Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Friday, July 29, 2005
  Free Michael Shields Petition
For those of you who haven't heard the story yet, Shields is a Liverpool fan who seems to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time after the Champions League Final a couple months ago. After the final, lots of Liverpool fans were at a resort in Bulgaria. An unfortunate incident took place which left a bartender at the resort with brain damage after a brick hit him in the head. The Scouser who threw the brick has confessed to what he did, but the court in Bulgaria didn't admit his statement and Shields is looking at 15 years in a Bulgarian prison.

Not sure it'll do anything, but if you are so inclined, sign the petition.

Free Michael Shields Petition
  There must be some nice ROI here.
I've no idea how much AEG paid when they bought DC United. However, selling the team for $26 Million must have created a nice return for Anchutz. If I remember correctly, franchises were bought for $5 Million back in 1996. While owners have lost money over the years, it seems the value of the franchises has gone up a lot over the last 10 years.
  Where the heck is Bucks County?
I'm guessing it's near Philly. It seems MLS are proactively looking to put a team there. From the way the article reads, it sounds like they are looking for a stadium location much the same way they did in Chicago.

Could it be that they've got a potential investor for a team in that area?
Thursday, July 28, 2005
  Yet another reason to skip the All-Star game
If Columbus can beat Fulham...what are the leagues best going to do? I mean, Columbus have one of the worst records in the league...they currently don't have a coach and yet, in this friendly, they got the win.

Yeah, it's only a friendly and Fulham probably didn't have anything close to their strongest line-up. But still, why should this result give me any reason to tune in to ABC on Saturday?
  Mexico's win over Brazil now explained
Go figured, Mexico had to cheat in order to beat Mexico. Actually I'm surprised the punishment wasn't worse.

FIFA found that two of the Mexican players tested positive for Nandrolone after the match. The Mexican FA has banned Salvador Carmona and Aarong Galindo for a year after sending them home early.

Also, FIFA fined the Mexican FA $580,000, their FA's president $15,500, the team doctor $3,850 and banned the president of their medical committee for 2 years.

So, with two defenders doped up, that explains how they managed to upset the champions....sorta.
  It's a great day for DC fans
As if playing Chelsea tonight in a friendly isn't enough....the even Empire (AEG) is announcing the sale of the team to local investors.

Now, anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knowns I'm not the biggest fan of AEG--or at least the way they do things in LA--so I can only see this move as a positive for the fans in DC. Looks like they'll be getting a new stadium as well, though I'm not holding my breath until it's official. Hope it's a good match tonight and congrats to the DC faithful. (I can't believe I just said that after what Freddie Abu did on Saturday)
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
  Well done AP
So, I'm bumping around looking at articles and Google News has a million stories titled, Freddy Abu's D.C. United Face Chelsea. (try it, go to Google News and type in Freddy Abu)

Ok, nice typo from the AP folks. Once again, a sign that the media only covers the sport in this country when they have to and don't bother with fact checking.

Second, why is it Freddy's team? Sorry, but he still isn't a regular starter. I know, I know, MLS has highlighted the kid so much that for many, he's probably the only soccer player in this country they've heard of. Too bad he still isn't ready for the national team.

We've still got a long way to go.
  I'm sure this isn't how Strachan wanted to start the job.
Hands up all those who have ever heard of Artmedia Bratislava. Yeah, me neither. Geez, how the heck can Celtic lose 5-0 even it it's away? Boy, it'll be a long trip back from Slovakia--can't believe it took several minutes to find that...yes, I had to look up where the teams from--for the Green and White skirt wearer's.

So, it should be an interesting return leg in Glasgow. Celtic have to win by at least 5 goals. I wonder what went wrong? Maybe Scottish Footie isn't that good...though I'm sure Rangers fans would have a bit to say there.

I wonder what Strachan had to say after the match...then again, I've never understood a word he's said. Honestly, I don't know if it's his accent or just the fact that he mumbles everything he says. Anyway, I've always liked him as a manager but he has to be shell-shocked losing like this in his first competitive match in charge.

Oh, looks like Liverpool did a little better. Though they did give up the first goal.
  To sell or not to sell
AEG seems to be on the verge of letting everyone know what's going to happen to the Quakes. Of course, there have been lots of stories in the local paper lately.

Quakes COO Scott Blackmun isn't giving much away except that an announcement should be coming in the next 30 days. He wouldn't say if the team would be sold or not...or moving or not. Sounds to me like they are moving. However, he did say the team wouldn't be sold to Club America. Perhaps the teams owner, Televisa, is the buyer....just a thought.

Anyway, I'm still sticking by my belief that they'll be playing in Houston next season and they are just holding off on announcing this until as close to the end of the season as possible to avoid lost ticket sales this season.

I have to admit, I love reading the editorials in the Mercury News lately. The passion of the media really shines through. I can't see Grahame Jones with the LA Times writing this.

Spartan Stadium isn't the problem. It's the answer. No other facility in the MLS has the same legacy and lore, dating to the old North American Soccer League. Spartan Stadium is the closest thing American soccer has to Lambeau Field. Every great soccer player of the past 40 years -- including Pele, George Best, Maradona, Mia Hamm and Eric Wynalda -- has run up and down the turf on Seventh Street.

