Sunday, August 30, 2009

MLS Week 24 Notes

1) The Open Cup final is Wednesday in DC. Couple interesting things here. Sebastien Le Toux is currently tied for the most goals scored in this year's tournament. Unless somebody else scores a few, he's going to win at least a share of the Open Cup golden boot for the third consecutive year. Now if only he could finish in MLS.

Also, if the Sounders are victorious, they'll be the first team from Washington state to win the Open Cup title. Currently, teams from 13 states and DC have won in the 95 tournaments prior to this one. See here for a list of the top US Open Cup finishes by state through 2007 (needs to be updated).

2) Last night's Super Classico was an ugly game, no doubt about it (regardless of what Don Garber tweets). I suppose a low scoring affair was on the cards, since both teams are now 1-2 in the league for low scoring games. Los Angeles currently is averaging 2.13 total goals (for and against) in its games, while Chivas USA is right behind at 2.14 per game. There's a couple of other teams right behind as well; Houston and Seattle are at 2.17.

The all time low is probably out of reach. It's currently held by the 2004 Colorado Rapids at 2.03 goals per game. That was the year Joe Cannon seemed unbeatable. To break the record, LA would need to have only nine goals in their last six games. A few more 1-0 and 0-0 results aren't a huge stretch, but I'd still say the odds at breaking the record are really low.

3) However, the record for the best team to miss out on the playoffs seems like a decent bet to be broken. That's not too hard, since only one team with a winning record has ever missed out (counting shootouts as draws) . Also, up until this year MLS was guaranteed to have at least one below average team in the playoffs each year. Finally, at 8/15 that's no longer the case.

Anyway, the best non-playoff team was the 2005 Kansas City Wizards at 11-9-12, or 1.406 PPG. That was the year Chivas and RSL boosted everyone else's record with their ineptitude. The Wizards were actually 11-5-8 at one point, but went winless over the final eight games.

To break the record this year, one team will have to miss the playoffs with 43 points. With the huge mass of teams fighting to get in, I think that's more likely to happen than not.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Always Protected, 2006-08

I think the most important part of this post is this link. That's a link to Wikipedia and their page on the 2006 MLS Expansion Draft, the one where Toronto was selecting players. I noticed while writing the previews for this year's draft that there was nowhere to find all the lists of protected players for the 2006 draft, as MLS just released a list of available players. I've been working on it, and I've filled in the lists of protected and exempt players. So it's nice that we now have that resource to look at, in addition to the other expansion draft articles which all already had that info.

I might as well post something interesting about the current and seemingly perpetual era of expansion drafts. We've had them for three straight years now, and probably will get that streak up to at least six straight years. In the past three years, how many players have been protected in each of those drafts (not counting those exempt through Generation Adidas)?

Out of a possible 132 players (2006 = 12 teams x 11 players), 58 have been protected in 2006, 2007, and 2008:

Alecko Eskandarian
Alejandro Moreno
Ante Jazic
Arturo Alvarez
Atiba Harris
Bobby Boswell
Bouna Coundoul
Brad Davis
Brian Ching
Brian Mullan
Bryan Namoff
Chad Marshall
Chris Albright
Chris Rolfe
Chris Wingert
Christian Gomez
Dasan Robinson
Davy Arnaud
Drew Moor
Dwayne De Rosario
Eddie Robinson
Francisco Mendoza
Frankie Hejduk
Gonzalo Segares
Herculez Gomez
Jack Jewsbury
Jaime Moreno
Jay Heaps
Jeff Cunningham
Jesse Marsch
Jimmy Conrad
Joe Cannon
Jon Conway
Jonathan Bornstein
Justin Mapp
Kenny Cooper
Kyle Beckerman
Landon Donovan
Logan Pause
Marcelo Saragosa
Marvell Wynne
Matt Reis
Mehdi Ballouchy
Michael Parkhurst
Nick Garcia
Pablo Mastroeni
Ricardo Clark
Sacha Kljestan
Scott Sealy
Seth Stammler
Shalrie Joseph
Shavar Thomas
Steve Ralston
Taylor Twellman
Todd Dunivant
Troy Roberts
Tyrone Marshall
Ugo Ihemelu

How many will make it for five or six straight years? Already six have left the league in the past year, including possibly the least likely man on the list, Troy Roberts.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 Expansion Draft Preview - Western Conference

Part two of the expansion draft preview. The Eastern conference was covered yesterday, and can be found here.


Protected Available Exempt
Jonathan Bornstein Chukwudi Chijindu
Justin Braun Yamith Cuesta
Bobby Burling Jim Curtin
Maykel Galindo Jorge Flores
Sacha Kljestan Kevin Harmse
Michael Lahoud Ante Jazic
Jesse Marsch
Dan Kennedy
Paulo Nagamura
Eduardo Lillingston
Shavar Thomas
Gerson Mayen

Zach Thornton
Jesus Padilla

Mariano Trujillo Lance Parker

Ante Razov

Maicon Santos

Marcelo Saragosa

Bojan Stepanovic

Claudio Suarez

Carey Talley

Lawson Vaughn

Sasha Victorine

Cesar Zamora

If this list of players seems larger than normal to you, then you're right. Chivas currently have an astounding 31 players on their roster, 7 more than the limit of 24. That's due to the large number of injured players on the disabled list: Curtin, Harmse, Kennedy, Razov, Suarez, Vaughn, and Zamora. I believe that's the current list.

