Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I Missed A Ton, But Here's Some News

-I was down in Dallas at MLS Cup for the last 4 days with several of my Thunder Faithful friends. We had a very excellent time, even though we were driving around lost for most of those days. The game was great (except for the pinheads sitting behind us who bitched during the entire match), and Papa Donovan scored us amazing first row seats in one of the corners. The weather was gorgeous, the stadium rocked, and immense fun was had by all.
-Easily the biggest shock to every American soccer fan is the fact that Pando Ramirez was the hero for LA. All season long he elevated himself into the highest of rankings for the leagues all-time biggest goat. No doubt Lothar Matteus still holds the title and will be hard to dethrone, but over the past 8 months Pando had possibly bypassed Luis Hernandez into the number 2 spot, not because he was despised (cuz I get the feeling he is a very very nice fella), so much as he was just plain lousy. Him scoring that winning goal was a thing of pure soccer beauty. Good for him. See that goal again right here.
-The MLS First Decade Best XI was named at the championship match:
Tony Meola
Eddie Pope
Jeff Agoos
Marcelo Balboa
Marco Etcheverry
Landon Donovan
Carlos Valderrama
Peter Nowak
Jamie Moreno
Brian McBride
Their are three things I disagree with on this list. Carlos Ruiz should be on there before Brian McBride. He is the just that good. I love McBride, but the little fish is better. Also, I don't care what anyone says, Landon Donovan is a forward in my book. All his best success has come at that position in the league. I would move Landon to forward in this best 11 and call it a 3-4-3. I also question Peter Nowak's selection. I know he was amazing in helping Chicago make an immediate mark, and helped inspired quite a few of his young teammates, but I am not so sure he was best XI. Mauricio Cienfuego would have been on that list instead of Nowak for me.
-Things overheard this weekend, whether fact or fiction is still unknown, but I think most of this is actually fact:
*Barcelona are very interested in a team in NYC, but not Metrostars - it would be a new team.
*Chelsea will play LA at HDC, in a possible 3 team "tournament" also starring Club America.
*Chelsea will also play the MLS All-Stars.
*Toronto is the newest MLS team (lucky 13) and will begin play in 07. Their team nationality will be Canadian, (as opposed to all the other MLS teams who are obviously American), but they will have 3 extra International spots on their roster that can only be used on American players. (So they will have 7 in total, instead of the ususal 4.)
*"It is inconceivable that San Jose will not be in the league next year," said Don Garber to the supporters on Saturday afternoon. Then today (Wed) he releases this statement: "At the recent MLS Board of Governors meeting in Frisco, Texas, the Anschutz Entertainment Group was granted approval by the Board to move the San Jose Earthquakes to a number of potential cities, including Houston, Texas.
*Lamar Hunt is very close to finishing a deal to sell his Kansas City team to still unnamed local investors, who will then announce a stadium deal. Those new investors will probably run the team for the next couple seasons at their current home Arrowhead Stadium.
*There are serious ideas being kicked around to go to a split season like Mexico and Brazil play. 2 months off in summer, and 2 months off in winter.
*The playoff format will not change for next year.
*5 cities are lining up to battle for the potential 14th team in the league: Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, & Tulsa. Atlanta was not included in the list Garber rattled off to us, despite what other reports said.
*The league signed a long term high profile television deal with ABC/ESPN & Univision. This deal will pay the league money, and have the networks actively promoting the games, which are both new concepts for MLS.
*The game of the week may be moved to ESPN, from ESPN2, and maybe be played on Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon.
*This years Reserve Division was a huge success, and will be better organized, financed and promoted next year.
*The team salary cap will rise the largest amount ever for the league next year. But the cap number is still unknown. It currently sits around 2 million per team.
*All the teams are in the process of setting up official youth systems, and in the future all players who come up through that system will remain with that club and not enter the Superdraft, unless they are released.
*MLS and the Mexican Primero Division are in discussions to form an inter-league tournament pitting all teams against each other.
*MLS does not want to leave the US Open Cup.
-As part of their bonus for winning the double - MLS Cup & US Open Cup - the LA players received Lakers NBA season tickets in a suite of their own.
-Did anyone out there see the 1/2 hour special that Fox Soccer Channel was promoting called MLS Pictures? It looked like one of the those NFL films type things that are of very high quality.
-The four teams who did not make the playoffs - Chivas USA, KC, Columbus & Salt Lake - will each receive a special player allocation (in the form of salary cap budgetary exemptions) to sign new players, and KC received yet another one to try to replace the retiring Preki.
