Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Making up the rules as you go
I just love to give my Scouse friends grief. This week, the big topic of discussion has been their belief that they should be in the Champions League last season just because they won.
Ya see, the rules are that the top 4 teams in the domestic league qualify from England for the Champions League. There's nothing that says a team that wins the Champs League automatically qualifies for the next years competition.
Ok, so the Spanish FA told Real Zaragoza a couple years ago that if Real Madrid won Zaragoza are outta luck and get a go at the UEFA Cup. The difference is, the decision was made well before the final. The English FA hedged their bet and didn’t make a commitment. Guess they really didn’t think Liverpool could do it. But they did and now there’s a mess…well, as far as Scousers are concerned.
So, the Anfield mob are going on about how they should be able to defend their title…and the rest of the world are yawning and if they have an opinion it’s that you don’t make up the rules in the middle of the game.
Of course, if it were last years winner Porto who hadn’t qualified for this years competition, no one would be giving a second thought to all this and they’d be enjoying the UEFA Cup….or just their domestic competition. Guess the rules change depending on who you are.
I'm now realizing how difficult it is to be an MLS fan if you don't really make a major effort. I'm used to having the MLS Direct Kick PPV package and being able to watch any match I want. However, without it you are really limited.
There was the US-England game on ESPN. I was actually surprised by how entertaining it was. The US were unlucky to not get a better result...but at least the English are happy and can maintain their arrogant posture when it comes to the sport. Good to see Clint Dempsey get on the scoreboard. I'm hoping it's the first of many in the Red, White and Blue for him.
I suppose this would be a good point to do one of my "I can't believe MLS still plays matches on International dates" but I'll save that for next week.
The DC-Dallas game was the only other match I got to see. Dallas are the real deal...I said they would be a force when they added Fish to their squad...looks like I was right for once. O'Brien, Johnson and Ruiz have really become a force. I'm sure he'll be back in form sooner rather than later. What's with DC? Losing Ryan Nelson can't have set them back that far...can't it?
I was glad to hear LA stuffed Chivas again...looks like Rongren is going to be shown the door finally. Too bad it's not his fault as much as it's Vargara's for thinking he could just put any XI on the pitch and win. Oops. I wonder if Rongren's replacement has any idea what he's walking into?
Ok, so Tuesday evening England play Columbia at the Meadowlands. Too bad that match won't be on TV. Instead, we get we get the Meadowlands nightcap, Metros hosting Chicago on FSC. I guess it could be worse.
I picked a great day to be absent minded
So I get to work this morning and realize that in my efforts to be a good husband and father this morning (taking care of the little one so my wife could sleep in) I'd forgot to set things to record the Champions League Final. My plan had been to stay away from scores (easy to do in this country) and watch the match as if it were live tonight. I got here and realized I hadn't recorded the match so I followed it online.
Sounds like I missed a classic. Living in a country where the vast majority of people don't follow the sport or go out of their way to put the sport down, this is one match soccer fans can point out that would disprove their opinion. This match seems to have had everything. Yep, I'm kicking myself for not being able to see it.
To be down 3-0 at half-time and come back and win is a major accomplishment. I've already talked with a couple of friends from mine from Liverpool and they were beyond words. Guess it hasn't sunk in yet. Well, congrats to the red half of scouseville. I guess Liverpool were a team of fate
Much better than some corporate sponsor
In today's sporting market place where everyone is quick to slap some corporate name on anything that'll bring money in, it's nice to read that the new Wembley hasn't completely sold out and are keeping a connection to the past.
Wouldn't it be nice if MLS would think this way from time-to-time. With two purpose built stadiums and two more on the way, there are certainly possibilities to name area's of the new stadiums after past players.
Yep, I've said it often, I'm a dreamer.
Man U USA???
I just love the English Press. There's so much competition to find something new that no one else has that they spend a great deal of time creating 'potential' news. I'm actually disappointed I didn't find this piece in The Independent
sooner. It's classic.
