Sunday, February 26, 2006

Half the country down, half to go...

With the announcement of a May 23 friendly in Tennessee, the Volunteer state becomes the 25th out of 50 to host an official US national team match.

1 New York 11/8/1925 Canada
2 California 4/28/1957 Mexico
3 Missouri 7/6/1957 Canada
4 Pennsylvania 6/25/1968 Israel
5 Georgia 10/27/1968 Canada
6 Maryland 8/29/1972 Canada
7 Illinois 8/3/1973 Poland
8 Connecticut 8/12/1973 Poland
9 Texas 6/8/1974 Mexico
10 Washington 6/24/1975 Poland
11 D.C. 10/6/1977 China
12 New Jersey 5/2/1979 France
13 Florida 10/25/1980 Canada
14 Oregon 4/4/1985 Canada
15 New Mexico 6/7/1988 Ecuador
16 Wisconsin 7/28/1990 E.Germany
17 North Carolina 9/15/1990 Trinidad
18 Colorado 5/5/1991 Uruguay
19 Massachusetts 6/1/1991 Ireland
20 Michigan 2/2/1992 C.I.S.
21 Arizona 1/30/1993 Denmark
22 Virginia 11/10/1996 Trinidad
23 Alabama 3/12/2000 Tunisia
24 Ohio 10/11/2000 Costa Rica
25 Utah 6/3/2005 Costa Rica
26 Tennessee 5/23/2006 ???

I find it interesting that a state of Ohio's population didn't host a game until Crew Stadium was built. Also, why did Georgia get a game so early? You'll notice that the last six states are all red states (aka Republican) who voted for Bush in the previous two elections.

Out of the 25 states on the list, only four don't rank in the top 25 population wise (Oregon-28, Connecticut-29, Utah-34, New Mexico-36). Tennessee was the second highest without a game until last week's announcement. The most populous state that hasn't hosted a game is Indiana, followed by Minnesota, Louisiana, and Kentucky. The following states are the ones who haven't hosted a game with population rank.

Indiana 14
Minnesota 21
Louisiana 22
Kentucky 25
South Carolina 26
Oklahoma 27
Iowa 30
Mississippi 31
Kansas 32
Arkansas 33
Nevada 35
West Virginia 37
Nebraska 38
Idaho 39
Maine 40
New Hampshire 41
Hawaii 42
Rhode Island 43
Montana 44
Delaware 45
South Dakota 46
North Dakota 47
Alaska 48
Vermont 49
Wyoming 50

It will probably be a long time before we can cross off some of these states. But for others, it should happen in the next ten or twenty years. The quality of stadiums is an important factor as well as population. None of the states remaining have an MLS team, so future expansion to one of them would probably lead to a USA game. Minnesota and Oklahoma could fit that description.

Hawaii should get a game eventually. The DC-LA friendly there got a decent number of fans IIRC, and it would be a nice post-MLS season friendly (probably against Japan). As the southern states start to get more into soccer, they could come into play because they have the population and infrastructure.

The New England states are screwed because Foxborough gets all the games, so ME/NH/RI/VT all get left out.

I would love to see a game in Alaska just to screw the opposition in World Cup qualifying, but we're actually getting to the point where we're too good to have to worry about it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

1990 World Cup: Who's Still Playing?

I'm always interested in this sort of thing. The USA had a very young team in 1990 comprised of mostly college kids. Sixteen years later, three players from that squad are still playing professional soccer: Chris Henderson, Kasey Keller, and Tony Meola.

There cannot be more than a handful of players from that tournament that are still active. There were 24 teams of 22 players, so that's 528 total players. Anyone who took part must be 35 years old or greater. It would be cool to see the final player retire, and have a big fuss from the media about it. Because that's the sort of thing that they really don't pay attention to.

Of course, with the lower divisions in soccer, you can keep playing for a long time if you choose. So it's harder to determine. But the guys who are good enough to make the World Cup probably won't hang on way past their prime.

I posted about this last year on Bigsoccer, and I got a few responses. If you can point out anyone that I'm missing, that would be great. Here's a link to the squads.

