Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Thursday, November 30, 2006
  Great comedy
Saw this, had a good laugh and had to share.

  What I did on my vacation...
Remember writing those essays when you were in school? Well, how 'bout if you were one of the Adidas Generation players? This isn't a bad way to spend your time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm sure they'll have a great time, see some great matches. Oh, and maybe practice and play a couple of matches. Heck, if nothing else they are all old enough to order a pint in the pub around the corner from where ever they are staying. It's just like all those semester abroad students...except they only get to go for 10 days and don't have study.

Anyway, I hope they have a good time and come back even more pumped to reach the top level of the sport and go play in the matches they'll see one day.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
  Tractor running out of gas
What is it about Ipswich this season? Today's 2-1 away to Derby is the third away match in a row that Town have lost in injury time. Something has got to change...at least I'm hoping to see a change for the better. But I'm not going to hold my breath. Town still owe a lot of money to banks. So, there's no money to bring players in. The best young players are being sold to bigger clubs to cover the debt. About half the first team squad right now are players on loan to Ipswich. How far can you get when you rent rather than own? It's going to be a long time before we see my boys back in the Premership.

Of course, the conspiracy theorist in me might think that staying in the Championship is intentional. After all, the restructuring of debt was contingent on paying things off once Town get promoted. That is still a long way off. At least Setanta shows a few of their matches so I'm not completely reliant on highlights streamed from the internet.
  It's only a FANZINE!!!
Ok, this has to stop. All this Beckham to LA stuff is getting out of hand. Yeah, I've no doubt that a big part of the reason MLS investors allowed this new rule was to get someone like Beckham and it's true, Beckham does have business ties in LA. However, I just stumbled across this Business Journal piece about Glazer buying LA and adding Becks to the roster.

The piece is quoting a Fanzine!!! For those of you who don't know what a fanzine is, it's a publication produced by fans for fans. Yeah, they'll interview players and have various other bits of information. However, I don't believe a fanzine has ever broke a big news story. I may be wrong here, but I doubt I am.

Now, can someone tell me where in either The Red Issue or The Mirror there is anything other than speculative fiction? The guys over at the fanzine must be having a great laugh at all this publicity.

Bottom line is, there's nothing to the piece. It's pure fiction and the way Soccernet and other news sources have picked up this (non) story makes me laugh. How can professional hacks not see though this.

I guess it's a good thing there's bloggers like me keeping things straight. ;)

Then again, it's good to see the LA Times had some fun with story.

So, should the Galaxy change owner and name...what should the new name be? Here's some great suggestions.
...Top 10 new names being considered for the Galaxy:

10. Manchester United States

9. Man USA

8. Man, U Remember When They Called Us the Galaxy?

7. Manchester United of Los Angeles

6. Miracle on Manchester

5. David Beckham and 10 Other Guys

4. No One Here Can Play for England

3. Nippon Beck Ham Fighters

2. Beckham Family Time Share

1. The Spice Girls
Ah the internet. It's such a great source of information...but an even better source of misinformation.

Oh, and the skeptic in me now believes that the Spice Boy saying that he won't go anywhere until the end of the season leads me to believe he'll be making a move in January. Either way, we'll know in a couple months. Ah the silly season is living up to it's name this year...probably the first time in MLS history. Ya gotta love it.
  New Look
Rather than spending productive time today (my day off) studying for a KLEP test I'm taking in two weeks, I decided to clean up my blog a bit. I think it looks a bit better. I still need to make a few more tweaks but I hope you like what I've got so far.
  It sure is silly season
Maybe it's just me, but there seems to be more news from MLS now that the season has finished than there was during the season. It seems like a day doesn't go by when there isn't something in the press somewhere about Beckham heading to LA (or NY). Throw in Figo and Ronaldo and you've got the most reported MLS story probably ever. But, if nothing else, the "Designated Player Rule" has brought some media attention to the league.

Of course, we now have NY with two Designated Player spots after they traded Amando Guevara to Chivas for it. I'm actually excited to see what they do with it. I can't help thinking that when they use the position, it'll be someone we've heard of, but not the huge names being thrown around already.

