Monday, June 30, 2008

Open Cup 2008 Primer

The 2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup begins tomorrow for MLS teams. Eight qualifiers will take on eight lower league clubs in what is always one of the single most exciting days of the season. Last year was not the greatest year for MLS in the tournament, as only 3/8 teams advanced. One of those 3, the Rapids, then lost 5-0 in the quarterfinals to Seattle. In fact, the only matchup between two MLS teams took place in the final, where the Revolution finally won a championship. Certain teams seemed to take the tournament less seriously than usual, probably because of the new Superliga competition.

It's hard to win away from home with lineups like these:


Jay Nolly, Marc Burch, Bobby Boswell (Devon McTavish 45), Domenic Mediate, Stephen deRoux, Brian Caroll (Josh Gros 45), Clyde Simms, Rod Dyachenko (Justin Moose 65), Jeff Carroll, Brad North (Mira Mupier 58), Nicholas Addlery


Zach Wells, Patrick Ianni, Ryan Cochrane (Stuart Holden 33, Nate Jaqua 62, Brian Mullan 102), Mike Chabala, John Michael Hayden, Nick Hatzke, Mpho Moloi, Corey Ashe (Eddie Robinson 66), Erik Ustruck, Paul Dalglish, Chris Wondolowski

Of course, even with reserve lineups, losing a majority of the round was unexpected. But, that's also unlikely to happen again this year. The key reason those results happened is because 6/8 teams played on the road last year. Only half do so this year, and one of those games is against a USL-2 team. There's only three seemingly trouble-laden games this time around, at Carolina, Charleston and Seattle:

NE vs Richmond
Baltimore vs NY
Charleston vs HOU
Carolina vs KC
DC vs Rochester
CHI vs Cleveland
DAL vs Miami
Seattle vs CHV

Of the MLS teams remaining, those who are playing in the Superliga and CONCACAF Champions League appear to be at a huge disadvantage. Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and New York should probably be favorites to win the whole thing, especially the first two who have had more success in this tournament and have deeper benches. Several of those teams may have to win away from home in the quarterfinals (potential matchups), though.

A lot of people seem to care less for this tournament nowadays. We've all known about the various problems for years, like no tv coverage and small attendances (due to not being on the schedule). Nothing's really changed there. Lately, however, with the addition of the Superliga, it seems to have shifted even further down the average fan's attention span. Personally, I don't see how the Superliga is a more worthwhile prize. It's a tournament made to replace those Mexican preseason friendlies vs MLS you see every year. Contrast that with the 100 year old history of the Open Cup. You have one tournament filled with tradition, and one created solely for money. The Superliga may have higher profile matchups featuring more talent, but I don't think it's as big of a prize as the Open Cup (yet).

US Soccer has done some good things in the past year, however. The tournament is now apparently qualifying a team for the Champions League, which should give some incentive to the habitually under-performing teams like New York. Second, the schedule is now condensed which not only makes things easier down the stretch but also should keep people interested more.

And now, below is a huge list of statistics regarding MLS teams in the competition since 1996. I want to mention two important things. First of all, player stats include only those while playing for MLS teams. If someone played in the Open Cup for a minor league team, I'm not including those stats here. MLS only. I also need to point out that Open Cup qualifying games are not part of the tournament proper, and any results/stats are not included here.

Be sure to check out for their great coverage of the tournament as a whole.

Records - Overall

1 Chicago 24 6 2 74 61 27 34
2 Los Angeles 20 7 1 61 64 30 34
3 Dallas 18 11 4 58 63 49 14
4 DC United 16 7 3 51 52 25 27
5 Columbus 15 7 1 46 51 29 22
6 New York 12 10 1 37 40 32 8
7 New England 9 6 2 29 35 25 10
8 Kansas City 9 8 1 28 36 25 11
9 San Jose 8 6 4 28 35 18 17
10 Colorado 8 11 0 24 20 35 -15
11 Miami 5 3 1 16 24 15 9
12 Tampa Bay 3 6 1 10 11 20 -9
13 Houston 2 2 0 6 8 6 2
14 Chivas USA 1 2 1 4 6 10 -4
15 Real Salt Lake 1 2 0 3 6 8 -2

