Monday, October 31, 2005
If I know one thing, I know it's about money ...
Somewhere deep inside the bowels of MLS HQ, the league, even though they won't say it publicly, longs for a Galaxy - United MLS Cup. Sure, they'd be happy with an FC Dallas - United matchup this year since the Cup matchup is being held in the Brick Oven, but promoting Freddy vs. Landon, as they did two years ago in Freduardo's first game, is a dream come true.

Which is sort of what made yesterday's game between the Fire and United yesterday all the more suprirsing. No, I didn't expect United to be given any benefits. However, since I've been following the league (which has been the last two seasons) I always found that United came through in the big games. They got all the soccer-karma and, if needed, would find that spark to win.

And yesterday they got the snot kicked out of them. It just shocks me to not see them in it anymore.

Now we're left with the worst of possibilities for MLS Cup. Could you imagine trying to promote a Colorado - Chicago MLS Cup final? Egads. Sure, the Galaxy and the Revolution would be interesting, and a good game, but it's not Landon vs. Freddy since the Revs haven't really gone out of their way to make Taylor, or Cleetus-lite, a big name draw. At some point the league is going to have to make their own superstars and not wait for the national team to do it for them and until that day arrives, those of us who root for the league over one particular team are going to fret and worry all through the playoffs that the Rapids and the Revs get knocked out as early as possible.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
[BASA] Defender of the Year
Scaryice put up today's vote for Defender of the Year, won fairly comfortably by Danny Califf.

Here's my vote.

Defender of the Year
===================
1: Danny Califf
2: Eddie Robinson
3: Samuel Caballero

I really thought Caballero played well this season and although there are a lot of good defenders in MLS, I thought he came in this year and gave the Fire muscle in the back that Curtin and Brown didn't offer. That said, Dave Sarachan went and promptly benched him for the Segares - Curtin - Brown backline last weekend.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Calling Blogger knowledgeable folks...
I'm having a problem with my template that appears on the archive version (example here ») of my pages in IE. On the right side, only in IE, the Blogroll and previous posts, show up in all capital letters, with weird spacing and in bold.

On Firefox, it looks like it should.

Anyone know why this is happening? I checked the blogger help files and the only thing I found that would be of use didn't seem to work.

Also, I know Firefox is better than IE. You don't need to reinforce that.
[BASA] Rookie of the Year
Scaryice put up today's vote for Rookie of the Year, won handily by Michael Parkhurst.

Here's my vote.

Rookie of the Year
===================
1: Chris Rolfe
2: Michael Parkhurst
3: Scott Sealy

The way I looked at it, Rolfe's performance as the only dangerous striker that Dave Sarachan decided to put on the field this year (where, oh where, has my little Chad Barrett gone?) made Rolfe the slightest of margins more impressive than Parkhurst, who certainly had a fantastic year manning the backline of the Revs. That said, I think Parkhurst had a little more help at the back than Rolfe had at the front.

Looking back, I should have put Guzan at third instead of Sealy. Man, Guzan just got dumped on this year and until he had his face broken, he kept coming back and putting in good performances. I could see Guzan with national team implications by 2010 or 2014.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
[BASA] Coach of the Year
Scaryice put up today's vote for Coach of the Year, won handily by Dom Kinnear.

Here's my vote.

Coach of the Year
===================
1: Dom Kinnear
2: Steve Nicol
3: Peter Nowak

I thought about putting Mo Johnston on the list at 3rd, but it was for regular season only and though he did get them to the playoffs, I think Bradley would have gotten them there as well. That said, I think Mo is much better for what the Metros need right now than Bradley.

Even if Il Bruce disagrees. (hat tip: Kin of Fish)
Monday, October 24, 2005
BASAs
Stat-freak scaryice over at Climbing the Ladder has put together the BASA's where various soccer bloggers put their votes in for the same awards the guys who get paid to write about soccer decide.