Active 1990 World Cup Players

Austria-Michael Baur (FC Superfund)
Brazil-Romario (Vasco da Gama)
Costa Rica-Ronald Gonzalez (Saprissa)
Italy-Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), Gianluca Pagliuca (Bologna)
Egypt-Hossam Hassan (Al-Masry)
USA-Chris Henderson (Metrostars), Kasey Keller (Mochengladbach), Tony Meola (Metrostars)

So, that's 9 players I've come up with. I think Geovanny Jara of Costa Rica might still be playing, but I don't know for sure (and for which team). Also, I believe Roberto Nestor Sensini just retired as a player to become the manager of Udinese.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CONCACAF Champions Cup & MLS

(EDIT: See the new version of this post for 2007. This post contains a few errors in the scores and team records. I don't like to change things afterwards, in case you're wondering.)

Personally, I think the Champions Cup is the most exciting event in soccer this year until the World Cup. The MLS season will always be here, and it really doesn't matter too much who wins. But the CCC is our one shot per year to really make an impact internationally, and with the World Club Championship it's far more important than previously. That bonus for the winner brings guaranteed money and the opportunity to go up against the best. However, ever since the CCC went to the two legged format (which was a good move), MLS teams have been downright awful. They just can't get it done on the road. MLS clubs have only 7 wins in other countries, from in all international competitions (out of 30 tries). That's pitiful, and a sign that we have a long ways to go still.

Which brings us to today and tomorrow's matches. I have no doubts that MLS is a better league than Costa Rica top to bottom, it's just that the salary cap spreads out the talent and hinders us in these competitions. And our lack of experience in hostile environments contributes to that lousy away record. It's vitally important that they win the opening home legs. New England probably is a better team than Los Angeles, with more national team players who have been in camp. They also have a weaker opponent in Alajuelense, who are struggling. But injuries are hitting them at the wrong time, and the Galaxy may have a better shot at advancing despite facing the better team in Saprissa.

We always get our hopes up, only to have them crushed. I would settle for a split here. Historically, that's the least we should accept. Every year we've participated, an MLS team has advanced past the first round. But anything past that is unexpected.

MLS in the CONCACAF Champions Cup

(final tournament held in Washington D.C.)


Los Angeles 4:1 Santos Laguna


D.C. United 1:0 United Petrotrin
Los Angeles 2:0 Luis Angel Firpo


D.C. United 0:1 Los Angeles

3rd Place

D.C. United 2:2 Guadalajara


Los Angeles 3:5 Cruz Azul

1998 (final tournament held in Washington D.C.)


Colorado 1:0 Leon
Leon 4:2 Colorado


D.C. United 8:0 Joe Public


D.C. United 2:0 Leon


D.C. United 1:0 Toluca

1999 (final tournament held in Las Vegas)


D.C. United 1:0 Olimpia
Chicago 2:0 Joe Public


D.C. United 1:3 Necaxa
Chicago 1:1 (4-5 pks) Alajuenense

3rd Place

D.C. United 2:2 Chicago

2000 (final tournament held in Los Angeles)


D.C. United 2:1 Alajuenense
Los Angeles 0:0 (5-3 pks) Real Espana


Los Angeles 1:1 (4-2 pks) D.C. United

3rd Place

D.C. United 1:2 Pachuca


Los Angeles 3:2 Olimpia


Round of 16

Olimpia 0:1 San Jose
San Jose 2:0 Olimpia

W. Connection 0:1 Kansas City
Kansas City 2:0 W. Connection

Comunicaciones 4:0 D.C. United
D.C. United 2:1 Comunicaciones

Municipal 0:1 Chicago
Chicago 2:0 Municipal


Pachuca 3:0 San Jose
San Jose 1:0 Pachuca

Santos Laguna 2:1 Kansas City
Kansas City 2:0 Santos Laguna

Morelia 2:0 Chicago
Chicago 2:1 Morelia


Morelia 6:1 Kansas City
Kansas City 1:1 Morelia


Round of 16

Arabe Unido 1:2 Columbus
Columbus 3:0 Arabe Unido

Alajuelense 4:0 New England
Alajuelense 1:3 New England (home leg)