Despite the large roster, they don't have too many obvious candidates to protect. Curtin, Flores, Razov, Talley, Vaughn, and Victorine all weren't protected last year, and likely won't be again. Thornton wasn't protected last year as well, but he's played well in 2009 and is cheap, so he might be one of the 11 this time.

Burling and Lahoud are the guys on the bubble. The former has missed most of the season, but he was protected last year and Preki obviously likes him. Lahoud probably has a better chance of being picked than most of the older vets, so he's a good candidate. However, I'm thinking Chijindu may pass one of them up by season's end if he hasn't already.

Padilla or any of the other loan signings are unlikely to be protected or chosen, like Marco Pappa last year.

Most likely picks: Chijindu, Curtin, Razov

Curtin is from the Philly area and played with Peter Nowak in Chicago. Perfect fit? What are the odds he takes somebody from Chivas who didn't play for the Fire? Razov's contract is much cheaper than last year's (140k, previously 255k), so that makes him both more likely to be taken and protected.


Protected Available Exempt
Mehdi Ballouchy Julien Baudet Ciaran O'Brien
Conor Casey Preston Burpo Rob Valentino
Colin Clark Steward Ceus
Omar Cummings Greg Dalby
Cory Gibbs Facundo Diz
Jordan Harvey Ty Harden
Ugo Ihemelu Michael Holody
Pablo Mastroeni Kosuke Kimura
Nick LaBrocca Pat Noonan
Matt Pickens Scott Palguta
Jamie Smith Jacob Peterson

Ross Schunk

One of the easiest teams to sort out.

With a full lineup, Noonan isn't a starter for the Rapids and seems on course to be exposed in the draft. Peterson's going to get more playing time with Clark's season ending injury, but he's behind him in the pecking order. Kimura, meanwhile, isn't a sure starter in every match like Harvey on the left side. He was unprotected a year ago and should lose out to his fellow defenders Gibbs, Ihemelu, and the aforementioned Harvey.

Most likely picks: Kimura, Noonan, Peterson


Protected Available Exempt
Jair Benitez Ray Burse
Eric Avila
Jeff Cunningham
Martin Chavez
Bruno Guarda
Kyle Davies
Steve Purdy
Peri Marosevic
David Ferreira
Andre Rocha
Brek Shea
Atiba Harris
Alvaro Sanchez
Josh Lambo
George John
Daniel Torres
Anthony Wallace
Dax McCarty
Blake Wagner
Drew Moor

Pablo Ricchetti

Dario Sala

Dave van den Bergh

One bit of good news for Dallas this season: the large number of Generation Adidas players means that they don't have to worry about losing any of their young guys. Six GAs on the roster currently, and none have even an outside shot to graduate.

The three internationals: I went with Benitez, Ferreira, and Ricchetti. Chavez is really the only other option. Rocha and Sanchez are going nowhere, while Harris, Sala, and van den Bergh all hold green cards. Chavez might end up overtaking Ferreira, though both are on loans and shouldn't be picked either way.

Would an older veteran like Cunningham or Sala really be selected by the Union? I don't think they can take that chance, so it looks like Wagner's unprotected. He's had four years to grab a full time starting role, and hasn't.

Most likely picks: Burse, Purdy, Wagner


Protected Available Exempt
Bobby Boswell Corey Ashe Danny Cruz
Geoff Cameron Wade Barrett
Brian Ching Mike Chabala
Ricardo Clark Ryan Cochrane
Brad Davis Tyler Deric
Andrew Hainault Tally Hall
Stuart Holden John Michael Hayden
Kei Kamara Richard Mulrooney
Luis Angel Landin Pat Onstad
Brian Mullan Eddie Robinson
Dominic Oduro Erik Ustruck

Craig Waibel

Cam Weaver

Some good players up for grabs here. The Dynamo's protected list is pretty predictable. Like last year, Ashe/Barrett/Mulrooney/Onstad are set to be left out.

One year ago, Houston was forced to protect Guy-Roland Kpene due to the rules regarding foreign players even though they immediately waived him afterwards. It didn't affect anything because of the agreement with the Sounders to let them get Nate Jaqua, but it's always fascinating to see teams protect players whom they obviously wouldn't otherwise. RSL protected Cameron Knowles in the same fashion after the 2006 season.

This year, Houston only has three internationals (Kamara holds a green card), so they only are required to protect two. Hainault and Landin are the obvious choices. However, I'm betting Oduro will be on the list as well, which means that Robinson will be exposed. The defense is once again the best in the league this year without him, and he might not even get on the field before the season ends. Also, they gave up a lot for Oduro which means that they value him pretty highly.

Most likely picks: Ashe, Robinson, Weaver


Protected Available Exempt
David Beckham Gregg Berhalter Tristan Bowen
Chris Birchall Alan Gordon
Edson Buddle Leonard Griffin
A.J. DeLaGarza Bryan Jordan
Landon Donovan Jovan Kirovski
Todd Dunivant Chris Klein
Alecko Eskandarian Dema Kovalenko
Omar Gonzalez Eddie Lewis
Sean Franklin Yohance Marshall
Mike Magee Stefani Miglioranzi
Donovan Ricketts Kyle Patterson

Tony Sanneh

Josh Saunders

Julian Valentin

Gonzalez is a full time starter and will graduate from GA. DeLaGarza has also become a starter and can't be left off. It's the vets who are most expendable. Klein was unprotected last season, and he should be joined by Berhalter, Kovalenko, and Lewis. Due to the former Chicago and DC connections, Kovalenko is the only one who seems like a possible Philadelphia/Nowak selection.