Since I participated, I felt it only fair (like D and Mike H, to name a few) to post my picks once scaryice posts his (in $2,000-a-night-callgirl fashion --- it's a tease, folks).

Goalkeeper of the Year
===================
1: Pat Onstad
2: Matt Reis
3: Jonny Walker

The first two (though some people varied on the order) are pretty common picks but I thought Jonny Walker proved that he still has something left in the tank and will find himself starting somewhere next season (RSL, anyone?).
Peter Nowak is killing D.C. United
Cheers to the Metros for making my prediction of a Metros - United Eastern Conference Championship at least possible, if not likely.

Jeers to Brian Hall for, well, that entire game. And how is that not a goal?

Cheers to Landon. Welcome back to MLS. I hate it but the best thing for MLS is a Los Angeles - D.C. United MLS Cup. Landon vs. Freddy. Oh, and thanks Landon for speaking out on the playoff structure.

"To be honest, it sucks because they have been, far and away, the best team this season, and what's their reward? A two-game series," Donovan said. "Fortunately and unfortunately, that's what our league is. You don't get rewarded for playing well for 32 games. You get rewarded for playing well in four. You pick and choose your moments.
Good points all around.

But here's my main point: Peter Nowak is killing MLS's only 'superclub' before they got a chance to be a dominant force. The DCenters has a great take on all of this but I'm not partial to D.C. so I don't mind picking sides.

Peter Nowak is wrong.

Sure, he's a great player. Would he make a good gridiron coach? Probably. But he is handling this situation entirely incorrectly.

The primary job of a coach is to win games. Without Freddy, D.C. United did not win on Friday (and should have lost ... thanks, Brian). And with this distraction looming over los capitalinos heads for the next week, when it easily could have been put to bed last week, Peter is jeopardizing D.C. United's chance at a fifth MLS Cup championship.

D says:
Piotr doesn't want Freddy to think he's above the team. I'm fine with this.
Well, guess what, Peter? You're making him bigger than the team. By dragging this out, singling out Freddy and requiring him to apologize, you're making this issue bigger than the team when you should be rallying your team to the cause of winning.

If you don't fix it soon, this Freddy mess will sort itself out. And you can see him four times next year when he's wearing the other team's colors.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Busy and have to jot these down before the playoffs start ...
Here's how I see the playoffs breaking down.

Eastern Conference
==========

1) New England
4) MetroStars

I think the streaking Metros pull off a shock one-goal win over the Revs at Giants Stadium tomorrow and then manage to keep it a draw at the Big Razor.

2) D.C. United
3) Chicago Fire

These matches have been classics all year. I think the Fire jump out to an early lead, maybe even draw at home. The Black and Red though win in the return leg and advance.

2) D.C. United
4) MetroStars

I don't think the Metros have enough to down D.C. a second time but they'll be close. D.C. advances to the cup.

Western Conference
==========

1) San Jose Earthquakes
4) Los Angeles Galaxy

I think we find out how good San Jose really is and the Quakes are never really tested in either match. Quakes win. Dom's toasted. Sampson's fired. Donovan demands a trade to NoCal.

2) FC Dallas
3) Colorado Rapids

I'm inclined to pick the Hoops only because I still have this belief that the Rapids are shite and incapable of winning anything other than against Las Rayadas and the 'Pids Rocky Mountain Rivals. No real reason to go against that thought process. Hoops on.

1) San Jose Earthquakes
2) FC Dallas

Should be a good game but the Hoops are too decimated. Any Hooters in NoCal?

MLS Cup
==========

2) D.C. United
1) San Jose Earthquakes

In what I think will be a fantastic battle between De Rosario's Quakes and the team he think is the best team he's faced this year, I take the Quakes in what should be a thriller. Hope the stadium is full!
All the world's a stage...
Said the indomitable D ...

The playoffs have begun, even if the games haven't started.

