Tuesday, May 30, 2006
As usual, Ives Galarcep is right on the money when it comes to analyzing the USA squad. His projected starting lineup:
Kasey Keller, Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu, Eddie Pope, Steve Cherundolo, Bobby Convey, Claudio Reyna, Pablo Mastroeni, DaMarcus Beasley, Brian McBride and Landon Donovan.
That's exactly the same as my guess. It looks like John O'Brien will be the odd man out, due to not being fully fit. But even if he is, Mastroeni played great against Latvia and looks to be a sure starter. Reyna will always start if healthy. Some people have suggested that O'Brien, Reyna, and Mastroeni could all start in a 4-3-3 which is intriguing, but I think that the attacking trio of Convey/Donovan/Beasley supporting McBride is too good to mess with. I'd like to see a 4-2-3-1 myself, although who knows exactly how they'll line up.
It's disappointing that Eddie Johnson hasn't stepped up and secured a starting spot, but he just doesn't look ready for that yet. Like so many USA players, he's just not good enough technically (just imagine him in JOB's shoes, training with Ajax). What's nice though is that he gives us an explosive burst of speed off the bench. Our reserves as a whole are better than in 2002. We're a deeper team.
Bruce used almost every player last time, and he'll probably use most of them again in 2006. I thought I would take a look at the role I expect each reserve to play in the World Cup.
GK-Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard
Howard played against Venezuela, while Hahnemann sat the bench. So he'll be the backup, which really isn't very surprising looking at their playing time for the USA over the past few years.
D-Chris Albright, Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Jimmy Conrad
I'm not sure if I see Albright getting any minutes. He's the backup for Dolo, but if Lewis goes down, could he really play LB at the World Cup? I would guess Bocanegra is the backup there. Like Carlos Llamosa in 2002, expect him to come on as a defensive sub if we're winning late. It could be for Lewis, or for an attacker like Convey or Johnson. But probably Lewis because there's a number of left sided players in there already.
Boca certainly doesn't look to be next in line in the center of defense. Conrad looks to have that locked up, considering the amount of playing time he's got lately. He's also played a number of games with Pope and Onyewu. So if either one is supsended or goes down with injury, he'll step in.
Cory Gibbs could've been the first option at LB or CB, but now we have Berhalter instead. He played a few big games with Onyewu, but he's a longshot to see any playing time in Germany. I know Boca's been shaky and doesn't have World Cup experience, so possibly he could be 4th on the CB depth chart ahead of him. I would rather see Boca ahead of him though, especially because he just chose to switch clubs to another division 2 team (1860 Munich), rather than go up with Cottbus. I don't want guys with a lack of ambition to be on the field for us.
M-Clint Dempsey, John O'Brien, Ben Olsen
Last time, we lacked a spark plug on offense. You could tell from the Germany game four years ago. Mathis, Jones, and Stewart all came off the bench in that came, and they didn't do much. I'm much more optimistic with a guy like Dempsey on the team. He's flashy and not afraid to take guys on, which makes him a perfect late game sub when we're tied or behind. Depending on their effectiveness, could come on for Beasley or Convey to provide a true right sided midfielder.
O'Brien is amazingly talented and will probably start at some point, if he doesn't at the start. Is probably the first guy off the bench in every game, like Cobi last time. I would expect him to come on for Convey/Beasley as a defensive sub, and for Mastroeni as an offensive move. Or maybe a defender if we're desperate.
Olsen is a guy who probably won't see a lot of time. I see him as a late game sub for one of our attacking players, to try and secure a result. Given the injury problems of O'Brien/Reyna, he might be needed more than expected.
F-Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff
Ching/McBride and Johnson/Wolff, those are the pairings of who will be subbed for whom. If neither Johnson or Wolff start, then Johnson is probably first in line to see time. Like Dempsey, he's a guy you want in there if you need a goal. Actually, he'll probably be in there every game anyway.
Ching is unlikely to see time unless McBride needs a breather, while Wolff has been tried as an attacking midfielder. He could be a replacement for Donovan. I also get the feeling that Wolff is a guy Arena would bring on if we're winning as well. He seems like a better option to protect a lead than Ching/Johnson.
