Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
Sunday, December 31, 2006
  Is it that time already?
Yeah, I've been enjoying the holiday season and staying away from my computer a bit the last week or so. However, I've been reading other peoples reflections on 2006 and that got me thinking...

If I were to say the one thing that will stick in my mind as a soccer fan in the US about 2006 it would be the media. For the first time MLS has managed to sell it's broadcast rights. For the first time (that I know of) the media in the US gave the World Cup almost wall-to-wall coverage. And, probably the part which shows have far the professional game has come in the US, the media were all over the US performance and discussing weather or not Arena should keep his job.

Ok, so a ton of the commentary was from sports media with no clue about soccer, but I'm thinking that's a good thing. Now, with the Beckham Rule in effect, MLS teams are able to bring in names which will, hopefully, get MLS more media coverage. I'm honestly doubting we'll see Beckham at this point, but who knows. Giving owners the opportunity to open their checkbooks will be a good thing in my opinion.

Of course, on the flip side there are talented American players heading to Europe, but that's not going to change any time soon. After all, Beckham left England to go seek his fortune in Spain. Other top players all over the world are doing the same, even if their domestic league is at the top level (how many Mexican players are suddenly in Europe?) so why not Americans as well.

Regardless, things are looking good for soccer in the US and I can't wait to see what happens next year.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
  It took 11 years for someone to think of this
We've all heard the stories about teams drinking beer out of the Stanley Cup while taking the trophy out on the town...or while hosting a party at their house...well, you can't do that (no where to hold the beer) with the MLS Cup, but you can have it at your house for a day.

It's too bad the trophy isn't designed more for celebrations but what are you going to do. One question though, is there only one actual trophy or does the league make a new one every season? If that's the case, LA, DC, KC, Chicago and whoever has the Smurfs trophies can still do this as well.

One thing though, $600 is a bit of a joke. C'mon Houston fans, you can do better than that. Get a group of you together, pool your money and have a big Christmas Day bash with the trophy.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006
  Tractor connection in the Beckham saga
Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows my first love in pro soccer was when I visited Portman Road for the first time. I've been a loyal fan ever since. LA became my second love only because I was forced to move so far from my first love. It's a tragic love triangle. Add to it the fact that Ipswich's biggest rival (Naaarch {spit}) wear the same colors as LA. Also, LA's biggest rivals (SJ...though they don't exist anymore) wear the same colors as Ipswich. Well, you can see why I'm as confused as I am. I'm not sure why I posted all that...must be the coffee.

Anyway enough rambling. What I think I was getting to is that two Canadian former Ipswich players are still good friends who keep in contact and obviously share information. One happens to be the Manager for LA Galaxy the other is....actually, I'm not sure what Craig Forrest is doing these days. However, the other night he was on some soccer themed radio show in Toronto (that's in Canada for the SJ fans) and mentioned according to his former teammate a move for Beckham is getting closer. Thanks to the Toronto MLS Blog for information.

Ok, I haven't had the chance to listen to the audio--but I will sometime today--so I don't know precisely what was said. However, this is certainly conformation (at least in my opinion) of what we already know.

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Friday, December 15, 2006
  A couple quick comments this morning
The first thing I want to mention is the passing of Lamar Hunt. I never met the guy, never supported any of his teams. However, his commitment and vision played a large role in giving us fans the NFL and MLS we see today. If not for him, neither would probably be as successful as they are. I hope he left us knowing how much enjoyment he brought so many in this country.

A very different loss was announced last night when one of my favorites, Kevin Hartman, was traded to KC. Galaxy fans shouldn't be surprised. We've seen this coming from the time Joe Cannon arrived. However, Yallop has managed to trade three fan favorites in the last two weeks. LA fans have loved Hartman from the time he beat Jorge Campos out of the job. Yeah, he's had his critics especially when the 2000 Cup final is discussed. However, I still content his is the best shot stopper in the league and he does organize his backline well. I guess we'll have to wait and see what Yallop got in return in this deal.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  Boy, you blink and...
I don't think I can remember an off season quite as busy as this one for Soccer in this country. It's about time MLS kept the news flow going during the winter months.