-Two different pubs in Dallas treated us royally. We watched Scotland v USA at Trinity Hall, and Trinidad & Tobago v Bahrain at the Londoner. We ate and drank a lot at both those places. If you find yourself in Dallas, go give them your money.
-VIP's I saw at MLS Cup:
Paul Caliguri
Craig Waibel
Freddy Adu
Eric Wynalda
Brian Hall
Brandi Chastain
JP Dellacamra
Frank Dell'apa
Phil Anschutz
Lamar Hunt
Bob Kraft
Dwayne DeRosario
-The Hut was nice, but during the match they ran out of pizza. It's called Pizza Hut Park! How do you possibly run out of pizza?!?!?!?!
-Down in Dallas we talked about where next years Cup Final might be played. Several people said they hope for Chicago's new home in Bridgeview. I figure it will be LA again, or maybe even Dallas. As for Chicago, I think the time of year and potentially bad weather may keep that from happening. Some of my fears of bad weather in that town were confirmed while watching some Sports Center last night. I saw the football highlights from Chicago, where the game was played at almost the exact same time as MLS Cup. The wind in the stadium was a constant 40+ mph! It looked insane as they tried to play. They could not throw a pass or kick a field goal because the wind would just take the ball anywhere it felt like. It was pretty hilarious to watch, but would make for a horrible final soccer match of the year. I know yesterday was only one weird-weather day, but it's also pretty damn typical to have crazy weather in Chicago in November.
-Another rumor going around last week was that the Rochester Rhinos are heading up an effort to place a USL First Division team in Cary, NC at SAS Stadium. The place holds about 7000 and is right in the area of Durham, Chapel Hill & Raleigh aka The Triangle. Rochester was responsible for setting up their match v DC United in Cary last summer. They hope to start play in the league in 2007.
-A hilarious article from Yanks Abroad shows what idiots the Scottish newspapers were about the USA match. They did little if any research on the USA team, know little of the current team players/history, and revert to tabloid bozo-isms to tell their stories.
-Steven Goff of the Washington Post reports that DC midfielder Brian Carroll will train with Blackburn starting this week.
-Quotes from USA players and coaches following the draw in Scotland.
-The Sunday Herald in Scotland had this article after the match.
-US Soccer has plenty of post-game audio and video from the Scotland match. And video interviews with Benny Feilhaber, Heath Pearce & Chris Rolfe, and Jonathan Spector.
-During the match TV had shots of USA players not in action sitting in the stands: Claudio Reyna, Brad Friedel & Brian McBride.
-Who did you think played well for USA? I thought the best were Brian Carroll, DaMarcus Beasley & Ben Olson.
-The Scots were at full strength and after reading several of their newspapers yesterday they seemed to think they did pretty well, and are getting back on solid footing. I would tell them not to get too excited seeing as that was not the best US team they met, with only 4 players being what I would consider starters on the field.
-The Daily Record in Glasgow called Jonathan Spector the best USA player in the match. Really?
-Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts is no longer negotiating to buy the St Louis Blues hockey team. And here I thought he had already bought them.
-Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Juve was voted Sweden's Player Of The Year.
-World Cup Qualifying Playoff - first leg - scores from Saturday:
Trinidad & Tobago 1-1 Bahrain
Norway 0-1 Czech Republic
Spain 5-1 Slovakia
Switzerland 2-0 Turkey
Uruguay 1-0 Australia
Return leg matches will be played Wednesday, and then we will know the full 32 team field for Germany 06.
-George Weah lost his bid to become the new President of Liberia.
-Clarence Seedorf was robbed in his own home. What a frickin drag.
-Rob Hughes of International Herald Tribune: Clubs want nations to pay for pain
-Simon Kuper on the disastrous attempt to blend races in France: Racism lives on in France as World Cup win fades
-A dude who writes for Sports Illustrated has called the LA v San Jose derby the 5th best rivalry in world club football. I love the games too, but the worlds 5th best? Hmmmmmmmmm. Read the whole dealio here.
-Rumor from today's edition of The Sun in London: DAVID MOYES is closing in on USA striker Josh Wolff. The American hitman scored against Scotland on Saturday before heading south for talks with Everton boss Moyes. It will be second time lucky for Wolff, 28, whose earlier dream of playing in the Premiership was scuppered by red tape. But he is now a fixture in the US side and the fact FIFA’s rankings have them in the world’s top 10 means he is now eligible for a work permit. Wolff, of the Kansas City Wizards, is one of the quickest players in the MLS and is available for around £500,000.
-In Copa Sudamericana last Thursday night, Boca Juniors whipped Internacional 4-1 and advanced to the Semifinals 5-1 on aggregate.
The Semifinal match-ups look like this:
Nov 24 - Boca Juniors v Universidad Católica in Buenos Aires. (2nd leg, Dec 1 in Santiago)
Nov 23 - Velez Sarsfield v Pumas UNAM also in Buenos Aires. (2nd leg, Nov 30 in Mexico City)
The Finals will be Dec 7 & 14