Ok, so the whole article is that with Malcolm Glazer buying Man U, he might look to add an MLS team like Chivas did this season. The idea being that Glazer could sell more Man U shirts and other merchandise to an untapped market in the US and Canada. Vargara thought much the same thing when he created the Chivas franchise. Anyone see how many showed up at the HDC on Sunday to see them against currently the best team in MLS?
My favorite part of this article is this quote:
But the US Soccer Federation think United could ride a wave. "Some 15 years ago we hadn't competed in a World Cup for 40 years, there was no professional league and hardly any games were on the TV. Now there is a professional league and we are getting 15,000 people a game," a spokesperson said.
Now, why would a USSF spokesperson comment on this? Did the writer call them instead of MLS by mistake? According to the byline, she was in New York so she only had to catch a cab to the league offices. USSF doesn't run the league. I'm guessing a lack of fact checking and a bit of fiction are involved here. However, it's nice to see the average attendance of 15,000 is spun as a positive here.
Also, the last paragraph has me a bit confused.
Top of the list for the new management, led by Glazer's son Joel, could be TV deals. At the moment, football is available on cable, but games are often reruns and aired at obscure times. More interviews might make it more attractive.
Not sure where she's getting her soccer on TV in New York, but live broadcasts are never obscure times...and if the rerun is played a few hours later when more people are awake, is that really a bad thing?
The rest of the article is about how the sport has failed to catch on in the US and has a bunch of dodgy quotes from dubious sources. In fact, the only quote given credit to someone is a person who works for a stock brokerage firm in the north of England. Hardly an expert on the topic.
Ya gotta love your daily fiction.
Who get's the first pink slip?
Ok, the season is well underway several MLS coaches have got to be on the hotseat by now.
- Thomas Rongen - Chivas - Boy do the Goats suck. Rongen took full responsibility for the teams poor performance. However, with the change in goal he made, you have to wonder if he's actually naming the starting XI. My bet is, he's first to go...and probably very soon.
- Greg Andrulis - Colombus - How long will Andrulis be on the hotseat with the ax falling? I think he'll be around a bit longer.
- Bob Bradley - Metros - He's got a team full of talent, but they haven't produced yet. Is he still living on his glory in Chicago? The Metros would be fools to fire him...but I don't have a ton of confidence in the Metros management.
- Dave Sarachan - Chicago - Geez, how's a guy supposed to perform when his best players keep moving on? Saturday was a good result...but it was only against Colorado.
- Fernando Clavijo - Colorado - Speaking of Colorado, Clavijo has had a tough time overhauling the lineup in Denver. I've seen a few of their games and to me, their biggest problem is a backline that keeps losing it's shap. If he can get a solid central defender, he may be able to turn things around. I'm not holding my breath though.
- Domminic Kinnear - San Jose - He's lived off Frank Yallop's success for long enough. Now that he doesn't have Donovan, he's got a squad full over other teams cast-offs.
- Steve Sampson - Galaxy - Decent results, but still no real quality performances from LA. He hasn't won the fans at the HDC over yet...but results and fan opinion have never been taken into consideration by Galaxy managment.
Rongren, Kinnear and Andrulis are my favorates to be gone by the All-Star Break...whenever that is.
Ranting about Sports Editors
I usually don't bother with newspaper editorials any more that blast the sport of soccer in this country. However, every once in a while, I have to comment when opinion is presented as fact. Jim Donaldson spent about 5 minutes putting together this piece in the Providence Journal.
It's pretty much the same misinformation we've been reading sports editors publish for years.
He starts off by saying...
It's called Major League Soccer and, technically, that terminology is correct.
MLS is, indeed, the big leagues of soccer in the U.S. of A.
Which shows you what a big bust the game is here, compared to the rest of the world. Because, in reality, the MLS is still minor league.
Ok, I'll buy the fact that MLS isn't selling out 70,000 seat stadiums. But Mr. Richardson, can you name the soccer leagues that actually out draw MLS in attendance? You'll find that outside of the English, Italian, Spanish and German leagues, there aren't many.
Also, off the topic slightly, why is it you never see editorials like this about the Major League lacrosse(MLL)
? Certainly they would count as even less "Major" than MLS. But you never (or at least I haven't) seen any Sports Editor rant about how that league/sport never catch on in this country.