Gordon and Jordan were protected a year ago, but then again so were Troy Roberts and Alvaro Pires (another amusing "required international"). It seems highly unlikely that they'd be protected again. Eskandarian and Magee are more valuable.

Most likely picks: Gordon, Jordan, Kovalenko


Protected Available Exempt
Kyle Beckerman Jean Alexandre Alex Nimo
Tony Beltran Raphael Cox Chris Seitz
Nat Borchers Rachid El Khalifi
Pablo Campos Fabian Espindola
Robbie Findley Ned Grabavoy
Nelson Gonzalez David Horst
Will Johnson Clint Mathis
Javier Morales Yura Movsisyan
Jamison Olave Kyle Reynish
Nick Rimando Robbie Russell
Chris Wingert Andy Williams

Campos holds a green card, and they seem pretty high on him. Like Houston and Oduro, they gave up a couple of draft picks for him. Mathis and Williams weren't protected last year and shouldn't be again. Meanwhile, Movsisyan is already leaving the league.

The only questions here are:

The third international after Morales and Olave? Might be Gonzalez over El Khalifi and Espindola due to his age and the comments from the RSL people about how he's more a player for the future.

Russell left out? Beltran probably will graduate from GA status. If he does, then Russell seemingly is the odd man out.

Most likely picks: Alexandre, Grabavoy, Russell

I'm not sure I see any likely picks here.


Protected Available Exempt
Osvaldo Alonso Terry Boss
Brad Evans Evan Brown
Leo Gonzalez Ben Dragavon
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado Chris Eylander
Nate Jaqua Taylor Graham
Freddie Ljungberg Patrick Ianni
Sebastien Le Toux Kasey Keller
Fredy Montero Stephen King
Sanna Nyassi Roger Levesque
James Riley Tyrone Marshall
Steve Zakuani Lamar Neagle

Zach Scott

Nathan Sturgis

Peter Vagenas

Tyson Wahl

Again, there's a big GA question. I think Zakuani should graduate. He probably takes a spot away from one of the young, lackluster defenders: Ianni or Sturgis.

Not much else to discuss. Keller, at his age (39) and and his salary ($300,000), is off limits. Marshall is also old and has a higher salary (~150k). Even though Sigi Schmid is a big fan, he also should be exposed.

Unfortunately, Riley won't get a chance to be selected for a third straight expansion draft. Now that he's found a home in the league, he can sleep comfortably in his oxygen tent.

BTW, that's a great article. It's from two years ago, and while getting the link I couldn't help but notice Brian Ching is mentioned as one of the athletes who has "tried sleeping at simulated altitude." A lot of good that did him in Mexico!

Most likely picks: Ianni, King, Sturgis


Protected Available Exempt
Arturo Alvarez Ramiro Corrales
Quincy Amarikwa Fabio da Silva
Joe Cannon Simon Elliott
Bobby Convey Mike Graczyk
Cornell Glen Darren Huckerby
Jason Hernandez Chris Leitch
Ryan Johnson Aaron Pitchkolan
Andre Luiz Antonio Ribeiro
Brandon McDonald Jamil Roberts
Shea Salinas Andrew Weber
Ramon Sanchez Chris Wondolowski

Michael Zaher

Despite the disappointment and high salary, Convey should still be protected. First, Huckerby's contract is up and he might not be back, so they could use him. Second, he obviously has talent despite the poor season. Maybe it'll take him a year to adjust like with Reading? Finally, letting him go to his hometown of Philadelphia is too perfect of a situation to just let happen for free. Even if the Quakes don't want him back, I'm sure they can get something of value via a trade.

Hmm. That makes me second guess leaving Justin Mapp off the Fire's list yesterday. Anyway, Glen is a lock to be one of the foreign players protected. They'll need two of the other four: Luiz/Ribeiro/Sanchez/Silva.

How high are they on Wondolowski and Zaher? Probably not as high as they are on Amarikwa and McDonald, so I have them getting exposed. Leitch is a journeyman who will always get time but is never worth too much, like Eric Denton whom they've already parted ways with.

Most likely picks: Pitchkolan, Wondolowski, Zaher


Friday, August 21, 2009

2009 Expansion Draft Preview - Eastern Conference

Who will Peter Nowak and the Philadelphia Union take? Who will each team protect? I don't know, but I'll give it my best guess three months before everyone really starts focusing on it. You remember the rules, don't you? I'm assuming they'll stay the same as the past three years: 11 players can be protected, must protect three foreigners, GA players are exempt.

Important links:
Remember, several unknown factors can have a big impact on this: contracts expiring, Generation Adidas status (which players graduate after the year), and salaries (which haven't been updated for mid-season signings).


