Thursday, June 19, 2008

MLS & US Soccer References

Here's a list of some of the better terms and nicknames that have been used by fans on the message boards over the years, as well as other quotes and incidents that have stuck out. I've tried to explain the reasoning behind them and also their origins. So hopefully if you're a newer fan, you can learn something.

List will be certainly expanded in the future as I think of other memorable stuff to add. Any suggestions?

60-90 days - Joke regarding the neverending saga of a Metrostars/RBNY stadium. The team's former general manager, Nick Sakiewicz, made numerous announcements on the progress of the deal and how it was not far off, usually only 60-90 days away or something similar. In reality, the stadium talk has dragged on for the entire 21st century so far.

ABMOD - Ankle biting midget of death. Refers to midfielder Richie Williams and his lack of height. The word midget may be offensive, so munchkin is also acceptable. Doom may also be used instead of death. Use dates back to at least September 2001.

Almost Capped - Many players have been the subject of fan speculation over whether or not they would or could play for the USMNT. Some were Americans and others' eligibility was questionable, but none of them ended up played for the full USMNT. See this 2001 Soccertimes article for a few details on eligiblity back in the day.

Michael Ricketts is a famous one. He even talked about playing for the US someday, but he wasn't eligible. His father lived in the US for a long time, but never became a citizen. Eventually he was capped by England once, and his career has flamed out since. The San Jose Earthquakes passed on signing him in early 2008.

Giuseppe Rossi is a dual citizen with Italy, born in New Jersey. Apparently due to the influence of his father, he chose to play for Italy and turned down a US camp invite. Probably will be capped for Italy's full national team eventually.

Others: Boaz Myhill, born in American and moved to England as a child. Now capped by Wales. Daniel Nardiello (formerly of Manchester United) mother was a citizen due to being born in Puerto Rico. Citizenship unknown, but now also plays for Wales. Paul Rachubka was another Man Utd player, a goalkeeper. He was born in the USA, but chose to play for England's U20 team. George Weah Jr. is the son of one of the greatest African players ever, and was on the books of AC Milan. Eligible for France, Liberia, and the USA (born here), he played once for the US U20, scoring a goal against Columbus in 2004. Apparently short on talent.

Arsenal Colorado - The name the Colorado Rapids wanted to use. It's a long, hilarious story. Flash back to the summer of 2006, when the rumors of a rebranding started (the new stadium was opening the following year). The first mention of "Colorado Arsenal" is in June 2006: "A bunch of people returning from the WC are saying they talked with MLS people about the possibility of the Colorado "Arsenal"."

The new Rapids logo is leaked onto the internet on October 11th, 2006, and the jerseys leak soon after. All of which are the actual ones that would eventually be used. In early December, an exclusive season ticket holders event was held where the new logo and jerseys were shown. The Rapids FO did not want people posting pictures online, which was puzzling because they knew it had already leaked.

Late January 2007: Denver Post says the team may possibly get a new name in addition to the new colors. Rumors continue to build, and then it's discovered that various urls were purchased by the Rapids. was registered on February 6, 2006, however was registered on January 10, 2007. In addition, several more variants of the later url (including and variants) were registered in January.

Tuesday, January 30th: Rapids claim big announcement will occur at the "end of the week." On February 1, the site arsenalcolorado was live from 1:48 - 2:27 pm (central), apparently accidentally. Most of the pages still showed the Rapids new logo, but if you clicked on a certain page the Arsenal Colorado logo was there along with a headline dated February 23rd that read: "Colorado Rapids Unveil New Team Identity"(non-working link).

The logo was the same as the previous leaked logo, except with a different team name. Read this thread for the discovery and reactions. Nothing was announced at the end of the week as promised, leading to speculation that the leak may have affected things (most Rapids fans were against it, I believe), or it may not be finalized. Rapids fans realize that regardless of what the name will be, the FO has screwed up the rollout.

The Rapids web site then starts featuring a blank version of the previously leaked logo. Each day, a new part of it filled. Eventually, the entire logo is filled except for the name. They had scrambled letters instead of a name, and the letters changed like a slot machine. They even had a poll asking you to guess when the identity would be revealed. At least they had a sense of humor about it.