Records - vs MLS only

1 Chicago 15 3 1 46 37 18 19
2 Los Angeles 10 5 1 31 30 20 10
3 Columbus 7 6 1 22 24 21 3
4 Dallas 5 8 2 17 17 28 -11
5 New York 5 6 1 16 22 19 3
6 DC United 4 4 2 14 14 14 0
7 Colorado 4 4 0 12 10 13 -3
8 Kansas City 3 5 0 9 12 12 0
8 New England 3 4 0 9 12 12 0
10 Miami 2 3 0 6 8 11 -3
11 Houston 1 1 0 3 4 3 1
12 San Jose 0 4 2 2 3 8 -5
13 Real Salt Lake 0 1 0 0 0 1 -1
14 Chivas USA 0 1 0 0 2 5 -3
15 Tampa Bay 0 4 0 0 0 10 -10

Titles/Best finishes

4-Chicago (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006)
2-Los Angeles (2001, 2005)
1-D.C. United (1996)
1-Dallas (1997)
1-Columbus (2002)
1-Kansas City (2004)
1-New England (2007)
0-Chivas USA (round of 16: 2005, 2007)
0-Colorado (runners up: 1999)
0-Houston (semifinals: 2006)
0-Miami (runners up: 2000)
0-New York (runners up: 2003)
0-Real Salt Lake (round of 16: 2006)
0-San Jose (semifinals: 2004)
0-Tampa Bay (quarterfinals: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)

Most Goals - Overall

(italics = active MLS player)

1 Jaime Moreno 11
2 Carlos Ruiz 9
2 Josh Wolff 9
4 Chris Albright 8
4 Ronald Cerritos 8
4 Brian McBride 8
7 Abdul Thompson Conteh 7
7 Herculez Gomez 7
7 Jason Kreis 7
7 Alejandro Moreno 7
7 Dante Washington 7

Other top active players

6 goals: Cunningham, Donovan, Herron, Razov, Twellman
5 goals: Arnaud, Guevara, Williams
4 goals: Buddle, De Rosario, Kovalenko, O'Brien, Thompson

Most Goals - Single Season

1 Herculez Gomez 6 LA 2005
1 Welton 6 MIA 2000
1 Josh Wolff 6 CHI 2000
4 A.T. Conteh 5 DC 2001
5 Jeff Cunningham 4 CLB 2003
5 Amado Guevara 4 NY 2000
5 Andy Herron 4 CHI 2006
5 Jaime Moreno 4 DC 2000
5 Diego Serna 4 MIA 2000
5 Taylor Twellman 4 NE 2007

Top MLS scorer by year:

(bold = also won or tied for the overall golden boot)

1996 3 goals Jaime Moreno (DC)
1997 2 goals Shaun Bartlett (NY), Ronald Cerritos (SJ), Damian (DAL), Ted Eck (DAL), Lawrence Lozzano (SJ)
1998 3 goals Brian McBride (CLB)
1999 3 goals Jorge Dely Valdes (COL), Bobby Rhine (DAL)
2000 6 goals Welton (MIA), Josh Wolff (CHI)
2001 5 goals Abdul Thompson Conteh (DC)
2002 3 goals Carlos Ruiz (LA)
2003 4 goals Amado Guevara (NY)
2004 3 goals Davy Arnaud (KC)
2005 6 goals Herculez Gomez (LA)
2006 4 goals Andy Herron (CHI)
2007 4 goals Taylor Twellman (NE)

Nobody has scored more than 6 goals in a single cup since the "professional era" started in 1995. Three minor league players have also scored 6: Marquis White in 1997, Mugurel Dmitru in 1999, and Melvin Tarley in 2005.

Most Games Played

1 Jesse Marsch 26
2 C.J. Brown 24
3 Peter Vagenas 23
3 Andy Williams 23
5 Chris Armas
5 Cobi Jones
5 Zach Thornton 22
8 Chris Albright 21
9 Diego Gutierrez 20
9 Steve Jolley
9 Carey Talley

Most Games Played Without Appearing For A Losing Team

The record is 9 games and is held by Mario Gori, who played tournament games for DC in 1996 & 1997 and CLB in 2000. The first team won the title, while the latter two were eliminated in shootouts.