The Revs will now be playing on plastic next season. They (the Kraft's) didn't waste any time rolling it out once the Revs season was over. I guess in the long run it's a financial decision. However, I'm not keen on it. Next season we'll have NE, NY, Toronto and RSL with turf fields.

I've been finding myself agreeing with Jamie Trecker a bit lately. So, it's nice to know he's lost the plot again. I don't see the need to review something which probably can't be overturned anyway? It would break up the flow of the game too much. Now, if you really wanna introduce replay into the sport, why not review. It's not like the Americanisation of the game really worked back when the league started, why try it again now? Replay in soccer won't work. You can't stop play for a minute or two (how long do NFL and NCAA officials instances of cheating after the match? Have a committee review players who dive or do other things which give them an unfair advantage and fine/suspend them. If players know they'll get caught taking that dive in the box and miss some matches because of it, maybe they'll think twice. It'll also make the refs job easier. It certainly won't hurt things.

So, no word yet from USSF on the new US coach. Weren't we told there would be a decision by the end of November? We are getting awful close to that date. I wonder if negotiations with the favored candidate have hit a snag? Of course, now that I've posted that, we'll probably get an announcement in the next 24 hours.

Finally, I never thought I'd see the day, but it looks like we may get some Wembley matches some day soon. It sure looks nicer than the original stadium (which I visited once just before it was bulldozed).
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
  It's a start
We keep hearing about using replays in soccer to judge things. I've never been a real proponent of that. However, if leagues were to review players diving, and suspend culprits, I would be in favor of that. Yeah, it would be after the fact and the players involved would have still had the advantage during the match...But if they have to miss more matches, would it be enough to get them to stop? I'd think so.

Anyway, at least one club have decided to put an end to the cheating. I hope they follow through with it and other teams take notice.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
  Losing sucks...
...But twice in the same day??? Ouch!!!

I know I complain about the scheduling MLS has. I guess things are worse in Mexico.
  Big Changes
I'm not over it, probably never will be, but I'm now getting used to the idea that I'll never see this seasons MLS Cup Final. However, the Final itself was almost secondary to all the announcements the league made this weekend. Some are pretty darn big.

The owners have finally decided to open their checkbooks. Yeah! I've read/heard numerous opinions on this. Here's my take...this is nothing more than a marketing move. Seriously, Becks is a decent player for someone with only one foot. His left peg is only good for standing on. In my opinion, he won't be improving the level of play in the league. Heck, no one person can do that. However, he'll sell a ton of shirts and that alone should make signing him worth the money. We'll see if it happens sooner rather than later.

I was watch American Soccer on GolTV last night. Towards the end of the show they read this email from a viewer on a rant about how the Supporters Shield winner is the true champion. While I agree that a true champion proves it over the course of an entire season, I don't buy the argument that the Supporters Shield winner is the best team over the course of the season. The unbalanced schedule makes it possible for a team in a weaker conference to do better than they would with a balanced schedule because playing weaker teams more often inflates your record. Next season it gets even worse as teams in the same conference won't even play each other the same number of times...or something like that. I still don't completely understand how they are going to get 30 matches out of 13 teams.

On top of that, they reduce the season by two matches because of the Copa Oro/America. However, they then add midweek Champions Cupish matches against Mexican clubs. Mmm, seems like there will actually be more matches next season...and the leagues best will be gone for two months. I'm still not convinced of the value for money proposition when matches that count are played while the best are with their national team.

It's only taken 11 years for those in power to realize that developing local youngsters is the only way to improve the quality of the league...and that forcing those players to then be entered in the draft only gives teams a disincentive to actually find the best youngsters and give them the guidance they need to reach their potential. (I could probably use more punctuation in that sentence...but I can't be bothered)

Probably the announcement I'm most excited about is FSC's announcement on their MLS broadcast plans for next summer. Every match will be scheduled for a 3 hour time block. This will give a half hour before and as much as 45 minutes post-game for analysis and interviews. Of course, with the added content keeping us views in front of the box, they can slide in a bunch of advertisement breaks. To be honest, I've always hated the way broadcasts have always cut away to something else as players walk off the pitch. I know, they do the same for NFL and other sports here. Personally, I can't wait for those broadcasts.