So, I'm now getting used to the fact that Bob Bradley is the new national team coach. I've had a few days to reflect on the hiring and I've decided it's not the end of the world. I'm sure he'll do a great job. But the thing is, he's not the guy who is going to give the team (and USSF in general) the shake up it needs. True, Bradley isn't Arena. He'll bring his own flavor the the team. I don't think I'm going to be truly impressed with an American head coach until we having someone we actually saw play in a World Cup heading up the program. Perhaps John Harkes is working towards that...boy would that be fun.

Anyway, the big news the last 24 hours was the blockbuster trade between DC and RSL. Now, I'm cynical at the best of times, but for (RSL Owner...errr investor) Dave Checketts, this is probably a dream trade. In case you didn't know, there's this stadium Checketts is trying to build for the team. None other than LA's future Spice Boy participated in a fake groundbreaking last summer. However, the stadium is hardly a done deal and the media, while giving the team very good coverage, is making it tough for Checketts to just railroad public money into the venture.

A few years ago my baseball team (San Diego) was trying to get a new stadium built. There was a lot of opposition to the use of public money to get it built and it ended up being put on a ballot for voters to decide. Wouldn't you know it, the Padres suddenly had a great team and won a record 98 games in 1998. They then held a swap meet, sold their best players and were crap again until recently. Funny thing, the Chargers (love the Bolt) are trying to get a new stadium and they aren't playing bad ball right now either. The reason I mention that is RSL are trying to get a stadium...right now it looks as if public opinion could be their best ally. Trading for Adu should go a long way towards helping that. Of course, winning a few games and actually making the playoffs wouldn't hurt either.

The only question I'm left with is, how long will RSL get to keep Freddy?

BTW, getting Nick Rimando in the trade is probably the best part for John Ellinger.

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Friday, December 08, 2006
  More TV rights
Wow, ABC/ESPN have bought the rights to the 2008 Euro Championships.
All 31 games will be televised in the United States: two by ABC and the rest by ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Classic. The tournament will be played in Austria and Switzerland from June 7-29.
It wasn't that long ago that I had to go to a pub to see the matches on closed circuit and pay at the door to see it. Now it's on free (well, over the air and basic cable) TV. Who said no one in this country watched soccer?

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  FIFA does it again
This time FIFA has managed to get itself in a bit of trouble. It turns out their signing Visa as a new sponsor (partner) breached their existing agreement with MasterCard. This is being reported only a couple of days after another black eye they gave themselves.

What I find really bad about this whole thing is their attitude about this.
While the FIFA witnesses at trial boldly characterized their breaches as "white lies," "commercial lies," "bluffs," and, ironically, "the game," their internal emails discuss the "different excuses to give to MasterCard as to why the deal wasn't done with them," "how we (as FIFA) can still be seen as having at least some business ethics" and how to "make the whole f***-up look better for FIFA." They ultimately confessed, however, that "[I]t's clear somebody has it in for MC."
But what do you do? The whole organization is run but shady people and as far as I know there's nothing which can be done to change that. We are stuck with more of this.

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  Klinsmann Post-Mortem
Yeah, it's still probably too early to do a full post-mortem but it's been a few hours and it's good to sometimes look at things from different angles.

I posted my initial reaction to the news about Klinsmann sometime last night (never check email while waiting for a bottle to warm up for your 18-month old) and was half asleep when I did. After posting, I thought it would be interesting to see what other bloggers made of the news (as it's got to be the biggest story we'll see this off season)

Obviously the always perfect Jamie Trecker had to explain where he went wrong with his premature announcement the other day.

Brian at DCSunDevil did a good job expressing the feelings of most US fans today and how we got to where we are.

On his excellent HexagonalBlog, Howard let's us know he called it back before Arena was departing the post.
I remember telling a friend of mine, after it became clear that Bruce Arena would step down as US national team coach, that the Federation would try to make a deal with a well-known foreign coach but in the end settle on an MLS-based coach.
du Nord follows how ESPN covered the breaking news. Which is actually better than I'd expect.

