Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
  Football vs Soccer
This should be interesting to follow.

The NY Jets lease at the Meadowlands ends in 2008 and they are looking for a new home. They are hoping to back where they started in Flushing. However, the location they want to use is currently home to several soccer fields.
At a nearby field, the Liga Corona -- a soccer league with 18 teams -- was in full swing. Team Veracruz was legging it out against A. Liberty, a battle that drew crowds of dozens of onlookers.

Players from the league said that on any given Sunday, hundreds of teams and thousands of players play soccer on the seven fields around the fountain.

Shevon Joseph, 22, a banker from Crown Heights, said that if the Jets make their home at the fountain, those soccer players would be evicted.

"If the Jets come here, they're breaking down our joy."

So, the political machine that's needed to make things happen quickly jumped into action.
(Assemblyman Jose) Peralta, who supports the idea, was confident that not only would the soccer players have a home, but that new and improved facilities would be better than what is there now, including the possibility of hosting major league soccer games at the stadium. “That would be another home run for Queens.”
Do you buy that? Actually, it's kinda fun seeing MLS used as a pawn. Any publicity is good publicity. But seriously, is MLS jumping at the chance of another team playing second fiddle in an NFL stadium?
  Just did it
May be it's me, but I love the new Nike ad currently on heavy rotation on FSC and ESPN (well, during soccer broadcasts)

I've been a long-time critic of the way Nike does things (dating back to my days managing a retail store pushing their gear) but I've got to admit, whoever created the ad, did their research and struck a cord with soccer fans in this country. I'm slightly less bothered when I wear my Galaxy jersey now...well, not bothered by the swoosh....the team on the other hand....

Oh, and while I'm on this. How long will it take until the traditional media wakes up and discovers how many soccer fans are not listening to their who might otherwise to hear what they have to say about other sports. I know I'm a big Football (both NCAA and NFL) and NHL fan...but whenever I hear of those 'sports experts' spout their opinion on soccer, I change to an FM station.

I have a dream that one day sports talk radio will cover the sport of soccer with the same respect that they give to football, baseball, basketball, hockey and left-turn racing.
  Let's do some catching up
This week has been hectic and this is the first chance I've had to post. I started a Princeton Review GMAT course and...well let's just say, I seem to have forgot a lot of stuff that I once knew.

Anyway, here some things which caught my attention the last few days.

The Brazilian league is now changing it's structure. It seems, they now believe that the traditional European system will work best there. They'll still play a summer schedule and take a break for the World Cup. Where have I heard that idea suggested for MLS?

WooHoo!!! The US-Mexico game will be on live English language TV after all. I guess I don't need to brush up on my Spanish after all. It would have been sad if the biggest game...and the match which may be the one which sends the team to Germany was only broadcast live in a language most of the home fans didn't speak. And while I'm on the subject, I know the guys over at BigSoccer are bothered by this, but I find that it's a positive sign that the sport is making progress in this country that scalpers are making some pretty good money selling tickets to the game on eBay. If you're upset that Mexican fans are buying the tickets, maybe more US fans who wanted to use the tickets should have bought them. They are jealous north of the border.

Can someone please explain the need for the HOF game? At least a game this time of the year. We've already established that there are too many meaningless games going on right now--the match in Madrid was a classic example--but this is just another nothing game. Teams should be focused on the end-of-season run-in...but instead, they are flying off to BFE New York to play this match. Wouldn't it be more interesting if players getting inducted get the chance to choose teams of players they played with/against when they were active. I know that I, as a fan, would be much more interested in that.

Is it just me, or was the sacking of Greg Elliott a bit strange? It seems to show where we are in the development of the professional game here. Elliott appears to have been replaced because he focused too much on the product on the pitch rather than the tickets sold (regardless of if they were filled or not). I've said for a long time and will maintain my opinion that putting the best possible team on the pitch will eventually sell tickets...too bad the owners need the ticket sales now. We'll see what happens with this.

One last thing...Pierluigi Collina has called it quits...not because he can't officiate games any more but because of some silly politics tied to an endorsement deal. I guess it's reassuring to know that those calling the shots in MLS aren't the only ones who seem to make strange decisions.
Friday, August 26, 2005
  What's the Spanish word for "Calvary?"
So, we've established that Chivas underestimated MLS when they created the squad for LA Latinos. So now, the long promised reinforcements have arrived. I'm actually glad about this. Of course, the fact that the other LA team has already won 5 of 5 from them helps matters there.

What bothers me is, what if Chivas de LA win the MLS Cup this season? It can happen. They've brought in enough 'star' talent that if they got hot right now (more than 2/3rds into the season) they could sneak into the playoffs and...well, anything is possible there.

I know I've complained for a long time that most of the regular season is meaningless. In order to win the EPL, the champion has usually only lost a handful of games all season...in the case of Arsenal a couple of years ago, it was exactly zero--though they did slip up in the Cups.

Right now, San Jose has 4 losses. With 7 matches left, that's respectable and though they don't have the most points (NE have one more but with one more loss) they would make worthy--can't believe I just used that word--champions. But with the regular season almost over, all 12 teams can still mathematically win the MLS Cup.

Perhaps one of the reasons the Open Cup hasn't caught on in this country is because it too closely resembles the playoffs. After all, attendance drops off for the playoffs as well. The league is so focused on selling tickets to youth groups during the regular season, they seem to forget the other competitions.

(It's it funny how this started off as a blog about Chivas' new players and has ended up being a rant about the league structure? I guess that's why my blog has it's title.)

Well, as I'm on the topic, Mr. Garber, here's my wise list. As you are determined to create a league with 30+ teams...here's a structure that should meet your requirements and make since (yeah, that would be a first)

So, let's have two conferences. Teams in each conference will focus on games against their own conference. However, I'm sure you'll want a "Freddie Tour" so I guess each team will have to play against a home and home against every other team...wait, that won't work either or it'll be a 60 game meaningless season. So, each team in each conference plays each team twice. Then, the champ from each conference plays each other in a home and home series for the MLS Cup. Or are you already thinking about that? You did mention a few weeks ago to expect a change in the playoff format. But I'm sure you're still hell bent on the single game final.