Best Strike Rate

(goals per game, min 10 games played)

1 Carlos Ruiz 0.64
2 Ronald Cerritos 0.62
2 Brian McBride 0.62
4 Jaime Moreno 0.61
5 Alejandro Moreno 0.58
6 Clint Mathis 0.55
7 Dante Washington 0.54
8 Josh Wolff 0.53
9 Ante Razov 0.46
10 Landon Donovan 0.40
10 Abe Thompson 0.40

Hat Tricks

4-Welton, MIA vs New Jersey (2000)
4-Josh Wolff, CHI vs Dallas (2000)
3-Bobby Rhine, DAL vs Jacksonville (1999)
3-Raul Diaz Arce, DC @ Charlston (2000)
3-Abdul Thompson Conteh, DC vs New Jersey (2001)
3-Carlos Ruiz, LA @ Seattle (2003)
3-Jason Kreis, RSL @ Minnesota (2005)
3-Kenny Cooper, DAL @ Charleston (2006)

Top Coaches by PPG

(minimum 10 games)

1 Dave Sarachan 2.500
2 Tom Fitzgerald 2.200
3 Greg Andrulis 2.100
4 Sigi Schmid 2.048
5 Bob Bradley 2.043
6 Dave Dir
6 Bob Gansler
6 Ray Hudson 2.000
9 Colin Clarke
9 Steve Nicol

Biggest Margin Of Victory

8:0-DC vs New Jersey (2001)
7:1-NE vs Mid-Michigan (2001)
6:0-SJ @ Central Coast (2001)
6:1-MIA vs New Jersey (2000)
6:1-KC vs Des Moines (2006)
5:0-SJ @ Stanislaus Utd (2000)
5:0-LA vs Nashville (2001)

Wins By Lower League Teams Over MLS

(shootouts are counted as draws)

USL-1/A-League (27)

7-Rochester Raging Rhinos (1996-TB, COL; 1999-CHI, DAL, *CLB, *COL; 2005-NY)
4-Charleston Battery (1999-DC; 2000-NY; 2004-NY, 2007-HOU)
4-Minnesota Thunder (2004-LA, 2005-RSL, COL, KC)
3-Seattle Sounders (2003-SJ, 2007-CHV, COL)
2-Richmond Kickers (2000-COL; 2004-DC)
1-Carolina Railhawks (2007-CHI)
1-Connecticut Wolves (2001-TB)
1-Long Island Rough Riders (1997-NE)
1-Milwaukee Rampage (2002-CHI)
1-Nashville Metros (1998-KC)
1-Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2001-COL)
1-Staten Island Vipers (1999-NY)

USL-2/PSL/D-3 (6)

2-San Francisco Bay Seals (1997-KC, SJ)
1-Chicago Stingers (1997-COL)
1-Harrisburg City Islanders (2007-DC)
1-Richmond Kickers (2007-LA)
1-Wilmington Hammerhaeads (2003-DAL)

PDL (2)

1-Mid-Michigan Bucks (2000-NE)
1-Seattle Sounders Select (2001-DAL)

Bold signifies an MLS home game. Overall, MLS teams are 92-35-12 against lower league competition. That is 2.07 points per game, or the equivalent of 62 points in a 30 game season.

*neutral venue.

Further Reading

US Open Cup - Top Finish By State

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MLS 2008: Penalties Earned & Conceded

A list of all penalties can be found on the league stats page (scroll to the bottom). However, on that page they don't list who earned and conceded the penalties like they used to a few years back. I've always missed that, so by looking through match reports I keep track of it myself.

I'm sure the one thing that will jump out at you is Danny O'Rourke's 4 penalties conceded (all in the first 13 games). I don't think any defender has ever had more in a single season (though don't have complete record for the first couple years early years). At least he can take solace in the fact that the last one was due to a David Beckham dive.

