Thursday, June 30, 2005

The 5,000th MLS Goal

...should happen very soon.

Going into this season the number was 4,672 (regular season only). This year 250 goals have been scored already, for a total of 4,922, only 78 away. Going by this season's goals per game average (2.78), goal number 5,000 should be scored on August 6.

Milestone Goals

1-Eric Wynalda, SJ vs DC (4/6/96)
500-Ben Iroha, SJ vs DAL (9/11/96)
1,000-Thomas Dooley, CLB vs KC (9/14/97)
2,000-Alex Bunbury, KC at TB (7/3/99)
3,000-Sasha Victorine, LA @ TB (5/9/01) (EDIT)
4,000-Mark Chung, COL vs LA (6/25/03)

Because I did this myself, I can't be 100% positive about this. On the 3,000 goal, going into 4/22 the total was sitting on 2,993. Three games started at the same time, and judging by the minutes of the goals, Balboa gets it. He scored in the 55th minute of that game, while Dema Kovalenko scored in the 59th minute of NE-CHI. Of course, I have no idea if maybe there was a delay, or a lot of first half stoppage time in one game, etc. There's a similar situation with the 1,000th goal. But I'm pretty confident of this list.

EDIT, 8/2: Finally, MLS has noticed. Of course, I did end up having one of the goals wrong. Victorine scored the 3,000th in 2001. They were at 2,907 entering the year, and apparently I was using the 93rd goal of 2000 instead...that sucks.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

World Cup roster thoughts

The Gold Cup roster has sparked discussion about who will make it to the World Cup in Germany, which is now less than a year away. What I thought I would do, is determine what the roster would look like based on the current situation.


Locks: Keller

Keller is the obvious starter, and likely will be next year as well. Right now, it appears that Reading's Marcus Hahnemann is the backup. There are a lot of talented MLS guys in the mix, like Joe Cannon, Jon Busch, and Kevin Hartman. But, I think Tim Howard would be the third guy. Even if he doesn't start for Man Utd, he's still got a ton of talent, and he's played in some big games.

Picks: Hahnemann, Howard, Keller


Locks: Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Gibbs, Onyewu, Pope

Those are the guys who have been the heart of the US back line for the past year. Onyewu is young and only has a few caps, but Bruce had the confidence to start him in Mexico, and I think he's pretty much assured of making it. The other guys who've seen a lot of time recently are Gregg Berhalter and Frankie Hejduk. They've been suspect at times, so I don't think that they're locks. It's just a question of whether or not the younger guys can improve enough in a year to displace them. Guys like Chad Marshall and Jonathan Spector are the future, but Bruce tends to favor veterans (he didn't take Bocanegra in 2002). I think Hejduk will probably make it (due to the lack of quality competition: Chris Albright, etc.) , but I'm not as confident for Berhalter's chances. Greg Vanney and Tony Sanneh are playing in the Gold Cup, but they're long shots.

Picks: Berhalter, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Gibbs, Hejduk, Onyewu, Pope, Spector


Locks: Beasley, Donovan, Lewis, Mastroeni, O'Brien, Reyna

The key phrase here is "if healthy." O'Brien and Reyna are probably starters, but what are the odds of both being fit next year? Steve Ralston and Bobby Convey are guys who are very good against CONCACAF competition, but probably don't have the ability for the World Cup level. For defensive midfielder, Mastroeni has that locked. Chris Armas or Kerry Zavagnin make it as a backup, but I think one of O'Brien or Reyna could handle that spot. The two young Revolution players, Clint Dempsey and Pat Noonan, seem to have earned Bruce's respect with their great play in MLS. Noonan seems to be a midfielder for Bruce. And there are others like a Brad Davis or Eddie Gaven (or Brian Mullan, Justin Mapp, etc.) who could come on at the last minute and impress, much like Beasley did last time. Clint Mathis, in the middle of a nightmare season for RSL, looks like the odd man out.

Picks: Beasley, Dempsey, Donovan, Lewis, Mastroeni, Noonan, O'Brien, Reyna


Locks: Johnson, McBride

There isn't a lot of quality competition here. Donovan and Mathis have moved to the midfield, Taylor Twellman and Jeff Cunningham haven't cut it, and there isn't much uncapped talent in MLS (Quaranta has been called in to replace Johnson for the Gold Cup...hmmm). Bruce loves the target forward in McBride, and the backup to him will probably be either Brian Ching or Conor Casey. Ching has played better for club and country, so I'll give the nod to him as of now. Josh Wolff doesn't score a ton, but he's very quick and creates plenty of opportunities, so he seems likely to make it as well.