Of course, the Open Cup stays as it is cuz it already works.

But in the mean time, let's see how close Chivas gets to the playoffs.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
So, back in 1995 Steve Sampson was the interim coach for the national team as they heading south to play in the Copa America. Under his guidance the team did well and even knocked Argentina out of the competition. Ya see, the Argie coach benched a bunch of his starters and the US was in command of the match by the time he started making substitutions. At the time, it was one of the biggest wins in US Soccer history. And, I credit that win to Sampson becoming the permanent coach for the team.

Fast-forward to last night's Open Cup game in San Jose. According to various reports, Dominic Kinnear rested a lot more starters than Steve Sampson. Sampson wanted the victory last night...and he got it. By the time Kinnear brought on reinforcements, it was too late and LA won.

Wouldn't it be amusing if that win which brings LA within 180 minutes (90 of which are against a USL team) is what saves Sampson his job?

While I'm on the topic. What a great win for Minnesota last night on the road in Kansas City. I'm guessing Bob Gansler underestimated the Thunder and it cost him.

Now Minnesota have to head to LA for their Semi Final match. I don't think Sampson will be playing his reserves in that one.

The other Semi will match the Fire and Bur....errr Dallas against each other. Brimstone?

If ya want more info, check out the unofficial Open Cup site 'cuz I can't be bothered to run down the scores and find a bunch of other links....yeah, I'm lazy today.
  Change for change sake
I'm not too sure what to make of this. Buried at the bottom of a Balboa HOF article was this bit.

Balboa also is involved in planning for the Rapids' soccer-specific stadium, which is scheduled to open in Commerce City for the 2007 season. He said one of his goals is to restore the Rapids' jerseys to their original green color, instead of their current blue and black.
There seems to be a trend here of teams changing image (colors) with the opening of their new stadium. If I'm being a pessimist (which I usually am) I'm thinking they need to sell more shirts in order to pay for the new facility. Now, I'm not saying the shirts MLS teams wore in '96 are worth bragging about...or keeping. But in order for the league to establish itself and build some tradition, we've got to stop changing some of the few constants we have.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
  Ajax American buying an MLS team?
According to the Ajax America site, the organization is in talks with MLS/AEG/Hunt to buy one of the teams currently up for sale.

However, it doesn't look like they'll move either team.

“Ajax explored Orlando as a location for expansion largely due to the area’s successful soccer history, including the 1994 World Cup,” stated [Ajax America EVP and COO] Rich Bradley. “We still believe that the potential exists to bring a professional team to Orlando, however, at this time we have an opportunity to immediately attain our goal of an association with a Major League Soccer team in another market.”

Whatever happened to Club America and Andrew Murstein?
  Normal service is resumed
Ok, it's Open Cup time tonight. Too bad the best players won't be there...but I've already given my opinion there.

So, by the time I get this posted, the matches on the East Coast should have already kicked off. Too bad there was better coverage of the matches in the last round than the Quarters. Anyway, I'll be looking for the score of the San Jose - LA match. Hopefully, LA can finally win one in No Cal.

Oh...and I'm also hoping Rochester and Minnesota do well as well. You've got to love a good underdog story. MLS teams are missing top players so it could happen ya know.
  Let's get Real
Ok, I promise that'll be my last "Real" pun...honest.

I've been pretty negitive about yesterday's game in Madrid between a bunch of selected MLS players and Real Madrid. I was already to post a blog that was negitive about the whole thing...but then I read this piece from Jamie Trecker.

I can't believe I'm now going to defend what happened yesterday.

I don't care how good the players are, how can you expect them to perform jet lagged, after only one practice together against a team that is made up of some of the best, most expensive players in the world who just finishing up their preseason getting ready to play in one of the toughest leagues in the world? Did I punctuate that correctly?

Seeing Don Garber sitting next to the Real Madrid president during the match made me think there was more to this match than just the 90 minutes on the pitch.

I don't think the players really wanted to be there. Yeah, only a couple of MLS players looked good, but players like Landon seemed like they were just killing time until they could get on the plane and fly home. It's not like he didn't ask to be left off the squad. His teammates are playing a much more important (to everyone expect the league) tonight. I'm sure he'd much rather be in San Jose helping his teammates move closer to a trophy.

The timing of this match sucked and it wasn't a wise addition to the schedule. The players didn't embarrass the league or the sport in this country. The people who call the shots (Don Garber) did.

Now, I'm sure Garber will have some kind of spin like "it shows how much we still have to grow" for this. But if it hadn't been played at such a bad time, I have no doubt that the MLS players would have performed much better.

Anyway, that's it for the meaningless friendly's for this year. I honestly hope Garber has learned a lesson after yesterday's match...but if the match brings in a few bucks, it probably will just mean the MLS season and Open Cup will still play second fiddle to displays like we saw yesterday.

UPDATE:A much better analysis of Trecker's piece (of junk)

Passing off a series of personal attacks and vague innuendo as analysis is by no means a solution either to the league's problem with a lack of general media coverage, or of an absence of informed, measured commentary. What few tangible points appear in Mr. Trecker's article are buried beneath the flood of petty jabs and the kind of take you expect just before the commercial break on too many radio and television shows.

Wish I could have said it that well.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
  I'm going through changes....It took so long
Apologies to Mr. Crawley...

Ok, so it looks like Doug Hamilton and Steve Sampson are about to pull the trigger on some player moves.

Based on the report in the Daily Breeze, Marcelo Saragosa looks like he'll be returning from Sao Paulo on a more permanent basis this time. At the end of last season, he said he liked playing in LA and wanted to stay...but money couldn't be agreed to.

Also arriving is Argentine Dario Husain from River Plate--I'm hearing good things about him from River supporters--and Edson Alvarado from Necaxa in Mexico. I actually got to see Alvarado play as a guest player for Colorado against Colorado Springs Blizzard a month or so ago. He played 45 minutes and honestly, I didn't pay much attention to him but he didn't stand out much either...and this was against a bunch of college kids. (Doesn't Galaxy Old Boy, Luis Hernandez play for Necaxa these days?)