Golazo (once you get through all his/her Google Ads) compares last night's news to the English FA when they announced Scolari as their new manager.

I just recently discovered The Red Card blog. Louis does a great job and I just love his "Let's be friends" take on the news.

I couldn't find many more blogs to have posted reaction yet but if you are looking for more reaction, just check out the usual ranting on BigSoccer. Some of it is even worth the price of admission. If I missed any blog posts on this, please add them in the comments section.

Bottom line I think is that after 6 months of anticipation, we really didn't get the big shiny Christmas gift we expected. This may be another storm in a teacup and register as only a blip in the mainstream sports media...but it's big news just the same. Maybe later I'll check what the papers are saying. I wonder if Gulati will give us fans a gift receipt in this afternoon's call?

UPDATE: On The Pitch has a nice collection of relevant mainstream media quotes he put together. Worth checking out.

UPDATED UPDATE: Actually, Soccer Dad over at On The Pitch is all over this. First, there's the USSF bylaws which tells us Gulati doesn't have all the say in what happened. Then there's rumored specualtion that Klinsmann walked because USSF could guarantee him all the players he wanted. (MLS playing matches on FIFA International dates has been an issue for me for a long time). Check out his blog. He's posting some great stuff today.

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  Beta Blogger
Isn't this typical?

I spend several hours getting my blog cleaned up and looking nice again (it needed the overhaul) and then Blogger when and forced me to switch to the new Beta version. So, now I have to spend even more time taking advantage of some of the new tools the new version offers.

Of course, it wouldn't be a problem if I would have just switched to the Beta version last week when I made all the changes, but that would have made life too easy.


  I'm betting they came really close to a deal
It looks like Trecker didn't get the scoop after all. Juergen Klinsmann pulled out of contention for the US coaching position this evening. To be honest, I had a feeling there were negoation problems. There should have been an announcement weeks ago. According to the LA Times, Bob Bradley will be named as the interim coach for the team. Obviously, he's the next best candate.

So, after months of expectation, US fans are basicly left with a retread of Area. Not a bad thing but it would have been exciting to try this new direction.

Let's see what Gulati has to say tomorrow.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
  They keep getting richer
So, Beckham is worth £87 million (what's that...about US$ 170 million give or take)*.  Now, the rumors say (and keep telling us) that he's heading for LA and the league will pick up $400,000 of his salary.  According to the report, he's making  £4.4 million (about US$8.5 million) per season at Real.  There's a bit of difference there.  I'm having a tough time thinking AEG will fork out the difference.  Phil Anchutz didn't amass his fortune paying talent that much.

Fear not Spice fans.  There is a way to make the move happen.  Ya see, Beck's made about 5X as much money last year from sponsorship deals.  That's where AEG and MLS have lots of experience.  Those of you who payed attention the last 11+ years will know that most of the "big name" signings the league has had over the years have had contracts which kept them under the salary cap by giving them huge sponsorship deals. 

If Beckham comes to MLS, his playing salary won't be very big...though he'll probably end up making more money than ever thanks to those folks on Madison Avenue who work so hard to part us all from our hard earned money.

*Currency conversions were done based on today's exchange rate.  If you are reading this at some other time, it will probably be different and the US$ amounts will be higher because of political and economic policies which are weakening the Dollar.  However, as this isn't a political or economic blog, I'll avoid going on a rant here.

  ...and these guys run the sport
At this point, I want someone at FIFA headquarters to explain why anyone should take any of the FIFA leadership seriously. In it's infinate wisdom, FIFA doesn't even give Jack Warner a slap on the wrist.

What was the crime? He (or rather his son with the help of the famly Travel Company) resold World Cup tickets well above face value breaking FIFA rules on the practice.

However, all Sepp Blatter(ed) could say was...

"The committee expressed its disapproval...drawing attention to the fact that Mr Warner should be more cautious and prudent."

In other words, don't get caught next time you idiot.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
  Did we get our Man(n)???
It seems Jamie Trecker managed to scoop everyone with news that everyone should have already guessed. Honestly, it's the news most (if not all) US fans wanted to hear. Jürgen Klinsmann will be in charge of the US team sometime in the near future.