Municipal 4:2 San Jose
San Jose 2:1 Municipal

Motagua 2:2 Los Angeles
Los Angeles 1:0 Motagua


Morelia 6:0 Columbus
Columbus 2:0 Morelia

Los Angeles 1:4 Necaxa
Necaxa 2:1 Los Angeles



Alajuelense 3:0 San Jose
San Jose 1:0 Alajuelense

San Juan Jabloteh 5:2 Chicago
Chicago 4:0 San Juan Jabloteh


Saprissa 2:0 Chicago
Chicago 2:1 Saprissa



Kansas City 0:0 Saprissa
Saprissa 2:1 Kansas City (AET)

D.C. United 2:1 Harbour View
Harbour View 1:2 D.C. United


D.C. United 1:1 UNAM Pumas
UNAM Pumas 5:0 D.C. United

Alltime Records

D.C. United 9 5 4 31 29 25 4
Chicago 6 3 2 20 18 14 4
Los Angeles 5 3 2 17 19 17 2
San Jose 5 3 0 15 9 11 -2
Kansas City 3 3 2 11 9 11 -2
Columbus 3 1 0 9 7 7 0
Colorado 1 1 0 3 3 4 -1
New England 1 1 0 3 3 5 -2

Never participated: CHV, DAL, HOU, MET, MIA, RSL, TB

(we're 3 goals away from 100 total from MLS teams in the competition)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

CONCACAF Champions Cup: Top MLS Goalscorers

1 Roy Lassiter 6
2 Carey Talley 4
2 Eduardo Hurtado 4
2 Edson Buddle 4
2 Dema Kovalenko 4
6 Ante Razov 3
6 Ezra Hendrickson 3
6 A.J. Wood 3
6 Ben Olsen 3

With the 2006 edition starting next week, I thought I would take a look at this. This includes only the Champions Cup games, and none of the other "continental" games. I have the continental goalscorers listed in my lineup database, but I didn't have the Champions Cup goals seperated, so I wanted to post that here.

I included the qualifying games (LA 1997, LA 1999, COL 1999) in these totals. If you don't count those, then Hurtado and Hendrickson would have one fewer goal. None of the top guys will get to move up the list this year.

Among the Galaxy and Revolution players, Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan have 2 goals, and Taylor Twellman has 1 goal from 2003. He could conceivably bang a few home. Ralston and Albright also have 1 goal going into this year.

Donovan could join a rare group: MLS players who have scored for two different teams in the Champions Cup. The group includes Carey Talley (D.C. and Kansas City), and uh, that's it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Houston Apologists FC

Houston 1836 is reportedly no more, adding another chapter in a long history of retarded decisions by MLS. They make it really hard to be a fan. It's Valentine's Day, and we have to put up with more crap than any girlfriend or boyfriend ever. And it's not like we can just break up and find someone else, oh no. We have to stick around and try to change them. Yeah, that always works. Here's my email to mlsnet:


I just heard that you guys are going to change the name of the team. That is beyond pathetic. Do you really think that this is going to win you any more fans? It's not like hispanic fans will come out to games just because of a different name. Any fans who were offended aren't going to just forget what happened. And now, you're offending the people who weren't offended before by flip-flopping. It's a PR disaster, and complete minor league stuff. There has always been something to be embarrassed about as an MLS fan (shootouts, high school stadiums, football lines, playing during World Cup, etc), and this is another addition to the list.

(On a positive note today, MLS announced some rules changes. Nothing big, but they were long overdue.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

USA 3:2 Japan

In between playing the new Winning Eleven game online, I did manage to catch this game. This result just goes to show everyone what we've known for a while now, which is that we should be able to beat everyone outside the top tier. So teams like Japan, Paraguay, and Poland shouldn't be a problem. They may surprise us once in a while, but we seem to be settling in nicely above them in the soccer hierarchy. The tough thing is that we have 1.5 top tier teams in our group. I would say two, but I'm not convinced on the Czech Republic.

Also, the foursome of Conrad, Dunivant, Dempsey, and Twellman continue to push for World Cup places. That's the most interesting thing.

Twellman really should make it no matter what, because he's always had the talent. He's just now finally showing it at this level. I hope that he can go over to Germany and play against Poland on March 1, because all our best players will be available and I'd like to see how he plays with them. I don't think he's ever started a game when all of our top guys have been there. Meanwhile, his competition Brian Ching continues to suck.