All three appear to be midfielders. That sure stacks things up in the middle of the park. Some current players may be expendable at this point though it seems Naldo and Chinchilla could be the two on the way out.

My only question for Misters Hamilton and Sampson is, why aren't we bringing in a central defender? Tyrone is solid, but he's been partnered up with a bunch of nothing this season. We need help there.

So, the jury is out. We'll see how these moves work out. If they don't, Sampson's job will be up for grabs this winter.
  An admission of guilt....sorta
I still remember watching the England - Argentina game during the '86 World Cup. When Diego Maradona punched the ball in the net I was in shock. Seriously, as a youngster who'd always been taught to respect the laws of the game (yeah, I was gullible) I couldn't believe he was getting away with that goal. Well, after all this time, it seems he's finally admitted he got the goal illegally....sorta. He's still trying to justify it though.

However, I'm still waiting for him to say his cocaine addiction was really the Nose of God.
Monday, August 22, 2005
  Is it Real-ly necessary?
I'm not really that big a fan of all these friendly's against big Euro teams in the middle of the season. But I will admit to enjoying the games last money even if they were a temporary distraction from the league. Perhaps it would have been better those matches were schedule in place of the All-Star game and the league just took a break during the tours. But it's over, the visits were brief and the All-Star game...well, it seems to have been a total waste of time.

However, I'm bothered about this match against Real Madrid tomorrow. Some of the leagues top players are currently in Madrid getting ready to face the Spanish giants tomorrow. Silly me allowed myself to get distracted...though probably not as much as Don Garber. Thankfully, Ives Galarcep got me back on track.

Never mind that six of the league's 12 teams are set to compete in the U.S. Open Cup, the oldest competition in American team sports. Never mind that MLS is heading into the heart of its schedule and players such as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are already worn down from double duty with MLS and the U.S. national team. The main reason this game is a bad idea is because the league's decision to play it, and to force its teams to provide players, basically sends the message that an international friendly against a high-profile opponent is more important than the U.S. Open Cup or MLS Cup.

I wonder how much Real Madrid are paying MLS for this match? It's got to be more than the USSF is able to come up with in prize money. It bothers me that the Open Cup is still not given much credit by the league. Only the hardcore fans really seem to be giving the competition the respect it deserves. With luck, Minnesota and Rochester will move to the Semis and maybe wake someone up.

Here's an idea, why don't we focus on making the domestic league as good as possible...then maybe work on an MLS team actually knocking a Mexican club out of the Champions Cup...then maybe we can worry about how we stack up against top Euro teams.
  A leap for joy...
Did anyone else notice that leap Steve Sampson took with his arms raised in celebration as the ref blew time on Saturday at RFK? You can't tell me he wasn't relieved at that result. There's no doubt he's feeling the pressure to produce results and the complete lack of a win in any competitive match outside of So Cal had to be causing him to spend his evenings working on his resume.

Now, I've been a huge critic of Sampson's for a long time and I still maintain that he wasn't the best replacement Doug Hamilton could have found for Sigi Schmid, but I'm going to give Sampson some props here. The look of intensity and determination in Donovan's eyes after he scored the winner on Saturday told me the team, for once, was in the right frame of mine. LA did a great job of moving the ball around. Players found and moved into space while teammates found them in that space. Movement and passing was what it should be in DC on Saturday and they got the result they were looking for because of that play. As a Galaxy fan, I'm hoping this trend continues next Saturday in San Jose.

By no means has Sampson proved himself as Galaxy coach by this result, but it shows it's possible for him to guide a team in the right direction. There's still a lot of work to be done. Ty Marshall can't hold things down at the back by himself...but that's what it looked like he was asked to do at times on Saturday. The midfield still isn't working as a unit. But I'm going to enjoy the 3 points for now and hope this trend continues.

I was almost glad the Columbus - Dallas game was stopped for 40 minutes on Saturday. It was hardly the match I saw in DC later. Things didn't liven up until late and by then I was half asleep.

The match in Salt Lake looked entertaining...too bad I only got to see highlights.

Perhaps the reinforcements Chivas brought in might make a difference after all. Too bad it's too little too late.

And what was with Drogba's goal yesterday against Arsenal? Now that was a fluke...but it was a fluke that brought them 3 points against a difficult opponent.
  TV coverage still needs some work
It looks like live English Language coverage of the US-Mexico game in a couple of weeks may not happen. Sounds a lot like political maneuvering...and also that fact that some mid-major college football game still gets better ratings in this country. Grant Wahl wrote a great piece on the problem and unless the game is shown on ESPNEWS, I'll be watching in Spanish.

So, what's gonna be on instead of the US-Mexico tilt?

ESPN: Boise State-Georgia college football
ESPN2: USC-Hawaii college football
ESPN Classic: Battle Lines: Billy Conn/Joe Louis I (boxing)
ESPN Deportes: Torneos de las Américas basketball
ESPNU: Delaware State-Florida A&M college football

Originaly, the game was scheduled to be on ESPN Classic, but politics is causing ESPN to no longer show live events on that channel.

Here's an idea, if Disney Corp doesn't want the broadcast, why not talk to Fox? Their regional networks will probably be full of football, but FSC will make room and give it decent coverage. Also, who knows? Maybe they'll be willing to bump something off their broadcast network...well, why not shoot for something big? Either way, I'll be a huge blow if SUM can't get this game on live TV in English.
Friday, August 19, 2005
  A lottery where everyone wins
Talk about interesting marketing...MLS, FC Dallas or someone has decided that the MLS Cup this season will be so popular that in order to insure fair distribution of tickets, they will hold a lottery to select who gets tickets. But this seems a bit like keeping ticket prices up in order to make people believe you are getting a quality product even those the top players are off for an international game. What's the bet that we'll see discounted tickets available a few weeks before the match?

Bottom line, chances are EVERYONE who enters this lottery wins. After all, it's not the World Cup.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
  Has Arena been taking lessons from Sampson?
Before I start ranting, I have to point out that I only watched the second half. Though I did watch the first 5 minutes as well. Honestly, the second half was awful. I couldn't believe
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  You know things are bad when a Jamaican says you're too laid back
As Galaxy fans step up their call to replace Steve Sampson, long time Galaxy defender, Tyrone Marshall, spoke with the Pasadena Star-News on what he sees is wrong.

