Sunday, January 29, 2006

USA 5-0 Norway

First things first, it's important not to overreact in either direction. We're not suddenly awesome because of this game, just like how we didn't suck because of the Canada game.

This wasn't even a contest. I mean, we should beat Norway no matter what (even if both teams had all their best players). But I didn't expect it to turn out this way. Taylor Twellman helped himself greatly, by actually finishing some of his chances. The talent has been there, and hopefuly he can keep it going. If he plays with the same form for the USA as with the Revs, then he's a lock.

I was also excited to see Todd Dunivant get a shot at LB. I have been a fan of his for a while, and since there's not a lot of other options, he could make the World Cup roster, you never know. It was a good game for him.

And finally, Dave O'Brien is the new voice of US soccer. I'm not impressed. Let's get somebody who actually knows the game of soccer, I don't care how great his background is. There were countless mistakes that I or any of you would never have made. I think we should stick with JP for now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Houston 1836: Another Step In The Right Direction

I'm glad to see another "soccer-style" name in MLS, rather than the usual animals (or whatever). 1836 sounds classy, has local history behind it (more than you can say for RSL/FC Dallas/D.C. United), and has soccer tradition as well. What more could you ask for?

As I've before, MLS is moving away from trying to go after the regular Americans, and becoming more of a real soccer league. That's a good thing. MLS was like a confused teenage boy chasing after a girl. You can't worry about what everyone else thinks is cool, and try to be who you think they want you to be. Instead, you just have to do your own thing, and girls will respect you for being confident and passionate about your beliefs.

Houston 1836 is a great example of that. Thankfully, we don't have names like the 1996 ones anymore. It's also great that they've realized some of their mistakes and dumped some of the worst ones. After 10 years, only half of the original team names have remained unscathed:


Colorado Rapids
Columbus Crew
D.C. United
Los Angeles Galaxy
New England Revolution

These names are all fine for the most part. Galaxy and Crew may not be good names, but they've been around for a decade and don't sound horrible now. Revolution is fine when shortened to Revs. The Rapids, that's probably the only one that could change, because they haven't had a lot of success and they're moving into a new stadium next year. But if doesn't happen then, it probably won't ever.


Dallas Burn
Kansas City Wiz
NY/NJ Metrostars
San Jose Clash
Tampa Bay Mutiny

The Metros dropped the NY/NJ after two seasons, not like the media has noticed. They need to add an FC after (or before) their name; I think that would help end the problem, and it makes "Metrostars" sound a little less weird. Although I don't expect any logic or sound decision making from Alexi Lalas, a man who wants to increase the size of the goals. Don't get me started on that...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Great NASL article

Unfortunately, it's not on the web. But if you care at all about the history of American soccer, you'll want to check out the January issue of 4-4-2 magazine. It paints a great picture of the crazy promotional stunts (like Ron Newman dressed as dracula), the party atmosphere, and how the groundroots were laid for the sport here. It's a must read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Streaks In American Sports

Now that the NFL regular season is over, I have gone and updated my list of consecutive playoff appearances in American Sports (MLB, MLS, NBA, NHL, NFL, and WNBA). None of the changes affect the Galaxy's position as the fifth longest, because the NFL is full of parity.

I've also made a list of the most consecutive winning seasons (over .500 win pct) in American sports as well. That list has lower numbers that the first, because it's easy to make the playoffs without having a winning record, except in baseball and football. The Wizards currently have three winning seasons in a row, tops in MLS.

For the entire lists, see this Bigsoccer thread.

Monday, January 23, 2006

USA 0-0 Canada

Looks like the projected lineup was right, with the exception of Olsen instead of Carroll. It wasn't on tv, so there's nothing I can really say about the game. Conrad and Pope were the center backs, and they must've done a decent job. I've always thought that Pope would make it to Germany just based on his experience, and I still think he's on track to do that. Conrad will probably make it too, especially since Cory Gibbs has fallen off the radar thanks to his injury. Pearce was the LB and supposedly was just ok. Looking forward to seeing what Dunivant can do.