He then goes on to say...
The National Hockey League, which hasn't even played a game in almost a year, and ranks a distant fourth behind the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NBA in popularity, still far surpasses the MLS fan interest, especially in its traditional markets -- which, of course, includes Boston, home of the Bruins, one of the venerated Original Six.
He rationalizes this by pointing out that only 13k showed up for a match last weekend against DC. May I present an alternative criteria? Mr. Richardson, when was the last time you checked TV ratings for both NHL and MLS games? Back in the days when the NHL actually existed, MLS was attracting as many or even more TV viewers than NHL. That fact that the American Public still attend MLS matches and tune in on TV despite the numerous editorials in papers across the country telling them not to bother is a testament to the fans. If newspaper editors would give MLS any respect at all, there's no doubt attendance numbers would improve if for no other reason than your readers would be informed that a match would be taking place.
Of course, the Original Six have also had a few more than the 10 years MLS has to establish itself in their community. Why don't you take a look at how recent NHL expansion teams have done. C'mon, how many people in Nashville or Tampa Bay can name players on their hockey teams?
But it's as if they're performing in a vacuum. You can find more than 13,662 fans in line for hot dogs at Fenway Park. And it's not as if the region's sports-radio stations are inundated with callers eager to talk about the Revs. How often does someone -- make that anyone -- come up to you and ask: "How 'bout them Revs?"
By and large, people just don't care.
Again, I'll argue that if the media gave the sport/league the time of day, it's possible to
Also, why would a soccer fan call into a radio show just to be told the on air host doesn't want to talk about soccer...or worse, be put on the air and start the host spouting the same nonsense full of ignorant opinions you printed once they cut you off.
The MLS is an inferior league, compared to the NFL, the NBA and the National Pastime.
Where'd the NHL go in that list? I thought NHL "far surpasses the MLS fan interest"
. Perhaps you started to realize the error in your thinking as you got closer to your deadline.
Honestly, this entire piece smacks of someone doing a half-assed job. I'm betting he just needed to write something quick and it's the first thing that came to mind. One day we won't have to put up with crap publishing like this....yeah, I'm a dreamer.
Boring Boring Arsenal - FA Cup Winners
Well, it wasn't an awful match, but it really could have used Thierry Henry....or a spark of any kind. I mentioned during the first half that the game really needed a goal. If Rio Ferdinand hadn't been offside when he found the net...or if Wayne Rooney's shot had been just an inch or two to the left and not hit the post....or if Freddie Ljungberg hadn't cleared Ruud van Nistelrooy's header off the line, it would have made things much more interesting as Arsenal would have been forced to push forward a bit more.
But as it was, Arsenal managed a total of one shot on target the entire 120 minutes. But as Man U didn't take advantage of their opportunities, the Gunners were able to hold on until penalties. It's a boring tactic but it worked.
Was Tim Howard really warming up to possibly come in for the penalties? I was hoping he would.
At the end of the day, it was still an entertaining match. Congrats to the Gunners for actually winning something this season. Who would have predicted in August that Man U and Arsenal would play in the FA Cup Final and the loser wouldn't claim any silverware this season?
Is it August yet?
What's on my TV this weekend?
One of the great things about living in the US during the era of Satellite TV is that every weekend of the year, there’s soccer on TV. Ya gotta love modern technology.
So, every Friday I take a break from my slacking at work and plan my TV viewing for the weekend. Naturally, the FA Cup Final is the biggie tomorrow. There’s no chance I’ll be missing that even if I hate both of the teams playing in Cardiff.
However, beyond that, the pickings are slim. There are no other Premiership matches. I don’t get Setanta so I can’t watch the playoff battle between Southend and Northampton (it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that Southend were fighting for a Premiership spot)
So, that leaves MLS matches to round off the weekend.
Metros at New England could be interesting. I haven’t seen Djorkaeff yet and the Revs are playing some good ball right now. However, I’m not a big fan of ESPN’s day games. The stadiums are usually empty (lots of people I’m guessing save their ticket and at home) and they usually play at half-pace…or at least that’s my observation. But I’ll probably check it out for no other reason than to see Clint Dempsey in action.