(EDIT: now complete for all of 2008)

Penalties Earned

Alejandro Moreno 2
Justin Mapp 2
Omar Cummings 2
Robbie Rogers 2
Santino Quaranta 2
Abbe Ibrahim 1
Adrian Serioux 1
Andy Williams 1
Atiba Harris 1
Brad Davis 1
Claudio Lopez 1
David Beckham 1
Dominic Oduro 1
Eddie Gaven 1
Eddie Lewis 1
Franco Caraccio 1
Jaime Moreno 1
Jeff Cunningham 1
Jeff Larentowicz 1
Jordan Harvey 1
Josh Wolff 1
Jozy Altidore 1
Kurt Morsink 1
Landon Donovan 1
Luciano Emilio 1
Marvell Wynne 1
Nate Jaqua 1
Nick LaBrocca 1
Oscar Echeverry 1
Pablo Ricchetti 1
Scott Sealy 1
Shea Salinas 1
Steve Ralston 1

Handball 10

Penalties Conceded

Danny O'Rourke 4
Andrew Boyens 2
Marvell Wynne 2
Pablo Mastroeni 2
Abel Xavier 1
Alex Zotinca 1
Amado Guevara 1
Ante Jazic 1
Carey Talley 1
Chris Klein 1
Dan Kennedy 1
Dario Sala 1
Dema Kovalenko 1
Drew Moor 1
Eddie Robinson 1
Ezra Hendrickson 1
Facundo Erpen 1
Gabriel Badilla 1
James Riley 1
Jim Curtin 1
Jose Lima 1
Juan Pietravallo 1
Julius James 1
Kevin Harmse 1
Kevin Hartman 1
Marco Velez 1
Matias Mantilla 1
Michael Harrington 1
Michael Parkhurst 1
Mike Petke 1
Nat Borchers 1
Nick Garcia 1
Ramiro Corrales 1
Ryan Cochrane 1
Sainey Nyassi 1
Sean Franklin 1
Shalrie Joseph 1
Shavar Thomas 1
Tyrone Marshall 1
Tyson Wahl 1
Ugo Ihemelu 1
Wilman Conde 1

Further reading:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chad Barrett Video: Missed Opportunities & Actual Finishes

Little something I put together. All highlights taken from the 2007 and 2008 (to date) MLS seasons. Shows his bad misses and goals (note lack of difficulty) from the past year and a half.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

WCQ Stats & Info

I've been following the action and have some neat stuff to share with you.

1) I've been keeping track of the World Cup eliminations timeline, and just published an updated post below this one. There are now 128 teams remaining, including all 32 qualifiers from four years ago. There is one more African match next weekend, Gabon vs Lesotho, where the latter team is expected to be eliminated. After that, we have to wait two months until qualifying resumes. Sucks.

2) Of the remaining 128 teams, 58 have never qualified for a FIFA World Cup. There have been at least 3 new qualifiers to each of the last 7 World Cups, so certainly we should expect a couple of newcomers this time. The strongest bets are likely Guatemala, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela, while African always seems to produce a surprise. The list of those 58:

AFC (3)


CAF (28)

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Equatorial Guinea
Sierra Leone





OFC (1)

New Caledonia

UEFA (23)

San Marino

3) This is the fourth straight cycle that CONCACAF has used a 12 team semifinal round followed by a 6 team final round (the hex). 9 teams have made it to every semifinal round, while 16 of the region's 35 teams have made at least one semifinal round. A list:

Semifinal Round Appearances (1998-2006)

4-Costa Rica
4-El Salvador
4-United States
3-St. Vincent
1-St. Kitts

4) CAF (Africa) has an interesting qualifying format. The 12 group winners plus the top 8 second place teams advance to the final round. Due to Eritrea's withdrawal leaving one group with 3 teams, to get those second place teams their results against the last place team will be dropped. Here's a link to the full standings, and below is what the second place teams table looks like as of today:

1 Kenya 2 0 1 7 4 0 4
2 Egypt 2 1 0 6 4 2 2
3 Rwanda 2 1 0 6 5 4 1
4 Tunisia 2 1 0 6 4 3 1
5 Zambia 1 1 1 4 1 1 0
6 Botswana 1 1 1 4 3 6 -3
7 Angola 1 1 0 3 4 3 1
8 Congo 1 2 0 3 5 6 -1

9 Cape Verde 1 1 0 3 1 2 -1
10 Algeria 1 2 0 3 1 2 -1
11 Libya 1 1 0 3 1 3 -2
12 South Africa 0 2 1 1 0 3 -3

Some teams have more or fewer games depending on how many times they've faced the last place team. In addition, these tables are not set in stone because the last place teams can change. Each second place team will end up with 4 games that count in this table.