Then, word of the partnership with the real Arsenal broke, and fans thought that meant it the change was a done deal. Some fans who disliked it before changed their opinion based on that news. Rumors of Kroenke's involvement with England's Arsenal were there, and he of course did invest in the team officially soon after this.

But on the afternoon of February 9th, the Rapids announced that they would keep their name. So why all the fuss? Apparently they did plan to change the name, but were unable to due to copyright issues. Ives said that Nike was to blame. All that craziness for nothing.

Baby Giraffe - Nickname for Nate Jaqua, given to him by his Chicago Fire teammates. Started being used online after being mentioned in a Cyber Soccer News article in 2005.

Baby Jesus - Nickname for Landon Donovan in the early 2000s. Fans were extremely excited after he won the Golden Ball at the 1999 U17 World Cup, and his early great performances in MLS and the national team, so he was thought of as a kind of savior for the USMNT. Hence the name. Now seemingly replaced by "landycakes."

Bob Bradley's GK shenanigans - MLS used to allow 4 substitutions in a game through 2003. The 4th sub was only for switching goalkeepers. This is the incident that prompted the rule change. On July 5, 2003, the Metrostars and DC United were going to overtime at RFK. Bradley had already used three subs, but used a loophole to get a 4th one by having Tim Howard go upfield and bringing on a 16 year old Eddie Gaven to play in goal. After the first stoppage, Howard went back in goal. Now this was not the first instance where this rule had been abused, but this time Gaven scored the game winning goal which led to an outcry.

Brushes Sand - Bablefish translation (Spanish to English) of Bruce Arena. Frequently seen back in the days when there was less coverage of the USMNT and it was necessary to read the away team's newspapers to get some good info.

Captain for life - From Nutmeg on Bigsoccer: "John Harkes - a notorious chapter in US Soccer history. Steve Sampson entitled Harkes his Captain for Life just prior to cutting him from the 1998 World Cup Team. Harkes responded with a book by the same name." Of course, later we would learn that the real reason he was dropped was because of his poor off the field behavior.

Catches/Punches - Stat formerly tracked by MLS which measured the number of times a goalkeeper did either of those two things to the ball. Listed on the league leaders stats pages through 2004, when it was apparently dropped (groan). They may still track it but not publish it, who knows.

Doritos & Budweiser - Refers to Clint Mathis' diet. In 2002, an article was published in the Philadelphia Intelligencer titled "When Stars Get The Midnight Munchies." It featured a photo of Mathis smiling and holding a bag of chips, and the following paragraph:

"Do I midnight snack? Not a lot, but sometimes. And it's usually Doritos Cooler Ranch. I know that's terrible, especially for a pro athlete, but they're just so good."

- Clint Mathis, 25, forward for the New York/NewJersey MetroStars soccer team.

Earlier in 2002, his cover article in Sports Illustrated's World Cup preview issue talked about his love of beer:

"For Clint Mathis, the next party is never far away. His favorite spot in his West Paterson, N.J. , town house is the basement, where he has Bud and Bud Light on tap."

Faria tanks the combine - I'll let Metrofanatic explain it: "When Metro drafted him in the second round, everyone let out a collective gasp of "Who?" Not on anyone's draft board, there were rumors that Octavio Zambrano asked Rodrigo to tank the combine to keep the Brazilian from unheralded Concordia College secret. Faria became Metro's first -- and only -- MLS Rookie of the Year, leading the team with eight goals during his inaugural campaign and then with 12 in 2002."

Fortune favors the bold - Quote from Jason Kreis upon taking over for John Ellinger as the head coach of Real Salt Lake during the 2007 season.

Full International - Jack Edwards loved to use this phrase, which signified an official international match. Of course, there are virtually no "B" internationals these days, so it came off as really bizarre.

GAM - Grown ass man. Nickname for forward Eddie Johnson, which comes from a 2004 interview on where he was asked about playing video games. He said he didn't play them because he's a "grown ass man." Phrase was made popular by comedian Cedric the Entertainer.

Havock - Frequently used word by color commentator Ty Keough. Ex: "Preki is causing hav-ock in the San Jose defense." Pronounced differently than havoc.

Heydude - Nickname for defender Frankie Hejduk due to his love of surfing and personality.

Jewel of MLS - What Los Angeles Galaxy president and GM Alexi Lalas called his team in November 2006 (and also in 2007 as well). See also the entry for "Superclub."