I am quite excited. I'll be back with a Metros - Revs preview a bit later as well as my predictions for how things shake down but, just for a little while, I'm enjoying the excitement of a playoffs that have started but not yet begun.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
On second thought...
What Freddy said to Steven Goff, I've now decided, was the best thing that could have happened to MLS.

I'm not going to discuss the ramifications of where Freddy might play or how it impacts the team's psyche, because many other people have handled that issue.

No, the reason I think this is important, not only in content but, more importantly, in timing, is that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Here we were, Tuesday afternoon, and MLS is rolling towards the playoffs with nothing less than an nanoblip on the public radar. Derek Rae wasn't on ESPN breaking down the matchup between the Gals and the Quakes, Wynalda wasn't doing in-depth-make-you-cry pieces with Donovan and how his return hasn't worked out how he liked and Tony Meola wasn't showing Terry Bradshaw how to eat an entire turducken in one sitting.

Ok, so that last part is a weird nightmare I had last night.

Point being, after Adu started talking, commentators came out left and right, some of them not particularly of the soccer persuasion, to make their opinion known on the matter. We had a front page mention on ESPN.com and BigSoccer lit up like a Chernobyl Christmas tree.

People were talking about soccer. Most of them were saying Freddy was stupid for what he was saying and when he was saying it, or complaining that MLS overhyped the lad and should be to blame for fans not seeing what they came to see, but, people were talking about MLS and how the playoffs start this weekend. You can't buy that kind of pub.

Not Joe over at We Call It Soccer even wondered if a full-blown scandal would help MLS get some pub. It might ... but probably only if it involves Freddy.

The way this thing went down probably won't make anyone who follows the Black and Red very happy, but it will make people pay attention to MLS, and, in the end, that's what Freddy was brought here to do.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Freduardo in the Swamp
So, Freddy wants out of D.C.?

Ok, so the article doesn't say that he wants out of D.C., just that he wants more playing time and that he feels like he's practicing well, just not getting in the game.

Will Freddy be playing for MetroStars next season? Think about it ... Johnston brought in as full-time coach, Guevara gone, Freddy as an AMC with Djorkaeff and Razov up front. That sounds like a formidable attack to me. And we'll sell some MetroStars #9 shirts (cause you know Freddy will get the number).

I don't think this is what Freddy signed up for ... he could have gone to a youth system abroad and gotten similar action to what he's getting now (although less money) but what has been the benefit for Freduard for sticking it out in MLS?

I'm not sure he's gotten the best deal for him. He's been great for the league.

That said, he was never going to play in Germany in 2006. That's just bitching on his part.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Holy Cheetos
Today's game between the Metros and Chivas might well have been the most exciting regular season game in MLS history to have been broadcast on ESPN2. Usually we end up with horrible, boring games as the league's primetime advertisement but this time we got a must-win that either team could have won.

Wasn't the most technically beautiful encounter but, hey, when the ball hits teh woodwork four times and Tony Meola 2005 looks like Tony Meola circa 1994, sometimes it's just meant to be.

The thing that struck me in this game is how bad I expected the Metros to be this season.

Remember back at the beginning of the year when the Metros got the season underway? There was no way Djorkaeff would be any good, and even if he was he wouldn't last through the season. Abbe Ibrahim? Tim Ward? Zach Wells? Galvan Rey?

Even though Wells didn't stay as the starter, he held the team together early on. Galvan Rey played well enough not to be a huge punchline and the addition of Razov gives the Metros someone effective up top.

I think it's impressive that the Metros made the playoffs. And, even though Kansas City has done nothing to me personally, I'm glad they didn't make the playoffs. I just couldn't stand to see a playoff game with only 20 people in the stands this Saturday that wasn't televised.

Well, the playoffs are here. I, for one, am excited to get it started Friday night. Should be a good game!
Friday, October 14, 2005
Drinking non-alcoholic beverages from the reserve cup ...
SO, more exciting possibilities for MLS.

In my last post, I described the inherent unfairness of having more than one team owned by the same owner even if the owner is by all accounts a great guy and has no reason to do such things.