From Trecker's article, it sounds as if a lot of negotiating had to take place in order to make it happen. The thing is, I wonder how much the American soccer fan's opinion played in Klinsmann's favor? It looks to me as if Klinsmann gave up Adidas in order for USSF to give him more control than he wanted. I'm sure there's a pretty sweet pay check involved as well.

Everything points to this being the right (and most popular)choicee. Fingers crossed it works out. How many days until the Denmark match?
  Maybe MLS had it right after all
Many MLS fans have wanted the league to be inline with the rest of the world as far as when the league runs. Many believe the league should start in the early fall and end late spring. However, it seems Sepp Blatter(ed) wants all the other leagues to copy MLS and start early spring and finish in late fall.

Of course this isn't going to happen and I'm making a weak attempt at humor there. However, I the head of FIFA sure likes to stir things up with silly comments. Makes life fun I guess.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
  No surprise here
It turns out that Beckham is not planning to buy the Galaxy. Of course, I'm sure there will be plenty more rumors in the next couple months.

In other news, yet another Ipswich match with an injury time goal. This time it was Town who equalized late thanks to a penalty from Alan Lee. From everything I've read, we should have taken more than just a point from the match. The holiday season (and several additional matches) will be here soon. We'll know more about the team's hopes for this season by January. My prediction at this point, a mid-table finish.

How's this for a true sign the club are trying to cut costs to take care of the current debt...they've sold the team bus and laid off the guy who drives the team bus and takes care of the team equipment. I'm not sure how much they are actually saving by doing this but it does seem to reflect the teams financial situation.
Friday, December 01, 2006
  I really don't know what to make of this one
Yallop has made a move that I'm not sure I understand. LA traded fan favorites Herc Gomez and Ugo Ihemelu for Joe Cannon. There was also the trade of draft picks, but I'd put a beer or 3 on neither of the picks playing more than a handful of MLS matches ever.

Of course, Cannon said all the right things...
"I am overwhelmed and very excited to play for one of the best franchises, maybe the best franchise in the league," said Cannon. "It is an incredible opportunity and I just hope that the fans will give me a chance to prove myself. I don't think that I have won too many games in Los Angeles as a visitor, so I am really looking forward to playing for the home team."
So, I may be able to get over the fact that we now have another Smurf now playing for LA.

So, that's one more striker gone and we are looking pretty thin at the back. We also have one too many keepers. My guess is that either Joe or Kevin Hartman (my money is on Hartman) will be traded for a Designated Player spot.

I'm really sorry to see both Herc and Ugo go. They were both solid players and gave their best every match--unlike a certain megastar on the team. A change of scenery may do them good though...especially Herc who didn't have the best of seasons in '06. Though I'm not sure Clavijo is the right coach to bring the best outta him though. Good luck to both of them...except (of course) when they are playing LA.

On another note, Gavin Glinton signed a new MLS contract. Could he be added to the LA roster?

So, Yallop is making moves. We expected that. However, now that the moves have started, I have no clue what direction he's going. I just hope he doesn't mess things up.
  Beckham United?
This whole Beckham thing is really getting crazy. Now the rumor is that he (along with Glazer) will become part owners of the Galaxy and change the name to Manchester United USA. Of course, the fact that the rumor was started by La Opinion leads me to believe it's more tabloid fiction. However, I could see AEG negotiating with the Spiced One a deal which would give him a partial ownership in the team in lieu of a massive salary. That's more the kind of deal I could see happen. Rebranding the team is just plain ridiculous. That I can't see happening. LA Galaxy is one of the best known brands in MLS. Why change it? Besides, Red Devils USA would be more like their room mates name (Chivas USA)

I don't know. All these rumors are making my head spin. But it sure beats reading about how MLS is doomed to fail.
It's December 1st (my son opened the first Advent calendar door this morning) and we still have no word from USSF on who Arena's replacement will be. However, Gulati is now confirming he's talked with Klinsmann. This many now mean anything though.

Pele says we should have Klinsmann. However, I'm not sure how much experience he's had hiring coaches.

So, now the question is, will we have a coach before we hit 2007?
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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