Protected Available Exempt
Mike Banner Cuauhtemoc Blanco Baggio Husidic
Jon Busch C.J. Brown
Wilman Conde Calen Carr
Patrick Nyarko Stefan Dimitrov
Marco Pappa Andrew Dykstra
Logan Pause Peter Lowry
Dasan Robinson Justin Mapp
Chris Rolfe Brian McBride
Gonzalo Segares Brandon Prideaux
John Thorrington
Bakary Soumare

Tim Ward Austin Washington

Daniel Woolard

The Fire will certainly have an interesting offseason. There's a good chance that many of this year's starters won't be back. Blanco has already said that he won't be, and we know Prideaux is retiring. Will McBride retire? He says he won't make a decision to until December. I doubt he would play for any other team anyway, so he can be left unprotected. Who knows if Conde will stick around or be transferred, and Segares is another guy who could be gone, as his contract expires following the year. Both are still worth protecting, though.

Mapp's salary ($220,000/$255,000) makes him unlikely to be picked, but there's always a chance he could be protected instead of Robinson or Thorrington. Maybe even Pappa, who was unprotected last year possibly due to the loan arrangement. I don't know if he deserves it based on his play. Every year a few guys surprise everybody when they're left unprotected, and it's usually because of salary reasons. Mapp could be one of those this year.

If the "feud" is settled or a transfer doesn't materialize, Soumare will be one of the 11 for sure. If he stays through the season en route to a January transfer, he's probably still worth keeping just for the transfer fee (and allocation money). Now that would interesting, seeing a team pick someone just for the money. Anyway, if Soumare is protected, I guess Thorrington would then be unprotected. I believe Robinson is ahead of Thorrington on the pecking order because they'll need a defender next year with all the departures.

Most likely picks: Carr, Mapp, Woolard

Woolard plays LB and could be taken as a cheap option there.


Protected Available Exempt
Guillermo Barros Schelotto Kevin Burns
Eric Brunner Cory Elenio
Brian Carroll Jason Garey
Emmanuel Ekpo Eddie Gaven
Frankie Hejduk Alex Grendi
William Hesmer Andy Gruenebaum
Chad Marshall Andy Iro
Danny O'Rourke Steven Lenhart
Gino Padula Adam Moffat
Robbie Rogers Alejandro Moreno
Jed Zayner Stanley Nyazamba

Duncan Oughton

Emilio Renteria

The Zolos are going to get somebody good here, that's for sure. First off, let's look at the international players. I have them protecting Schelotto, Ekpo, and Padula, just like last year. Padula would be the most likely of the three to drop out, it seems. Remember, they have to protect at least three, and Moreno doesn't count as he holds a green card.

Speaking of Moreno, it seems like he might not make the list this year. He doesn't have a huge salary ($132,300/$137,300), but they have a couple of cheap, talented younger guys in Garey and Lenhart. Another guy who would make sense to leave off (at least on paper) is Hejduk, but that's highly unlikely. Still, will they protect both him and Zayner? You have to figure Zayner's likely gone if they don't protect him.

Iro was protected last year, but he's been passed up by Brunner. However, Iro is an international player and therefore might be in competition with Padula.

Gaven wasn't protected last year and it would shock me to see him protected this year. Like Mapp, his salary makes him unlikely to be chosen.

Most likely picks: Garey, Iro, Lenhart


Protected Available Exempt
Luciano Emilio Ely Allen
Dejan Jakovic Brandon Barklage
Julius James Marc Burch
Jaime Moreno John DiRaimondo
Bryan Namoff Fred
Chris Pontius Christian Gomez
Santino Quaranta David Habarugira
Clyde Simms Andrew Jacobson
Danny Szetela Greg Janicki
Rodney Wallace Avery John
Josh Wicks Thabiso Khumalo

Milos Kocic

Devon McTavish

Ange N'Silu

Ben Olsen

Which older vets do they protect and which do they leave exposed? Moreno is a DC legend; you can't leave him off. However, Fred and Olsen are easy choices due to the great play of Wallace and the signing of Szetela. Gomez is high in salary and probably wouldn't be picked anyway.

You need a third international player after Emilio and Jakovic, so I went with James over Fred and Gomez. He's young, cheap, and has potential. I wonder if they took his status into account when they made the trade? It's too bad Wallace has a green card. BTW, Wallace should graduate from GA since he's already started 18 games.

Wicks looks pretty certain to be protected, which is pretty surprising after being waived by the Galaxy. He seems to have brought some stability to the position.

Burch, McTavish, and Simms all have been protected for the last two drafts, but something is probably going to give here. Simms is much more expensive than the other two, but I think he's also a much more important part of the team.

Most likely picks: Burch, McTavish, Olsen

Would Nowak pick one of the 2004 heroes, Gomez or Olsen? Probably not, though Olsen is from Pennsylvania.


Protected Available Exempt
Davy Arnaud Adam Cristman Chance Myers
Matt Besler Herculez Gomez
Jimmy Conrad Kevin Hartman
Roger Espinoza Zoltan Hercegfalvi
Michael Harrington Michael Kraus
Santiago Hirsig Eric Kronberg
Aaron Hohlbein Jonathan Leathers
Jack Jewsbury Matt Marquess
Claudio Lopez Rauwshan McKenzie
Kevin Souter Kurt Morsink
Josh Wolff Boris Pardo

Abe Thompson

Lance Watson

Graham Zusi

The big question is whether or not Espinoza will graduate from GA? It's definitely borderline. He played 22 games last season, starting 12 and he's played 13, starting 6 this year. If he starts the rest of the season, which is likely considering that they're virtually out of the running, then he will. I think it's more likely that he will graduate than he won't. Playing for Honduras in the Gold Cup can't hurt.