Are you telling me that such a legacy and tradition can't be marketed? Instead, the MLS is demanding that the Quakes throw away all that, and build a soulless box of a stadium. The sightlines at Spartan are fine. And as the Club Quake members prove, having fun does not require luxury boxes and club seating.
Obviously, Mr Purdy, has been listening to his Grateful Dead CDs a bit too much lately. I'm sorry, but I've been to Spartan Stadium on several occasions. Bulldozing the place still won't helps it's location. It doesn't matter if it's the Quakes playing there or the Spartan's--I'm a Fresno State grad and have seen my Bulldogs play there a few times as well--the stadium is bad and it's location is worse. Granted, there probably aren't a lot of places in the area which are doable for a new stadium. Perhaps if they went East towards Pleasanton...but rebuilding Spartan still won't make much difference...and they'll still be sharing the facility with an awful Division 1 Football team.
  It's not just me.
I didn't know this but Chelsea's chairman is an American from New York. He's in the states right now for tonight's match against DC. He spoke with Voice of America yesterday and had some interesting comments about MLS and the Americanization of the marketing of the sport in England. One comment in particular caught my attention.

"The salary cap (in MLS), generally speaking, is a good idea because it saves the owners from each other, if that's the right way of phrasing it. But it does prevent you from getting the best players, and there's got to be some balance between the salary cap and getting the right players."
Of course, this is more or less something I've been saying for a long time. It's nice to know someone in a position like he has agrees.

There's too much attention in MLS paid to one or two star players on each team and the rest of the squad is made up of filler players. If teams were to spread things out better they'd be more of a TEAM and the quality offered would improve.
"Americans, we're very good at promoting. We're very good at the glitz and glamour of sports."

But Buck adds that as important as promoting a team is, results on the field are always more important.

"Football is first. No matter how great your promotional people are, and how beautiful your replica shirts look, you're not going to sell any of them if your team is last in the league."
So true.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
  Now this is the right attitude
Last week, I watched LA get torn apart by Real Madrid. The 2-0 score flattered the Galaxy and everyone went away happen even though fans paid through the nose for the chance to see the match.

So, let's cross to the other side of the Pacific were the Spanish Giants are right now. They played Tokyo Verdy over the weekend and got thumped 3-0. On top of that, Verdy player, Toda spat in Becks face as the teams left the pitch at half-time.

"Toda spat in my face. That in life is horrible - but in football no players like that. Our players saw it and were not happy," said Beckham.
What's great, though, is the way the Japanese papers have reported things.

So, why is it that the Galaxy looked like a little league baseball team playing the Yankees? Verdy had the right attitude and took it to Real and got a good result. LA seemed to be too busy running around in awe to notice they were actually in the middle of a match.

I hope Chicago and DC have the right attitude when playing Inter Milan and Chelsea later this week. Yeah, they are only 'friendly's' but it would be nice if there was more effort made on the pitch than there was selling tickets to the game at the HDC for as much as possible.
  A Galaxy without the Force
Nick Green at the Daily Breeze seems to be slightly influenced by Star Wars in an article today. To be honest, I'm glad he did. The situation at the HDC right now isn't that fun to read about for Galaxy fans. LA hasn't won a game on the road this season. The players Sampson brought in haven't done a thing...expect possibly Landon Donovan who was a gift. Things aren't looking great for the team and he even suggests that Sampson (and Hamilton) should be getting their resumes ready.

That heavy breathing behind you, Steve -- and for that matter the guy who hired him, General Manager Doug Hamilton -- is more likely emanating from Tim Leiweke than Darth Vader.
One thing though Mr. Green, Jovan Kirovski joined the team before the start of the 2004 season. Sigi was still in charge back then. But you're right, he has been a disappointment as have all of Sampson's big signings.

Bottom line, I'm certain it's now a case of when rather than if Sampson is replaced. How long it'll take to clean up the mess he's made, that's another story.
  I guess any media is better than none
So, Freddy Adu is now a driver.

Now, I'm not really sure how newsworthy this story is except to warn drivers in the DC area that there's another young driver on the streets. But I guess if the sport can stay in the papers in this country one way or another, it can't be a bad thing.

He's 16 and driving a brand new $44,000 BMW....it sure is a far cry from my first car--or my current ride for that matter.
  Has Grahame Jones been reading the BigSoccer boards...
...or at least my blog?

Seriously, his column in today's LA Times looks like they were lifted straight from the numerous rants on BigSoccer. Of course, he put his thoughts together much better.

Things would be far more interesting if FIFA showed some initiative and forced CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, to combine into a single, 48-nation confederation.

The Gold Cup could then disappear and the Copa America could become the regional championship — an honest-to-goodness Cup of the Americas.

With the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and the U.S. competing, it could, in time, rival the European Championship in appeal. Or, if that's an exaggeration, at least it would be a lot better than what is being offered.

It's probably a pipe dream, but many fans of the sport in this country I'm sure agree entirely. Of course, it would help if games were broadcast in English on a channel more English speakers get...but that's a whole different issue. Of course, with Copa America qualification now on the agenda as well, that will mean more MLS matches missed by top players as well. I guess we don't live in a perfect world after all.

Jones also comments on the recent FIFA ranks which came out with the US at #6.

There is not a lucid soul on the planet — U.S. coaches and players included — who believes that there are only five national teams better than the U.S. Any such assertion is ludicrous.

The rankings are based on a mathematical formula that takes into account such things as a team's results over a period of years, the significance of the competitions in which it plays, the relative strength of its opponents and, for all anyone knows, the phases of the moon and the mood of FIFA President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter.