Picks: Ching, Johnson, McBride, Wolff

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gold Cup roster

Goalkeepers (3) –Marcus Hahnemann (Reading FC), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Matt Reis (New England Revolution)

Defenders (7) –Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Eddie Pope (Real Salt Lake), Tony Sanneh (Chicago Fire), Greg Vanney (FC Dallas)

Midfielders (9) – Chris Armas (Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Brad Davis (San Jose Earthquakes), Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), John O’Brien (ADO Den Haag), Ben Olsen (D.C. United), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution)

Forwards (4) – Conor Casey (FSV Mainz), Eddie Johnson (FC Dallas), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution), Josh Wolff (Kansas City Wizards)


There's really no new faces, except for Reis/Conrad/Davis. It looks like Bruce pretty much knows who he's taking to Germany last year, and wants to get the guys playing well as a group, rather than experimenting with new faces. In addition, there's a few veterans (Sanneh, Armas, and Olsen) who seem to be on the outside looking in for the World Cup, and this will probably be their last big chance to impress.

This will be a big test for John O'Brien, who should be a sure starter if he's ever healthy. And yes, everyone still wants to see him at left back, so maybe we'll finally get a chance to.

Conor Casey is another guy who hasn't looked good for the national team. He needs a good tournament.

Should be an fun tournament to watch. Although, given the level of competition, Bruce's tactics should be the most interesting thing. Mexico and Colombia will be sending b-teams, and everyone else is just the same CONCACAF teams we usually beat.

7/7-vs Cuba
7/9-vs Canada
7/12-vs Costa Rica

7/16 or 17-quarterfinal (likely vs Guatemala/South Africa/Jamaica)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

USA 1-3 Italy (U20)

Just when you think American soccer is becoming great, we get knocked down a peg. Climbing the ladder indeed. Didn't see the game, but I was going to watch the replay on Galavision. I don't think I'll have the stomach to do that now. Well, hopefully now Adu can go back to MLS and concentrate on improving, because he's not going to take over the world anytime soon. Ditto for Spector at Man Utd.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sing When You're Wynne-ing

The one thing that we've learned from the World Youth Championship, is that Marvell Wynne is now the new Bigsoccer golden boy. He has played very well, that's for sure. He's a phenomenal athelete, but needs work techincally. People are already mentioning him as a candidate for the World Cup team, due to our lack of talent at RB. It seems ridiculous to say that about a guy who isn't even a professional player, but let's take a look at the other candidates at RB:

Steve Cherundolo is the certain starter, but after that it's slim pickens. Frankie Hejduk is the other option, but he'll be 31 for the World Cup and like Wynne, relies more on his athleticism than than his technically ability. Chris Albright is in the same boat, and not many people want to see him on the national team. The other MLS starters are either youngsters or journeymen, and don't inspire much confidence. Robbie Russell is the wild card. He plays for Rosenborg, the Norwegian champions, but hasn't got a look yet for the USA. He was in camp before but got hurt. The team he plays for and the articles I've read make it appear that he's good, but I've never seen him play. Anyway, it seems that Cherundolo and probably Hejduk (because he can also play LB) will make the World Cup squad, but with a great year as a pro Wynne definitely has a shot. He'll be starting somewhere next year, you can believe that. He can continue making an impression tomorrow against Italy.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

USA 1-0 Egypt (U20)

Didn't get a chance to see this one, but I saw the goal. We've scored only twice in three games, and both were off deflections. It hasn't been pretty. BUT, we haven't allowed a goal, and finished the group in first place.

Italy is up next, and they are 1-2. The quarterfinal would be against Morocco or Japan, so it looks like a semifinal run is definitely possible, where we would hook up with the host Netherlands for a tough battle. The other half of the bracket is much harder, with Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Spain. If we get the offense going then anything is possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"Pizza Hut Park"

FC Dallas delivers naming rights deal early

Great news for the future of MLS. Becoming profitable is what will allow the league to become bigger and more popular. It is then they'll have the money to increase the salary cap, buy better players, spend more on marketing, all of which will increase attendance, which leads to more sponsorship and tv money, etc.

A few numbers: FC Dallas will get $1.25 million annually for "Pizza Hut Park." Last year, MLS announced a ten year, $150 million deal with adidas, which works out to another $1.25 million per club per year. Each team spends about $2 million on salaries, so FC Dallas has already covered that. In addition, they now control the revenue streams, including parking and concessions. It is vitally important that each team gets a stadium, which is the road to profitability. Any team that can't is not going to be around for the long haul, except New England where Robert Kraft also owns the NFL stadium.