Like last year, the Wizards are set to waste a spot protect Souter due to his international status. They only have four at the moment, and Hirsig/Lopez are locks. It's between him and Zoltan, and the latter's first impression was awful.

I don't expect Hartman to be protected since he wasn't last year. It seems like 10/11 of the picks are pretty solid. I'm guessing Hohlbein is the last guy. Seems like forwards Cristman and Thompson are likely to be exposed. They could take Watson over him, or maybe Gomez. I suppose Wolff's a candidate to be left off due to age and salary.

Most likely picks: Gomez, McKenzie, Watson


Protected Available Exempt
Kevin Alston Chris Albright Nico Colaluca
Darrius Barnes Stephane Assengue Amaechi Igwe
Jay Heaps Gabriel Badilla
Shalrie Joseph Mauricio Castro
Jeff Larentowicz Kheli Dube
Kenny Mansally Edgaras Jankauskas
Sainey Nyassi Brad Knighton
Emmanuel Osei Pat Phelan
Steve Ralston Bobby Shuttleworth
Matt Reis Wells Thompson
Taylor Twellman Chris Tierney

Michael Videira

The emergence of Alston means Albright is a lock to be exposed. It's hard to believe it's even a possibility, but you have to wonder if Twellman will be exposed as well. He makes around $400,000 and has now struggled with injuries for two straight seasons.

The internationals. The Gambian duo of Mansally/Nyassi were protected last year and likely will be again. Who's the most best pick for the third spot: Dube, Jankauskas, or Osei? The Lithuanian striker probably makes decent money, so he may be the least likely. Dube may only be in his second season, but he was an old rookie and is already 26. Will he really get any better?

Most likely picks: Dube, Tierney, Videira


Protected Available Exempt
Juan Pablo Angel Danleigh Borman
Albert Celades Andrew Boyens
Danny Cepero Bouna Coundoul
Kevin Goldthwaite Walter Garcia
Jeremy Hall Carlos Johnson
Macoumba Kandji Leo Krupnik
Ernst Oebster Matthew Mbuta
Dane Richards Carlos Mendes
Luke Sassano Alfredo Pacheco
Seth Stammler Mike Petke
Nick Zimmerman
Jorge Rojas

Sinisa Ubiparipovic

John Wolyniec

How many of these guys will even be on the roster next year? At least they won't lose anybody good, if Philly even decides to use a pick here.

Most of these choices pick themselves. You could argue Coundoul over Cepero, or Ubiparipovic over Zimmerman. That's about it. Maybe a different set of internationals. If Hall doesn't graduate from GA, then there's another open spot.

Most likely picks: Borman, Mendes, Ubiparipovic


Protected Available Exempt
Chad Barrett Nana Attakora Fuad Ibrahim
Jim Brennan Danny Dichio
Sam Cronin Lesly Fellinga
Dwayne De Rosario Gabe Gala
Stefan Frei Amado Guevara
Nick Garcia Brian Edwards
Ali Gerba Emmanuel Gomez
Carl Robinson Amadou Sanyang
Adrian Serioux Pablo Vitti
O'Brian White

Marvell Wynne

One of the harder Eastern conference teams to predict IMO. The kids impressed against DC, does that mean they're worth protecting? Garcia/Serioux or Gomez/Sanyang? Hmm... When players get scouted in Africa and brought in here by Toronto, that makes you think that another coach wouldn't take them in the draft, so maybe they don't need it this year.

There are plenty of large salaries who could be safely exposed: Guevara, Robinson, and Vitti all make around $300,000. Dichio's near the end of his career and he should be left exposed as well. If it comes down to Gerba or White, the latter seems like the better choice for almost much every reason: salary, potential, likelihood of being selected.

Toronto seems like one of the teams who won't lose a player.

Most likely picks: Attakora, Gomez, Sanyang


Monday, August 17, 2009

OTFATT 2009: Update #5

Previous Updates

#1 4/12 68 players remaining
#2 5/25 34 players remaining
#3 6/25 23 players remaining
#4 7/19 11 players remaining

OTFATT is short for "On the field, all the time." In these updates throughout the season, I'll be keeping track of which MLS players have played every minute of every game (regular season only). That feat has been accomplished 35 times in 13 season by 28 different players. Click here for that list.

The list has dwindled from 11 to 5 over the past month, and we won't see a repeat of the record six survivors from last season (although three of those players could still repeat). What happened to the guys who fell off?

Drew Moor was red carded against RSL, down by two in the 95th minute. In FCD's next game, David Ferreira got subbed out with his team leading by the score of 5-0. Coming on for him was Eric Avila, who's still challenging for the "most sub appearances without a start" record. Both Chivas USA players were missing from last week's loss to the Rapids: Zach Thornton was injured and Carey Talley had accumulated five yellows.