It is a complex formula, one that would give pause to a Caltech graduate, let alone the fan in the stands.
As much as we hear about the BCS rankings on Sports Talk radio in the Fall, if this country actually followed soccer, can you imagine how many calls would have come in with the FIFA rankings? I'll wait until next summer to see who really is #1 and where the US currently stands.
  Something soccer fans already knew
Here's a shocker. It seems, Rochester is the best minor league sports city in the country. OK, so that's kind of a back-handed compliment. Who wants to be known as a minor league town? But just looking at what the Rhinos have done the last few years you have to think that more established sports in this country have to do well there also.

I think this shows again that MLS needs Rochester more than Rochester needs an MLS team.
Monday, July 25, 2005
  You've gotta love this guy
As a Galaxy fan, I can't tell you how much watching the LA-DC match on Saturday pissed me off. If Doug Hamilton can't see how much Peter Nowak outcoached Steve Sampson, then he has no business having any say who should be leading any MLS team.

But I want to stay positive today so I'm going to talk about Herculez Gomez. SoCal Soccer News had a good interview with him the other day. Now, I'm going to go on record--probably a little late--and claim that I thought the kid was solid back in '02 when he first got a chance with the team. I'm glad to see that with the addition of the reserve squads in MLS, he's finally got the chance to prove himself for an entire season he's making the most of the chance. Heck, I wonder what his answer would have been if you'd have told him a year ago he'd be starting for LA against Real Madrid?

Now these are the success stories we don't see enough of coming from MLS. Instead, you see tired Freddy Adu and Landon Donovan Press Releases (yeah, I know they don't have much control over the Media...but they can push them in the right direction)

So, Here's hoping the league clues in and makes stories like Herc more of a priority.

As for the Galaxy's game on Saturday...the less I say, the better.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
  Here's a shocker
Maybe Chivas should play more Friday night games. They beat the Rev's 1-0 at home on Singles Night complete with the ChivaLove Tent which I'm guessing involved the ChivaGirls.

Anyone reading this attend the match and know about this ChivaLove Tent? Sounds like a desperate attempt to sell tickets. The stadium was still only half-full.
Friday, July 22, 2005
  Now this is stupid
I've posted my thoughts on what Lalas said already. But in typical clueless MLS fashion, they've gone and fined Lalas $2000 for those comments!!

The league and the two teams involved got plenty of publicity (free) after those comments. There's no way anyone with an IQ over 60 that follows the sport in this country would believe he was serious with those comments. Yet the league boneheads in the infinite wisdom felt the need to fine him. And yet they wonder why so many soccer fans in the US consider the league to be Mickey Mouse.

UPDATE: Ok, I stand corrected. Lalas wasn't fined for his comments about Adu, it was for comments about the league structure. I guess I can understand the leagues desire to shut him up here. However, I agree with his comments.
"The single entity allowed us to survive the last 10 years, but the trainingwheels have got to come off," Lalas was quoted in the June 21 edition of the New York Times. "We are in the entertainment business, and I want players with personality. Stars and star power are vital to any league, especially here in the New York area."

I mean, is that kinda what I've been saying for a while on here? Of course, MLS will be able to produce teams that will effectively compete with teams like Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Chelsea by paying an entire team what one player at top Euro teams are making.
  Catching up on the other thoughts I've had this week.
I find so much stuff that it seems I never have time to blog everything. So, here's some of the things I intended to post this week but never got around to doing so.

Anyway, that's it for now. Is it time to start the weekend yet?

  Who knew???
Completely under the radar it seems that the US has made it to the final of the Gold Cup after beating Honduras last night 2-1. It's a shame really. The largest competition the US play in (outside of the World Cup) and it's near impossible for most English speakers in this country to follow. I know it's not worth it to me to pay extra to get the channels it's on.

Anyway, Panama on Sunday. good luck to the boys. Too bad Arena won't be on the sidelines as it seems he got in a bit of a tiff last night.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
  Landon will get his chance to play Real Madrid
Following the two games Real just played here in the US, Real will host and MLS XI at the Bernabeu on Aug 23.

Too bad this match is a mid-week encounter is right in the middle of the regular season and most players will play a Saturday game before flying to Madrid and return for a game the following weekend.

What's more important Mr. Garber, these friendly's or the regular season? I thought you said you were looking at ways to make the regular season more meaningful when you were asked about MLS moving to a single table. If this isn't proof that the league doesn't consider the regular season (beyond the attendance) important, what will.

Yet you still wonder why so many fans of the sport prefer to watch other leagues on TV rather than attend matches their local team is playing. Why can't you schedule things things better? Once again, the fans are screwed by the leagues greed.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
  The Real Show
I'd started this long winded Ramble about the Galaxy's two games this last weekend but it just kept getting longer and really had no direction. Guess I've still got a lot to learn when it comes to writing. Thankfully, Nick Green at the Daily Breeze bailed me out with this piece. Fact is, while MLS has come a long way in the last 10 years, the league as a whole still has a lot more climbing to do. They (the league and teams) are so caught up on what's going on off the pitch, they just don't spend enough time on the product itself.

Mike Penner at the LA Times was even more harsh. Can't really say I disagree with what he has to say either.