Twellman, Ching, and Wolff failed to score. With the first two guys in there, I'm not surprised. I bet the three forward attack would look much better with Beasley and Johnson supporting McBride, though. Hopefully everyone will be healthy and we can see that at some point this spring.

Yes, there was much Adu about Freddy (please kill me now), as the phenom made his long awaited US debut. With the scoreline and the fact that it wasn't on tv, that's about all anyone will remember about this game. I'm sure Bruce wanted to take the pressure off of him, as well as not making it a big spectacle. And I'm glad he's got the record for youngest national teamer: take that, Mike Slivinski!

The Norway game Sunday in the HDC should be a better showing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

USA vs Canada Preview

Almost forgot about this game, held tomorrow in San Diego. Our MLS players can easily take Canada's second string, as evidenced by the same fixture in 2003, an easy 4-0 win. This game isn't on tv, so there won't be anything to analyze or think about, other than what we can gather from matchtracker. From the Canadian perspective, their three forwards only have 6 caps combined, including the Fire's benchwarmer Will Johnson. I don't know if DeRosario will be used at forward or as the AM. Either way, I would be very surprised if they scored a goal against us.

A few guys like Albright and Ralston will be unavailable due to injury, while it appears that Johnson is still not 100%. From a scrimmage report on Bigsoccer, this could be our starting lineup:

Reis, Pearce, Conrad, Pope, Hejduk, Dempsey, Carroll, Donovan, Twellman, Wolff, Ching

The score isn't really important, although I expect a multiple goal win. This is all about getting experience and finding out who will make it to Germany. It's also a chance for Bruce to try out some new things (4-3-3?).

Prediction: USA 3-0 Canada

Sunday, January 15, 2006

MLS Best XI Facts & Analysis

I compiled a list of all the players who made an MLS Best XI to analyze, and there's some interesting stuff there. There have been 110 Best XI appearances (11 x 10), and 67 players have made it, including 23 more than once.

You can see all 10 year end Best XI's through this handy page at Wikipedia. But first, here's a short trivia quiz about the Best XI (answers are below):


1. Who are the only two players to make the Best XI four years in a row?

2. Besides Jaime Moreno and Taylor Twellman, who is the only forward to be named to the Best XI more than once?

3. Which year had the fewest returnees from the previous year, with one?

4. Which team (minus RSL and Chivas) is the only one not to have a player make the Best XI twice?

5. Which teams (minus RSL and Chivas) have the most and least Best XI selections?



1. Chris Armas (1998-01) and Marco Etcheverry (1996-99)

2. John Spencer (2001, 03)

3. 2002 (Tim Howard). The World Cup probably had a lot to do with it.

4. Miami. 5 Best XI selections, all in 2001 (Preki, Llamosa, Mastroeni, Pineda Chacon, Serna).

5. Chicago (16) and Colorado/Miami/New England (5)

Other Interesting Facts

1. 45 out of 110 selections taken by foreigners.

2. No player has made it with three different teams. Now that Agoos and Chung have retired, only Pope has a chance this year.

3. Eddie Pope also is the only player to have two appearances for two different teams (DC, MET). He's also the only one to have two seperate "streaks" of Best XI selections (1997-98 and 2003-04).

4. Robin Fraser and Jaime Moreno have the longest spans between their first and last Best XI appearances, 8 years.

5. The longest time between Best XI appearances is 5 years, shared by three players: Chung (97-02), Moreno (99-04), and Pope (98-03).