In this post, I wonder aloud if D.C. really wants to win or if it's just lip a service.

United and the Wizzle are down to the wire for the Reserve Division title and the 20 large that comes with it.

Interesting thought: United is locked into the second playoff spot in the East no matter what they do. Why not send everyone from the first team but Moreno (he needs to try for the Golden Boot) to play for the reserves this weekend? United loses nothing but could you imagine the Crew's reserves facing off against Freduardo, Dema, Ben Olsen and others on Sunday morning? I'd say United would be in pretty good shape for the title.

And it's not like Kansas City could do the same ... they need all hands on deck to down the Waldos, er, Hoops.

Veeerrry eeeentereesting. How 'bout it, Piotr?
Friends of my enemies are my friends...
So, let's say you own a Major League Soccer team (three, actually!) and that one of your teams, we'll call them the Waldos, is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Entering the final weekend of the season, the Waldos are locked into either the second or third seed in one of the conferences where the argument for being the lower seed is actually quite good.

The Waldos are squaring off with one of your other teams, the Yellow Bricks, who are locked in a playoff battle with Milanabees for the last spot in the other conference.

If the Yellow Bricks defeat the Waldos, then the Yellow Bricks are all but certain to be in. Otherwise, if it's a draw or the Waldos lose, the Milanabees can still get in to the playoffs with a win on Sunday.

While the latter would be the more exciting option for the league (a nationally televised playoff battle in front of what should be a large crowd), if you owned Waldos and Yellow Brick ... would you tell Waldos to, y'know, take it easy, rest a bunch of starters and only try and keep it competitive?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Real Sandy
I had a chance to see two of the renderings for the new RSL stadium and, well, if they pull this off as designed, it's going to give Bridgeview a run for its money as MLS' best stadium.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Can't change this feeling, way out of touch ...
MLS is in a very interesting position. Sure, we have our B-team boys being blown out in Saprissa, and perhaps we're not developing players as fast as we thought and the Landon-Bones-Gooch generation really is as much an anamoly as the Golden Generation was in Portugal (which means we need to get to the nickname makin' quickly).

But two things are happening today and tomorrow that make me wonder exactly what MLS is going to look like in the future.

This afternoon there'll be a conference call to say that Toronto is going to be in for 2007. That's exciting news! And they'll have their own stadium which means any team MLSE puts together is already ahead of the fiscal schedule as compared to someone like, say, D.C. United (who need their own stadium in the worst way).

The other news is that tomorrow RSL will hold a press conference to announce that the Monarchs will be building an FC Dallas-like facility in Sandy, a southern suburb of the Utah capital. That means that in the start of 2008 (granted, that's two years away) only three teams will be without their own stadium deal: San Jose, United and the Wizards. And, certainly a lot is going to change with San Jose and K.C. over the winter and United could end up with a stadium at any moment.

Which is why I should feel good about MLS, right?

However, I just feel like it's a constant struggle for MLS. For example, I was talking to someone about MLS Cup and how we both hoped it was FC Dallas versus D.C. United because then we'd get a sellout. Or even the Galaxy versus United and how we hoped it wasn't a Colorado - New England final because is it a championship game if no fans attend?

Which begs the question: if no one outside of its cult fans (myself included) care about a league, does it have real hope for the future and will any of us be alive to see that future?
Friday, October 07, 2005
Other things besides soccer
With the Jewish holidays this week and the push to the playoffs, work has kept me from commenting on the big happenings this week: Metros dropping Bradley after the Metros completely tossed in the towel against D.C., Freddy's now-that's-what-I'm-talking-about goal and the rumors of the Siginator taking over in Cowtown.

I'll get to those, I really will.

But this weekend is Georgia - Tennessee. I know it's not soccer, but I'm so psyched for this game. And that it dovetails nicely into a night of MLS action (I really want to see the Metros - United game and see if the Metros really do look different under Johnston or if Wednesday was an illusion).

