.

Both players in this trade are having difficult seasons, but both have the ability to inspire a team.

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DC Untied going to Copa Sudamericana

DC Untied has accepted an invitation to South America's second biggest competition the Copa Sudamericana. The draw for games and dates will take place later today.

United won this honor after finishing third in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup this year. Great for them, but does anyone know how did they ended up getting the third spot over Houston? The Dynamo lost to Pachuca who went on to win the Champions' Cup so why did they not get the invite? Was third place decided by goal total/difference during the tournament?

Not trying to take anything away from DC, just trying to figure out why they got third.

Anyway, it is always great to see a MLS side play in meaningful international competition. Go United!

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2007 MLS Week 7 Power Ratings

Welcome to the week 7 ratings where the three tiers of MLS are starting to fill out. We have the possible powerhouses in the top four spots, the average in the next four and the washouts in the remaining spots. Of course since this is MLS, all these tiers could flip in about two weeks time. Still, for at least one week, we have a have-have not and might have something league.

The East remains the tougher of the two conferences through week 7, as they are 9-5-5 in inter-conference play.

So let's look at this three-layer cake know as Major League Soccer:

1. New England Revolution (Last week - 1) - The technical skill of this team was not on display much this past weekend as they only controlled the ball for about 5 minutes of the match, yet they somehow walked out of Houston will all three points. Strong defense can do a lot, even when your offense has failed to arrive.

2. FC Dallas (5) - Three big wins in a week is always a good sign. There offense seems to be clicking a bit better these days but they have yet to claim a clean sheet on the season. If their defense cannot learn to shutdown teams, FCD is going to be in a bad spot the next time their offense shrivels up.

3. New York Red Bull (3) - They were masterful at finding the net on Saturday, but they really didn't outplay the Crew by that much. There are still openings on defense that can be exploited and I think injury problems will give the side trouble, but they still seem to be working as a group which is a positive sign.

4. Kansas City Wizards (2) - The Wizards are still hot on offense but their targeting is a little off. Eddie Johnson is finding ways of forcing plays, but too often those chances are wasted. I'm still not sold on this team but they do look like they have all the parts needed to make something great.

5. DC United (9) - The big jump by United is not so much due to their play as it is the play of those teams below them. Yes DC is looking better as they are actually using the entire field for their attack and their backline has settled down a bit, but they are still getting a number of lucky breaks in games. It is great to have luck on your side, but at some point that will fade and, at this point, that will leave a slightly above average side.

6. Houston Dynamo (4) - Stung twice in four days by the 1-0 defeat. Houston has not found their offensive legs. They look timid in the final third and are getting frustrated in the middle. Their defense is holding tough, but with no help up top, they are in a dangerous zone.

7. Chicago Fire (6) - Chicago continues their long sleep walk through the season as they just can't seem to inspire themselves to play the game. Outside of Justin Mapp and Calen Carr, this side plays like they are ready for the off-season.

8. Colorado Rapids (7) - The open spaces are starting to close and they are moving the ball better but they still lack confidence and flow in their attack. On defense, they still allow too many cheap balls into the area.

9. Los Angeles Galaxy (8) - Another night of no one but Donovan really trying. This team is acting like a dog that's been beaten down. No spark, no pulse and no interesting play. It is a tough time in La-La land but at least they are ahead of Real.

10. Toronto FC (13) - TFC is the feel good story of the year as they now have a defense and their attacking is blossoming to their fans delight. Still, the team isn't the best at clearing balls and they still seem prone to losing the ball at midfield. That said, they do have more goals on the season then Houston.

11. Chivas USA (11) - Oh Chivas what can I say? This is a talented team that plays like drunken opossums. They take far too long to setup anything offensively and their defense likes to give teams a lot of time in their final third. The fact that they are third in the West tells you a lot about the West. By the way, I have no idea how opossums, drunk or not, would actually play.