Selections By Team

CHI 16
LA 15
DC 15
SJ 12
KC 10
TB 7
NE 5

Returning From Previous Year

1997 3
1998 3
1999 5
2000 3
2001 3
2002 1
2003 2
2004 2
2005 3

The List

Player Pos Times Years Teams
1 Robin Fraser D 5 1996, 98-00, 04 LA 4, CLB
1 Chris Armas M 5 1998-01, 03 CHI
3 Marco Etcheverry M 4 1996-99 DC
3 Preki M 4 1996-97, 01, 03 KC 2, MIA, KC
3 Eddie Pope D 4 1997-98, 03-04 DC 2, MET 2
3 Jaime Moreno F 4 1997, 99, 04-05 DC
7 Mauricio Cienfuegos M 3 1996, 98-99 LA
7 Carlos Valdarrama M 3 1996-97, 00 TB
7 Mark Chung M 3 1997, 02-03 KC, COL 2
7 Jeff Agoos D 3 1997, 99, 01 DC 2, SJ
7 Peter Nowak M 3 1998, 00-01 CHI
7 Steve Ralston M 3 1999-00, 02 TB 2, NE
13 Lubos Kubik D 2 1998-99 CHI
13 Thomas Dooley D 2 1997-98 CLB
13 Greg Vanney D 2 2000-01 LA
13 John Spencer F 2 2001, 03 COL
13 Tim Howard GK 2 2001-02 MET
13 Carlos Bocanegra D 2 2002-03 CHI
13 Taylor Twellman F 2 2002, 05 NE
13 Ryan Nelson D 2 2003-04 DC
13 Pat Onstad GK 2 2003, 05 SJ
13 Ronnie O'Brien M 2 2004-05 DAL
13 Jimmy Conrad D 2 2004-05 KC
24 Mark Dodd GK 1 1996 DAL
24 Leonel Alvarez D 1 1996 DAL
24 Eduardo Hurtado F 1 1996 LA
24 Roberto Donadoni M 1 1996 MET
24 John Doyle D 1 1996 SJ
24 Roy Lassiter F 1 1996 TB
24 Brad Friedel GK 1 1997 CLB
24 Richard Gough D 1 1997 KC
24 Ronald Cerritos F 1 1997 SJ
24 Zach Thornton GK 1 1998 CHI
24 Stern John F 1 1998 CLB
24 Cobi Jones F 1 1998 LA
24 Jason Kreis F 1 1999 DAL
24 Kevin Hartman GK 1 1999 LA
24 Eddie Lewis M 1 1999 SJ
24 Hristo Stoitchkov M 1 2000 CHI
24 Tony Meola GK 1 2000 KC
24 Peter Vermes D 1 2000 KC
24 Clint Mathis F 1 2000 MET
24 Mamadou Diallo F 1 2000 TB
24 Carlos Llamosa D 1 2001 MIA
24 Pablo Mastroeni D 1 2001 MIA
24 Alex Pineda Chacon F 1 2001 MIA
24 Diego Serna F 1 2001 MIA
24 Jeff Cunningham F 1 2002 CLB
24 Oscar Pareja M 1 2002 DAL
24 Alexi Lalas D 1 2002 LA
24 Carlos Ruiz F 1 2002 LA
24 Wade Barrett D 1 2002 SJ
24 Ronnie Ekelund M 1 2002 SJ
24 DaMarcus Beasley M 1 2003 CHI
24 Ante Razov F 1 2003 CHI
24 Landon Donovan M 1 2003 SJ
24 Joe Cannon GK 1 2004 COL
24 Kerry Zavagnin M 1 2004 KC
24 Amado Guevara M 1 2004 MET
24 Eddie Gaven M 1 2004 MET
24 Brian Ching F 1 2004 SJ
24 Danny Califf D 1 2005 SJ
24 Tyrone Marshall D 1 2005 LA
24 Clint Dempsey M 1 2005 NE
24 Dwayne DeRosario M 1 2005 SJ
24 Christian Gomez M 1 2005 DC
24 Shalrie Joseph M 1 2005 NE

Thursday, January 12, 2006

2006 MLS Playoffs: Who Misses Out?

It's early, but already we can make a few guesses as to who will be on the receiving end of the YSA's in the fall (and, if blogs are known for one thing, it's speculating).

Things are a little different this season, because of the World Cup interrupting the season which hurts the better teams. Let's not forget that they will miss more time than just the actual cup because they have a camp ahead of time. So the World Cup players will be missing for a month and a half.