"A lot of guys ... they get on the pitch and play 45 minutes, not 90 minutes,' he said. "It's almost like we're going through the motions sometimes. I'm going, 'Man, what's going on?' It's different obviously when you're on the pitch, but maybe we need somebody to say, 'Pick it up,' or shout at someone."
Hasn't Landon only been playing 45 minutes the last couple of matches? Actually, he's probably the only player wearing the sash that can change a game. Bottom line is this all comes back to Sampson. If he's can't get the talent he has to perform, Doug Hamilton needs to find someone who can.
Monday, August 15, 2005
  Green Street Hooligans
I've been seeing the link in Nick and Steven's emails...but hadn't checked it out yet. But then I'm looking at my blog to check things look right and I see the link down in the Google ads so I had to check out the website.

It looks interesting. It's about a Harvard dropout (or kicked out) who ends up in London and becomes friends with some hooligans. I haven't checked out the preview but the soundtrack alone seems pretty good. Too bad it's not opening around where I live. Can someone who checks it out this weekend give me some info?
So, MetroEmpire spoke with Nick Sakiewicz (and Alexi Lalas) and discussed the new stadium.

KRD: The announced stadium capacity circa-twenty thousand is smaller then any previous projections had announced. Why the change? Is this an indicator that AEG might be content with the MetroStars being a Jersey based team and are serious about their commitment to a New York franchise?

NS: It has always been our vision to launch a second team in this area. Our studies of the market size and their attendance habits indicate that a market exists for two teams. Once we have the right situation and the timing is right we will pursue that opportunity.
So, let me get this straight. The Metros have done poorly since '96 both on and off the pitch. They finally announce they are going to get a stadium of their own (well, AEG's which you can read several different ways). Now they are talking about a second team in the NY area? Their long-term vision seems a bit short sighted. Yeah, there's enough people in the New York area to support a second team--especally if that team is in Queens or the Bronx or somewhere on the East side--but that's a whole different world from Harrison. Heck, AEG will probably end up having the "New Cosmos" play at Harrison as well. Or could that be the new home for the Wizards?
  Some slow-pitch softballs for Vargara
Fox Sports' Nick Webster did and interview with Chivas owner Jorge Vergara and he delivered some real softballs.

C'mon Nick. Just take a look at some of the comments Vargara made when the expansion team was announced last year for some real fuel.

Instead we get:

NW: How are you going to turn CD Guadalajara fans in the U.S. into Chivas USA fans.

JV: I think they'll start turning into Chivas USA fans because they will start to see the commitment we have for Chivas USA. They will see the results and they will see that we can compete with anybody in MLS. I think we are in the process of gaining the trust of the fans. I believe in 2 to 3 months you will see the crowds come and support Chivas USA.
We'll see if the reinforcements do start to bring the crowds to the HDC.
  Weekend Round-up
...and so the EPL season begins. Despite Ipswich and LA's disappointing performance on Saturday, I still got to watch plenty of entertaining footie this weekend.

First off...I don't know if there are any other Ipswich supporters that read this list, but how frustrating was it to see the highlights of the Sunderland-Charlton match? Even without Matty Holland playing for Charlton, there were five former Ipswich players on the pitch (Kelvin Davis and Tommy Miller for Sunderland...Hermann Hreidarsson, Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent for Charlton). If only Town could have stayed up.

Anyway, Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea were very fortunate this weekend. You have to feel sorry for Wigan holding the Champs at home for more than 90 minutes before losing. What a great performance from them--though I only saw the highlights. Looked like a cracking match. Newcastle played a great match against Arsenal but the ref made a decision which changed the outcome in my opinion. Jenas deserved a yellow...but a red was a bit harsh. If it wasn't for a lapse right before and after half-time, Everton might have come away from Saturday's match with a point.

What a great result from West Ham...and watch out for Spurs this season...they may actually rattle their under-achiever tag for the first time in a while.

But for me, the match I most wish I'd see was between Villa and Bolton. I saw the highlights and it looked a cracker.

So, then there's MLS. I got to see most of the televised matches. DC took Chivas apart--will the reinforcements arriving this month help the Goats...too little too late I'm guessing. As I expected, Dallas and New England gave us a great match. Too bad the PHP couldn't sell out again.

I need to check out the highlights for the rest of the matches this weekend. RSL and KC looked entertaining. Sasha Victorine is still earning his paycheck in KC. I said all along that it was a mistake for Sampson to dump him...I'm still saying it. LA lost again on the road...nothing newsworthy there...unless it means Sampson is leaving this week, I doubt it though. What's with saving Landon again for this match? I can see leaving him on the bench on Wednesday...but for the game in Chicago as well? Does Bruce Arena have incriminating pictures of Sampson or something? Oh and San Jose were held to a draw against Colorado. Why do I have the feeling Colorado will upset someone in the playoffs?

I've really got to buy the MLS PPV package next year. It's been a long summer without being able to pick which games I want to see and only getting limited highlights. At least the Premiership is now back in action.
Friday, August 12, 2005
  Calling out Doug Hamilton
Honestly, when Doug Hamilton was hired as Galaxy GM, I had mixed emotions. Tim Luce had been in that gig for a while and I thought he did a decent job. But Hamilton had done a respectable job in Miami...well, if you ignore the fact that the franchise was folded on his watch.

During his tenure with the Galaxy, long-time fans have been upset with the way the organization treats the most loyal fans while focusing attention on single game ticket sales...or at least that's the impression I got as a season ticket holder. I'd buy season tickets well before the season starts...then see that tickets around my seat are bought at a lower price than my per game average. Extra freebies are also a common tactic to increase ticket sales as well.

But we as loyal fans put up with things because we supported the players and the shirt...and it didn't hurt that Sigi Schimd had a team that brought silverware to LA.