Grant Wohl at SI.com had a good interview with AEG boss, Tim Leiweke, last week. It's well worth checking out as there are a lot of interesting comments from him. But what's interesting to what I'm talking about is that we'll be seeing more of these matches against top Euro teams.

Honestly, it's a win-win as Penner points out. The Euro teams has the chance to play sell some extra shirts and possibly find some new fans by playing here. MLS teams get to play the best and this will hopefully raise the level (eventually) of play here. Who knows? If Chelsea do play LA next summer, maybe Abromivich will want to sign Landon...if he can handle the language barrier that exists between LA and London.

I don't know. The fact that an MLS team got to play one of the best teams in the world is a good thing for the league and the sport in this country. However, to see Real play at half-speed and make one of MLS' best teams look like the Washington Generals in some ways is pretty depressing. Yeah, I could go on a Steve Sampson rant here...but the fact is, half the Real Madrid squad make more than the entire Galaxy roster...combined. Until there is money available for a squad (not just one or two token players) of quality players whether American or not, the league will still be second rate by most fans in this country. And the said fact is, they'll be right.

Bottom line, if American soccer fans want to see quality football in a domestic league here, we (yeah, I'm one) have to put up with the current quality and hope the numbers that attend games and watch on TV grow. Until the money is available, we'll continue to see our teams look like amateurs against the best in the world.
  Vancouver Whitecaps 3, Sunderland 0
I saw this match report and had to crack up. As bad as things are in Newcastle right now, the Geordies have got to be loving this result.

I guess Sunderland are on a tour of North America playing USL teams. Seattle and Portland are also on the schedule.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
  NASL Old Boys
I just stumbled across The NASL Alumni Association web site. Does anyone know anything about them? They'll be having a reunion in Dallas in September. could be interesting.

I know MLS did a lot to distance itself from the NASL 10 years ago. MLS didn't want the stigma of the way the league folded or the other problems the NASL had with FIFA and the USSF associated with it. However, after 10 years, I'm hoping MLS does more to embrace the history of the sport in this country and NASL is a huge part of that.

If anyone knows more about what's going on with this group, please contact me.
  Before it even gets off the ground
...or at least ground is broken.

It seems a minor snag has already hit Milwaukee's bid to get an MLS team. One of the investors is under investigation that he didn't repay a loan.

Great headline, I'm sure it sold a few papers, however, I've a feeling there's really nothing here.

But remember, bad publicity is still better than no publicity.
  It's almost that time again.
I'm a numbers geek...well, sometimes a wannabe geek. For several years I've been keeping track of the big competitions using spreadsheets from Michael Wray. He has spreadsheets you can enter all the league results for all the English Leagues. He'll also have a Champs League one and next summer he'll have easily the best World Cup tracker. Check them out and let me know if I'm just being geeky or not.

I've got my Championship spreadsheet downloaded and ready to track Ipswich's climb back to the EPL promise land....yeah, I'm optimistic before the season starts.
Friday, July 15, 2005
  Forget everything I said about the Gold Cup
It seems I was wrong about CONCACAF's decision to have the Gold Cup only broadcast on Spanish Language channels that I don't know if I get. The TV ratings have been setting records. Of course, this is only for Hispanic views and if memory serves, the channels the games are on no longer pay Nelson to review their ratings. But I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong...sorta.
  All-Star roster now complete

Dallas coach, Colin Clarke added his selections to the All-Star team yesterday. He named Scott Garlick and Simo Valakari from his own Western Conference leading team as well as Frankie Hejduk from the Crew, Chris Albright from LA and Pat Noonan from the Revs.

Also, commissioner Don Garber added DC's Ghristian Gomez and the Revs Taylor Twellman.

No Freddy Adu which is a shock to me. Also Chicago, San Jose, Colorado and Chivas won't be represented in the match.

So, the final table of players who'll be representing MLS at the end of the month looks like this.

I've gotta admit, I'm surprised more of an effort wasn't made to insure every team was represented...but I doubt I'll watch so I guess I don't need an opinion here.

On one additional note for Galaxy fans. Did you notice that while LA have two players (Donovan and Albright) on the All-Star team...there are three former Galaxy players (Ruiz, Reis and Vanney) on the MLS squad.

  This could be interesting
It seems Gazza is taking a coaching position in Portugal with Algarve United.

Club president Corrado Correggi told the local press: 'Gascoigne has accepted our invitation.

'He wants to leave behind his own problems and teach our young players how to avoid getting involved in such problems.'
Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't Algarve a vacation spot where Brits head to drink and soak up the sun? Hardly a place he should be heading to "avoid getting involved in such problems."
  You can't find good tacos in Bolton
But that hasn't stopped Jared Borgetti from joining Bolton Wanderers. He'll be joining the team once the Gold Cup finishes.

It seems there were other offers for him but he wanted to play in England. This could be a very good purchase by Sam Allardyce.

Borgetti is the first Mexican player bought by an English side. More globalization of the game...and a move that I expect will benefit all involved.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
  Gunner be gone
Wow, Vieira to Juventus!! First off, even with the talent available at Highbury, that's a big hole to fill. Second, a transfer fee of only £13.75m makes me think there's more to this than we will probably every hear...officially.

I wonder what Wenger has up his sleeve here. I expect Arsenal to be buying someone big in the very near future.
  Open Cup lives up to expectations
Once again, the Open Cup offers us some giant-killing results and some favorites needed Extra Time to get past smaller teams.

Rochester needed a late winner to get past the rival USL 1 team.