I feel that the one team who should be the biggest favorite to miss the playoffs in the East is the Wizards. They missed it last year, and have done little to improve. Not only that, they will be almost certainly missing their best player (Wolff) for the World Cup, that is if he doesn't get sold (as rumored). Sealy and Conrad could be called up as well.

The Revs should return, but any of the other four Eastern Conference teams could conceivably miss out. I don't know if I can separate them at this point in time. I will say that I am confident in Sigi Schmid's coaching ability (especially defensively), and I think they'll bounce back and book a playoff trip (although with 4/6 teams making it, that's not really going out on a limb).

I think DC and Chicago could drop off, but if I had to pick now, I would take the Metros just because well, they're the Metros. If Djorkaeff and Guevara miss time (very likely), they suddenly turn very ordinary.

As for the West, the LA and Houston are favorites to return. The Galaxy actually should improve, although they never were really that bad, they just had a lot of international callups. And they should have better players than the guys who are departing (Pando, Umana, Chinchilla).

RSL have shaken up the team, but it doesn't look like they've improved much. They appear to be headed down to last place, although they can't really do worse point-wise.

Chivas have Bradley, the draft, and a full season of Palencia/Garcia and friends. They will improve.

I guess I'll go with the Rapids to miss out. Clavijo has shaken up the team, but who knows how the various pieces like Mathis and Kirovski will fit. Also, Mastroeni is one of the biggest World cup losses for any team. That is if he's ever healthy. I do think Mathis will have a nice(r) year, but they don't inspire much confidence.

Dallas, even without Ruiz, are good enough to scrape into the playoffs. Along with the Metros, they probably have the most uncertain prospects this year.

YSA Recipients

Kansas City Wizards

Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake

Monday, January 09, 2006

Who's the best?

I'm used to seeing the historical preformances of teams put into columns thanks to the RSSSF (example), so I thought I would do it for the various competitions MLS teams teams compete in. Teams are ranked in order by the first column, and ties broken by the next column, and so onn.

MLS conference/division performance

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Los Angeles 5 3

DC United 3 3
3 1
Chicago 3 1 3
Kansas City 3 1 2
2 2
New England 2 2 1 2 2 1
San Jose 2 2
3 3
Columbus 1 4 1 2 1 1
Tampa Bay 1 2 1 1 1
Metrostars 1 1 4 2 1 1
Miami 1
1 2

3 4 1 2

5 4 1
Real Salt Lake

Chivas USA


MLS playoff performance

DC United 4 1
Los Angeles 2 3 3 2
San Jose 2

Chicago 1 2 2 2
Kansas City 1 1 2 3
New England
2 2 2
1 2 5

4 3

2 6

1 6
Tampa Bay

1 3

1 2
Chivas USA

Real Salt Lake

US Open Cup performance

Chicago 3 1 2
Los Angeles 2 1 2 1
Dallas 1 1 3 3
DC United 1 1 2 2
Columbus 1 1 1 2
Kansas City 1
1 2
1 3 1
1 1 2
New England
San Jose

1 6
Tampa Bay

Chivas USA

Real Salt Lake

CONCACAF Champions Cup performance

Los Angeles 1 1
DC United 1

2 1
Kansas City

San Jose


Chivas USA





New England

Real Salt Lake

Tampa Bay

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Inside the Ownership of Professional Sports Teams

I finally got ahold of this book, thanks to Kali from Real Salt Lake blog. And it's not the holy grail I was hoping for, unfortunately. It's the 2001 edition, which only has the numbers for the previous year (2000). Here's the season ticket numbers they list:

FSE: full season equivalent (which includes all of the different multi-game plans, and is how MLS officially counts the season ticket numbers)

FSO: full season only

Chicago 3,150 FSE
Colorado 1,524 FSO
Columbus 9,100 FSE
DC United 5,200 FSO
Kansas City 2,500 FSO
Metrostars 6,410 FSO
Miami 1,100 FSO
New England 5,800 FSO
San Jose 3,500 FSE
Tampa Bay 4,000 FSO

DAL and LA figures not given.