However, the coaching change last season has brought the level of dissatisfaction in the organization to a head. Long before my move away from LA was even considered, I had pretty much decided I wouldn't be renewing my season tickets and just attending games when it was convenient. It wasn't an easy choice--I'd hardly missed a game the first 9 seasons--but I just couldn't justify spending the money on, what in my opinion was, a half-assed product.

With the arrival of Chivas USA at the HDC, it seems those who call the shots in the organization started to listen to the fans. Finally, they outlawed those damn horns at Galaxy games. Galaxy fans had been asking for that for years. But beyond that, not much has changed.

However, the team isn't winning...and the blame needs to be placed entirely on Doug Hamilton. Weather he made the call or not, he's the one that took responsibility for the coaching change. He needs to take responsibility. However, he hasn't. I don't know who this Bill Urban is, but he brilliantly stated my opinion.

Apparently, the "A" in the acronym AEG does not stand for accountability.

Rather than admit that his move for Sampson was the wrong one, Hamilton has chosen the strange course of an attempt to motivate his coach and players through the media. Whether the final result of this media manipulation is supposed to be improved Galaxy performances, or that it is in fact the first step in a nicely-spun dismissal of Sampson, Doug Hamilton's public reference that his coach and players are in a "fishbowl" has opened the door for his tenure as Galaxy President/General Manager to be adjudged in a similar fashion.

Galaxy supporters are already making their own decisions about the team and the match-day experience, and the announced sell-outs at the HDC cannot disguise the whacking gaps in the stands caused by supporters with tickets who choose not to attend the game. The players are not playing well, Sampson's inability to coach attractive soccer or effectively to deal with strong player personalities was well known before he took the Galaxy job, and the cherished bottom line may well be affected by the continuing absence of bottoms in the HDC seats.

That would be a situation for which the President/GM of an MLS franchise is held accountable.
Of course, he brings in plenty of money from sponsorship and did a bang-up job with the current TV deal the team (and Chivas) have...but that's only part of what his job is. Strangely enough, I'll be he's named "Exec of the year" again.
  Voice your FSC opinion
I had FSC on last night and there was an ad with Max Bretos asking viewers to take the FSC survey. So, what are you waiting for? Take it already.

Now I'm wondering what they are looking to get out of this. Looks like we could be seeing some more changes with the channel...possibly some additional programming...but I could be wrong.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
  This is what it's all about
Former Galaxy and current Portland Timber defender Scott Thompson is currently in Sunderland on a two-week trial with club in the Northeast of England. He impressed Mick McCarthy in their recent match against the Black Cats which brought on the invitation.

Thompson's parents are English so he won't have work permit problems either. Good luck to him...and if he makes it, he'll be yet another Galaxy reject doing better after leaving So Cal.
  Can we play you every week?
No shocker here, America and Chivas play a preseason friendly in downtown LA and 88k show up. No surprise there. Funny thing, the LA Goats played the Galaxy as the warm up act and get to count the attendance in their season average. That one match probably had more attending than their other 14 home matches combined....well, less the ones where they played the Galaxy.

Well, LA managed to pull off the season sweep... though it took a penalty in the final 10 minutes to do it. I watched the match and it's amazing how different the team are with and without Donovan. I shudder to think how bad LA would be without him. Anyway, I guess it's a good thing for Sampson this was an expansion year...otherwise he wouldn't have 8 matches against teams even worse than the team he's put together. The sad bit is, I'm still not confident LA will maintain their 100% record of making the playoffs every season.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
  What a bunch of spoiled children
I'm going to keep saying it until the British media listen (yeah, I keep saying I'm a dreamer). But reporting that about the fan protests in Manchester are just giving the Man U (FC United?) fans what they are looking for...attention.

I have no sympathy for the fans. They didn't complain when the Club was made public and they were able to enjoy the spoils that the cash infusion brought...being bought by someone they don't like--for whatever reason--is the risk you take.

I've never liked Man Utd...but I find myself hoping that Glazer wins some silverware just to spite those spoiled brats that now call themselves FC United supporters. Enjoy your non-league footie guys.
  Team for TnT named
Can't say much about the squad Arena named for the match against TnT next week.

However, it's good to see Hartman in the squad...he deserves it. But there are a couple in the squad who aren't produceing for their club sides right now so they confuse me a bit...but what I know? It is only TnT of course.


Goalkeepers (3) -
Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy), Tim Howard (Manchester United), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

Defenders (5) - Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy), Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Greg Vanney (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (8) - Chris Armas (Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Bobby Convey (Reading FC), Eddie Lewis (Leeds United), John O'Brien (ADO Den Haag), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution), Claudio Reyna (Manchester City)

Forwards (4) - Jeff Cunningham (Colorado Rapids), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brian McBride (Fulham FC), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

  The long road to the top
I said a couple of weeks ago on here that Herculez Gomez deserves more publicity than he's getting. Looks like someone took notice. Actually, I thought the piece on SoccerNet was pretty good. It's great to read what he's gone through to get to where he is and how hard he's worked to get there. This is much more compelling than reading about some 16 year old who's had a $million contract dropped in his lap before he could drive.

Also, what fan of any time wouldn't want to hear a player on their team say this?

"I'm living the dream right now. I was a Galaxy fan before I played for the Galaxy," said the East L.A. native.

"I just can't describe what it's like coming in every day, knowing that I've got this (Home Depot Stadium) to call home. It's unbelievable." He shook his head when he compared his current situation to when he was ready to give up on soccer.

Ya gotta love the kid and the story he's writing. I'm glad people in the MLS PR Dept are finally taking notice.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
I know I complain a lot about how the Galaxy have made some many shirt color changes over the last 10 years. Hopefully, things are going to stay the way they are going forward. However, I'm interested in what others think about the new Arsenal shirts.

They'll be wearing it this season in commemoration of their final season at Highbury. It's the same color they wore the first year they played there after moving from Woolwich.

Why do they remind me of those grey shirts Man U wore a few years ago and changed at half-time?
  32 MLS clubs???!!!
I've always said there's little chance of seeing a single table league with promotion and relegation in MLS. Now we have proof it won't happen from Lamar Hunt.