The following 20 teams would advance as of today:

(by group)

2-Guinea, Kenya
3-Benin, Angola
7-Cote d'Ivoire, Botswana
8-Morocco, Rwanda
9-Burkina Faso, Tunisia
10-Mali, Congo
11-Swaziland, Zambia
12-Congo DR, Egypt

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.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

USMNT 2010 Pre-Qualifying Survey Results

Qualifying has started (with a bang), and it's time to look at the results. A link to the survey was posted here, as well as on the US Men forum at Bigsoccer. I tallied up the results about half an hour into the Barbados game (I believe one person voted after the game actually started, so that's not a huge deal).

USMNT 2010 Pre-Qualifying Survey

(183 responses. Percentages are rounded.)

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bob Bradley is doing as US national team coach?

Approve 44%
Disapprove 25%
Unsure 31%

A net approval of 19 points. This question was last asked in early August of last year, where the results were 86-4-11. Obviously there's been a huge shift downward, but the drop in approval is not matched by the increase in disapproval. Rather, the number of unsures has risen just as much as the disapproval. Apparently this drop is due to the performances and player selections in the recent high profile friendlies against England, Spain, and Argentina.

I should note that the data from last year was from a survey which included MLS questions, and therefore was also posted in the MLS General forum as well as the US Men forum. What difference that could make is unclear.

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Sunil Gulati is doing as US Soccer president?

Approve 40%
Disapprove 34%
Unsure 26%

This was also asked in that same previous survey, where the results were 22-35-44. It seems that Sunil's image has improved in the past year, whereas Bradley, the man he appointed, has gone down. Perhaps the role in securing those big name friendlies has something to do with that. Also, any resentment over appoint Bradley in the first place may be over, as well as any negative feelings over applying and removing the interim tag from the head coach.

The disapproval is the same, but the number of unsures has lowered and they've moved in the favorable cateagory. Interesting that now more survey takers have a clear opinion on Sunil Gulati than Bob Bradley.

3. Who is the best American soccer player at this moment in time?

Jozy Altidore 1%
DaMarcus Beasley 1%
Michael Bradley 2%
Clint Dempsey 2%
Landon Donovan 56%
Brad Friedel 3%
Tim Howard 32%
Eddie Johnson 1%
Brian McBride 2%
Oguchi Onyewu 1%

No, I could not include every single player out there. Sorry, Freddy Adu fans. I don't think he would've done too well anyway. When putting this list together, first of all I wanted to include all American players, including the ones who have retired from the USMNT. I think the only ones you could argue about being here are Altidore and Johnson.

This year's field of ten included Altidore and Bradley, who replaced Feilhaber and Reyna. Last year's results (see above link) on this question are as follows: Donovan-45, Howard-19, Dempsey-11. The top two still dominate one year later, this time even more so. I'm not shocked by the results, but I don't think Friedel should be way behind Howard. They're pretty even in my book.

4. Other than Mexico, who are our biggest rivals in CONCACAF?

Canada 37%
Costa Rica 39%
El Salvador 1%
Guatemala 14%
Honduras 6%
Jamaica 1%
Panama 2%
Trinidad 0%

Costa Rica slightly edges our northern neighbors. Last year, coming off the Gold Cup, it was 43-37 in favor of Canada. Still very close though. Within the margin of error, as they say. Guatemala received 14% this year and 13% last year, which continues to confuse me. We're rivals?

5. If the USMNT only starts one player up top, who should it be?

Jozy Altidore 60%
Brian Ching 9%
Kenny Cooper 7%
Clint Dempsey 3%
Landon Donovan 12%
Nate Jaqua 1%
Eddie Johnson 8%
Chris Rolfe 1%
Taylor Twellman 0%
Josh Wolff 0%

Well, I definitely saw this coming. It's obvious that Altidore is the guy who should start for us in 2010, but I don't think he should do it just yet. I voted for Brian Ching, who I've been advocating should start for a while now. I was pleased to see him get a brace tonight. Anyway, I like Ching because he's a good passer and he tends to play very well with Landon Donovan being former teammates. He's also a real striker, not an in-between type like Dempsey or Donovan. Altidore certainly will be starting, but I think Ching should start for the semifinal round. Cooper's not ready to be the guy yet either.