Chicago went a goal down early on the road against the USL 2 side before getting three back before the break.

Chivas had to fight to get past the USL 2 side and didn't come out on top until Extra Time was played.

Wow! The college kids tore the pros apart. This has to be the upset of the round.

Wilmington scored first. Dallas could only manage to level the score before showing their fitness and scoring twice in Extra Time.

Two Extra Time goals from the Thunder. 10 goals total. This had to be a classic!

One thing is certain. No team can take these Cup games for granted. On any given day, any team can win over 90 minutes. I just wish more was done to make this competition bigger. After all, we--as American's--love a good underdog story. This could make some of the unlikely runs in the NCAA Basketball Tournament seem meaningless. Well, maybe not meaningless but you know what I'm getting at here.

UPDATE: I just found this great piece by Marc Connolly on MLSnet. He does a great job of painting a picture of last nights Western Mass - Chicago game. I agree, this is what the Open Cup should be about.

  When will they learn?
It seems Sampson requested that Donovan be released from the US squad for the Galaxy's "Big Game" next week against Real Madrid. However, even though the US play on Saturday and won't play again until Thursday, Bruce Arena rejected the idea.

US Team press officer Michael Kammarman explained...

"[The Gold Cup] is our regional championship. It makes no sense to have Landon flying back and forth across the country."
Um, you could have fooled me. Most people in the US don't even know it's going on. On top of that, there's a ton more media coverage in this country about the Real Madrid game than the entire Gold Cup.

But still, I guess the Galaxy (sorry, AEG) should have thought of that before they scheduled the match. Of course, as the stadium will be packed with people paying double the ticket price of other games, I'm sure they won't be too concerned.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
  Not a bad result for TNS
I was sure this score would go into double digits. However, Liverpool only manage a 3-0 win over Welsh champions TNS. It could have been closer if Steven Gerrard wasn't playing as he got all three goals.
  Catching up with the Open Cup
I love this competition. I just wish there was a way of effectively doing more with it. but I do enjoy seeing the USL teams match up against the Big Boys. Maybe one day it'll reach more people and ticket sales won't be such a huge disappointment. I could go on a major rant on how things could be done better, but I'm trying to stay positive so I'll just look on where we are in this years competition.

We are currently in the 3rd Round of this years competition.

Last night, Portland got past rivals Seattle 2-0. The Timbers will play San Jose (as usual) in the next round.


While I love the fact that the Cup gives teams from lower leagues the chance to play MLS teams in meaningful games, I also like the fact that teams not doing so well in the league (that's you Chivas and Real) the chance to make amends for a poor season so far with a good run in the cup. Oh yeah, we already have playoffs...well, I'm sure I'll go on a playoff rant in a couple of months so I'll resist the temptation for now.

  What's the bet?
Is anyone else getting bored with these side bets between Doug Hamilton and Antonio Cue before every LA - Chivas Derby match?

It was amusing before the first match...but now it's just tired and the new bet just sounds like another ticket sales opportunity.

C'mon guys, after Chivas beats the Galaxy on Saturday, hopefully, the action on the field will be enough to spark interest. However, because both teams are doing so poorly this season and not really playing well, no one in LA is interested and the promise to buy tickets for kids and serve lunch is really going to spark any new local interest.

Here's an idea, work on putting better teams (and in the case of the Galaxy, a better coach) on the field and people will start buying tickets.
  30 minutes or less??
Oh wait, that was Domino's.

Well, Pizza Hut Park won't be ready for their August 6 match against MetroStars. Construction delays have cause them to move the most of their seaon back to the Cotton Bowl this season. When they do play the Metros, they'll only be able to have 12,500 (at best) in attendance. The stadium will eventually hold 21,000.

It's a bummer, but the stadium will eventually be finished. Let's just hope it's all done by the MLS Cup Final.
  I'll hit the snooze button.
Big Whoop. MLS announced the All-Star line-up. Honestly, I just can't get excited about watching the game. However, I thought it amusing to see which teams got how many starters.

Wow! OK, so there are 12 teams and there can be only 11 starters. But only half the leagues teams will have a starter on the pitch. The majority of starters are from NE and Dallas which makes sense as they are the best two teams right now. But naming no players from 3 of the last 4 MLS Cup winners? I'm sure there are a ton more takes here but this really is amusing.

I'm sure the teams not listed will have representation when the subs are named (Adu) but I was sure MLS would have come up with some way to spread starters among more teams.

  Now this is great news
I've been a huge critic of Peter Wilt's removal as GM of the Fire. I thought it was a huge mistake. No other GM has done more to build a strong, loyal fan base for their team. Certainly Doug Hamilton could learn a few things there.

So, I was happy to read this morning that he's heading up a group in Milwaukee to bring a team to that town. I'm of the belief that the location of a team isn't as important as having good people running the team right now. Teams in towns that should have done well, haven't (Miami, NY) and teams in towns that didn't make sense, have (Salt Lake). So, I'm sure any team there will do well.

Of course, then the question of expansion or relocation comes up. It's looking more and more like the Earthquakes will be moving to Houston but then there's the situation with Kansas City. Could this group in Milwaukee be the new owners? Probably not, but the timing of all this seems interesting.

So, I guess this means possible expansion in '08.

UPDATE: I just found this. It looks like a stadium could be part of the deal.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
  Why did it take so long?
It's been on the cards for at least a couple of seasons. But the Crew finally decided it was time to try someone new at the helm.