FSC has DC at KC. How are Max and Alan going to create excitement during their broadcast with this one? They can only talk about Freddy Adu for so long before it gets boring. Honestly, KC is so defensive and DC is…well, they haven’t really done much this season so far to perk my interest.
As I’m in the mountains, I can also chose between the Columbus vs. Salt Lake game on FSN and the Chicago vs. Colorado game on Altitude. Either one of them could be fun.
However, why is it that no one thought the original California Derby would be attractive for a national audience? Okay, it’s true. I’m a bit biased here. But I also think the Chivas vs. Dallas game is pretty attractive as well. I guess I shouldn’t complain I can get 4 of this weekend's 6 matches without the Direct Kick package. But still, it seems whoever makes the call on broadcasts could have done better. I'm sure they could get a ton of promo milage out of the "Landon returns to San Jose" store. But I'm just a fan, what do I know.
At least I can look forward to MLS Wrap and the Monaco Grand Prix early on Sunday.
There's no place like home Toto
Geez, it's been close to two months now since Landon Donovan was transferred to LA. Sorry, but I'm really tired of this "I'm happy to be home" spin we get hearing.
Yeah, he's been producing for the Galaxy, but that's no accomplishment when you're a big fish in a small pond. I've said it for a while now, he'll never be the player he could be unless he plays at the highest possible level. When was the last time you heard a baseball player say he was happier player for a AAA team than a Major League team cuz he was closer to home?
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't buy the spin. The fact that we are still hearing him say it convinces me he's still trying to buy it too.
Mancs just don't like Yanks
That's the conclusion I came to after reading this article in today LA Times.
For over a year now, we've been hearing about Tampa Bay Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer is buying Manchester United. The primary argument seems to have been that he is having to take too many loans out to do this and hell need to pay a ton in interest fees to his creditors and not put enough back into the club buying top players.
For the most part, I've bought this argument. However, it's got me to thinking (yeah, it's a scary occurrence--I really need to stop doing that). I can remember--yeah, I'm aging myself--not too long ago when the red half of Manchester were just another top-level club. The 70's and 80's weren't exactly glory days for the club. In the 90's, Man U borrowed marketing idea's from this side of the Atlantic and started going after Corporate clients a great deal more than other clubs in England. They also started merchandising the heck out of the clubs name long before the rest of the league caught on. This lead to more money being available to spend on top players--which lead to numerous EPL titles--which lead to even more merchandise sales in places like the Far East. Ok, so it's a simplistic view of events, but it's pretty accurate. Just take a look at any soccer store on this side of the Atlantic, you'll find Man U shirts. Do a Google search for Man U Supporters Clubs in any Far East country. These people buying their shirts didn't do so because of the Munich disaster. I've heard numerous comments the last few years from friends of mine back in Suffolk about seeing kids wearing Man U shirts around Ipswich.
My point being, American Sports Marketing has made the club the success they were in the 90's.
So, why are fans so up in arms about Glazer buying the club? It wasn't that long ago that he bought an NFL team that was a laughing stock and never accomplished anything. They are now have much better team colors and have won the Super Bowl (something my Chargers will probably never do).
So, Man U are at the top (or rather, 'towards' the top based on this season's EPL table) in European soccer. They've got no where to go but down if this purchase doesn't work. Poor Man U fans would suffer so much if they spend a season of mid-table obscurity. They needn't worry though. Sky Sports will probably still carry their matches so the rest of the globe can suffer with the locals catch the train up from London on Saturday--sorry, but it's a long-running joke than Man U fans aren't actually from Manchester any more.
The corporate crowd, the sales of anything with a Man U logo on it, the constant increase in ticket prices, what would Glazer do that's any different?
Glazer is a business man. I have no doubt hes making the investment to make money above everything else. So, if all the doom and gloom Man U fans are so convinced he'll ruin the club, why is he making the move? Is it possible he knows a bit more than they about running a successful professional sports organization? He certainly knows more than I. So, I'd be willing to give him the benefit of doubt.