Finally, on Saturday two more fell in the afternoon game between Toronto and DC United. Nick Garcia was hurt and wasn't dressed. Now he won't become the third man to play every minute after being traded in the middle of the season. Previously, Scott Garlick and Chris Klein had pulled that off in 2001 and 2007 respectively. During the match, Bryan Namoff was subbed out to give Julius James his DC debut.

So now we're at five, and an unheralded rookie is the last field player remaining. Darrius Barnes has to be the last guy you'd expect to be in this position. Although, maybe we shouldn't be surprised after Steve Nicol drafted Michael Parkhurst and played him every minute in 2005.

The goalkeepers left aren't causing any second takes. All of them have made this list before, and what's more, none of their backups have ever played a regular season game. Busch and Cannon are going for two years in a row, while Hartman could play a third straight season without missing a minute. No one's ever done that.

Discipline update. With four goalkeepers, you wouldn't think it would be an issue. However, Busch already has three yellows and is only two away from suspension. Barnes only has two. I don't think any MLS keepers have gotten a yellow card suspension IIRC. Busch definitely is more fiery than most, so if it's going to happen, he may be the guy.

Remaining Candidates (5)

CHI Busch
HOU Onstad
KC Hartman
NE Barnes
SJ Cannon

Order of teams being totally wiped out, with last surviving player:

1. NY - Dane Richards (4/18)
2. CLB - Brian Carroll (5/27)
3. SEA - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (6/14)
4. RSL - Will Johnson (6/27)
5. LA - Omar Gonzalez (6/28)
6. TOR - Adrian Serioux (7/18)
7. COL - Jordan Harvey (7/18)
8. DAL - David Ferreira (8/1)
9. CHV - Carey Talley & Zach Thornton (8/8)
10. DC - Bryan Namoff (8/15)

*Toronto's Nick Garcia was eliminated on 8/15. He had played every minute he was available for two teams - SJ & TOR. Toronto themselves had no remaining players left who had played every minute for them after Adrian Serioux.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Oldest MLS Player Timeline

One of the very first posts I ever made on this blog was the Youngest MLS Player Timeline. Now, it's time to look at the other side of the equation. Who has held the record for the oldest MLS player of all time at each point in the league's history, and when has it been broken?

This is not the same as the lists of the Oldest MLS Players or the Oldest MLS Debuts. Only regular season games are counted.

MLS Oldest Player Record Holders

Date Set Age Days
1 Thor Lee 1996-04-06 30.84 7
2 Carlos Valderrama 1996-04-13 34.61 28
3 Chris Woods 1996-05-11 36.49 7
4 Hugo Sanchez 1996-05-18 37.85 672
5 Thomas Ravelli 1998-03-21 38.60 452
6 Walter Zenga 1999-06-16 39.13 423
7 Lothar Matthaus 2000-08-12 39.39 238
8 Carlos Valderrama 2001-04-07 39.59 1,229
9 Preki 2004-08-18 41.15 2,018
Pat Onstad

The age is only for the date that it was set. Days refers to the number of days the player held the record.

1) Thor Lee, DC United - 30.84 years old

Ex-indoor player famously waived after only two games in the inaugural season. Also the only American-born player to hold this record. Michael Emenalo of the San Jose Clash was the only other over-30 player in the opening game. Victor Mella was the youngest player that day.

2) Carlos Valderrama, Tampa Bay Mutiny - 34.61

No explanation necessary. Who would've thought he would play until 2002? Anyway, one week after the debut of MLS, he stepped onto the field and took the record. He would only hold it for a month, however...

3) Chris Woods, Colorado Rapids - 36.49

The former England goalkeeper who was the backup to Peter Shilton at the 1990 World Cup, and part of a disastrous opening season for the Colorado Rapids who finished dead last in the standings. I guess you could say they were the first record holders of the 'worst team ever' title.

4) Hugo Sanchez, Dallas Burn - 37.85

The Mexican legend took the field a week after Woods, scoring on his debut. It's still the fourth oldest debut in league history, and he held the title of oldest player until 1998.

5) Thomas Ravelli, Tampa Bay Mutiny - 38.60

The legendary Swedish goalkeeper and third oldest MLS debut.

6) Walter Zenga, New England Revolution - 39.13

On June 13th, 1999, he tied Ravelli exactly at 14,290 days before passing him a week later. It's also the first time on this list that the new record wasn't set with a debut. Zenga played in 1997, then came back as a player coach in 1999 and set the record midway through the year.

7) Lothar Matthaus, Metrostars - 39.39

He set the record on the first game back from his little summer vacation. I hate to see his name mentioned in any MLS record discussion, but I will admit I'm enjoying the way his coaching career has fallen apart everywhere he's gone.

8) Carlos Valderrama, Tampa Bay Mutiny - 39.59

This was the first game of the 2001 season. Five years later, El Pibe reclaims the record. This time, he held it for over three years.

9) Preki, Kansas City Wizards - 41.15

This was his first game of the 2004 season after missing the first half with an injury. He would only play one more regular season game before being shut down. It was all downhill for his playing career after the second MVP season in 2003, as his final season in 2005 was pretty uneventful.

We're coming up on the five year anniversary of this record being set.

Currently, Preki holds the record for oldest MLS player at 42.31 years. As of this past weekend, Pat Onstad was 41.57 years old. If Onstad is still playing next year, he'll break the record sometime next May. Likely date? Saturday, May 8th, 2010.