Robert Warzycha will take charge in Columbus while they find a full-time replacement.

Being the pessimist I am, I'm guessing he'll be replacing Steve Sampson in LA next.
  It's almost time for the new season
Portman Road (and the ground staff) has won several awards for the quality of the pitch. Heck, they'd better as Ipswich is in the middle of an agricultural area. So, now that Ipswich are counting the money they made after the REM concert there the other day, it's time to put down a new pitch.

What strikes me is how much attention is being given to the new pitch and how much of a priority it is. They seem to throw down a new pitch 2 or 3 times each season at the HDC. Watching on TV, you can tell the grass at the HDC is an after thought. Maybe one day AEG won't rent the stadium to the X-Games and truck in several hundred tons of dirt. But it's all about the money.
Monday, July 11, 2005
So I'm reading the BBC's report on the Copa Libertadores Final. The writer didn't think much of the match. Then I see this paragraph...
In a country whose income distribution is among the most unfair in the world, the import of US-style consumer culture has further emphasized the brutal division between a few haves and the vast majority of have-nots.
...So, am I to understand that the writer blames US economics for him having to watch a match he didn't find entertaining? C'mon, the top players are heading to Europe (England among the countries) not North America. I'm sure you enjoy being able to see them in person on Saturday afternoons. So, why the jibe at the US?
  More on the Quakes move to Houston
This is one of the worst kept secrets in MLS of late. Actually, the news isn't that new. However, Wagman does a great job of breaking down possible parts of the negotiation which probably won't make the press anywhere else. Sounds like negotiation have really been long and drawn out trying to make things acceptable for all. One thing is certain now that I've read the piece, it won't be a straight money transaction like the birth of Chivas.
  Money talks
This isn't the first but the latest bunch of player salary newspaper articles leads me to believe we may see some changes in the not too distant future. I'm guessing it's either the Players Union or some Agent that's giving the salary info to the press.

My take? Well, if only the top players are getting big money and the developmental players aren't getting enough to pay rent, how long will those players really be developed. Then again, this is an opportunity for USL 1 teams to sign a few of these players to long term deals and force MLS to compensate the USL 1 team for that player they want while they are already under contract. Well, it works in the rest of the world.
Friday, July 08, 2005
  Just some thoughts on some media I found today
Yeah, it's a boring Friday at the office.

Well, that's all I've got for now.
  First it was Landon...
...Now it looks like Chivas may get their savior with the signing of Juan Pablo "El Loquito" Garcia from Atlas. He's saying the right things already...

"I am very happy to be with Chivas USA because they value my qualities as a player and because they believe that I will contribute to the team in a league that has grown a lot in the last years."
...and the fact that a player of his talent is joining the team at his age has got to be a coup of some kind. Of course, if I'm being a cynic, I'll point out that I'm guessing Vargara signed him to keep Club America from getting him and then put him in LA with the Chivas JV squad in order to make it seem like the long-term goal for Garcia is to have him with the Varsity squad in Guadalajara.

Maybe I'm wrong with by conspiracy theory...but I wouldn't put it past Vargara. And who knows? Chivas Lite can use him right about now.
  I'm guessing KC have new owners
So, yesterday the KC Star revealed that there's a third group looking at buying the Wiz. Today, the paper is reporting that potential owner Andrew Murstein is no longer interested in buying the team. It seems Murstein wants to own a sports team and that MLS really weren't interested in his money.

I can really only think the reason he was brushed aside was because he wanted to move the team. But why is he now interested in an Arena Football team in KC? It's not like he doesn't have the money to be able to afford the losses he'll probably see at first.

My only guess is that one of the other offers has been accepted and we'll be hearing something in the not too distant future.

Nice parting shot from Murstein though...
“Like in the ‘Wizard of Oz:’ ‘I’m melting, I’m melting and then I’m about to disappear.’ ”
There's got to be more to this story but I guess we'll never know what really happened.
  You've gotta love CONCACAF
Did anyone see the US-Cuba match last night? Nope, me either. Ya see, CONCACAF, in it's wisdom decided to sell the rights to the Gold Cup (North America's biggest competition) to a Spanish Language network. I have no idea if I get this Teleflora (something like that) Channel or not...and to be honest, I don't care.

seriously, why should I bother? As an English speaking person living in the US, it's difficult enough to follow the sport of soccer and in order to do so, you have to spend a lot of money. I just can't be bother to put much more effort into following a competition that the promoters don't really care to make that interesting...or at least that's my (as a potential consumer) opinion.

Oh yeah, the game. It seems that a young US side managed to get three late goals and won the match 4-1. Boy, it sounds like 87 minutes of sleeping pills with a rude jolt at the end. But maybe I'm wrong...after all, I didn't watch the match.

Then again, it doesn't look like anyone bothered to show up for the match. Perhaps the Copa Oro (that's Spanish) was advertised in Seattle in Spanish as well.
  This is Real(ly) disappointing me
I know I've been pretty negative about how Galaxy management are selling anything they can for the upcoming friendly at the HDC with Real Madrid. But now it's starting to upset me as a fan of the Galaxy.

According to today's SGV Tribune the Galaxy are more interested in their performance in the friendly than the league that week. The match against Real Madrid will take place only 2 days after a league game. Thankfully, that match is against Chivas. However, I'm worried that Sampson is under enough pressure that he may risk playing some reserves in the Chivas match in order for starters to be fresh for Mondays match.