Why didn't the leaders of Shareholders United make these complaints when the club first went public? When ownership of the club is available on the open market, these sort of purchases can happen. They sure didn't complain about the initial infusion of cash when the shares went on the market.
The only conclusion I can come up with for the whole hysteria about this buy is summed up rather well in this quote from the LA Times article.
My personal opinion is that the reason why so many fans are upset is because he's American and they see Americans not giving a damn about football. If he was Irish or German or any European, they wouldn't kick up a foot. But people know Americans don't give two tosses about football. Americans just see it as a game. It is not. It is a passion, a way of life.
Get over it Mancs, the Yanks are coming. Football is a business. Go ahead and reform Newton Heath like the Wimbledon supporters did. Glazer will still make money. Man U will still put a good team on the pitch, probably win some more silverware with or without you, sell tons of merchandise in the Far East and to the youth of Briton. That's ok, you can go on with your ignorant opinion of American's lack of passion blissfully supporting a non-League club.
Boy, that sure sounded pissy. Oh well, I honestly think they are getting all bent out of shape over nothing. MK Dons haven't gone bust yet. Man U won't either.
Who said the Reserve matches aren't meaningful?
I'm pretty sure I posted my positive opinion on MLS increasing the size of squads and adding Reserve matches to the schedule. It's a positive any way you look at it.
However, I always thought of the Reserves as a good way to give players at the end of the bench some game time and a chance to show their potential...and a way for starters to get 90 minutes in without having to risk things on the Varsity team.
Now, the rules for the Reserves are that anyone on the squad can play, however, no player can play in either the Varsity or JV games for more than a combined total of 90 minutes. In the match last weekend between DC and NE Reserves, Jose Cancela played a full 90 minutes for the Revs Reserves. Problem is, he'd also come on late in the match the night before and got credited for playing 2 minutes. In total, he played 92 minutes. No biggie you say? Well, DC United have filed a protest
over the result.
What's amusing is that DC Reserves were 3-1 after 15 minutes (defense was more a theory than a tactic I guess) and ended up losing 4-3. The Revs take on the events?
"We understand the spirit of the rules, but the real purpose of these games is to get players work," Revolution spokesman Brad Feldman said. "It's sour grapes. They should be more concerned about teaching their players how to manage a 3-1 lead."
Ouch, that's comedy.
...and the league champion only collects a $20,000 bonus! Small steps I guess.
Same ol' song and dance
It never fails. Every year Ipswich make the playoffs. Every year PZ gets called into a last minute meeting and can't even follow the match live online. Every year Ipswich crash and burn in the playoff Semi's. Ok, there have been a couple of exceptions to that rule...but it's pretty accurate.
I wasn't able to get to a place where I could watch the match even without today's meeting. I come back to my office and see Bobby Zamora had put 2 past Town. Wasn't he a transfer target a few years ago when he was still with Brighton? Either way, from what I'm hearing, Ipswich didn't deserve to go through to Cardiff.
So, now the Ipswich supporters' battle cry is, "it's more fun to watch us win most of our matches and fight for promotion in the Championship than lose most and fight relegation in the Premiership". But Naaarich fans are saying the same right about now. I really hate the playoffs. Just once, can't Town go up automatically?
So, on to next season. It seems obvious that Joe Royle needs to strengthen the squad. However, it's unlikely there will be much money made available to him for transfers. David Sheepshanks was quoted today as saying the club were close to his goal of having half the first-team players come from the Academy. I'm in two minds about that. We'll see what happens between now and August.
World Cup 2026
It's never too soon to be looking ahead. I haven't posted in a few days as my wife went into labor on Thursday. By Friday morning we got to meet 'lil PZ. Expect him to be on the US squad for the 2026 World Cup. (well, daddy can dream right) ;)
I haven't seen anything from games last weekend, but normal rambling should resume soon.
It ain't easy winning fans
Wow! Talk about a bad PR move by Chivas.
It's not as if they are packing the stadium like Vargara had hoped. But moves like this don't help much. Of course, it was more an AEG move than a Chivas move which messed things up. But you'd think they'd be on the same page a bit more. Still, I had to laugh at this bit.