"[With 18 teams] we would be a small league compared to the NFL, National Hockey League, NBA,' said Hunt. 'I think probably we need to grow to over a period of time somewhere near 30 to 32. Maybe the 18 is perfect for England or Germany or Spain, but I don't think it is really the real world as far as what needs to happen in this country because you will leave out, who would you leave out? Atlanta, Seattle, Houston -- you know with only 18 you are not going to be represented in a lot of markets."
Of course, he either doesn't understand the concept of promotion and relegation...or there's just no way he's going to allow one of his teams to not be at the top level. It's his money so he gets to make up the rules. Of course, using the promotion/relegation format/system (or whatever) will give the sport representation in more cities than just the 32 (or whatever) in the league...but that's a whole other story.

Bottom line, in 20 years when the league expands beyond 20 teams, you'll still have conferences. But the up side is that you probably won't have to travel as far for road games as teams probably won't be playing many matches on the other coast.
Monday, August 08, 2005
  We're on the Road to Nowhere
Thanks to the LA Times for that title. But Grahame Jones is right...for once.

That game on Saturday was crap. Now, I've been to a lot of Galaxy games over the years...but never before have I felt like leaving early. Saturday came close. There was nothing there and to be honest, there is no way Sampson should remain coach for the Galaxy. He's done nothing but steer the team in the wrong direction.

What gets me is that MLS wanted him to head the MLS XI playing Real Madrid in a couple of weeks. I hafta give him credit for turning it down.

"Quite frankly, we have a lot of work to do here and I think it would be inappropriate for me to leave the team at this time," he said.

"I would love to do it, but we have a game on the Saturday, the [MLS] team leaves on Sunday, they arrive on Monday, they play on Tuesday and then they come back on Wednesday.

Actually, perhaps leaving the team for a few days would be a good thing. How 'bout it Steve? Maybe LA fans could take up a collection and send him on a nice long mid-season vacation. It couldn't make anything worse.

Boy, I sure used restraint there.

Thankfully, there was other action. RSL and Chivas gave us some entertainment. Romos get's an Oscar nomination for his dive. Though I wouldn't put it past Clint to have grabbed the jewels. Actually, that would have made it even more amusing.

Dallas get their new stadium and the media noticed. Let's hope we don't see the kind of empty seats we saw at the Cotton Bowl and that High School stadium. The match was a classic too. Both Fish and Youri lived up to expectations. Sampson, remember you had Fish? (sorry, I've a one track mind today)

What else? Oh yeah, young Freddy got hurt and people are now worried. Gee, lemme see now, you put a 16 year old kid up against men twice his age and you don't think he's got a good chance of getting hurt? The media hype MLS has drummed up around him makes me sick at times. Let the kid grow up. Oh yeah, he'll have been transfered to Chelsea by then so you're getting what you can while you can out of him. Talk about a wasted youth...though it's still better than my wasted youth I guess. :)

Lalas got him some ink in the (London) Times and as always sounded like the most intellegent person in the sport over here.

Of course, they had to ask about Becks...

“If David Beckham wanted to come to the US to play we would make it work, [but] this is not a retirement league,” Lalas said. “It takes a very special player to adapt to the MLS on and off the field. It’s a bitch, man, it is an incredibly physical and fast-paced game. Having said that, this is a market ready to embrace some international stars and I think David Beckham would be a wonderful choice.”
Well, that's enough for now.

Oh, and did I mention it's time for the Galaxy to look for a new coach.
Friday, August 05, 2005
  Is it Friday yet?
WooHoo!!! It's almost the weekend. This weekend is extra special as 1) I get to see the Galaxy play in person this week as they'll be at Invesco--though the way they've been playing on the road the last couple of years, I'm not sure it's a good thing--and 2) The Championship season starts in England and Ipswich will be playing Cardiff.

Not sure why I find it ironic, but as much as fan groups in this country maintain they should be able to stand like fans in other countries, Ipswich fans are being told to sit down or else... I'm still an advocate of limited terracing. With all the new stadiums being built for MLS teams, it would be great if a small terraced area would built into the designs. It wouldn't take much...and as fans in England will tell you it improves the atmosphere...and isn't atmosphere improvements one of the reasons MLS bosses give for the need to build smaller stadiums?

TV viewing this weekend isn't too bad either. Sunday morning we get the Community Shield from England. Chelsea vs Arsenal in a meaningless match isn't a bad way to wake up though.

Tonight we get a little USL action on FSC. Portland vs Minnesota doesn't look like a classic encounter, but you get the buzz from the Timber Army...and Minnesota did knock Colorado out of the Cup on Wednesday. It's still worth watching while enjoying a beverage.

Tomorrow's MLS matinee gives us Salt Lake vs Chivas. Two expansion teams that aren't getting much in the way of results lately. Add in the fact that the game will be played during the day and possibly in heat...might be a good excuse for a nap.

Of course, I'll be at the Denver vs LA game...not sure it'll be a great one though. After all, LA haven't won a road game since Jovan Kirovski launched that 45 yard hit-and-home bomb last season in Chicago. Chicago got hammered on Wednesday in the Cup by Minnesota. Though Jeff Cunningham is probably still on a high after last weekends All-Star game.

FSC does do MLS fans a favor and will be showing the "Dallas coming out party" on tape delay Sunday. It's great that a deal was worked out to get the Dallas-Metros game on national TV. I can't wait to see the new stadium and this should be the best broadcast MLS match of the weekend.

Anyway, plenty to watch...guess I should start planning how I'll sneak out of the office early to open the first beverage.
  Real Miami?
I'm not sure I understand the concept here.Real Madrid are looking at building theme parks in Miami and Beijing

"We are in negotiations with the mayors of Miami and Beijing to create two theme parks," Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was quoted as saying in Spanish sports daily AS.