10) Pat Onstad, Houston Dynamo - 42.32

It turns out that date was right on target. Unless Kasey Keller keeps playing, then this reign could last as long as Preki's or even longer.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

WCQ Previews - August 12, 2009

Once again I'll be looking at the impact of the results (minus the obvious game, because it's easy to find coverage for that one):

Trinidad & Tobago vs El Salvador

This is simply put, a must win match for both teams. A lot of people glance at El Salvador's position in the standings and think that they're in the hunt, but a closer look at the schedule suggests otherwise. They still have to play at USA and at Mexico, so bank on zero points from those two. The home games against their UNCAF rivals are winnable, but those four results would only mean 11 points through 9 matches. That's not enough. At least they'll have Arturo Alvarez in their squad. He may be the first player to play in an official match after switching countries under the new rule. I don't know if he'll actually be cleared in time, but supposedly he's going to be in the squad.

The Soca Warriors are on life support with only two points. They do have the luxury of playing the USA and Mexico at home in the final three matches, when both may have already qualified. Realistically, they need at least 11 points in the second half of the hex. It would also be in their best interest for Costa Rica, Mexico, and the USA to win all their remaining matches, so they could have a shot at fourth. The team should be stronger with reinforcements Bobby Zamora and Jlloyd Samuel, the former England youth internationals, though Stern John is out.

As usual, has good coverage of this and other lesser games.

Honduras vs Costa Rica

Every other team in the group wants Costa Rica to win. I personally would love to see Honduras win because I'm cheering against Mexico, and it just makes the group more interesting in general. I don't know how likely that is, though; this matchup has been a nightmare for the Hondurans. There was the famous 0-0 draw in the 2006 WCQ semifinal stage which eliminated them on the final matchday. All they needed to do was win at home to advance. That one result likely cost them a World Cup birth. They also lost to Costa Rica at home in the 2002 hex.

The Hondurans are confident, at least.

Belarus vs Croatia

Would you believe Belarus is in with a chance of making the playoffs (we all know England has the group wrapped up)? Well, it's not much, but 7.08% (according to Voros) is nothing to sniff at for a team of their caliber. These two teams play home and away the next two dates. While Belarus does have a slim chance, the more likely outcome is Alexander Hleb and company screwing Croatia and allowing Ukraine to advance. Of course, they have a chance to foul up the latter's campaign as well. Look at the schedules for the remaining teams:

Croatia @ Belarus, vs Belarus, @ England, @ Kazakhstan
Ukraine vs Andorra, @ Belarus, vs England, @ Andorra
Belarus vs Croatia, @ Croatia, vs Ukraine, vs Kazakhstan, @ England

The Ukraine has 6 points in the bag, and England at home rather than away. So this is a huge match for Croatia. They a win, or a draw at worst. A loss and they'll likely need a result in England (possibly a win). BTW, the chances of making the playoffs for Croatia and Ukraine are at 39.64% and 51.30% respectively. I really love those kind of simulations.

Norway vs Scotland

The Scots (when they aren't banning people for life) are not only fighting for second place, but they need to get enough points to avoid being the worst second place finisher and thus missing out on the playoffs. They play Macedonia at home next, so that figures to be a win. That leaves this game and home vs the Netherlands, and they should need at least one win in those two. But even that may leave them counting on other results. Meanwhile, any result but a win here should end Norway's hopes.

Faroe Islands vs France

Yawn. The real test is September 9, Serbia vs France. That may be the biggest single match left in all of qualifying. Because if France doesn't win that, they're resigned to the playoffs. If they then fail to qualify, then that will be the key moment.

Azerbaijan vs Germany

I like how the big powers schedule the minnows for these awkward beginning of the season international dates. Smart stuff, though you'd think in the interest of fairness they would do a random schedule. Seems like a process leftover from another era. Anyway, it's all warmups between now and October when the showdown in Russia occurs.

Slovenia vs San Marino

San Marino has yet to lose by more than 3 at home and less than 4 away this cycle. So bet on at least a 4-0 win. Goal difference will be critical in the race for second place in group 2. Slovenia's pretty far behind in that category, which means that they really should get something like 7+ goals here. Not that I fancy their chances against the Czechs and Poles anyway.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

State Attendance Records

These are the largest crowds I've been able to find for soccer games in each state and Washington DC. I have a list of the teams involved, but I thought it would be too cluttered.

If you know of any attendance figures higher than these, please let me know. I didn't put anything for the bottom three states because I couldn't find any crowds over 1,000.

Thanks to many people from this thread on Bigsoccer.