12. Columbus Crew (10) - No offense and some poor luck on defense lead to the devastation on Saturday, but they did play better then the score. That said, it would be hard to play worse then a 0-4 score line. Just about every part of this team needs work.

13. Real Salt Lake (12) - Their fight to stay out of the cellar has come to an end. The flare the side showed during Kreis's first two matches has faded and left the team with the same issues. They are giving up chances late and are, much like Chivas, taking too long on the attack.

Seven weeks in and there are the ratings. It will be interesting to see how these change through out June when a number of players will be doing time with their national teams during the Gold Cup.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

LA crams in another Beckham match in Minnesota

The LA Galaxy have added yet another meaningless match to their late season schedule as they will play some unknown team in the first "Copa Minnesota."

USL's Minnesota Thunder will announce the game on Tuesday. It will take place in October at the Metrodome.

I understand the idea of striking while the iron is hot but the Galaxy already have five matches scheduled between October 3 and 21st with three of them on the road. In addition, their September sees them play eight games. So in 51 days, they will play 13 games or one every four days. This is insane.

My guess is the match will take place on October 10th, as it is the only somewhat open place currently available on their schedule.

If you are a Galaxy fan you better hope they start earning some points soon because they are going to be mighty tied come the end of the season. Also, you might hope for them to lose in the Open Cup because the last thing they need know is more games to play.

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Steve Morrow on Ruiz rumors and FCD

Coming off an impressive week that saw his side win three straight to reclaim to top spot in the West, FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow takes a moment to talk about the team and where they are going.

One of the big issues he discusses is his relationship with captain and trade rumor magnet Carlos Ruiz.
"There has been a lot of coverage surrounding Carlos the last few weeks and a lot of it unnecessary in my eyes," Morrow said. "He is still a very important player for us, a very important part of our team. He is our captain and he is very valuable to us. It is a shame he is going to miss the game against Chivas next week, which is unfortunate, and then he will be joining up with the (Guatemalan) national team just after that (to prepare for the Gold Cup), but we think very highly of him and we know that he is going to come good and he is going to score goals for his team.

"I've said it several times before, there are a lot of things that have been said that aren't true and there is no foundation for a lot of those things," Morrow added.

But Morrow talks about more then just Ruiz as he talks about his strategy for the year and how he sees his team getting stronger.

Just like any interview with a coach, he accents the positive, however there are still lots of little nuggets in the piece.

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New York's stadium delayed

The Red Bulls might be changing their fortunes on the pitch, but their ability to get a stadium built still seems to be giving them a heartache.

The club announced today that their stadium would not be ready by next summer. Instead, they now think the site will open in April 2009. The delay is due to "the cleanup of industrial waste and the removal of extensive cement foundations that were discovered after the site was cleared."

The team will continue to play at Giants Stadium until their own facility opens.

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2007 MLS Week 7 Recap or muddy waters start to clear

Going into the weekend, MLS was a jumbled mess of teams with just about any of them a win away from first or second place. But what do you know, the results all went in such a way that it looks like we might just have a first and second tier opening up, at least in the East. It might be happening in the West also, however with Dallas playing two more games then just about anyone in the conference, we will need to wait and see.

Kansas City got their first tie of the season meaning there is only one team left that has not earned a share of the points (Toronto FC).

Anyway, here is the league by numbers 46 games into the season:
SeasonWeek 7
Att per game15,15517,272
Goals per game2.52.375
Inter-conferenceEast 9-5-5East 2-1-1
Ties12 (26%)2 (25%)

So here are the quick recaps:
DC United 2-1 Toronto FC
After the first 45-minutes it looked like Toronto was going to make it three in a row as they just seemed able to get the better of United when it counted, but they could not sustain it during the second half. United was making some better passes and finally showing some wing play, but it took a defensive mistake by TFC for DC to finally get a goal. United kept beating up the tired Canadians but it took another bad idea by a defender to get United their second goal when Jaime Moreno converted the penalty kick to get the win and tie Jason Kreis as all-time leader in MLS goals. United should be thrilled to walk out with a win and are looking better, however they are counting on luck more then a team should in order to make it happen. By the way congrats also to Alecko Eskandarian who got his first goal of the year against his old team.
Goals: TFC: Alecko Eskandarian 44'
DC: Own Goal - Kevin Goldthwaite 53', Jaime Moreno (penalty kick) 79'