The kicker is that it turns out both teams were initially reluctant to play before a Chivas USA game anyway. Most kids on both teams are Galaxy fans.
People really thought that Chivas would take over and steal all the fans in LA? Yeah right. There's nothing like a 10-year head start to create a fan base.
Club vs Country...or is it Us against Them?
MLS is now in the middle of a big power struggle between England top clubs and the national team. Managers aren't too happy that their players will only get a 3-week vacation this summer because of the 2-game tour SvenpGoran Erickson's boys will make. But I had to laugh at the latest objection.
Criticism intensified yesterday when it emerged that England's international with Colombia was a curtain-raiser for a league match at Giants Stadium between New York MetroStars and Chicago Fire.
England insisted they had no problem with David Beckham and company's early billing to a Major League Soccer face-off involving MetroStars' Youri Djorkaeff and Amado 'The Wolf' Guevara with Fire's Ivan Guerrero, a Honduran briefly on Coventry City's books.
"England are the magnet to attract a bigger crowd," explained the FA's director of communications, Adrian Bevington. MetroStars normally pull in between 8,000-12,000 but can expect four times that number with England in the house on May 31. Details of the huge interest in England will be outlined by coach Sven-Goran Eriksson today.
So, let me see if I understand. The US is trying to grow the sport in this country. Top clubs in England currently have American players on their squads. However, it's bad for England to help the sport in this country make a bit of money. Did I miss something?
Politicians and Sports Teams
The story about San Antonio getting an MLS team
just keeps getting more amusing. It's been such a political pawn from the start, but now it seems to have switch to overdrive. Honestly, I should stop even checking the news there. This started off as a plan to help existing Mayor Ed Garza get reelected in addition to finding a use for the usually empty Alamodome. Now, the NFL wolves are out.
I just really find it amusing that all the other candidates have jumped on this bandwagon. If a team was going to move to San Antonio, they'd have done so already. Spending $200 million to upgrade the stadium? C'mon, that's even more expensive than the deal Garza had with MLS. I'm glad I'm not a tax payer there. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion. I wonder if Andrew Murstein
is still interested in moving the Wizards there? I'm thinking that whatever happens, the votes in San Antonio will be the losers and when the dust settles, they'll still only have the Spurs.
It's been a couple of day's now....
....and I'm still not over the results of Sunday morning. I really should be accepting the fact that Ipswich have to go through the playoffs in order to be promoted. It's not as if they can ever do things the easy way and go up in one of the top two spots. Honestly, I had a feeling this would happen. But I try to keep my glass half-full.
So, it's West Ham in the playoffs again this season. Lets hope for a better outcome this time around.
What a crazy finish
I'm sorry, but the finish to the LA-Colorado game on Sunday was about as strange as they come. I'm not sure what the referee, Jair Marrufo, was thinking suddenly calling stuff he'd ignored earlier in the match.
Three penalties in the final 5 minutes is just crazy!!
Now, I'm slightly bias but LA did deserve to win...and probably would have wrapped the match up by half-time if they could just put their shots on target. But they didn't. Colorado played a decent match. A draw probably would have been a justified result. But Marrufo had other plans. Refs should not decide outcomes of matches...and to be honest, a couple of those calls were borderline.
Much Adu about MLS
(Sorry 'bout the blog title, but I had to.)
Last season, the MLS brain trust got a lot of miles pimping young Freddie as the next great hope...or whatever...for US Soccer now that they've given up on Clint Mathis and Landon Donovan. MLS got a lot of miles and sold a lot of tickets last season by pimping the kid. However, often those that bought tickets to see him were disappointed when he came on as a sub late in the game...if he played at all.
I was under the belief that was all over until I saw this piece in the Washington Post.
C'mon people. He's a 15 year-old kid. Granted, he's got a ton of talent and I'm sure will be leading the US National Team to great things in a few years. But let's let him develop. I can understand the argument that he won't receive great development last season without playing. But this season, MLS was smart (and rich) enough to start the reserve league. Playing in the DC reserves will probably do him much more good than a season coming off the bench in the 70th minute for the first team. Give the kid a chance and I'm confident you won't be disappointed.