6. What will be the result of the Barbados series on aggregate?

Barbados by 1+ goals 1%
Even on aggregate 0%
USA by 1 goal 1%
USA by 2 goals 7%
USA by 3 goals 10%
USA by 4 goals 23%
USA by 5 goals 21%
USA by 6 goals 17%
USA by 7 goals 7%
USA by 8+ goals 14%

I made my prediction the other day: 5-0 home and 3-0 away. Looks like even that was conservative, just like most of your votes.

7. Assuming that we qualify, how will the USA do at the 2010 World Cup?

First round exit 30%
Round of 16 55%
Quarterfinals or better 15%

I asked this question back in January 2007, my first survey. Though that time I included each round of the knockout stage whereas I simplified it here. That time it was 8-54-38. A bit more realistic here, though still optimistic. I think it's literally around 50-50 whether or not we advance; a lot of it has to do with the draw.

8. Among the following choices, who would you prefer to have as coach of the USMNT at this moment in time?

Bruce Arena 1%
Bob Bradley 17%
Sven-Goran Eriksson 3%
Gerard Houllier 5%
Juergen Klinsmann 48%
Bora Milutinovic 2%
Steve Nicol 6%
Peter Nowak 2%
Jose Pekerman 13%
Carlos Queiroz 5%

This was my favorite question. All of the guys listed were either previous USA coaches (Arena, Bora) or were mentioned in search leading to Bradley's selection. Oh, and Bradley's there too. Actually, I don't think Nicol was ever mentioned too much, but I included him over Frank Yallop (who was mentioned a bit) just because I think he's a better option.

The current coach only receives 17% of the vote, whereas the man who seemed like the obvious pick at the time gets a huge 48%. Klinsmann is scheduled to take over as Bayern Munich coach next month. Pekerman is a strong third with 13%, and was also my vote due to his track record with the Argentine U20 squad.

9. Who is the best non-American CONCACAF player at this moment in time?

Julian de Guzman, Canada 12%
Kenwyne Jones, Trinidad 2%
Shalrie Joseph, Grenada 8%
Andres Guardado, Mexico 18%
Rafael Marquez, Mexico 18%
Wilson Palacios, Honduras 0%
Pavel Pardo, Mexico 2%
Carlos Salcido, Mexico 6%
David Suazo, Honduras 25%
Carlos Vela, Mexico 7%

Inter's Suazo takes it. Lots of talented guys who I left off, including Blanco, Costly, De Rosario, Dos Santos, Guevara, Osorio, etc. I wonder how the results would look if I had put the club teams on there?

10. Assuming that Mexico and the USA qualify for the World Cup, who do you expect will get the third spot for CONCACAF?

Canada 35%
Costa Rica 35%
Cuba 0%
El Salvador 1%
Guatemala 3%
Haiti 0%
Honduras 20%
Jamaica 3%
Panama 1%
Trinidad 2%

Canada edges Costa Rica by one vote. I voted Honduras, simply because I felt that they were likely to get results in hostile territory than Canada. Certainly, they both won't advance from a semifinal group that includes Mexico.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica's 35% is surprising given their recent form. Yes, they've qualified two times in a row, but they've now gone 14 matches without a win and struggled to tie Grenada away from home. Still, they face a very easy semifinal group. Given that, they might be the top choice since they're virtually assured of being in the hex. Guatemala probably deserved to do better for that same reason.


Always fun to see how peoples' opinions change over time. I'll be asking many of these same questions again before the hex, and possibly before the semifinal round as well. Thanks for participating.

Previous Surveys

January 30, 2007 - 2010 MLS/USMNT
April 6, 2007 - MLS 2007
August 5, 2007 - MLS/USMNT Summer Survey
November 17, 2007 - MLS Cup 2007
March 28, 2008 - MLS 2008