Columbus Crew 0-4 New York Red Bull
Looking at the scoreboard and watching the game can result in two very different takes as the Crew were not schooled as bad as it looks. They were actually making some passes and setting up some chances but it was not enough as keeper Andy Gruenebaum was having a bit of an off night. New York, who was missing a number of starters, must be thrilled to have come up with so much from minimum effort.
Goals: NY: John Wolyniec 17', Clint Mathis 51', Juan Pablo Angel 61', Sal Caccavale 92+'

New England Revolution 1-0 Houston Dynamo
How did Houston not win this match? They owned the ball, they had multiple scoring opportunities and their defense was tight, but still they leave with nothing. The frustration was obvious as Dynamo players were upset over their play as well as some poor calls by the ref. The easiest place to point is Dwayne De Rosario who again was a non-factor, but it was not he alone. Houston had many looks at goal, but it seemed that instead of shooting, they took an extra touch allowing the Revs to swarm. The Dynamo have allowed the second fewest goals in the league, however with them not scoring, they are starting to look like the Galaxy did in 2006.
Goal: NE: Shalrie Joseph 9'

Kansas City Wizards 1-1 Colorado Rapids
The Rapids were actually playing aggressive soccer and not leaving tons of room open, what a change. Still, their offensive attack is choppy and their defense was lucky to not surrender a couple more, but still, they looked better. The Wizards again were lead by Eddie Johnson, but he was not alone as their midfield was making smart plays. Were they suffered was in their final third as they had trouble clearing out attacks.
Goals: CR: Jovan Kirovski (penalty kick) 46+'
KC: Davy Arnaud 58'

LA Galaxy 1-1 Chivas USA
Exciting this game was not as both sides seemed to give in to the tie at about the 60-minute mark. I've often said that Landon Donovan is LA and no game could prove that better then the one on Sunday as he seemed to be the only one even trying to make something happen. Chivas wasn't much better. The most notable thing to come out of this game was the injury to Chris Albright in the 15th minute. This injury could keep him out of the Gold Cup for team USA.
Goals: Chivas: Maykel Galindo 35'
LA: Landon Donovan 50'

Real Salt Lake 1-2 FC Dallas
This was a real fun one to watch with both sides offering up some good play. Real was forcing their attack like I haven't seen in awhile, but they were still missing the ending. One bad bit of news for RSL, their habit of give up late goals returned as Chris Gbandi got his first goal of the season in the 82nd. Dallas had some good looks of their own, but their defense still hangs a bit out of position. Carlos Ruiz was back as a starter and looked okay, but he earned his fifth yellow of the young season so he will be out again next weekend. This game was they type of game the LA-Chivas match should have been.
Goals: Arturo Alvarez 26', Chris Gbandi 82'
RSL -- Freddy Adu 1 (penalty kick) 68'

During this week's predictions I decided to throw in a number of wild guess since my well though out ones were not doing so great. Anyway, this wild idea of mind did not end up so great as I went a horrible 1-5 on the weekend and 2-6 for the week. The wife, on the other hand, had a much better weekend going 3-3, but only 3-5 on the week. Still she is ahead for the season.
Wife: 17-29
Me: 14-31

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Friday, May 18, 2007

2007 Week 7 Predictions

Week seven of the '07 season is here and it finds a league without a breakout team. However, that could change in the next 48-hours. There is a chance that by Monday both conferences will have teams out in front, but there is also just as much a chance of keeping things bunched up. As far as East-West challenges, we've already had two and we will have two more.