"It's been made very clear to me that the Real Madrid game is very important,' Sampson said with a grin. "I have my marching orders get three points on Saturday night and be very competitive on Monday night.'

Sampson said the game is critical on many levels, from trying to compete against arguably one of the finest teams in the world Real Madrid has a won 29 Spanish league titles and nine European Cups, both records to showing credibility for MLS. He said his players won't be in awe of their more famous Real Madrid counterparts, which include David Beckham, Michael Owen, Robert Carlos, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.

"We're not going to be going around asking for autographs, let's put it that way,' Sampson said. "We know how important it is for the league. Every player that is going to be playing in front of a live audience and worldwide television audience knows what a great opportunity it is for them personally to show what they can do. And jointly, to represent the MLS flag, quite frankly.

"And we know that's a huge responsibility.'

So, could a couple losses be the of the road for Sampson at the helm of the Galaxy? I doubt it, there's still more damage he can do.

Seriously though. Galaxy management--as always--seems to have their priorities out of order. This match against Real is a good opportunity to play some quality competition and bring people to the HDC to see them. But the league should be the top priority. But it still doesn't seem that way. I've been saying since '96 that as long as they put the best possible XI on the pitch, fans will eventually come. Guess those XI will be wearing white rather than the green and gold sash on the 18th.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
  For Pete's Sake
Galaxy captain, Pete Vagenas now has a column on Goal.com

He gives us a brief autobiography of his footie resume. How the heck do you pronounce Panayiotis Alexiou Vagenas?

But the best part was this quote:

So now, I’m patiently waiting for Mr. Bruce Arena to rediscover my phone number and allow me to take that final and elusive step in my American soccer journey, a World Cup.
I doubt it'll happen...but that's two quality quotes he's got in my Rambling this week. Then again, who knows? He found a spot for Albright, maybe he'll convert you to a striker. After all, you've not had a bad season in front of goal.

BTW, spell checker suggests "pantyhose for Panayiotis", Pete. Maybe you shouldn't have told the world...it's Hartman's turn to get you back.
  The whoring of the Galacticos (Empty your Wallet Here Pt II)
I've got to hand it to the Galaxy/AEG for making the most of the opportunity to play Real Madrid. I wonder how much AEG are playing the Spanish side for showing up? Anyway, this email showed up in my inbox today. So, the Galaxy are auctioning off the chance ot have your kid walk out on the pitch with Beckham, Ronaldo or Zidane. Of course, that's only if they play...Otherwise, you pay $1,000 to walk with some other Real player.

So, at the time of my posting this, a chance to walk with David Beckham is currently going for $1,050, Ronaldo is an even $1,000 and Zidane is currently a bargain at $710. Following the bidding on ebay here.

Maybe it's me, but Real must be asking for a ton of money to play the match in LA as the Galaxy seem to be pulling out every angle they can to make money off this match. Expect to see t-shirts and hats in the merchandise stands as well. But $30 to see Real practice?

Well, hopefully everyone gets their money's worth.

Is it me, or is it sad that the biggest, most publicized match of the Galaxy season is nothing more than a preseason warm up for the opposition?
  KC seems to have a bidding war
It looks like there's nowa third party interested in buying the Wiz. I know this is a blow for local fans who are hoping the Heart of America Soccer Foundation's bid to buy the team works out. But in the grand scheme of things, it's got to be a positive that there are currently 3 MLS teams (KC, SJ and DC) possibly changing ownership in the next few months.

What really surprised me is that former MLS Wrap host Sean Wheelock is a consultant for the Andrew Murstein bid. Wheelock is a KC local so you'd think his would be interested in keeping a team in town...maybe not.

Of course, if you have $15,000,000 laying around...you can get in on the action as well.
  This makes me sick
I know a lot of people who live and/or work in London. I couldn't believe the news this morning. The thoughts and prayers of my family go out to those in London.

I lived in the UK (an hour from London) for 13 years and I'm just as effected by this attack as the one in New York and DC 4 years ago.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
  Alexi Lalas is the best thing to happen to MLS
Seriously. As a player, I was honored to see him in his prime with LA. He was solid at the back and went a long way to helping the team bring some silverware to the Rose Bowl and HDC.

As GM for San Jose, he did what he needed to do in order to bring more attention to the team but even he couldn't do enough to stop the sale of team and their move to Houston.

So, now he's in New York and the media there seem to love to quote him. Yesterday's New York Times seemed to stir up things a bit by publishing this quote from Big Red:

"The MetroStars would love nothing more than to have Freddy Adu," Lalas said in a telephone interview last night. "He would certainly play in New York. It's evident that he loves competition and wants to play, and we are certainly a team that would provide him with time on the field. I would love nothing more than for him to get fed up with D.C. Right now, I think the situation is a little like a Bruce Lee movie without a fight. He's got the star power, but there hasn't been the payoff."

To be honest, I read that yesterday and laughed it off as just Lalas giving a dumb media question a dumb response. Of course he'd love to have young Freddie in Metros stripes. But I can't see any way he thought his comments would be taken seriously.

But they were...

"It's extremely inappropriate," [DC Gm Kevin] Payne said yesterday. "I'm disappointed. I have a lot of respect for Alexi and a friendship with Alexi, but he crossed the line on this, in my opinion. It's tampering, in any league. It's totally unconstructive.