I've really started to hate the month of May. It seems that every year at this time Ipswich Town are either fighting for promotion to the Premiership or fighting to avoid relegation to (what is now) the Championship.
- 94-95 Finished 19th in Premiership. Just avoided relegation.
- 95-96 Finished 22nd in Premiership. This one was over by Christmas.
- 96-97 Finished 7th in Div 1. Just missed out on playoffs.
- 97-98 Finished 5th in Div 1. Knocked out of playoffs by Charlton.
- 98-99 Finished 3rd in Div 1. Knocked out of playoffs by Bolton.
- 99-00 Finished 3rd in Div 1. Promoted to Premiership via playoffs. I was at Wembley for the final, what a fantastic day!
- 00-01 Finished 5th in Premiership. The only enjoyable May in years.
- 01-02 Finished 18th in Premiership. Relegated on final day of season.
- 02-03 Finished 7th in Div 1. Just missed out on playoffs.
- 03-04 Finished 5th in Div 1. Knocked out of playoffs by West Ham.
In the last 10 seasons, May has been a nervous time. Sadly, most years, things haven't gone our way either. Those playoffs matches never seem to go the way of regular season form. They are usually close, tense games and often can go to overtime and even penalties.
So here we are less than 24 hours from the end of the 04-05 season. This year is our best chance in a while for an automatic promotion spot. Town are level with Wigan for second place. Naturally, Ipswich never do things the easy way as Wigan have the tiebreaker should it be needed. I can't help but think the playoffs are starting a game earlier this year. They are now saying it's worth about US$30million in additional revenue being in the Premiership rather than the Championship. The stakes are high and the matches are close and exciting for the neutral fan. Here's hoping Ipswich make it the easy way (finishing second) and Wigan win the playoffs (they deserve it).
Forget about the Alamo?
The press in San Antonio has been pretty harsh on MLS and the sport of Soccer from the moment Mayor Ed Garza announced his plan to get someone actually using the facility on a more regular basis than the Alamo Bowl people in December and the odd concert. The idea that an NFL team would want to play there is even more amusing. How many skyboxes does it have? If the Vikings were to move to San Antonio, they'd be expecting the city to build the team a brand new stadium within a couple of years.
So, San Antonio needs to sell 5000 season tickets by August to get a team. In last than a week, they are almost 1% of the way there.
Though the local paper sees it as a negative, I don't. Let's look at the numbers in July before making any decisions there.
But what got my attention today and caused me to blog this was this piece in today's paper
. Aside for the factual errors--though those are more spin sold as fact--I'm having a tough time figuring out why the paper is so negative about actually having someone in the stadium? If they should be upset at anyone, it should be whoever built that damn facility without a guarantee that it would be used.
A bid for the Wiz
I have to admit, this caught me off guard even though I'd been reading about the possibility for days. Yesterday, rich guy Andrew Murstein made an offer to buy the Kansas City Wizards.
I honestly thought this would be one of those stories that would just die down and go away. I sure didn't expect an offer to be made this soon. I guess now the only question is where will the Wizards play next season? The way the media in San Antonio is reporting things, it's looking as if there's not much demand there. Houston, Las Vegas and New York have been also mentioned. Guess we'll have to keep watching.
Domestic Dispute in DC
When MLS started in 1996, they made an effort to insure than no MLS team was sharing their stadium with a baseball team. Several USL teams have baseball/soccer stadium sharing but until this season, no MLS team did.
When the Montreal Expos moved to RFK stadium in DC the new Washington Nationals, DC United and RFK stadium people all said they had a plan to insure the room mates would get along. Recently, it was reported that the pitch at RFK was lopsided
. Now, it seems there are even more problems
with the arrangements.
Who will be the first to move? Will RFK stadium end up with no tenants once all the dust is settled? My guess is that DC United will bite the bullet until the Nationals move out and the have the place all to themselves again.