DC United (1-3-1) vs. Toronto FC (2-4-0)
Saturday - 3:30pm ET
TV: Direct Kick, CBC
Internet: MLStv

United goes north to face one of the second hottest team in the league, but United is not doing so bad their selves. Both sides have recovered from disastrous starts by improving their defense. United added an extra man while TFC decided it wasn't a good idea to just let teams walk into goal. However, both teams have also had problems up top, which Toronto has done a better job of fixing, but playing their third match in eight days is going to be difficult on them (even with the fan support). United had last weekend off, so they should be rest and a little tighter up top. Everything tells me that DC will win this one, but for some reason I've got to go against my better judgment and predict a third win for TFC.
Predictions: Me DC 1-2 TFC, Wife DC 1-0 TFC

Columbus Crew (1-1-4) vs. New York Red Bulls (3-1-2)
Saturday - 7:30pm ET
Internet: MLStv

The kings of the tie game head out to New York to see if they can repeat their magic from the season opener. Back on day one, no one was really surprised by the score, however, looking back, it seems odd. New York has been flat their last two games. With Claudio Reyna still feeling the hurt of a groin strain, it is anyone's guess how they will look Saturday afternoon. For the Crew, Andy Herron is serving his final game of suspension, so they have no real attack, which should give the Bulls lots of time to make things happen. They will have their troubles moving the ball forward, but Juan Pablo Angel is going to do something to give his side a win.
Predictions: Me CC 0-2 NY, Wife CC 1-2 NY

New England Revolution (4-1-2) vs. Houston Dynamo (2-3-1)
Saturday - 8:30pm ET
TV: Fox Soccer Channel (8pm pre-game, 10:30pm post), FSE

This one has all the makings of the game of the week and not just because it is a rematch of last year's MLS Cup. The Revs come in on fire and scoring goals at a frantic pace, while Houston is king of stopping goals from happening. The big key for Houston is Dwayne De Rosario. As he has struggled this year, so has his club. If he can make some space in the middle, Houston will win. The Revs will be looking to Twellman to keep the goals coming, and for Matt Reis to keep the nets clear. With all odds this will end in a draw, but I'll go with a Houston win.
Predictions: Me NE 1-2 HD, NE 1-2 HD

Kansas City Wizards (4-2-0) vs. Colorado Rapids (3-2-2)
Saturday - 9:00pm ET

Much like Chivas, I'm starting to see the Rapids as a measuring stick for the league. If you can beat them, you are above average, if not, you are a bit below. Yes, the Rapids have their new home and all that goes along with it, but they have lacked on the pitch. The acres of space they leave open make their huge home pitch a difficult ground for the club. The Wizards know how to get offense going and should have plenty of opportunities to make that happen on Saturday.
Predictions: Me KC 3-1 CR, KC 0-2 CR

LA Galaxy (1-2-1) vs. Chivas USA (2-3-1)
Sunday - 5:00pm ET
TV: TeleFutura (Spanish)

LA is Landon Donovan and Landon Donovan like to beat Chivas, so they will beat Chivas. The goats will make it interesting, but in the end, the Galaxy will take another one.
Predictions: Me LA 2-1 Chivas, LA 3-0 Chivas

Real Salt Lake (0-2-4) vs. FC Dallas (4-3-1)
Sunday - 7:00pm ET
Internet: MLStv

FC Dallas got a deserved win against Chicago and is really starting to take good shape. What that means for Carlos Ruiz is a story for another post. Real is acting like a team looking for respect. So what will this mean Sunday night? I'm saying a tie. Dallas is just not very good at winning games on their own ground and they still like to give up cheap goals. FCD should win, but with just a few days rest, I don't think they will be able to do it.
Predictions: RSL 1-1 FCD, RSL 1-3 FCD

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Night Soccer - FCD vs. Chicago - Battle for the Brimstone Cup

FC Dallas (3-3-1) vs. Chicago Fire (3-2-1)
8:00pm ET

The Brimstone Cup takes center stage tonight as the former Dallas Burn and the Chicago Fire reignite their feud for all of ESPN2 to see. The good news, this Cup should give Dave O'Brien and company something to talk about that is at least related to the game itself. The bad news, both these teams are having major offensive woes that could lead to a very boring 90-minutes.