But it's Tennessee. I can't wait for us to smack to hose slack-jawled hickolian hill people back to from whence they came. Which won't be a far walk since we're in Knoxville for this one.

C'mon, Hunker Down You Hairy Dawgs!

(As an aside, this is what MLS needs and what it will get with time. I had this conversation with D (and, seriously, can I call you something other than D?) that what MLS needs is sports-hate. If someone terrorist attacked Tennessee, I'd be all for sending in troops to help cleanup ... after I thought about it for a second or two. MLS will get that, but it just takes time. I know they'll be a time, hopefully soon when they're good, where RSL fans will truly hate going up against the Rapids -- and TV won't be able to ignore it. Though Kroeneke might be able to, since Alteetude has ignored the 'Pids all season anyway. This is a really long parenthetical.)
Monday, October 03, 2005
I'm not the first to get this ...
Ok, so check this out (I first saw this at Du Nord).

On Saturday this past weekend, D.C. United traveled up I-95 to face their Gotham rivals, the MetroStars. D.C. United's best player (or one of their two best players not named Freddy Adu), Christian Gómez, was suspended for acquiring too many yellow cards during recent matches. That happens all the time in soccer and isn't a big deal.

However, what happened Saturday is.

Check out this video and scroll to approximately 3:45 in (it's a 7 minute highlight reel from the game). The guy you see banging the drum in the Argentina jersey is the aforementioned Gómez who brought his entire family north to New Jersey, bought tickets to the game and proceeded to bang the drum with the supporters section (I don't know if it's Barra Brava or Screaming Eagles) going to prove that although MLS isn't one of the Big Four, there are still very cool things going on within MLS.

I swear, we're going to get there. I don't know when, but we're going to get there.
When you get destroyed by your arch-rivals, at least hope your announcers aren't praising D.C.'s best player for being in the supporter's section ...
So, first things first, L'shanah Tovah to all the Members of the Tribe reading up today. Happy Rosh Hashanah to all the other non-Jews and yes, tomorrow is the day when all the Jews in your office are all out yet you to have to work. Don't worry, it evens itself up on Good Friday.

Now to the weekend that was. Once the regular season is over I'll begin a recap of each team, it's strengths and weaknesses but one team just required that I take a closer look right now. And I'll do that, but in a second.

How about San Jose? I thought they were going to be exposed this weekend. I didn't think that any team that was resting one of its two MVP candidates (in my book) this weekend had a chance against what I thought was, on Friday, the best team in the league. Impressive job up in New Eng-er-land, Quakes, and you're now five points clear for the Supporter's Shield. And you already reach 60 points. That's impressive.

But let's turn our attention to the Funk in the Swamp, the MetroStars. Watching the game this weekend, it wasn't the blowout that I think it looks like from the 4-1 scoreline. Then again, it's a 4-1 scoreline and that can only lie so much.

When the Metros took the lead, I thought it was the one of those late-season comebacks that MLS is famous for ... only with the Metros in the role of the Revs. Sure, the Red and Black didn't look solid in the back (have they at any point looked solid in the back?) but I thought they might be able to squeak out a 1-0 win behind a spirited crowd.

Then D.C. turned it on. The own-goal was something close to a death blow for the Metros. It was as if once they got scored on, the entire refrain was "oh, here we go again" and the team immediately thought they were going to lose. It didn't help that no one bothered to mark Ben Olsen and the route was on, even though it looked like Metro might pull one back.

I'm not sure what to think about Bob Bradley. I remember at the beginning of the season people thought the Metros might well be one of the worst teams ever (before anyone knew how bad Chivas and RSL might be) and here they are battling for the final playoff spot. But Bradley was also the one in charge when Agoos was brought in to anchor a 3-man back line ... something the Metros are ill-equipped to play.

So do you blame him for the wrong players and poor performance since then or do you credit him for even having this team fighting for a playoff spot?

I don't know.