Predicted sub patterns
Sunday, May 28, 2006
MLS 2006 - Week 9 goal compilation
Youtube or Download (Ipod compatible)
Music: Jamiroquai - "Feels Just Like It Should"
Juan Pablo Garcia
Previous MLS Compilations
Weeks 1-8 download pack (~100 mb)
2006 - Week 8 - YT
2006 - Week 7 - YT
2006 - Week 6 - YT
2006 - Week 5 - YT
2006 - Week 4 - YT
2006 - Week 3 - YT
2006 - Week 2 - YT
2006 - Week 1 - YT
2005 - Season's Best Goals
2005 - RSL Goals- YT - DL
2005 - Happy Without You
2004 - MLS Cup Playoffs
Friday, May 26, 2006
OTFATT 2006: Update #4
4/11 (85 players remaining)
4/24 (66 players remaining)
5/7 (46 players remaining)
Now we're getting down to the nitty gritty. In the ongoing quest to track which players have played every minute of the MLS season so far, there's some big news. Jon Busch and Dario Sala both were substituted on Saturday, making Columbus and Dallas the first two teams to be completely eliminated.
We're down to 28 players. As usual, expect only about 4 or 5 to actually make it through the year. This is the point where injuries and suspensions start to determine who goes. I would say the most surprising guys still on the list are Bornstein, Dorman, O'Rourke, and Perkins.
Dropped off (18):
2006 Candidates (28)
CHI-Ivan Guerrero, Logan Pause, Zach Thornton
CHV-Jonathan Bornstein, Brad Guzan, Sacha Kljestan, Juan Francisco Palencia
COL-Kyle Beckerman, Terry Cooke
DC-Brian Carroll, Facundo Erpen, Joshua Gros, Jaime Moreno, Troy Perkins
HOU-Brian Mullan, Pat Onstad
KC-Davy Arnaud, Bo Oshoniyi, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin
NE-Andy Dorman, Jay Heaps, Matt Reis, Taylor Twellman
RSL-Scott Garlick, Chris Klein
Order of teams being totally wiped out, with last surviving player:
1. CLB-Jon Busch
2. DAL-Dario Sala
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Covering the Nation
As a huge soccer fan, of course I want to see the other major leagues struggle (hey, they're not going anywhere). Especially the NHL, because they are the undisputed #4, offering a product that is increasingly being called a niche sport in America. The goal for MLS is to become a major league, and when we get on par with them, it will be a great day for soccer. It would be nice to get their entirely on the league's success, but if the NHL falling can hasten the goal, then that's a good thing.
I bring this up because one of the things you hear about from Don Garber and company is that MLS needs to be in the major markets. In order to be seen as a national league, and as a major sport, you have to have teams in the big cities. While it's ok to have your Columbuses and Salt Lakes, the bigger markets help far more with tv ratings, leading to better tv deals which are the lifeblood of professional sports in this country.
The NHL's final four are Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, and Edmonton. Not great for them. Buffalo and Raleigh (Carolina) are the league's two smallest American markets, and one of them will be in the finals. Anaheim is part of the LA market, but Edmonton is up 3-0 and they do nothing for tv ratings here (Hockey is going to be huge in Canada no matter what). So don't expect great ratings for the Stanley Cup finals. Not that they would be great anyway, since it's the NHL, but every little thing like this helps out soccer in this country. Plus, I'd like to see Edmonton win because it is Canada's sport after all.
I was thinking about this the other day, and I was wondering exactly what percentage of Americans have an MLS team to root for? How does that compare with the other leagues? I have the answer for you. Read on.
There are 361 metropolitan areas in the USA. You can look at a list, or a map (which includes micro areas as well) to get a sense of what they are. I could've used the Nielsen media markets instead, but those are different and don't have easily obtainable populations (the metro areas are defined by the government). I did not count any Canadian teams, because I wanted to measure only the American data. For each sport, I added up the total population of every metro area with a team. Each area's population is only counted once, regardless of how many teams are in it. I then divided that by the total USA population to get the percentages listed below. The metro area data uses a 2004 population estimate, so that's also what I used for the whole country's population to divide by.
Percentage of Americans With a Team to Follow
I also included Division 1 NCAA college football (119 teams). As you can see, MLS has barely scratched the tip of the surface, ranking behind even the WNBA.
1) You can see how the NHL lags behind the top three. They only have 24 American teams, compared to 29-29-32 of the top three. But it's hard to see many untapped markets for hockey out there.
2) If the NFL had Los Angeles (12 million people), they would be number one easily. Not like they really miss it, though.
3) If MLS expands to Philadelphia, San Jose, and Cleveland in the next few years, that still only gets them up to 26.6%. So it's gonna take a few rounds of expansion.