Chicago comes into the match having played the invisible team over their last two games. Neither against the Revolution or the suddenly very hot Toronto FC could they move the ball effectively around the pitch. To be honest, they have not been fantastic on the attack even while winning, but at least they could control the ball and hold time on defense, but now their backline is in shambles. After allowing just 2 goals in the first four matches, they have let in 6 over two games.

Now, can FC Dallas make Chicago pay for their obvious weakness?

Kenny Cooper and Abe Thompson proved against the Wizards that they could make a lot out of a few opportunities. As long as Ramon Nunez and Pablo Ricchetti are good providers, Dallas should be able to get something. Then all eyes will focus on the work of goalkeeper Dario Sala. He was wonderful against KC. With the Fire being much less of a threat in front of goal, he should be able to handle the situation well.

Dallas will win this with two goals in the first half. The Fire will wake up for a few minutes around the hour mark, but from that point on, it will just be walking through the motions. Additional prediction, Eric Wynalda will give the Toronto FC fans a game ball for their excitement after the goals on Saturday. He will also say something like, 'You know what, let them have a little fun.'
Prediction: Me FCD 2-0 CF, Wife FCD 1-2 CF

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FCD - Ruiz finds the bench, Guevara not coming to town

FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow might not start captain Carlos Ruiz for a second straight match even though he is neither injured nor being punished.

Ruiz did not start FCD's weekend match against Kansas City because he missed two practices earlier in the week but if he starts on the bench again tonight against Chicago, one has to wonder if the rumors of a Ruiz trade might soon be true.

One trade that will not happen is midfielder Amado Guevara moving from Chivas USA to Texas as the two teams failed to reach an agreement.

"If you have to give too much to try to make things happen, then it doesn't become worth it," Morrow said.

With Guevara doing nothing for Chivas except collecting a paycheck, I've got to wonder why they were not willing to make something work.

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Chivas get shirt sponsor

Chivas USA now has a shirt sponsor after signing a multi-million dollar deal with Mexican paint maker Comex.

"Chivas USA is proud to have partnered with such an important Mexican company, which not only has a longstanding commitment to supporting professional sports, but also sees value in promoting health and recreation among young people. We are confident that together, Comex Group and Chivas USA will proudly represent Mexico in the United States and beyond," said Chivas USA President and Co-Owner Antonio Cué.

The team will start wearing the new jersey on Sunday when they take on the LA 'Herbalife' Galaxy.

Chivas joins LA, Real Salt Lake, Toronto and, or course, New York as MLS clubs with sponsors.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Americans in England fizzle

Yanks Abroad has a fantastic piece on the difficulties just about every American, except goalkeepers, faced in the EPL this season. Yes, it is depressing to read, but with a number of these players likely to make Bob Bradley's summer international rosters, it is worth remmebering what they are facing at club level.

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NFL is to the world as MLS is to America

Evan Weiner takes a look at the issues facing the National Football League as they try to increase the appeal to people outside of the 48 states and interestingly enough, they are very similar to those facing soccer within those same 48.

Read this paragraph but replace NFL with MLS and Europe with America and tell me if you haven't read something similar:
Hurdles remain numerous for the NFL in Europe. The league enjoys no football equivalent of basketball's Dirk Nowitzki or hockey's Jaromir Jagr, and there exists no American football feeder system in the school system. Until Europeans begin playing American football in their leisure time — and there is no indication that Europeans, Asians, Africans, Australians, and South Americans are ready to embrace the pigskin — the NFL will continue to play catch-up with the other pro sports leagues.

And what is the suggested solution?

"The best the NFL can do is build an infrastructure for growth over decades, not years."

Sounds sort of familiar, except I think American football is a bit of a harder sell because even in America, kids play soccer growing up.