I don't believe these numbers for a minute. The whole book seems pretty amateur, especially when you consider how expensive it is. I don't know if it's the usual lack of respect when it comes to soccer, but it wouldn't suprise me (I didn't read the other sections).

Now the actual numbers. I know for a fact that KC had 2,067 season tickets that year, from a KC Star article. So that's stupid. Some seem like they could be ok, but others are laughable. There's no way that the Mutiny had 4,000 full season tickets when they only averaged 9,452 for the whole season.

The numbers for those ten teams add up to 42,284, which like I mentioned, doesn't include all the FSE totals and two teams. The total number of season tickets in 1999 was 43,782, and there was a decrease in 2000. Just check out this article from 2001 for proof.

"League officials have trumpeted an increase of 16 percent over last season in season-ticket sales (41,206 as of March 16). Garber says by the start of the season he expects the league to break its all-time record of 43,782 set in 1999."

That means that in 2000, the total was around 35,500. I don't know if he means that it's up 16% exactly one year ago (3/16/2000) or over the entire season total. They might've ended up a little higher. But it doesn't really matter. The decrease makes perfect sense, considering that the league average went down by 500 game that year. 12 teams times 500 = 6,000 fewer season tickets, basically.

So anyway, all this information is just for you to see how wrong this book is. The lease information that they have seems crazy too. Kali said it best: "pretty fucking lame."

There were a couple interesting things that I didn't know about:

1) The Hunts only own 55% of the Columbus Crew; Ron Pizzuti (also a minority investor in the NHL's Blue Jackets) and local investors own the rest.

2) "The Earthquakes' logo, a three-sided crest overlaid on a silver and blue background with a soccer ball beneath a rising sun, is supposed to represent the area's major cities of San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland."

Honestly, I don't even know if I realized that there was a sun on the logo. I always thought it was supposed to be a shockwave from an Earthquake or something. And are they really saying that the three sides of the crest are supposed to represent the there cities? That's really stretching it. Although, let's also remember that the Galaxy logo has a freaking golf ball in it!

Monday, January 02, 2006


What would I like to see happen in American soccer for 2006? Sure, winning the World Cup would be nice. But everybody will say that. How about the Los Angeles Galaxy winning the Supporters' Shield? Yes, I'm a Fire fan. But let's remember, the shield is held by the defunct San Jose Earthquakes, whose supporters will have to pass it on. It would be the ultimate humiliation (maybe), and that's always fun to watch.

I would also like to see some real candidates emerge for the second 2007 expansion slot. Because the way things look now, it appears that if the San Jose voters don't approve the money for a new stadium, then it will be too late for a second team to join the league the following season. It would be November, and the league has already made noise about possibly going with 13 teams for 2007. Hopefully either way we end up with 14.

We will also see the opening of the most European (and therefore best) soccer specific stadium, the Bridgeview Bank Stadium. It is the little things that really matter, like having the seats go down to field level and having the players enter through a midfield tunnel. That's why it's so cool, and why it stands out.

I hope somebody can help me get this book.

I also want to see the following sign at a USMNT game where Eddie Johnson's playing (especially if we play Jamaica): "Welcome to GAM-rock!"

Freddy Adu needs to make the World Cup team, just for the publicity and crazy Bigsoccer threads that would result. Besides, you know he'll be there in 2010, and despite what Bruce says, we don't need to utilize all 23 players. Let him get the experience like Ronaldo in 1994. I do think that maybe him being there could overshadow the rest of the squad and the tournament as a whole, but overall I think it would be a good thing.

It would also be great if Texas' own Clint Dempsey (or Deuce) was traded to the new Houston franchise. He would be the perfect poster boy for them. DeRo for Dempsey, that's the trade I'd like to see. DeRo is alright, but he's more of a California type guy. You don't see many people from Houston saying the following:

"I'd like to do a commercial for soy products that promotes health consciousness."