Also, FSC will be broadcasting the Gold Cup next summer. I wonder how much better the matches will look if they do 3 hour blocks for each match there...or double headers with studio comments in between. Either way, the coverage of both the Gold Cup and MLS on FSC will be better than we've seen in the past.

Well, my over/under on when the new US coach will be announced just moved into the over. I was certain Klinsman would be announced by November 15. Oh well, will they get it in before Thanksgiving? Anyone else noticed that Canada and Mexico are also still looking for a coach?

Hey, RSL changed their name to XanGo. Oh, that's a sports drink who have paid $1 million/year for the honor. Good deal. Now we've got two (Red Bull being the first) teams with corporate sponsored shirts. Money is money. Take it however you can.

Is it just me, or is the league slowly moving away from the Americanized version of the league and taking on more of a global image?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I don't believe it. I was out all day. I wasn't anywhere near an internet connection or anyone that I know who would be interested in the MLS Championship game. I set my DVR to record the match and even an hour after the scheduled time to finish. I got home, put my 18-month-old to bed and kicked back in my recliner to enjoy the match...

...Somehow DirecTV has managed to lose the feed from my local ABC station. So, I have 3 1/2 hours of "Don't call us, we know there's a problem and we are working to fix it." The same thing happened the weekend the World Cup started a couple months ago. It took three days to fix it.

Well, I've seen the result and now I'm even more disappointed.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
  Picking a winner
I've started a couple of posts the last week or so to basically bash the playoffs and the fact that MLS doesn't reward the best team over the course of the season.

Fortunatly, I never finished them. I'm not as hostile as I was. However, after today's announcement from Don Garber, I"m more confused and concerned about the direct the "Competition Committee" is going with this.

First of all, I have to agree that the playoffs have been entertaining. There have been some great match ups and the fans in DC and Houston have don't what we usually don't see from MLS fans this time of year...they showed up. Well done to them. Oh, and Smurf fans should take note next time they whine about their team moving (I've still got to get my digs in) ;)

What I'm having a problem with is referring to the winner on Sunday as the best team in MLS this season. Sorry, but over the course of the season, neither NE or Houston can claim that title. Those two teams are just the best at the end of the season. I'm not knocking either team. They are taking advantage of the structure of the league. I'll be watching on Sunday and I'm looking forward to an entertaining match.

As much as I complain about the structure, at least I'm not Colin Clark. The Dallas coach, in my opinion, was screwed by the structure of the league. I have a problem with the unbalanced scheduling of the league. Last season, LA was able to sneak into the playoffs only because the Western Conference was so weak. This season the Eastern Conference was weaker.

The other day, I played with some numbers. I took the results of every team but doubled the points for games against teams outside their conference. It's not a fool proof method, but it would give a better representation of what a balanced schedule would produce. What I found was that DC and Dallas were level on points. Yeah, DC had the better goal difference (the best tie-breaker) but that's before you play with the numbers the unbalanced schedule produced. I'm not sure if I used the same formula it would have changed.

Anyway, if the champion was based on a balanced regular season, we may have seen an interesting race to the wire...but we'll never really know because both teams took their foot off the pedal once they qualified and...we'll we saw what happened in the playoffs. Clark was fired even though his team could have tied for the best this season. Heck, sounds almost like LA when Schmid was fired.

So, now Mr. Garber announced the most confusing schedule structure they could have created for next season. It will be even more unbalanced than we've seen--even in the days of three conferences. To soften the blow, only the top two from each conference go straight through...then it's the next best four. But with an unbalanced schedule, does this result in the best next four going through? I doubt it.

Next season we'll have 30 mostly meaningless games (down from 32 because of the Copa America...wow, what a concession to the fact that the best players will miss as much as two months of the season) to decide which eight teams get to playoff for the crown.

Sorry, I will continue to disagree with the structure of the league until they find a way to make the regular season more meaningful. Yeah, when the league expands to 18 teams and only eight go through, it will be more meaningful. But why should fans have to wait another 10 years?
An American who fell in love with soccer while living in Europe.

Location: Hoosierville, IN, United States
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