Landycakes - Nickname for Landon Donovan due to his return to MLS to be a big fish in small pond rather than challenge himself in Europe. Also possibly due to his pre-penalty routine of kissing his wedding ring. Better explanation here. In use since at least 2004, and now immortalized on a t-shirt.

Massive - The Columbus Crew are often referred to as a massive club, which is funny because they've been anything but. Now that they've won the MLS Cup in 2008, it's not really a joke any more as much as a slogan. Indeed, the headline of the Columbus Dispatch sports section the day after the win simply read MASSIVE.

Mathis & the lineup card
- In his first home match back from the World Cup, Clint Mathis was all set to come on as a sub for the Metrostars against Colorado. Unfortunately, he couldn't play because the team forgot to put him on the lineup card before the game, and his return would be delayed to the next game. Reportedly it was not head coach Octavio Zambrano's fault, but rather assistant Richard Williams (not the same guy as Richie).

McHead - Nickname for Brian McBride due to his aerial ability.

Mine eyes have seen the glory - Words dramatically uttered by play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards after the USA defeated Portugal in the 2002 World Cup. Refers to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

MPF - Metrostars Playoff Fever. Everybody was catching it in 2003, as the Metros put together this over the top marketing campaign for the postseason. Featured plastic red hats with MPF written on them, which were given out with no explanation of what that stood for. Actually made it on tv with on the Today Show, but the girls wearing them didn't know what they were for (story). Also featured pictures of famous people with photoshopped hats on the team's website, and a theme song by "Metal Mike." Ended up soundly losing to New England over two games, and drew 11,000 fans for the home leg. The front office's explanation is here, and John Guppy gives more details here a few years later. Made a return appearance in 2004, with less fanfare and equal results.

Nationally Ranked - Refers to the ridiculous Star Kick commercial that was endlessly played on Fox Sports World, where a young teen named Conor gives a half-hearted endorsement of the product. Under his name was the phrase "nationally ranked" with no explanation of what that meant. See the Bigsoccer thread where Conor himself logged on to post to talk about it. Also see the Spanish verision of the commercial where Conor is instead called Guillermo Ortiz.

It turns out that Conor was a decent player after all; he was just named West Coast Conference player of the year for 2008 as a junior.

New York Times photoshoot - Speaks for itself, really. Just in time for the 2002 World Cup, a bunch of our national team players posed in cheesy, "sexy" photos while modeling expensive clothes.

OTC - Orange traffic cone. Refers to defender Danny Califf and his lack of speed, for example famously being beat by Dwayne De Rosario for the winning goal in MLS Cup 2001. After some uninspired performances for the USMNT in the summer of 2003, this thread was started on Bigsoccer and thus a new nickname was born.

- In April 2001, the Canadian national team traveled to Cairo, Egypt for matches against the host country and Iran. Dwayne De Rosario was one of a number of Canada players to have his name butchered in captions on the press pictures, and was listed as "Pwamme Dersario." The nickname Pwamme then caught on among Quakes fans (thanks to anonymous from the comments for suggesting this). It looks as though the site that posted the picture was, no longer in existence.

Racism in MLS - Several incidents have occurred:

1. 1996/1997 - A "national team defender" calls Tampa Bay forward Roy Lassiter a racial slur during an MLS game. Reportedly was Steve Trittschuh. Interestingly, Lassiter says that this happened a few times to other black players.

2. October 8, 1998 - Dutchman Edwin Gorter uses a racial slur against his NE teammate David Nakhid (from Trinidad) in practice. Details of the fine and suspension here.

3. May 12, 2001 - TB's Mamadou Diallo goes into the stands and throws a punch at a fan he claims used racial epithets at him. He was suspended for three games.

4. February 17, 2006 - Peter Nowak's alleged comments on Atiba Harris. See "send that guy back to hospital" below.

5. April 15, 2006 - RSL's Andy Williams claims New York's Amado Guevara called him a monkey during their 1-1 draw. MLS says no evidence was found.

6. May 24, 2008 - NE's Kheli Dube, a black man from Zimbabwe, scored a goal in Columbus as the Revs visited the Crew. A Youtube video showed a Crew fan calling him the n-word. Don Garber pledged to ban the fan for life if his identity could be found.