California 101,799 Olympics 1984-08-11
Georgia 86,117 Olympics 1996-08-03
Alabama 83,810 Olympics 1996-07-20
Texas 82,252 Gold Cup 2009-07-19

Gold Cup
New Jersey 79,156 Gold Cup 2009-07-26
Michigan 77,217 World Cup 1994-06-28
Pennsylvania 68,396 Friendly 2003-08-03
Massachusetts 67,584 Friendly 2007-09-12
Washington 67,052 Friendly 2011-07-20
Illinois 65,080 W.World Cup 1999-06-24

W.World Cup 1999-06-24
Arizona 64,462 Friendly 2007-02-03
North Carolina 63,227 Friendly 2010-03-24
Colorado 61,202 MLS 2002-07-04
D.C. 58,012 Olympics 1996-07-24
Minnesota 52,621 NASL 1984-05-28
Missouri 52,424 Friendly 2010-07-25
New York 46,000 Friendly 1926-05-01
Utah 45,511 Friendly 2006-08-12
Connecticut 44,579 US Cup 1993-06-06
Oregon 35,528 NASL 1977-08-28
Kentucky 35,211 W.Friendly 1999-10-10
Ohio 31,550 MLS 1996-09-15
Oklahoma 30,831 NASL 1980-04-26
Tennessee 27,958 WC Qualifying 2009-04-01
Hawaii 23,087 Pan Pacific 2008-02-23

Pan Pacific
Virginia 21,319 College 1995-12-10
Gold Cup
New Mexico 17,805 W.Friendly 2004-05-09
Louisiana 15,074 W.Friendly 2003-07-13
Indiana 14,000 P.A. Games 1987-08-21
Rhode Island 13,000 Open Cup 1918-05-04
Wisconsin 12,572 Friendly 1990-07-28
Nevada 9,736 CCC 1999-10-03

CCC 1999-10-03
Iowa 6,612 PDL 2004-06-04
South Carolina 6,456 Open Cup 1999-08-04
Mississippi 6,200 Friendly 2004-03-27
Nebraska 5,812 College 2007-09-08
Vermont 5,000 College 1989-??-??
Maine 4,254 Friendly 2001-10-20
Delaware 3,500 USISL 1994-??-??
New Hampshire 3,000 PDL 2008-06-19

3,000 PDL 2008-06-26
West Virginia 3,000 W.College 2007-11-30
South Dakota 1,811 PDL 2006-05-20
Arkansas 1,487 W.College 2005-10-07
Montana 1,100 W.College 1999-??-??
Idaho 1,059 W.College 2005-08-28
Alaska ???

North Dakota ???

Wyoming ???


  • 7/19/2009 - Gold Cup doubleheader (Costa Rica vs Guadeloupe, Mexico vs Haiti) in Arlington, Texas draws 82,252 fans. It's the grand opening of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, and it beats the old Texas record by over 10k. The previous record was 70,550 for Barcelona vs America and Houston vs Los Angeles in Houston on 8/9/2006.
  • 7/24/2009 - Baltimore friendly between AC Milan and Chelsea draws 71,203 to the Ravens' stadium, and smashes the old Maryland mark of 54,462. That one was set during the Women's World Cup in 1999, when the US women beat Germany in the quarterfinals.
  • 7/25/2009 - New Kansas record as David Beckham comes into town. Previous mark (10,385) was set in the 2008 home opener for the Wizards.
  • 7/26/2009 - These things are falling like crazy! Three new records in three days. Gold Cup final sets a new New Jersey record. 151 more fans than the 2003 Man Utd vs Juventus friendly, which was Tim Howard's debut.
  • 8/6/2009 - The record breaking summer continues. The Seattle-Barcelona friendly drew 18 more fans than the DC-Barcelona friendly three years ago to set a new Washington state record.
  • 8/9/2009 - Well, that didn't last long. The Maryland record set 16 days ago has fallen. DC vs Real Madrid draws over a thousand more fans than Chelsea vs Milan. FedEx Field has more seats than M&T Bank Stadium, so that's your difference. Apparently FedEx can hold upwards of 90,000, so there's room for this one to be broken again.
  • 8/9/2009 - I've also updated the New Hampshire record. Looking at some the New Hampshire Phantom attendances, they seemed to have drawn pretty well. There's two games a week apart that were listed at 3,000 fans; I've only listed the first one. I don't know how exact their numbers are, since almost every figure for their games is a perfectly even number. I wonder how they got those big crowds? Last year, they had many crowds in the high 2,000's, whereas this year the opener had 2,500 but the rest are in the hundreds.
  • 3/24/2010 - Smashed. That's all you can say about the North Carolina record. Mexico's friendly with Iceland more than tripled the previous mark, which was the ASL final from 1981.
  • 7/25/2010 - The Kansas City Wizards hosted their highest profile friendly ever, against Manchester United. The result saw the previous record of 37,591 fans (for the USA-Costa Rica WCQ in 2001) beaten by over 15,000. Man Utd now are a part of two state records, this and Pennsylvania (vs Barcelona).
  • 6/9/2011 - New Kansas record for the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park, KC vs CHI: 19,925.
  • 6/14/2011 - Well, that didn't last long: the Gold Cup doubleheader (Canada vs Panama, USA vs Guadeloupe) set a new Kansas record at the same stadium: 20,109.
  • 7/30/2011 - A new Maryland record as 81,708 watch Man Utd and Barcelona in Landover at FedEx Field. MD jumps up two spots and now has the 5th highest record of any state.
  • 8/3/2011 - The summer friendly season has claimed another state. This time it's Florida, which gets 70,080 in Miami for Barcelona and Guadalajara. That breaks the record set in the 1994 World Cup, 62,387 for Belgium vs Netherlands in Orlando.
  • 8/9/2011 - Whoops, I missed updating the Washington record, which was broken by Man Utd vs Seattle. The total of 67,052 beats the Seattle-Barca friendly from two years ago by 204 fans.

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