The Metros seem to finally be finalizing the Harrison deal, five years later. Although I'm still holding my breath. Here's where each MLS team stands in regard to soccer specific stadiums:

Has a SSS

Chivas USA
Los Angeles

Will play in SSS

Chicago (2006)
Colorado (2007)
FC Dallas (2005)

In Talks

DC United
Kansas City
Real Salt Lake
San Jose

No Talks

New England

USA 0-0 Germany (U20)

A hard fought game that we probably should've won. Our defense is very solid, and while we didn't finish, we could've had a goal or two. Adu looked good again as well. With four points we're almost certainly through to the final 16. Egypt is next on Friday, and they've already lost twice, so we should beat them. Hopefully we'll get a good draw for the knockout stage, because we have the potential to win this thing.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

USA 1-0 Argentina (U20)

A huge win for the USA in the World Youth Championship today. Chad Barrett with the goal. He's looked impressive for the Fire in limited time, and has a bright future. Adu had a decent game, but he missed the penalty and really could've played better. This was the first time I got to see Feilhaber and Wynne, and they didn't disappoint. First round draft picks next year, or Euro deals before then.

The defense really was the story, as Argentina seemed to get frustrated over not scoring. They were probably unlucky not to score, and maybe should've had a draw. But it was a very nice preformance for the US. Germany and Egypt are up next for the U20s, and just like the full national team, the encouraging thing is that they can play better than this. Four third-place teams will advance, so really we only need one point from these two games. I don't know about winning the whole thing, but equaling our quarterfinal run two years ago should be the least we do.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Panama 0-3 USA

A good preformance tonight. It was a very sloppy and physical game, but Panama rarely threatened and we won handily. Despite not playing our best, we took advantage of the opportunties we had and it wasn't really close. Keller again had a moment of brilliance to keep the shutout (at 2-0), and they also hit the post. Those was really their only scoring chances. After scoring three times in the first half, the second was largely uneventful, except for some awful tackles from Panama. I don't know how they didn't get a red.

It was very similar to the Costa Rica game in many respects, not just the scoreline. We scored early in both games (for the third straight qualifier), and then absorbed pressure while maintaining the shutout. Keller is on fire, and seems impossible to beat. Getting benched at Tottenham may have been the best thing that ever happened to him. Donovan again had a beautiful goal, and this one was really special. A perfect header. ( always puts the goals highlights up)

The Bruce always seems to have a surprise or two, and tonight was no different. Hejduk and Noonan started in place of Convey and Wolff. Noonan played alright, but he's not ready to be a regular starter. Can't say I was too impressed with Hejduk, who started at left back as Bocanegra moved to the center. Hopefully we can find a permanent solution there, which seems to be our biggest weakness. McBride was the captain tonight, instead of Keller. I don't why they would switch it up like that, but McBride is the consummate professional, a total class act.

Despite the two wins, we can play better than this. That's the encouraging thing. We're also getting it done on the road now, which is the sign of a great team. Donovan had a quote after the Costa Rica game where he basically said just that. The top teams dominate no matter where they play. And this is all despite missing Reyna, Lewis, Ching, O'Brien, Gibbs, Onyewu, and Mastroeni. It's a good time to be an American soccer fan.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Panama game tonight

I'd like to give a final prediction before each national team, so here we go:

The weather is pretty much the same as it was last time, where it was rainy with a ridiculously waterlogged field. That means that the game will be less skillful and more physical (I almost hate to say it, but maybe we should start Casey over Wolff), which helps Panama. Still, we seem to have improved our away form in the 2006 qualifiers, with 8 points in five semifinal/final round games. Four years ago, we had 9 points in eight games.

We are the more skilled team, and we should win. Anything less would be disappointing, even on the road. The USA are just a much more talented team. We always seem to win games handily without blowing teams out, so I'm guessing that pattern will continue tonight.

Prediction: Panama 0-2 USA

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Most Tenured MLS players, by team


Jesse Marsch, 1/5/98.

Chivas USA

Arturo Torres, 11/19/04.


Ritchie Kotschau, 6/29/01.


Duncan Oughton, 2/6/01.

DC United

Ben Olsen, 1/28/98.

FC Dallas

Oscar Pareja, 8/15/98.

Kansas City

Chris Klein, 2/1/98.