Bruce will likely take eight defenders. The central defenders are Pope, Bocanegra, Gibbs, Onyewu, Conrad, and Berhalter. I don't know if you need that many, though. With the way Conrad has been playing, he seems like a good bet to make it. Gibbs' injury might open up a spot, but if not then Berhalter could be the odd man out.

The other guys I have on my probable roster are Cherundolo and Hejduk. Seems like if Dunivant makes it, then Hejduk could miss out. Although, he is a guy who could play on either side in a pinch. Hmm. Spector is another guy like that, so maybe he and Hejduk are competing for a reserve spot. So you have Bocanegra, Hejduk, Spector, Albright, Lewis, Convey; all those guys can play LB if needed, in addition to their regular positions. You don't need one (a LB) there just to be a backup. My thinking is that if Dunivant isn't going to be starting in Germany, then he shouldn't be there.

Dempsey is a young, versatile, talented guy who can play in a couple different spots. Seems like a perfect reserve player for the World Cup. If eight midfielders go, they should be O'Brien, Mastroeni, Donovan, Lewis, Beasley, Reyna, Convey, and Dempsey. Like I just mentioned, Dempsey should be there over a guy like Ralston because he can bring more options to the table. That's probably who he bumps out. Also, if O'Brien doesn't go, you would think Bruce brings another central guy to replace him. So Ralston probably isn't going regardless.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

MLS Goals Of The Decade

You can vote online for the winner at mlsnet here. I think that there's a few that definitely don't belong (Paule, Dempsey, Ralston), but almost all of them are great. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Brian Maisonneuve. I don't even remember that one, but it was awesome.

And because I care about all of you SO MUCH, here is a link to download all the goals onto your computer (47 mb).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

YA's: Then And Now

As I mentioned in the previous post, the 2002 USA World Cup squad was comprised of 11 MLS players. That means that a majority (12) came from abroad (Europe). While the split should remain pretty much the same this time around, the difference is that almost all of the key players are in Europe. Not only that, but there are many more YA's overall. A full World Cup squad comprised only of them would be very good, and certainly much improved over a 2002 squad. Just look:

2006 YA Squad

Starters: Friedel, Bocanegra, Gibbs, Onyewu, Cherundolo, Lewis, O'Brien, Reyna, Beasley, Casey, McBride

Bench: Keller, Howard, Berhalter, Califf, Pearce, Spector, Bradley, Corrales, Feilhaber, Convey, J. Johnson, Nguyen

Weak up top after McBride. Defense is very strong, as some solid guys didn't even make the top 23. Could probably use a little more depth in midfield, but certainly we need more forwards going aboard. Virtually every one of these players is a starter for his club, except for a few younger promising guys.

2002 YA Squad

Starters: Friedel, Regis, Vanney, Berhalter, Sanneh, Lewis, O'Brien, Reyna, Stewart, Kirovski, Moore

Bench: Keller, Walker, Hejduk, Cherundolo, Gibson, Thorrington, Palomares, Lawson, Enochs, J.Beasley, Mason, Casey

At the time of the World Cup four years ago, there was very little to choose from, especially after the starting XI. Not only that, but guys like Berhalter, Lewis and Moore rarely played for their clubs. The goalkeeper was solid, and the defense decent, especially on the outside. But overall, the 2006 squad is much better. I had a hard time even filling out the bench here. That shows you how far we've gone in four years.

Actually, it's the European clubs that have changed. Our players are pretty much the same. The quarterfinal run has opened the doors for a bunch of Americans to make a living playing in Europe, and for decent clubs (unlike 2002). That will probably go down as the biggest impact of the 2002 World Cup. Finally, everyone realized that (like the 2000 White Sox slogan) the kids can play. And if you look at our probable World Cup squad for 2006, it is clearly much stronger than four years ago. Looking forward to the YA squad of 2010!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Competition Committee Allocation?

I noticed that MLSnet has posted an updated allocation list for this season. The teams who missed the playoffs go to the top of the list. But right after that, RSL is listed with a "'05 Competition Committee allocation," part of which they have already used on Daniel Torres. Another part has gone to FC Dallas, in the Garlick/Talley trade.