I have no doubt that one off games, like the Giants-Dolphins game that went on sale today, will sellout, but like international friendlies played in the US, these single games will not equal a permanent fan base.

One very interesting thing is that Weiner doesn't really mention how big soccer is around the world. His closest thing to recognition is this line:

"The league lags far behind the NHL, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball, as well as soccer and cricket, on the world stage."

It might just be me but the 'as well as' part of this line makes is sound like soccer and cricket are smaller then the other three.

The NFL would be foolish to not try and make their brand into an international powerhouse, but they are starting in a weaker spot then any other major sport.

Soccer has ruled the world for a hundred years, baseball, thanks to the US military, is rooted strongly in certain areas of the world, hockey has been a passion in cold locations for generations and basketball requires very little equipment to make it work. American football, on the other hand, is not really played anywhere other then the US and Canada, requires a large amount of space and equipment and is full of rules. Needless to say, it is a hard sell.

I wish the league the best but I must confess there is part of me that is looking forward to NFL fans having to defend the sport when articles come out talking about how boring the games are with all the stoppage and timeouts and how un-manly the players are when compared to rugby. "I mean all those pads, I thought they were tough."

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2007 MLS Mid-Week 7 fun - Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC

Houston Dynamo (2-2-1) vs. Toronto FC (1-4-0)
7:00pm ET
TV: Direct Kick
Internet: MLStv

The eight games of week seven kickoff tonight as the Dynamo cross the border and head to Toronto. Both teams are coming off impressive 3-1, so this should be fun.

Even with their recent success, both clubs have a few questions to answer. Toronto needs to prove the attack is as strong as it looked against Chicago while Houston, and more to the point Dwayne De Rosario, need to show that their midfield is actually back to acting like a team.

Houston should have the strength in defense and goal to show much better then the Fire, which means TFC will need to win this with their defense. As good as the team looked on Saturday, their defense was still prone to gaps and mistakes. Chicago could not figure out a way to make anything of them, but Houston will.

This will prove to be a difficult match for the Dynamo, but in the end, they should be able to get full points in Canada.
Predictions: Me HD 3-1 TFC, Wife HD 2-0

Update: I meant to add that TFC fans have been warned against throwing anything onto the pitch during the game so I doubt we will see another cushion toss. However, if we do, the league might fine the club. Also, will Dynamo Richard Mulrooney make his former team wish they hadn't traded him away?

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George Best son wants to play in MLS, Sophia Loren ready to strip for soccer club and Jose Mourinho arrested

Some days the soccer world is so full of news that it is hard to read it all. Then there are the days when all you seem to find are odd items of interest. Today is one of those days.

It seems soccer and drinking legend George Best might have left us for the pitch in the sky, but his son Calum is interesting in carrying on his legacy as there is a report that he is interesting in playing for MLS.

"He realizes he could never break into English football at his age - but in America the standards and physical demands aren't so high and he really wants to give it a shot," the Star quotes a "pal in New York."

The interesting part is that Calum seems to be dating Lindsay Lohan, which leads the article to dub them the 'East Coast Becks and Posh.' Fun.

Oscar winning actress Sophia Loren has promised to perform a strip tease for Napoli soccer team is they earn promotion into Serie A.

Sophia said: "I hope Napoli win these last few games. You watch, if we go up I will do a striptease. The fans have a total passion, the city deserves promotion."

If seeing Loren naked, even at the age of 72, is not enough to motivate Napoli, nothing can.

Finally, Jose Mourinho, the happiest coach in all of the EPL, has been arrested over an investigation into his dog as it seems he might be an illegal alien (the dog, not Mourinho).

"The Sun newspaper reported that Mourinho, 44, rushed home from Chelsea's Player of the Year awards in London on Tuesday evening, refusing to let police take the dog and getting into an argument with officers. He was taken to a west London police station and given a caution for obstructing officers. No charges were filed."

Although Mourinho is free, the dog cannot be located.

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