"They will become the focus for the legions of Real Madrid fans in the powerful and heavily populated countries of the United States and China."
Real Madrid rides? College students roaming the park in David Beckham costumes?
  Stadium setback
DC's bid to get a new stadium would be hitting a snag. It seems DC Council member (and former Mayor) Marion Barry (yeah, the one who does coke with whores) doesn't like the idea.
"The soccer stadium is misdirected," said Barry, whose ward includes the proposed stadium site. "This is an ideal spot for housing, entertainment and shopping -- and maybe some office buildings. It would be great to have housing overlooking the river. And that's what I'm going to push the mayor on doing."
I guess we'll have to wait and see on this one. Though other elected officials seem a bit more open to the idea of the stadium.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
  The Cup...why change a good thing?
As always, I was thrilled with results from the Open Cup last night. You had several exciting intense matches and even a couple of upsets. But then, I read this misinformed piece.

Mr. Monfried argues that because the Open Cup doesn't gain any attention from media and fans, it should be scrapped or reduced to an amateur competition without MLS clubs. He brings up fixture scheduling problems as another problem as well.

Sorry Mr. Monfried, but I seem to have followed this competition a lot more than you have. The reason the Open Cup seems to be an after thought is because it is. From a business point-of-view, USSF runs the competition in a way which will lose a little money as possible rather than creating a second competition on par with any of the leagues in this country. If any effort (and investment) was made into this competition, we'd see more attention given to what is already a great tournament.

Let's look at it another way, I remember 5 years ago the LA Times listed an upcoming Open Cup match against a lower division club as an exhibition. This week, the LA-Chivas Cup game was covered (with reporters) by all the local rags. Small steps, but it's definitely heading in the right direction.

As for playing in smaller stadiums...why not? USSF is the promoter for each match and rely on the home teams to drum up support. I'm not even sure they get anything if they sell out the match. One day I'll learn what the deal is on these...but there's certainly things which can be done to improve matters.

Bottom line, lets look at what happened on Wednesday night. The Home Depot Track Stadium got a decent crowd as LA maintained their dominance of Chivas. Rochester and Minnesota pulled upsets over MLS clubs. How can you not love that? DC, Kansas City and San Jose beat lower division opposition. While Chicago and Dallas knocked out MLS opponents.

Each of the matches has it's own story...and some great ones there. Two reds in Columbus, 4 goals from one player in the Minn-Colorado match. Read more at USOpenCup.com. It's a fan run site Mr. Monfried. It's the fans which want this competition and maintaining it is the least MLS can do. Anything can happen over a 90 minute match, upsets are created more often than now and they are something fans love. Why change something that with minimal effort actually works?
  I guess pigs do fly
It's been about 5 years since we first heard talk about the MetroStars getting their own stadium. Harrison has been the focus of the talks...but every time it looks like things are about to happen, something pushes things back. Honestly, I never thought it would happen. However, it's official, the Metros will their own stadium in Harrison.

It looks like the big sticking point was that the city/county didn't want to use any taxpayer money to get the facility built. AEG will foot the bill. However, the city/county will fund needed infrastructure changes.

In all it sounds like a good deal for everyone. With Dallas getting their stadium this weekend, Columbus and LA enjoying theirs and new stadiums on the way in Chicago and Denver and probably in DC and Salt Lake...you get the feeling this league will be around for a while.

Someone remind me. Back in the early 90's when USSF was deciding which proposed league they would back as the First Division in this country, one of the also-rans had a proposal which included building stadiums for each teams and incorporating them with entertainment centers. Looks like that plan wasn't so harebrained after all.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  Thank God Nick Green gets it.
LA play Chivas tonight in the Open Cup. Because the X-Games are in town the pitch at the HDC is covered in dirt...lots of dirt. So, even though both teams play home games in the stadium, the game has been moved next door to the Track & Field Stadium. It's actually not an awful venue and may create a decent atmosphere. Thing is, the Cup doesn't get the attention from fans and media it deserves...but at least Nick Green with the Daily Breeze is getting the word out. Hopefully, the place will be packed tonight.

For Chivas, the season has been a major disappointment. Yeah, they are an expansion team, but I'm sure they were hoping for better. A win tonight could change their entire season...and even if they still miss out on the playoffs, a decent run in the Cup is something positive to build on after this season ends.

The Galaxy is in the middle of a slump of sorts. Some fans will argue they've had a road slump going on since they left the Rose Bowl...but that's another story. The season isn't going as well as most fans would have wanted and a run in the Cup could be a good kickstart.

Of course, all too often in MLS coaches play their reserves in these games. But with the new reserve teams playing a 22 game season, there's not as much need as in the past. We'll probably see a few starters rested but I'm sure there will be some pretty decent line-ups taking the pitch tonight.

The rest of the 4th round games tonight will see.

Interestingly, audio commentary is available for all the games except the one where both teams are at home (LA-Chivas). Find out info on the games and any webcasts at USOpenCup.com.

  No, it's not a U2 concert
The US-Mexico game in Columbus next month sold out in 20 minutes yesterday. Well not exactly, but it's still pretty impressive.

Tickets when on pre-sale a week ago to local groups, Crew season ticket holders and fans who have registered at ussoccer.com. This was done in an effort to get as pro a US crowd as possible. However, I'm sure a decent number of enterprising Mexican fans will have managed to get tickets as well.

But for someone who has followed US Soccer for over 15 years now, this is about as impressive as it gets. Who knows...maybe we'll see a US-Mexico game in LA where 95% of the fans aren't there to cheer for the visitors....yeah, I'm dreaming again.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
  What's wrong with this picture?
In today's LA Times, Grahame Jones fills space with the differences between LA Galaxy and Real Madrid.

Ok, I can't argue here...

In (the last two weeks), the Galaxy has played two games, won neither, made no coaching changes, signed no new players, shown little sign of doing either and pretty much puttered along in a business-as-usual mode.

True, most Galaxy fans would love to see a coaching change. But as the transfer window is closed, there's isn't much opportunity to bring in new players right...especially when you have a salary cap to deal with.

Jones then lists all the pre-season player speculation the media is reporting involving Real Madrid players. He then finishes...

Contrast this to the Galaxy and to MLS in general, where all is quiet not only on the western front but all other fronts too. The most pressing of the problems facing the league midway through its 10th season is the need for greater exposure.

The league is doing many things well, but breaking through media indifference, particularly on network television, is its greatest challenge.

It took Real Madrid half a century to become known worldwide.