C'mon Kevin (and I'm assuming DC fans...I haven't check BigSoccer about this) there's no way he was serious about that comment. Hell, anyone who's listened to or read an interview with Alexi the last 15 years (has it really been that long?) knows 90% of what he say's is tongue-in-cheek.

Then again, it's media ink for the league. If it sells a few more tickets in DC or NY (or rather, NJ) then I guess it's all good.

OK Alexi, I'm waiting for your response to the next press hack asking about David Beckham in Metros colors.
  Island politics
What a mess. How silly can a governing body be? (no comments from Democrats out there...yes, I mean you Kyle) ;)

Anyway, how the heck can Barbados allow itself to get booted from FIFA? Ya gotta be silly to let it get that far. Of course, I guess there are some parallels to the 2000 US Presidential Election. Guess it's a good thing the UN didn't boot the US out. Or is it?

Either way, this feud between the two candidates can't be a good thing. Though I'm not sure how much not playing international matches will really hurt them.
  If all your friends jumped off a cliff....
Everyone else is doing it...so I may as well be a sheep as well.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey
  More on the Quakes move
Maybe it's just me reading between the lines, but the SJ Mercury News article leads me to believe that the move to Houston is a done deal. I know, it says Club America need to find a stadium for the team to play.

However, my guess when they say it won't be done until Mid-August is to ensure AEG ticket sales don't suddenly drop to levels even considered low for the Bay Area side. Or have I just become extremely negative in my old age?
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
  Gato saves the day
Well, he almost did last night...But that's another topic.

It seems Kevin "El Gato" Hartman has written a kids book titled "Boots Saves The Day" with illustrations by his (very attractive) wife, Jennifer. Well, as a new daddy, I know what Little PZ will be getting in the not too distant future.

Pete Vagenas had a great quote over on CyberSoccerNews:

"I saw the early edition…and it’s on his intellectual level,” said Pete Vagenas with a grin. “He’s working under a strain, so he put a few sentences together."

So, I guess I just need to wait for it to be released. I'm sure PZ Junior will love it.
  Same ole Fish
Carlos Ruiz was MIA again this weekend. Galaxy fans got used to it, but it seems to be something new for those in Dallas. He still one of the leagues top scorers...but just think what he'd do if he was more focused. Then again, he probably would be playing in England...but he missed a trial practice when he was over there.

Fish buddy, you have all the talent to do all kinds of great things...but you keep blowing it.
  Two and four wheels this weekend....where the footie?
Maybe it's me, but I can't believe that unless you live in an MLS town or have the Direct Kick PPV package, only two matches over the July 4 weekend were available...and you had to have FSC to get it.

Thankfully, sports events in France (Formula 1 GP and Tour de France) kept me entertained. Sorry, but wall-to-wall tennis on ESPN just doesn't excite me.

Friday night we get some W-League match...where's the remote?

Saturday, we get DC and Columbus. Ok, so DC are alright, but Columbus put me to sleep.

I figured it would be a weekend without any footie I wanted to see...but then the Galaxy - New England game was on Monday night (not sure how I missed that listing).

So, MLS continues to play matches while it's top players are off doing other things--in this case, the Gold Cup. I should have known better.

Now, I've been following the Galaxy since '96. For the most part, it's been fun. But honestly, Steve Sampson has managed to produce a team that may as well not bother half the time. Thankfully, we got to see Grabavoy and Gordon last night. I know Gordon has been injured, but honestly I can't understand why Sampson insists on some of his starters. If it wasn't for Kevin Hartman, the match would have been over early with the Revs heading home with 3 points. It's a good thing the Revs were missing so many starters or it could have been worse. I'm not sure it's what Sampson planned, but putting Mike Enfield and Herculez Gomez on makes him seem a much better tactician than he really is. It was a nice goal from Enfield. I'm actually glad I got to see the youngsters play.

However, why was Cobi brought off when he was producing most of the spark going forward? What's with the disorganized at the back? And why is Naldo seeing any time on the pitch?

That equalizer seemed always on the way...of course, it couldn't have happened much later.

Anyway, I may or may not get to see some Gold Cup games the next few week--I'm not sure I get that Spanish Language channel. To be honest, the highlights on the Fox Sports World Report may be enough for me.

It's sad really, here we are at what should be an exciting part of the MLS season. We are past the halfway point and teams are sorting themselves out. But no, we get games with the top players gone playing games many of us won't get to see. Maybe it's just me, but something isn't right here. Oh well, teams in Europe are getting ready for the new season.

At least I can spend July watching Lance Armstrong do his lap of honor around France. How sad is it that France is producing the only sports entertainment on the 4th of July Weekend?
Friday, July 01, 2005
  Doug Hamilton wins friends in Birmingham
The Galaxy never announced it, but WBA had and had even booked flights and reserved hotel rooms for a trip to LA to play the Galaxy and Chivas in friendlies. However, the trip is now off and I'm sure Doug Hamilton could be getting a call from UEFA, FIFA or USSF to explain their version of events.

Obviously, Hamilton went after the big money Real Madrid would bring in over playing a friendly against a decent WBA team. I'm sure it'll eventually blow over, but somehow I have a feeling that other teams in England will be hearing from WBA management if they are considering a trip to LA.

Either way, it's not a great way to build relationships. Way to go Mr. Hamilton.
An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
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