Every other allocation has a reason for it listed, whether it's missing the playoffs, expansion, or for a player leaving/retiring. So I'm left wondering, did they give this to RSL just because they suck? Or is this another MLSnet screwup? Surely Brian Kamler's retirement couldn't account for this...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

MLS Players In International Tournaments

The African Nations Cup is going on right now, without a single MLS player involved. Former Dallas forward Toni Nhleko was South Africa's squad, but didn't play in any of their three games. He did get into a game at the 2004 version as a Dallas player though. It's always cool to see MLS guys representing overseas.

Last year, I became interested in all these soccer statistics, and one of the things I tried to compile was a list of all the MLS players who have taken part in international tournaments. Especially the guys who play for other countries. It's not complete, but there's a lot of cool stuff. Like for example, Dallas is the only MLS team, other than RSL, Chivas and Houston, who haven't had a player make a World Cup squad.

Let's start with the big one, the World Cup. In 1998 there were 21 MLS players there, but that number shrunk to 11 in 2002. That's partially because in 1998, five players were on other countries' squads, versus none in 2002. We should be up a little this year, because there will be a couple of foreigners making it (thanks Trinidad).

Here's a list of MLS World Cup players:

(Those in italics did not play)


1998-Jorge Campos (MEX)
2002-DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff

Chivas USA



1998-Marcelo Balboa
2002-Pablo Mastroeni


1998-Thomas Dooley, Brian Maisonneuve, Brian McBride, Jurgen Sommer; Andy Williams (JAM)
2002-Brian McBride



D.C. United

1998-Jeff Agoos, Eddie Pope
2002-Eddie Pope



Kansas City

1998-Preki; Uche Okafor (NIG)
2002-Tony Meola

Los Angeles

1998-Cobi Jones
2002-Cobi Jones


1998-Alexi Lalas, Tab Ramos; Marcelo Vega (CHI)
2002-Clint Mathis


1998-Carlos Valderrama (COL)

New England

1998-Mike Burns, Joe-Max Moore
2002-Carlos Llamosa

Real Salt Lake


San Jose

1998-Eric Wynalda
2002-Jeff Agoos, Landon Donovan

Tampa Bay

1998-Frankie Hejduk, Roy Wegerle

All five of the 1998 foreigners got playing time, which is pretty good. Columbus sent five players in 1998, a record which probably won't be broken for a while. The Revs will probably send at least three this time and will likely lead all teams. They have five guys who could conceivably go (John, Dempsey, Noonan, Ralston, Twellman), but that's very unlikely.

I'm not going to list every American MLS player who has played in the Gold Cup (and Confederations Cup). It would be neater and easier just to focus on the foreigners who have played in other continental tournaments because it's happened very sparingly so far. No Gold Cup, because there's a million guys to list there (and I'm not completely sure of some of the squads).

Copa America

1997-Marco Etcheverry (D.C. United-BOL), Jaime Moreno (D.C. United-BOL); Eduardo Hurtado (Los Angeles-ECU)
1999-Marco Etcheverry(D.C. United-BOL), Jaime Moreno (D.C. United-BOL)

In 1997, Etcheverry scored 1 goal, while Moreno scored 2; I believe Moreno's total was the most by a foreign MLS player in a continental championship until Carlos Ruiz's 3 in the Gold Cup last year. How's that for a obscure stat?

African Nations Cup

1998-Chiquinho Conde (Tampa Bay-MOZ)
2002-Nkosinathi Nhleko (Dallas-SAF)

Confederations Cup

1997-Doctor Khumalo (Columbus-SAF)
1999-Marco Etcheverry(D.C. United-BOL), Jaime Moreno (D.C. United-BOL)
2001-Dwayne DeRosario (San Jose-Canada), Mark Watson (D.C. United-Canada)
2003-Simon Elliot (Columbus-NZ), Ryan Nelsen (D.C. United-NZ), Duncan Oughton (Columbus-NZ)

Not sure if Canada's Jason Bent was with the Rapids during the 2001 tournament.

European Championship

1996-Roberto Donadoni (Metrostars-ITA)
2000-Lothar Matthaus (Metrostars-GER); Miklos Molnar (Kansas City-DEN)

Everyone of these guys in these four tournaments played at least one game. Also, one final thing: Last year, I believe W.Johnson, Gallardo, and Nunez were the first foreign MLS players to take part in an international youth tournament.