4) It's important to note how the metro areas are defined. For example, Green Bay is separate from Milwaukee (the NFL would still be third, though). Also, San Jose is separate from SF/OAK, Riverside/San Bernadino is separate from LA, etc.
5) Finally, a list of some of the MLS expansion/relocation rumored cities over the past couple years, with area rank:
16. Minneapolis/St. Paul
17. San Diego
18. St. Louis
29. San Antonio
30. San Jose
47. Oklahoma City
50. Salt Lake
Rochester, NY is the 11th biggest market without a "big 4" pro sports team. Bigger than Salt Lake, interesting.
The move from SJ to Houston added 3.4 million people, while a move from KC (27th) to Philly would add 3.9 million. Hmm...
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
The Worst MLS Teams (single season & multiple)
|The Best MLS Teams|
Every time I post something about players or teams doing good or bad, I feel obligated to post the flip side of it as well. We all know who the worst single season MLS teams were, but you may not know exactly how the worst teams over multiple seasons stack up. Especially since way more attention is given to dynasties rather than KC Royals-like ineptitude.
I've figured out the worst MLS teams over 2, 3, 4, and 5 year periods. Shootouts are counted as draws, hence the APPG stat (the "A" stands for adjusted). Also, any ties are broken by goal differential. Scroll down for the top ten in every category, but now a quick look at the worst teams in each:
Worst MLS Teams
The 2001 Mutiny. Much like the 1998 Galaxy, they set a new standard. They allowed 2.52 goals per game, or 0.36 worse than the second worst. I've said it before, but they were the only team to give Devin Barclay regular playing time. I just like to bring that up. In his defense, he actually scored the last goal in the club's history.
Trading away Garlick/Kotschau/Valderrama for A.Brown/Vermillion/draft pick midway through the year didn't do much; they actually played worse after that. But, they can take some pride in beating the future champion Earthquakes for their last ever win.
Starters: Adin Brown, Eric Denton, John Maessner, Steve Trittschuh, Joseph Addo, Josh Keller, Eric Quill, Steve Ralston, Jair, Devin Barclay, Mamadou Diallo
Subs: Matt Nyman, Craig Demmin, Scott Cannon, Chad McCarty, Danny Pena, Gus Kartes, Ali Curtis
Worst Single Season MLS Teams
Now that's parity. No team appears more than once on this list, which is pretty remarkable when you think about how certain teams sucked for years.
Some of these teams had a decent first month, but they all turned bad quickly. At 3-3-2, RSL was still at .500 after 8 games, the best of the ten.
2001 DC United lost out to NE on goal differential for 10th.
Worst MLS Teams Over 2 Seasons
TB had a good year in 2000 before they imploded, so everybody's favorite laughing stock takes over the top spot. As I've mentioned many times, the year after expansion (1999) saw little change in the standings. 4 teams from 1998-9 make this list, while 3 made the corresponding list on the best teams post.
Chivas and RSL were so bad that they need to have good years to avoid being number one. Actually, they just need to be about right at the .500 mark. Chivas needs 42 points and RSL needs 40.
Dallas makes the list over 2000-1 Colorado based on GD.
Worst MLS Teams Over 3 Seasons
DC has the record for best preformance over 3 seasons, and almost for worst over the same length of time. Not even really that close here, either.
New England was absolutely awful for the first half of their existance.
EDIT: I somehow forgot to put the Metros on this list, and I had DC at number one. It's fixed now.
Worst MLS Teams Over 4 Seasons
The good old Metros. Sucks having your first four seasons place first here. The Revs too. Funny how those teams are both struggling with attendance now...
Worst MLS Teams Over 5 Seasons
But it is the Revs, not the Metros, who come out on top here. They practically dominate this list.
Five years is a long time in the short history of MLS, so there are actually 2 teams on this list here who won a championship.
As a final note, Chicago, Columbus, and Los Angeles did not appear on any of these lists.