Ralston line - Back when Steve Ralston was with the Mutiny (1999), the Bigsoccer poster Ursula made a post talking about talent level of MLS and USMNT players. The concept of the "Ralston line" was born (named after the Mendoza line in baseball), where a player had to be better than Ralston to play for the national team. Guys like Jason Kreis who were excellent in MLS but not quite national team caliber were considered to be on the line. This fell out of use after Ralston moved to New England and became a national team regular.

Revenge is coming. August 16th: Crime of the Century.
- Quotes on the back and front of Mike Petke's shirt when he took off his jersey after scoring on August 20, 2000 for the Metrostars. Refers to the incident where Tampa Bay's Mamadou Diallo stomped on goalkeeper Mike Ammann's face.

Send that guy back to hospital - Sentence supposedly said by Peter Nowak in reference to opposing player Atiba Harris in a DC vs RSL scrimmage on February 17, 2006. RSL and their coach John Ellinger alledged that he actually said "send him back to Africa" and accused Nowak of racism. Harris is a black player who hails from St. Kitts in the Caribbean. Nowak, who is from Poland and speaks English with an accent, and his team denied those accusations although he ended up being fined. Good summary here.

Shot heard round the world - Name for the goal scored by Paul Caligiuri during a 1990 World Cup qualifier on November 17, 1989, at Trinidad & Tobago. The USA won 1-0 and qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years.

Superclub - What Alexi Lalas wanted the Metrostars to become after he became the team's general manager in June 2005. Also used the term in reference to the Galaxy in November 2006 after joining them.

That's why he's here - Said by play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards at the 2002 World Cup after Clint Mathis scored against South Korea.

Towel incident - When Metrostars midfielder Amado Guevara feigned injury during a match in 2003 after having a towel snapped at him on the sidelines by Ramiro Corrales. That's when he earned his bad reputation. See Grant Wahl's explanation here.

Ventilators - Used when talking about Christian Gomez. Comes from another bad Babelfish translation (for midfielder?). Made popular on the DC United message boards in 2004, when as a running joke poster TEConner claimed to receive emails from Gomez in poorly translated English which always included that word.

You Suck Allocation - Every MLS team which misses the playoffs receives an allocation (to acquire players with) for the next season. These allocations go to the top of the allocation order, so the recipients are literally rewarded for sucking. Term has been in use since at least 2002, and likely years earlier.

Comments on "MLS & US Soccer References"


Blogger Craig said ... (6:16 PM, February 13, 2008) : 

For ABMOD, "doom" is sometimes substituted for "death." So, it's Ankle-Biting Midget/Munchkin of Death/Doom.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:40 PM, February 15, 2008) : 

What about "Cheatin' Bob (Bradley)"?

You know,the whole goalkeeper switch fiasco.


Blogger scaryice said ... (5:52 AM, February 19, 2008) : 

Thanks guys.


Blogger scaryice said ... (4:53 AM, February 22, 2008) : 

That doesn't ring a bell...

Guess I need to put something about Project Mayhem, huh? I keep remembering stuff for this post, so expect it to keep growing.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:46 AM, February 28, 2008) : 

Arsenal Colorado is now the stuff of legend. It deserves to be here.


Blogger ERic said ... (5:48 PM, June 19, 2008) : 

Don't forget the Hmong is in a reference to eternally rumored Philadelphia expansion. I don't know all the details about it, but it was wrapped up in that woman who was tied to MLSRumors, and Hmong immigrants that played soccer in the streets in Philadelphia. It was pretty bizarre, and insider, and I never really got all of it. But its bizarreness always entertained me.


Blogger ERic said ... (5:49 PM, June 19, 2008) : 

Oh, yeah, Project Mayhem was a great one. Ah, the good old days when we were a small band of rebels!


Blogger Brant said ... (6:14 AM, June 29, 2008) : 

US v Argentina running commentary over at introduced "Cherundolo" as a verb. Not because of anything he did, but just because it sounded cool. But somehow it's kept going and slowly gathering steam.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:40 PM, October 17, 2008) : 

"Ventilators" likely comes from the translation of fans, and was always used in that context


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:30 PM, June 06, 2009) : 

Here's another one. San Jose fans used to refer to Dwayne De Rosario as "Pwamme" because of a mis-captioned photo from a Canada match played in the Middle East. No idea who Pwamme actually was, but De Ro was given that name by the caption writer and it stuck.


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