Los Angeles

Cobi Jones, 3/7/96.


Mark Lisi, 5/9/02.

New England

Joe Franchino, 5/6/00.

Real Salt Lake

Jason Kreis, 11/17/04.

San Jose

Jon Conway, 2/6/00.

It's amazing how the Metros have totally rebuilt since Bob Bradley took over. Lisi is a year ahead of any other non-expansion team. Most of these players are pretty solid, although Conway amazingly has stuck around for five years in a backup role.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Youngest MLS Player Timeline

In the past few years, MLS has embraced younger players, and teenagers have become a common sight, thanks to the P-40 (sorry, Adidas Elite) program. Obviously, Freddy Adu is the youngest player in league history. But I wanted to find out who previously held that title, and here are the results:

1) Victor Mella, San Jose Earthquakes Clash

DOB: 11/14/74
Debut: 4/6/96

Opening day for MLS saw San Jose beat DC United 1-0 on an Eric Wynalda goal, and at 21, Mella was the youngest man on the field. A forward, he was on loan from Chile's Colo Colo (link) . I didn't follow the league back then, and I really don't know much about him. He would only hold the record for a week.

2) Welton, New England Revolution

DOB: 4/17/75
Debut: 4/13/96

Unlike Mella, Welton had a pretty good MLS career. The Brazilian would go on to star for Los Angeles and Miami, scoring 43 goals along the way.

3) Ramiro Corrales, San Jose Earthquakes Clash

DOB: 3/12/77
Debut: 4/28/96

The youngest player by far in 1996; almost two years younger than Welton, he was the first teenager in MLS history. Remained in the league until this year, departing for Norway.

4) Nino da Silva, Kansas City Wizards

DOB: 5/26/79
Debut: 8/31/97

Another Brazilian, the forward only played in 13 games over four years, scoring no goals. His one sub appearance in 1997 allowed him to make this list, and he held the title for 2.5 years. Now plays for the Chicago Storm in the MISL.

What's interesting, is that in researching this, Jamar Beasley is often referred to as the youngest MLS player ever. Jamar debuted a year after da Silva, and was about a half year older. I'm not sure if that was laziness on MLS' part, or what. Hmm...

5) DaMarcus Beasley, Chicago Fire

DOB: 5/24/82
Debut: 3/18/00

Following his brother's footsteps in signing as a teen, he was the first 17 year old. Damarcus easily has achieved the most success of the guys on this list. Although, it took a couple years until he put it together.

6) Bobby Convey, DC United

DOB: 5/27/83
Debut: 3/25/00

Only a week after DaMarcus, Convey made his debut. He was a full year younger. Now with Reading, he's been a pro for five years already.

7) Santino Quaranta, DC United

DOB: 10/14/84
Debut: 5/9/01

Santino set the bar high, at only 16.5 years old. Still going strong with DC, although he hasn't lived up to his potential thanks to injuries. Held the record for three years, longer than anyone else.

8) Freddy Adu, DC United

DOB: 6/2/89
Debut: 4/3/04

No one will ever match Freddy, at least in this category. A full 632 days younger than Quaranta. Probably wasn't ready for the pros, but has had moments of brilliance. He'll be a ten year pro at the age of 24, simply amazing.

A Man, a Plan, an Ass-whooping...(hopefully)

After the convincing win over Costa Rica Saturday, the USA is now headed to Panama, where they struggled last year. Guatemala and Mexico have both failed to win at Panama, but I feel good about our chances. We played just about the worst game we've ever played last time, and still escaped with a draw. We are a better team than Panama, and when that's the case you should win, home or away.

Most of the players from the 1-1 draw last September are with the team currently, including Greg Vanney and Conor Casey. Those two both had awful games, and they haven't played in a WCQ since. I'm not really sure they deserve the call up, but hopefully they can do well if given the chance.

Bobby Convey was a suprise starter on Saturday, playing on the left side of midfield as we went with a 3-4-3 lineup. I would guess that he's the most likely to lose his starting place, since we should go with four in the back on the road. Bocanegra should move to the left, with Cherundolo on the right. I think Berhalter is the most likely man to pair with Pope in the center of defense. Gibbs won't be making the trip, and while Onyewu is, he missed the game on Saturday. Berhalter may not be the most skilled player, but he and Pope did play together at North Carolina and should be an effective pairing. The rest of the starting lineup should be unchanged, except maybe Dempsey or Noonan in for Ralston. Of course, you never know for sure with the Bruce.