Monday, May 22, 2006
MLS 2006 - Week 8 goal compilation
Youtube or Download (Ipod compatible)
Armin van Buuren - "Shivers (Radio Edit)"
Juan Francisco Palencia
Jean Philippe Peguero
Juan Francisco Palencia
Jean Philippe Peguero
Jean Philippe Peguero
Missing: Ryan Pore, Mehdi Ballouchy, Jeff Cunningham
Previous MLS Compilations
2006 - Week 7 - YT - DL
2006 - Week 6 - YT - DL
2006 - Week 5 - YT - DL
2006 - Week 4 - YT - DL
2006 - Week 3 - YT - DL
2006 - Week 2 - YT - DL
2006 - Week 1 - YT - DL
2005 - Season's Best Goals - YT - DL
2005 - RSL Goals- YT - DL
2005 - Happy Without You - YT - DL
2004 - MLS Cup Playoffs - YT - DL
Saturday, May 20, 2006
The Best MLS Teams (single season & multiple)
It's probably the most basic piece of information that MLS fans would be interested in. I'm talking about the best single season records in league history. Incredibly, I've yet to post them while going on and on about trivial stuff. I did post a list last summer, but it wasn't the now standard (for me anyway) "shootouts as draws" version (aka Adjusted PPG).
However, it would be too easy to post just that. It wouldn't be a Climbing the Ladder post unless I took it a step further, and I've done just that by also figuring out the best MLS teams over 2, 3, 4, and 5 year periods. Scroll down for the top ten in every category, but now a quick look at the best teams in each:
Best MLS Teams
The 1998 Galaxy were a team the likes of which hasn't been seen since. Unfortunately, Chicago and DC also had great teams, and they couldn't get it done in the playoffs. But let's take a moment to look back at how truly amazing that Galaxy team was. They had 9 wins of 3 goals or more, and 7 games where they scored at least 5 times. It was the best offense in league history (2.66 goals per game) by 0.35 over the second place team (1998 DC). They also managed to lead the league in goals allowed.
Starters: Kevin Hartman, Greg Vanney, Robin Fraser, Steve Jolley, Ezra Hendrickson, Danny Pena, Martin Machon, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Cobi Jones, Welton, Carlos Hermosillo
Subs: Matt Reis, Paul Caligiuri, Dan Calichman, Joey Franchino, Daniel Hernandez, Wellington Sanchez, Clint Mathis
That's a pretty nice gameday roster right there. I would love to see a video game with classic MLS teams. In the middle of writing this, I just realized that Wellington Sanchez was on Ecuador's 2002 World Cup roster (although he didn't play). Did not know that.
Whenver an MLS coach is in trouble, I always like to bring up Octavio Zambrano's name. His teams in LA and NY played some great attacking soccer. A lot of that was probably due to the talent, but if Rongen can get another shot, then why not him? Anyone who offended Lothar Matthaus can't be that bad.
Best Single Season MLS Teams
Yep, the 2001 Fusion were amazing...and the 2005 Earthquakes. Hmm...maybe the Wizards shouldn't aim to be "that" amazing in 2006.
Along with those two, I would add the 2000 Fire as the best 3 teams in this decade. Another one that screwed up in the playoffs. Only 3 of these teams took home the MLS Cup, as you can see by the "titles" column on the far right. Not surprising, since only 4 of 10 Supporters' Shield winners have won the championship.
Best MLS Teams Over 2 Seasons
Ok, now that we're in multiple year territory, you can throw out every team except for the "big 4" of MLS. This isn't a particularly close list at the top. Too bad the Dynamo history is officially seperate from the Quakes, or they could've given 'em a run for their money.
There's only a couple completely post-shootout teams here, as is the case for the other years. I should also mention that the 1996-7 Mutiny were tied with the 9th and 10th place teams. I sorted them by goal differential, but I could've easily listed them up there as well.
Best MLS Teams Over 3 Seasons
DC finally breaks up the Galaxy domination. Two titles, and only 18 losses in 96 games.
Best MLS Teams Over 4 Seasons
4 years in a 10 year league is a long time, which is why you can have a horrible team (2000 DC) be a part of this group.
Bubbling below in 14th place is the 1999-2 Dallas Burn. Huh. They had a great 1999 followed by 3 average years, and only 1 playoff series win to show for it.
Best MLS Teams Over 5 Seasons
Again, it's the same teams over and over. 1998 and 1999 were very uneven years, helped by the move to 12 teams. I expect future expansion to cause a bigger imbalance between the good and the bad; at the very least we won't be like 2002-4 again. Only 10 teams, plus the dispersal draft; it was incredibly even. With 12 or more teams, you can have a few teams with really great seasons. Just look at the 2001 standings. There's also the whole "gradually moving away from single entity" thing. So what I'm saying is, soon we'll have our very own Yankees and Royals.
There's still only one title, though. So while the records here may be improved, good luck beating DC's accomplishment (3 in 4 years).