MLS vs J-League
Los Angeles Galaxy will play the Yokohama F. Marinos
on June 8. Back in the '90's MLS was often compared to the J-League in terms of how the leagues were started. We'll see how the two differ on the pitch. I actually think this could be an entertaining match. However, we'll see how many reserves play. That same night, the US will play playing in Panama and Guatemala will be in Costa Rica for World Cup Qualfiers. I guess we should be glad it's not a league match that night.
National MLS broadcasts
So I don't have MLS Direct Kick PPV package this season and rely on what ESPN and FSC have to offer. On first glance, it appeared that Chivas seemed to have more games on than other teams. Well, I was sort of right. The junky that I am had to do a breakdown of what's available. Here's what I found:
Chivas, LA and New England are on quite a bit. But I was surprised to see just how poor the national coverage for KC and Colorado is. Honestly, I have no idea why there's such a difference. I suppose the argument can be made that some teams will draw more viewers than others. But Chicago have a large fan base and I'm sure they pull as many, if not more viewers than New England. Anyone else have ideas?
Team of fate?
A few weeks ago, there were a number of articles in the British media like this one
which pointed to a series of coincidences which if matched, could lead to Liverpool winning the Champions League. New Popes, Royal events and other similarities between 1978, 1981 and 2005. I thought it amusing at best when I read them. However, after today's result at Anfield, who knows? I've got several Scouse friends back in LA who I know will be having a few pints right about now in celebration. Congrats to the red half of Liverpool.
Even more MLS Expansion news
Now this is getting amusing. But I love the rumors.
I posted on Andrew Murstein's desire to invest in MLS the other day
and today, the New York Times
gives us more information on what Murstein is looking to do.
Seems as if buying the Wizards and moving this is his plan. He's talked with the folks in San Antonio, but it seems he's more interested in trying to work a team to have the team in the New York area and name the team after the old NASL favorites.
Murstein said he would meet with New York City officials this week and would propose building a soccer stadium near Shea Stadium in Queens. He also said he had offered more than $1 million and other incentives to purchase the Cosmos name from Peppe Pinton, who holds the rights to the recognizable team from the North American Soccer League that has not played in more than 20 years. "I like to think I made a realistic offer, but the owner of the trademark has his own idea of what it's worth," Murstein said.
This is actually getting interesting. Could it be that the Cosmos end up at Shea and the Metros move somewhere else? AEG isn't happy with playing at the Meadowlands and Harrison doesn't seem like it'll ever happen. Bringing the Cosmos name back to life has been rumored for some time but it never looked like it would happen. How about the San Antonio Metrostars? Doesn't quite sound right. We'll need to keep watching this story.
Is this tickets sold or people actually attending?
Yes, I've been pretty negative lately. However, stories like this make me think these numbers are in spite of the efforts of the Galaxy's Marketing and Sales Departments.Galaxy make three million fan milestone
I honestly believe they could have reached that number long before now if the Galaxy organization made an effort to reach out to the fans. But then again, gifts like fan # 3,000,000 received are a pretty sweet bribe.
I completely missed this over the weekend. After Ross Paule announced his retirement, I was expecting much the same from Ryan Suarez. After all, Ryan's had several concussions over the years which has caused him to wear the headgear. In addition, he just gave birth to he and his wife's first child. Now, as someone who's about to become a father for the first time, I know how difficult things can be. But add a potentially life-threatening injury to the mix and you have a really tough time. Thankfully, Ryan recovered and I'm guessing the doctors cleared him to play. But I was shocked to see him play a full 90 minutes on Saturday against the Revs.
Congrats on the new addition to the family and I'm glad you're back in action. That Chivas backline sure needs you.
I'm starting to think that I may have been wrong
Hey, I'm big enough to admit when I was wrong (if I don't, my wife usually reminds me). But I was really worried about last night's LA-Dallas game. I really wish I could have seen more than just the highlights on MLS Wrap. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but LA seemed to dominate the match. Where were Fish, EJ and Ronnie?
Perhaps Sampson is building something worthwhile in LA and the addition of Donovan is the key. After all, LA's one loss this season was in Columbus without Landon. We'll see when LA plays some tougher competition on the road. However, a 2-0 victory against a tough team like Dallas is always a good thing.