Anonymous Ken said...

If ABC/ESPN pull that "side-by-side" crap during the World Cup next summer I will be quickly subscribing to satellite TV service and will find a way to watch the damned tournament from a network located in some other part of the globe. I don't care if I have to listen to commentators from Mongolia, I'm not putting up with that BS during the WC.

"We'd like to thank Bud Light for bringing you side by side..."

Yea. Thanks a lot...

3:04 PM  
Blogger tom said...

Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill sounds like a great market to have in the league. It's great that the MLS is growing, but USL is growing too.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

The side-by-side ads are evil. We must oppose them. There are so many other ways to advertisse during a match... I just can't believe those things are necessary.

8:36 AM  
Blogger hartley said...

Pando's goal truly was a shocker.

But am I the only one that saw Chris Albright's foul on Matt Reis?

The goal should have been disallowed.

On to PKs.

[Go Addicks!]

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I can't believe that Chrsi Albright would foul anyone.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chicago should host the final next year no matter what the weather is like. Of course I'm crazy and would love to attend a European soccer match no matter what the weather is like. Besides is Naperville as windy as Chicago?


1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

o.k. bruce i'm holding "football against the enemy" hostage until you publicly retract your comments about Peter Nowak not belonging in the all time 11! of course i'm a partisan but perhaps you haven't seen as many matches when peter played as some of us...he was unbelievable in skill and heart. that being said i agree that cienfuegos was quite a player and could've been on there as well. cheers dang

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Ken said...

I agree that the next MLS Cup (as much as I have developed a distaste in general for soccer "championship games") should be played in the new Bridgeview stadium. Weather should have nothing to do with it. Would they move the FA Cup final to Monaco just because the weather in Cardiff always sucks in May? I think not. If the MLS Cup starts to follow the same logic as the Super Bowl, where every final has to be played in the south just because of the weather, then my distaste will grow to fever pitch. The first MLS cup was played in a slop-fest, yet I recall that game as being an exciting nail biter with a great ending. I would hate to see soccer in this country follow the same route as "football" which used to be a game where playing in the crappy weather and slop was seen as a badge of honor, but now the damned playing environments are sterile and devoid of character and flavor.

BTW, here's an interesting stat from the '04 FA Cup Final:

"The 73,000 supporters of Manchester United and Millwall at the Millennium Stadium final consumed 370,000 pints of beer, 38,000 pasties, 27,000 sandwiches, 24,000 portions of chips and 13,000 beef burgers."

I'll take my '06 MLS Cup with a pint of Goose Island and a Chicago style brat please.

3:58 PM  
Blogger tom said...

I love pasties, but what the hell is a beef burger?

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Ken said...

I think that's what we call a "ham"burger here in the states. Even though our "ham"burgers have no ham in them. Kinda like how they call pointy ball "football", even though the only player who ever uses his foot on the ball is the ex-soccer player who comes on at the last minute to win the game for all of the other behemoths who've been using their hands all game.

Hope this helps...

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I completely agree with Ken on the weather issue. Nice weather is for pussies.

Look at the NFL, which wants to give Kansas City a Super Bowl to honor Lamar Hunt (who invented the fucking Super Bowl, how about that!). But they want to force K.C. to slap a retractable roof on Arrowhead. Which would be a travesty.

We MLS fans have our reasons for hating Arrowhead, but it is one of the best atmospheres in the NFL.

Football should be played in the snow! So let's not be a bunch of nancies like the NFL.

You could even use that for marketing: "Hello, America. We are the MLS. And our players are not afraid to play their championship in bad weather, like those pussies in the NFL." That should the TV commercial.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous ken said...

Actually, I think it more driven by the wants and desires of the fans. People who can afford a Super Bowl ticket would rather travel to LA or Florida at the end of January/early February than to New York, KC or Cleveland. So if MLS fans push the issue to see the cup game played in LA rather than Chicago, then that's what will drive it (my opinion - I could be wrong). So then if that's true it's the fans, not the players, who are the pussies.

11:56 AM  
Blogger brucio said...

a couple retorts:

first to dan g - hahahahahaha - i knew you would not like my comment about nowak - but i stand by it, kidnapping of my possessions or no

ken - you said "Would they move the FA Cup final to Monaco just because the weather in Cardiff always sucks in May?"
the place has retractable roof, and with even the slightest hint of foul weather they close it

and to anonymous - you called matthew a "stupid moron". not cool. either give us some indicator that you were trying to be funny, or dont post your insults to fellow commentors here anymore - i dont dig it and have deleted it

12:14 PM  
Anonymous ken said...

I forgot that Millennium stadium has a retractable roof, and I doubt if the weather in Cardiff really does suck in May. I was just trying to make a point...

Bottom line: MLS should celebrate new soccer specific stadiums, just like they did this year, by holding the next MLS Cup at them, no matter where they are located or the potential weather for that time of year.

12:31 PM  

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