It was not until the 1950s, with the advent of the European Cup and the signing of big-name international stars, that the club caught the fans' imagination.

Unless it starts making some meaningful news regularly, it will take the Galaxy even longer.
Sorry Mr. Jones, but aren't you a member of the media? Isn't it your job to find the stories? How would you know if Steve Sampson and Doug Hamilton are looking at bringing in another player or three? It's not like you ever report player movement rumors prior to the start of the MLS season. Instead, you seem to sit in your cubicle at LA Times HQ reading wire reports from Europe, rewriting them and publishing the stories under your name. Why don't you get down to the HDC a bit more often and dig up a few stories like your co-workers who cover the Dodgers and Lakers? Do all their stories fall into their laps off the newswire? I'm sure there are plenty of stories waiting to be uncovered...heck, you've had Luis Hernandez and Carlos Ruiz playing for the Galaxy. They were news stories waiting to happen...yet you never really covered any of their 'misadventures'.

Do your job buddy, stir the pot a bit and force Hamilton to replace Sampson--yeah, I'm a dreamer.
Monday, August 01, 2005
  LA has Drew Carey....
...and it seems DC has Jim "Soni" Sonefeld. Who, you ask? He's the drummer for that bad Hootie and the Blowfish. Remember them? Yeah, they had that one song..how does it go?

Anyway, the have a new album coming out--didn't even know they were still going--and the Washington Post interviewed Soni and talked about the boys in Black and Red.

How he become a fan sounds reasonable enough.

I still have pain stemming from the demise of the NASL, the North American Soccer League, because that was my dream, that was to be my future. I went to college in South Carolina with this dream of playing pro soccer. That league collapsed, and it wasn't until MLS and D.C. United that I had a spark of another dream, but the mullet had passed years earlier. My bad haircut had already gone away, and music was my next adventure.

Then then they start talking about mullets.

Though I had to laugh at his response when asked the difference between Redskin fans and United fans.

Let's see, I would say the Redskins fans right now are more humbled than D.C. United fans. D.C. United's got a couple nice fresh rings from the past decade; Redskins fans are crying in their damn beer. D.C. United fans walk a little more proudly; Redskins fans, I think they've got their fists clenched. I don't know who they're going to punch, Daniel Snyder or the freaking Cowboys.
Maybe someone people know will be seen in the stands at an MLS match one day.
  How to end your career £1 million at a time.
How the mighty have fallen. Michael Own wanted to leave Liverpool and chase the big bucks (quid?...Peso?...) in Madrid. Then there was talk about him returning to England and joining one of the big(ger?) clubs there (Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal) ,but it seems no one is interested in signing him.

Owen clearly wants to move from Madrid. He has not established any long-term roots in the city, does not speak the language and the arrival of two new Brazilians, Julio Baptista and Robinho, means he could now be the fifth-choice striker at Real, a long way behind the front runners, Raul and Ronaldo.
I'm thinking there's an agent here that has really messed things up.

While Real might sell Owen for around £10 million, providing them with a £2 million profit on what they paid Liverpool last season, there are Owen's considerable wages, which are believed to be near £5 million a year, to be taken into account.

So, it looks like Owen may return to Merseyside and join the Reds on loan. I wonder how the Kopites will react? I'm sure they'll forget everything once he starts knocking them in.
Whatever you think of the show, Friday's during the EPL season aren't the same without Nick and Steven. It probably won't do a bit of good, but let's see if we can get them back on FSC.
  Can this be the beginning of the end...
..for these international money making tours?

Yeah, I've been pretty critical of how LA Galaxy whored their match with Real Madrid. However, I'm not the only one being critical.

Things didn't go as smooth as everyone had hoped in Asia. It wasn't that long ago that most people there acted like everyone in LA did. Now FIFA is saying these tours are a bad thing. Here's a shocker, it seems big Euro teams doing these whirlwind tours are taking money out of the pockets of the local clubs. though I'm sure AEG would disagree.

But now it seems the players (well, Becks) are now complaining. Have things tours really helped teams prepare for their domestic campaign? I seem to recall teams not doing too well after these far flung tours. Seems to me they make money but not champions. I could be wrong though...but we'll see how Real, Man U, Chelsea and Inter start their seasons.
  Catching up on some stuff I've wanted to post
Things are going great in Des Moines right now. Not only will they get to play Kansas City in the Open Cup on Wednesday, but they are through to the Semi's of the PDL playoffs. They'll host Orange County Blue Star next weekend in the PDL Semi's.

It looks like there will be a bidding war to sign Freddy Adu once he turns 18. Chelsea seem very interested. During the broadcast of the match on Thursday, it was mentioned that Adu's mother watched the match from Chelsea's box. Would that be considered Tapping?

Best quote in the piece had nothing to do with Adu though.

The home fans sang "overrated" suggesting that, whatever the comparison in football terms, standards of chanting in the States have yet to reach Premiership quality.

Yeah, I'll agree that more work is needed there.

Pizza Hut Park looks like it'll be ready on time. Based on what I'm reading, they are learning for the mistakes in Carson and doing things better there. But if you have tickets, get there early. They are expecting riots at the Ikea opening this weekend just down the street.

And finally, something from HRH Grahame Jones. He reported on Don Garber's State of the League Address. Honestly, there's nothing really groundbreaking but it's worth the mention as once again, Garber commented on aligning with FIFA's International Calender. At least this time he's not talking about a winter league but having a break during July. A wise choice getting rid of those midday games played in 100 degrees regardless of the reasons.
  Headline of the year??
The article just talks about the new stadium built in the Swiss Capital....but you've got to love the headline Reuters (or was it SoccerNet?) came up with.

Young Boys Wankdorf erection relief
  What are we gonna do with you Carlos?
I didn't watch the game on Sunday, but it seems Carlos Ruiz was a no show. However, on Thursday he was in Dallas opening a new Hooters restaurant. Mmmm...as usual, there's something Fishy going on here.

What's the current odds he won't be in MLS next season?

Article says he's tired of all the travel involved in MLS play...of course, if he's in Guatemala right now, there's even more travel he's had. Must be nice to have all those frequent flyer miles.
An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 /

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